Ever heard of the big five snake safari?

Not limited to coastal towns, the reptiles can be found across the country with one abandoned island in Baringo being inhabited by different species. FILE
Not limited to coastal towns, the reptiles can be found across the country with one abandoned island in Baringo being inhabited by different species. FILE 

The big five safari is one that every tourist wants to have done in their tour around the parks and reserves in the country.

Down at the coast, there is a different safari on offer, known as the big five safari, partakers of this do not go out in search of mammals, but some of the most renowned snakes in the country.

Kenya boasts of over 127 snake species, out of the number only 18 have caused fatalities, six could kill you and 10 cause pain. The remaining 93 species are non-venomous.

When going on a tour in search of the reptiles, the Bio-Ken Snake Farm in Watamu offers two packages; The first package is the big five snake safari.

In the list of snakes that make up the main point of interest of the safari is the python, boomslang, puff adder, cobra and the mamba.


The trip is run by reptile experts and snake catchers as some of these snakes are not only wild, but poisonous. The big five safari takes about 12 days and costs $1,000 (Sh86,000) per person per night.

The second is a three night snake safari to the Tsavo East National park. Accommodation is at the Kukalu Camp, which sits on the banks of river Galana at a cost of $1,200 (Sh103,200) per person per night.

Under this package, guests depart from Watamu after breakfast headed to the camp. An evening spot light tour in a vehicle is done to look for nocturnal species while an early morning walk along the river helps in sighting the day time counterparts as they sunbathe.

The idea of snake safaris originated from Royjan Taylor and his best friend Anthony Childs, who spent time with the late snake expert James Ashe. Royjan was fascinated by snakes from a tender age and spent his time in search of the different types of reptile.

Devil’s Island

Not limited to the coastal town, the reptiles can be found across the country. The floating islands on Lake Baringo are home to a large number of snakes.

One such island is ‘Devil’s Island’, which has a special place for the local community. It was abandoned by its inhabitants several generations ago because they allegedly ‘heard cries from the ground’. To date, locals claim they can still see fires burning even though no one lives on the island. It’s now inhabited by snakes.

The Kakamega Forest National Reserve is home to 27 species of snakes. However, there have been no reported cases of death through snake bite in the reserve’s 20 years of operation.

For those with an aversion to seeing snakes in the wild, there are facilities where the snakes are kept behind a glass wall. Baringo Community Museum and Reptile Park educates local people and visitors about the reptile species.

The museum displays several species of snakes, including the Black Mamba, Puff Adder, Boomslang (tree snake) and Spitting Cobra as well as Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles and a central pit shared by endangered tortoises and harmless Stripe Bellied Sand Snakes.

The National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi is home to the snake park where one can see all nammer of species and learn about them. Haller Park in Bamburi, Mombasa also has an enclosure with several snake species.