Khamai Reptile Park
On the the R527 between Hoedspruit and the Strydom Tunnel (direction- Ohrigstad), this centre of excellence for herpetology is well worth a stop. This destination has been a constant in the area since 1984, and was formerly known as the Swadini Reptile Park.
Experienced handlers will show you some of Southern Africa's most deadly snakes, including Black and Green Mambas, Boomslang, Mozambiquan Spitting Cobras, Puff Adders and Vine Snakes.
There are Nile Crocodiles and Water Lizards (Leguaan). There is an amazing display of reptiles and amphibians from the rest of the world, as well as samples of most of the local herpetological "specials".
There may be opportunities to get up close and personal with some of the inhabitants, including various scorpions, Baboon spiders and Puff Adders.
It is owned and curated by Donald Strydom, who has appeared as the "house expert" in a number of television features on the BBC, Discovery and Animal Planet channels. A renowned Black Mamba handler, he also worked with the BBC to develop a specialised tank to enable the filming of some unique footage of the Nile Monitor Lizard (leguaan) in its natural habitat.
Donald's team also runs a service to capture and relocate "problem" snakes in the area, where there is a conflict between people and reptiles.
At present Donald and his team capture and release over 300 problem animals each year. These include snakes, lizards, crocodiles, tortoises, frogs, spiders and scorpions.
The Khamai Reptile Park has been collecting data from animals caught in the wild for the past sixteen years and has been inspired to initiate a number of research projects through HERP dedicated to the conservation of reptiles through education and research.
Khamai Reptile Park runs a programme to educate local people as to the vital role snakes and other reptiles have to play in the ecosystem, and to try and dissuade people from a common "kill on sight" approach to the venomous snakes.