Travel 

Sunday, January 26, 2014 

A treat for the senses at the Snake Park, Arusha

CROCODILES: The park offers sanctuary to many reptiles


ARUSHA, TANZANIA – The 30 minute drive west of Arusha on the route to Dodoma  will offer an interesting experience. A stop over at the Meserani Snake Park offers spectacular sightings and breathtaking landscapes.

The Meserani Snake Park is  located 25km away from Arusha town along the highway to Serengeti National Park. 

It was set up in 1993 and operated by Berry Bales and his wife Lynn Bales also known as Mama Nyoka.  The couple manage the site with the help of well experienced tour staff and cafeteria staff. The staff will always exchange a greeting, a handshake and offer a smile.

The richness of a stunning wilderness and fascinating choice of activities at the park is legendary and a real treat for the senses. It has always been my pleasure to visit the park time and again and I am always thinking of the next trip.

The Snake park offers a pride of the unique collections of snakes common in Eastern and Southern Africa: It offers santuary to the ‘big’ five snakes namely the African Python, Gaboon Viper, Black Mamba, Puff Ader and Black and Red spitting Cobras. 

Watching the snake behavior and movement gives you an insight to the life of reptiles. There are over 40 snake families at the park. The Gaboon Viper, Cobras and Mambas are the most interesting snakes attracting the attention of many visitors. 

In Tanzania, the black mamba, which has a history of being aggressive to humans, is mostly found in central Tanzania (Dodoma, Tabora and Singida).

The park is also home to other reptiles like the monitor lizards, chameleons, tortoises, the elusive yellow baboon and crocodiles. It is home to the endangered Slender Snout Crocodile. 

There are some species of birds that either having been orphaned or injured in the wilderness now find this park a temporary home.

One cannot help noticing Maasai cultural museum famous for its pre-historic collections, centred on the Maasai people and their culture. 

There museum has on sight a Maasai warrior who can offer a personal guided tour. He will walk you threw and explain their traditions, from how they build their mud boma’s to male and female circumcision.

The park boasts of the Maasai Crafts Market.

The market comprises 13 traditional Maasai Huts, where the Maasai Women make beautiful colourful ornaments and showcase other memorabilia said to be from the last millennia. “We knew it would be appreciated by our visitors comprising people from different cultures. It is an insight into the rich diversity of the Maasai culture,” says the Berry Bale.”  

As part of their social responsibility, the management of the park constructed the huts and offered them free of charge to the locals. 

The locals have taken advantage of the the market to sell various artefacts to the the huge number of tourists who flock the park. Some of the items on sale include beadwork such as bracelets, necklaces, earrings and other ornaments. 

Visitors also have a chance to go for camel rides. You feel drawn and excited the moment the camels ride towards the Monduli Mountains. This is a 30 minute ride to visit the village of the local Maasai Boma.

The bar at the Snake park has become a talking point by the  different tour groups. Tourists find solace at the bar counter where they are treated to cold beer and various shooters. Here, they reminisce about their experiences with the reptiles and the local Maasai people. 

Hanging on the roof of the bar are various memorabilia, from T-shirts, photos of previous tour groups to bank notes from Ethiopia, Hungry, Slovenia and Italy. 

The menu here is simple. If you like burgers try the mix beef, cheese and fried egg. There are other choices of toasted sandwiches and boerewors rolls to choose from. Every dish here is perfectly served within a few minutes and accompanied by salad mixed with mayonnaise.

The service at the park is friendly and warm and gives an insight of what to expect as you continue touring Tanzania.


By Elisha Mayallah, Sunday, January 26th, 2014