Jul 28th, 2004, 08:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 43

I'm beginning to wonder whether I should cancel my trip. I've done a lot of research and found that there are quite a bit of snakes around in the month of December, which is when I plan on visiting both South Africa and Botswana. In particular, I read about a 250 pound rock python. I'm terrified of snakes and now I don't know what to do. Please be honest - if you've been to Africa around December - have you seen any snakes, especially near or even worse, in your tents?
anissrob is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 09:10 AM
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On several trips, we've seen snake trails (per the guide) across sandy roads, and we've seen NON-lethal tree snakes near our tent, but not in it. On the road I saw tow rear-fanged vipers, but they are not especially dangerous. Guides will advise you that snakes fear people and stay out of sight. Snakes are there, to be sure, but the odds of confronting one are slight. Go and enjoy your trip, and try to relax. You'll be in a vehicle or on foot with a guide. Simply walk with some caution, and you'll be fine. Enjoy your trip.
Jul 28th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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I don't want to scare you by any means and haven't been there in December but when we were in S.A. in March,(their end of summer) we saw several snakes from the vehicle. Venomous and non-venomous.

Most of the snakes were climbing trees going after bird eggs or on the ground foraging for food. The birds make such a racket, any animal within a few hundred yards is on alert.

And while on a bush walk one slid past the guide quickly to disappear in the underbrush. We also spotted one through the glass right outside our room.

There were also quite a few monitor lizards roaming about near camp.

Just so you know, rock pythons suffocate/squeeze their prey to death. They also have one nasty bite but are not venomous.

Most snakes and lizards will disappear as quickly as they are spotted without any intention of harming anyone unless threatened. They usually move so fast it's impossible to get a photo of them. And believe me, I tried.

And we have to understand that it is their world and they will be more prevalent during the summer months.

Don't let fear of the unknown scare you from enjoying your trip. I personally HATE spiders (that would be an understatement) and saw some mack-truck size ones and even bigger spider webs. YUCK! Still makes me cringe. I knew I had to get over it but boy, it wasn't easy. But you know, the good in Africa just outshines the bad. By the second game drive, I didn't even think about it.

I don't think there is a month that I wouldn't travel to Africa. There is way too much to enjoy and nothing I couldn't handle to ever keep me from going.

I think you will be fine. Your guides and the folks running the camp will not put you in any danger. I did many bush walks and was not the least bit afraid.

Just pay attention to the guides and make sure you leave your tent zipped up at night and when you aren't there.

I hope this helps.
divewop is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 10:59 AM
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It makes me feel much better to know that the python will strangle me instead of biting me!! just kidding. in any case, do you think maybe in order to avoid snakes, I should cancel my time at Xigera, which is a water camp? Maybe we should go to another camp instead where there isn't that much water? Or does that not matter? Also, in general, what are the chances of a snake actually being in my tent? That is what I am most afraid of....
anissrob is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 11:32 AM
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I'm unclear what being at a water camp means in terms of more snakes. And simply ask your camp manager about precautions to take in and around your tent. I think you'd be making a mistake by cancelling. I've landed at your camp on the way to Mombo, and you'll get to experience that same thing.
Jul 28th, 2004, 12:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I wouldn't cancel any camps, water or otherwise. Just take the necessary precautions and you'll be fine.

If you'd like, I'll go in your place and you can stay home.

All kidding aside, I would put it out of your head. I know it's easier said than done but don't let your fear of snakes win over such a wonderful holiday.

Once you get there, all your fears and doubts will be put aside and the next thing you know, you'll be having a great time.

But if you do want me to go in your place, I'd be happy more than happy to accomodate.
divewop is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 12:28 PM
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Blacktie - I just figured that there would be more snakes where there is water. That is why I asked about Xigera. Am I incorrect in my thinking?
anissrob is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 01:01 PM
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You must have been watching the same show as I tarted to watch the other night on National Geographic channel. I took one look at that rock python and changed the channel.

Sure there are snakes in Africa, but none worth cancelling a trip or changing a location. If you are concerned make this known to camp staff and your guide (driving or walking) and they will advise you what to do or not, should you see, come upon or whatever.

Listen, snakes don't like us either and would slither away faster than you could say "snake".

In five trips, I've see one small tree snake and a "dead" momba in the middle of the road... guess he wasn't fast enough crossing the road - poor fella!

Don't give it another thought; just go and enjoy your trip.
Jul 28th, 2004, 01:09 PM
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I'd suggest that if your phobia of snakes is so strong that you simply avoid bush walks and stick to game drives and boat excursions.

We came across a huge rock python in the grass when in our landrover at Savuti. But imagine that snake looking at the size of the landrover - it ain't going to go for it - it just slid away.

It's not possible to guarantee you won't come across a snake - I have heard very rarely of people having a snake drop from a tree into their car or boat BUT it is VERY rare. It's also possible for a snake to get into your tent but also rare given that the zippers are closed most of the time. That said the camp staff will certainly indulge you (as they did me and my spider phobia one particularly bad night at Mombo) by checking your tent out for you before you enter - the kind lady in question even checked under the bed and so on - she was pretty thorough.

I wouldn't imagine water areas to be any worse but I'm no wildlife expert. But given that the water is seasonal I imagine most snakes in the delta are land snakes. I don't know though.

I hate spiders more than I can tell you and it sometimes means a rather long spell of Pete checking every corner of the tent and using the Doom spray liberally before we can retire for the night. But it won't let me stop going to Africa.

I hope you'll be able to conquer your fear and enjoy your visit. I know it's not easy but it should be worth it.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 02:03 PM
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anissrob: You have nothing to worry about except for your own fear. From a biologists point of view a snake only wants to bother what it can eat, and there are not going to be any capable of eating you. Secondly, they can be in severe danger of people and thus usually flee at the first vibration or freeze perfectly still if they can't get away.

I would second that if you are that scared just don't do game walks which is the only time you might surprise each other. Let your guide know of your fear and they will be sure to watch out for you when you exit the vehicle for tea, bathroom, etc.

We did see about a 7 foot rock python on a stop and it absolutely would not move --I got good pictures but it never flinched during our whole break for sundowners. That was during January and was the only snake we saw.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jul 28th, 2004, 05:12 PM
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Please do not under any circumstances cancel your trip. Just learn to be aware from day one of checking your surroundings at all times, paths included.

If you get up at night to use the loo at the tented camp, shine your flashlight all around the loo first before entering.

I am not a herpetologist, but I have had deadly snake episodes on three of the five trips to Tsavo. The first time the men found a cobra in my bathroom and had to kill it. The second time a green mamba slithered within three feet of my bare feet on the tent's veranda. In February a black mamba was killed at the bottom of my tent foundation. And, while on a game drive, we spotted a 15 foot, about 4 inches in diameter, black mamba who slithered away from us as our vehicle approached.

I too hate and fear snakes. But it would never deter me from going back. Not only are they hunting for food, but I truly believe they are also trying to get away from the heat and into shade - that is why they head for the shady tented areas.

Just explain your fear to the men working at camp and they will come around often to check around the tent for you.

Please don't cancel your trip. Despite my previous scares, I am leaving tomorrow and going back to the same place. It is well worth any fear you need to overcome.

Mama Tembo Nyoka
JanGoss is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 07:46 AM
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One more suggestion after reading Jan's accounts. Many camps in Botswana are on raised platforms while some are tents on the ground. If you stay in raised camps that will help too as many snakes such as cobras are most likely going to be in the grass and even tree climbers are going to be more reluctant to climb open wood where birds can pick them off then vegetated trees.

Jan's accounts actually speak to the my post above. One snake went right by the feet and kept on going and two others were killed by people. Any dangerous snakes in a camp are going to be killed or hopefully relocated so they are not there for long.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jul 29th, 2004, 07:54 AM
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JanGross, when they found and killed the cobra in your bathroom, were you by chance at Zululand Tree Lodge, 2001? Heard fo a similar incident that occurred about 4 a.m., and they were unable to ctahc the snake and were forced to kill it.

A suggestion: stay on paths, and keep your hands off of tree branches. And don't assume snakes won't climb onto elevated walkways, because they will.

Having said that, don't be overly concerned, just follow the guide's requests, and you'll be perfectly safe.
Jul 29th, 2004, 04:16 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 119
This is a great thread. Anyone had any other snake encounters in Kenya and Tanzania? We are going in September.
styleoracle is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 04:43 AM
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styleoracle - as my post above, I've only seen a small tree snake and a dead mamba. It seems that only JanGoss (who just departed on her latest trip to Kenya) reports having snake encouters on a regular basis - maybe they smell her coming???. Therefore, most here have decided, for this reason only, not to travel with her - lol!

Jul 30th, 2004, 09:56 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 359
Too, too funny!
Liz_Frazier is offline  
Jul 30th, 2004, 10:03 AM
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Poor Jan. Just a few days before she left her Massachusetts home to go to Kenya, she was doing some gardening outside. When she went to bring her dog over to its outside gated area - lo and behold - a big old garter snake was right there! I just think that those of us who are afraid of snakes should never travel with Jan!!!! She draws them like bees to a honeypot!
SusanLynne is offline  
Aug 7th, 2004, 04:59 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 43
Thank you all for all of your responses! After much thought, I decided not to cancel my trip. I called my travel agent and told her to contact all of the places we are staying to let them know about my fear. I'm also thinking of buying powder at a hiking store that is supposed to repel snakes. I will sprinkle the powder along the outskirts of my room. Does anyone know if this stuff works? Hopefully it will repel the snakes, not attract them!!
anissrob is offline  

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