29 JANUARY 2011 1 of 2


SUAI to MAUBISSE, AINARO DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 


TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE IV: OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FRIDGE

We left Suai around 09:30 and drove the 105 km to Maubisse in Ainaro District in around 3.5 hours.

Mountain habitat on the Ainaro road
Click on images to enlarge

We had been warned that the road was not very good going via Ainaro but we were concerned that the considerable rainfall since we had come down from Same might make some of the river crossings tricky for our heavily-loaded Troopies. We tackled one river crossing with ease, although water came up over the bull-bar and washed across the hood. Knowing there were deeper crossings ahead we decided to try the Ainaro route to Maubisse. Leaving Suai we encountered several road kills, all Macklot's water pythons (Liasis mackloti). Specimens were photographed, GPSed, and if fresh enough collected, or at least sampled for DNA.

Road-killed Macklot's water python
Liasis mackloti
We stopped for snacks at a shop in Ainaro

We reached Ainaro without incident and found the road in better condition than the Same road, apart for occasional rough patches which were easily traversed in high 4.

Maubisse in the valley surrounded by hills and mountains

Maubisse is a town at about 1500m, surrounded by high peaks in the centre of the mountainous backbone of Timor. The Pousada Maubisse was originally the Portuguese Governor's residence, up until 1975, but it is now a welcome and comfortable respite on any drive over the mountains. We stayed at Pousada Maubisse on our first night out of Dili during Phase I in 2009, and those of us who had been involved in the project back then (Hinrich, Caitlin, Scott and myself) knew it would be cold there. After the heat of the south coast the chill of the Maubisse evening and the cold of the Maubisse night were especially apparent.
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