Grutas de Timor-Leste   |   Timor-Leste's Caves

An international expedition to assess the speleological potential of Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) with special emphasis in the districts of Baucau, Lautem and Viqueque;
Activity will include actions to promote, protect and contribute for a sustainable use of the speleological heritage.



The scientific interface between all aspects relating to the study of caves and their practical application is designated as Speleology.

The development of speleology is always associated with an increase of the touristic and cultural potential in the karst regions. Since the water resources of limestone regions represent about 20% of the freshwater reserves on a global scale, the development of this activity in a systematic fashion allows for a better understanding of these regions' water potential, an essential and scarce resource either for human consumption or for agricultural and livestock activities.

Based on a complex set of particular factors, such as science, technology, culture, identity and memory, with an evident knowledge sharing, four Portuguese caving associations, namely, NEUA – Núcleo de Espeleologia da Universidade de Aveiro, CEAE – Centro de Estudos e Actividades Especiais da Liga para a Protecção da Natureza, CIES – Centro de Investigação e Exploração Subterrânea and GPS – Grupo Protecção Sicó; have proposed together to implement a multi-disciplinary project aiming for the promotion and development of speleology in Timor-Leste through the systematization of caves research and training of Timorese cavers.

Main objectives

Inventory and mapping of Timor-Leste's caves with special emphasis in the districts of Baucau, Viqueque and Lautem. Inventory of karst springs. Development of sensitization actions among local populations promoting the protection and sustainable use of the speleological heritage.

Expected results

In this first caving expedition, during 2016, the following results are projected:

  • Documentation of the visited caves including topographies, photographic records, geological, biological, archaeological and paleontological data. All data will be analyzed and shared with local partners and subsequently made generally available with the publication of the caving expedition report;
  • Identification of caves for inclusion in future actions of speleological training;
  • Inventory of karst springs;
  • Increase local awareness for the protection and sustainable use of caves and the surrounding environment.


Due the enormous potential and immense speleological work to be carried out in Timor-Leste, this project, based on a spirit of information and knowledge sharing in all areas of speleology, hopes that groups and speleological associations would be a short term reality in Timor-Leste.

In this way it is ensured that Timor-Leste and its cavers can carry on speleological activity, thus contributing to a better understanding of their own natural and cultural heritage.

It is also an expectation that other Timorese areas, such as scientific or recreational, will come to benefit from the new values added by this project.

Manuel Freire
Caver since 1992. A former president of the Portuguese Speleological Federation, FPE (2004-2012) and member of the FSE Bureau (2008-2012), is well seasoned in organizing caving activities. Also experienced in cave exploration, having participated in international caving expeditions like Brazil (2007) and Angola (2010). Specializes in digital cave surveying and cave mapping.

Pedro Silva Pinto
A caver since 1998. Apart from his regular domestic activity which includes the discovery of several new caves, has also been involved in various international caving expeditions, especially in Austria (Loferer-Schacht, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013), Angola (Huíla, 2010) and India (Meghalaya, 2012). FPE Monitor since 2010, regularly collaborates in caving courses. Experienced in rigging, digital cave surveying and photography.

Manuel Soares
A caver since 1976 and subaquatic speleologist since 1984. Apart from his regular domestic activity which includes several new caves and underwater caves, has also been involved in two international cave diving expeditions, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico (Quintana Roo, 1999 and 2001). FPE Monitor since 2001, regularly collaborates in caving courses. Acting Vice-president of the UIS Commission of Cave Diving. Experienced in rigging, cave diving and photography.

Sérgio Medeiros
A regular caver since 1993, is a former President of the Teaching Commission of the Portuguese Speleological Federation (2006-2012) and a FPE Monitor since 1999. Has explored several new cave systems in his native region, in Portugal. Experienced in rigging, teaching, cartography, ridge walking and GIS.

Ana Sofia Reboleira
A cave biologist, she has a PhD in Biology and is based at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen. Discovered and described more than 50 new taxa for science, including the world’s deepest cave animal. She is the Vice-president of the International Society for Subterranean Biology and member of the Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group of the UICN. Start caving at the age of 14 and has explored more than 1000 caves in different countries and continents: Portugal, Spain; France; Italy; Slovenia; Western Caucasus; USA and Brazil.

André Reis
Intensely dedicated to speleology for 8 the last years, has explored several new cave systems in Portugal. A newcomer to international expeditions, has however been caving internationally in recent years (Spain, France). He is also a cave rescue specialist, having received his training with the FEE (Spain). Experienced in exploration, rigging, cave digging and cave rescue.

Eugenia Gómez
Caver and graduated in General Medicine and Surgery from the University of Alcalá de Henares. Technical advisor of the FME caving rescue group, have participated in several rescues as a doctor and will be the doctor of Fatuk-Kuak caving expedition.


Start: September 4th, 2016
Duration: 29 days
Country: Timor-Leste. Baucau, Lautém and Viqueque districts.
Cavers: 7
  • Manuel Freire
  • Pedro Silva Pinto
  • Manuel Soares
  • Sérgio Medeiros
  • Sofia Reboleira
  • André Reis
  • Eugenia Gómez
Speleological Associations:
Speleological Partnerships:
  • Juventude Hadomi Natureza
    • Joao da Costa Freitas
    • Jacinto Jose da Costa
    • Emiliano Santos Lopes
    • Maria Lili Amelia Alves Pereira
    • Longinhos da Costa Mao
Institutional Partnerships:

Fatuk-kuak hosi Timor