Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Meserani Snake Park, Arusha, Tanzania

A modern day stage stop, Arusha, Tanzania serves as a starting point for the majority of European and tourists visiting the area.  The unofficial capital of East Africa, it could be considered the gateway to the Country’s National Parks.  Within a few hours one can reach, Lake Manyara, Ngorongora Crater, and the entrance of the famed Serengeti.  However, the main draw to Arusha is Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Over 70 percent of the climbers attempting to climb the mountain are outfitted and guided by services domiciled in the city.  Even if the climber thinks they have hired a guide from the U.S. or elsewhere, none may attempt Kilimanjaro without using the services of a licensed Tanzanian native guide.

If the above itineraries aren’t enough, approximately 25 kilometers outside of Arusha lay the Meserani Snake Park It   Your choices are to spend $10-$20 on a cab, or use the Daladala for less than a dollar each way.   Nowhere is there a better opportunity to experience the true Africa than a ride on a Daladala.   Most are 7-12 passenger Toyota minivans.  However, the vehicles can hold far more than what the manufacturer suggests.  We had at least 20 people in ours.  Men, women and children were jumping in and off at each stop.  Within the chaos was order.   Money was collected and room was made for all who wanted to ride.
can reached by taxi or public transit.

Our driver dropped us off in front of a dusty plaster wall.  A small sign read Meserani Snake Park.  A dirt driveway leads to the entrance of the park.  Tickets were $15 per person.  At least it was for us.  I had to wonder if we had not paid the American rate.  Regardless we were in.

With the price of admission comes a guide.  Our leader was a very stoic gentleman.  He spoke from rote   More often than not, he dictated the exact writing on the plaque attached to the display.  None the less, we were educated on the snakes of Africa.  Included among the almost 50 types of snakes were cobras, pythons and black mambas. Like all of the Dark Continent the serpents were dangerous, with the majority of them being poisonous vipers.   In addition the snake park acts as a refuge for injured or orphaned animals.  While we were there it was housing a blue baboon, a vulture and several other birds.   
memorization at each stop.

Glass enclosed cases of snakes form a circle around the interior of the park.  The middle ground is reserved for large and small crocodiles.  The highlight of the tour comes when the guide allows you to hold and handle a small crocodile and several snakes.

After the tour you can wet your whistle at the park’s bar and restaurant.  The service was truly nonexistent, however we were fortunate when the owner stopped in for a drink and ended up serving us.  Soccer jerseys and t-shirts from around the world adorned the walls and ceiling.  It was a reminder of the global draw of Africa.  Also attached to the Meserani Snake Park are a Maassi Culture Center and an area where camel rides are offered.

All in all it was a pleasant experience.  Certainly not one to visit Africa for, however if you are in Arusha there are certainly worse ways to spend your time.

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