AFRAID OF OR FASCINATED BY REPTILES? Enjoy informative, interactive family tours at Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary

BY CANDRA NEILSON - AUGUST 11, 2014

We were exploring the Garden Route when we decided to try something different from the ubiquitous and often crowded tourist attractions. Nestled in the forests of The Crags, and only 10 minutes’ drive before Plettenberg Bay, the Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary was just the right place to start our mini adventure.

Making our way to the entrance, we were warmly greeted by our guide who first took us on a tour of their crocodile enclosure. He also informed us that Lawnwood often assist with the rescue and rehabilitation of reptiles that might have wandered into households or onto farmlands in the area.

Afterwards, we were led to the indigenous snake pit and watched as our guide jumped into the pit to demonstrate how docile these serpents can be – without downplaying the potency of their venom and explained how to react if you encounter one in the wild.

Next, we got to hold a red-lipped herald and a brown house snake. It certainly was a surreal experience, as they felt cold but at the same time, as smooth as the purest silk.

Then we stopped at enclosures for the more venomous snakes. These included the boomslang, green mamba and its notoriously aggressive cousin, the black mamba, as well as various Cobra species found in Southern Africa. You would probably not want to encounter these characters anywhere else but at Lawnwood!

The next building, a big Dome, included some of the world’s most popular non-venomous snakes, to the more deadly serpents, such as rattle snakes, the King Cobra, coral snakes and the gaboon viper – ironically, probably the most beautiful snakes I have ever seen.

We were also introduced to Lawnwood’s two very tame rock monitors, Barney and Pixel, whom we could also stroke.

To conclude our very informative and entertaining adventure, we are led to an enormous python room that houses their 4-6 metre Pyhtons. They brought out a ‘smaller’ Burmese python for us to handle and photograph.

Our one hour tour had certainly been a worthwhile experience and taught us a lot about these too often feared and misunderstood creatures. If you are exploring the Garden Route, my advice is to include Lawnwood on your itinerary. They cater for all age groups and also have picnic sites, shady parking, a Coffee\Curios shop, farm animals, forest walks, play area for the kiddies and are wheel-chair friendly.

Find out more by calling 044 534 8056 or visiting them just off the N2 in The Crags.