Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Phase VII

Baucau to Baguia, Baucau District

We set off as early as possible to drive to Baguia, initially eastwards along the coast through lowlying paddifields where we have herped on previous occasions for the Dog-faced watersnake (Cerberus rynchops).

The road crosses the lowlying coastal paddifields to the northeast of Baucau

Then turning south and heading into the mountains. The drive was very scenic with some extremely photogenic opportunities, so it took us longer than expected to reach Baguia on the eastern side of Mt Matebian, Timor-Leste's second highest mountain at 2376 m.

Heading south over mountains, past small village sand hill rice paddies.


A view of the mountains from the Baguia road, mountains and mountain villages
Intensive step hill rice cultivation


On route we encountered a man and his fighting cock. This 'sport' is extremely popular with Timorese males, both men and boys.

A Timorese man and his
prize fighting cock
Lots of goats Lots of fords and lots of rock piles

Baguia was originally a Portuguese settlement. A kilometer or two before the town are the ruins of the Escola do Reino de Haudere, a grand Portuguese school which fell into disrepair after WWII. Within Baguia itself is a Portuguese fort which dates back to 1915 but which is also now abandoned. Inside this structure is an old pousada which was utilised by the UN Police.


Escola do Reino de Haudere
Baguia town
Party headquarters The Portuguese fort in Baguia dates from 1915 and contains an abandoned pousada
Views of the Portuguese fort

We arrived to find there really was a guest house in Baguia and, even better, it had five rooms available - we were the only guests. Hinrich and I got the "Xanana Suite" - the former guerilla leader and now Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão had stayed in this room.

The Guest House Vila Rabilai
The Xanana Suite
Ingenious water containers made from old tyres,
but also great for malarial mosquitoes
The Germans take their ease The hotel owner discussing the map
with Hinrich and Andrew

Baguia was our base for herping forays in the Ossohuna Subdistrict of Baucau District and into Viqueque District but we were also hoping to Boulenger's pipesnake (Cylindrophis boulengeri), a species known from two specimens from Wetar, to the northeast of Timor, and eight from Baguia. Unfortunately nobody in Baguia was familiar with the snake and with no habitat or otherwise information available from the specimens collected in the early 20th Century, our search for this rare species provded fruitless.