Marlene and Leon Swart visited the Kruger Park in May in the hope of seeing a pride of lions. Instead of lions, they had a far more interesting encounter that caused much excitement and some shattered nerves! By Marlene Swart

My husband Leon and I were on vacation in Hazyview and visited the Kruger National Park each day during our weeklong stay. We are subscribed to the Facebook and WhatsApp groups: Kruger National Park Sightings. This group supplies visitors with real time information and sightings become a lot easier when you know which road to take.

On Sunday, 6 May 2012, we entered at Phabeni Gate and coincidently it was my late father’s birthday. I could not think of a better place to celebrate than in the Kruger Park that he loved so much. We received a message of a lion sighting on the H3. We were not far from the area and decided to check it out. On our way there, we saw a couple of cars and safari vehicles and initially thought it must be lions.

While there, we were informed that there was a python in the grass and while we were searching, the python suddenly sailed out of the grass straight towards our car. I waved to the vehicle behind us to reverse, but he couldn’t understand what everyone was looking at. The next moment the python disappeared underneath our car.

Approximately two minutes later, the tourists in the vehicles around us started laughing – the snake had not come out from under our vehicle. One of the safari operators informed us that he saw the snake ‘going up!’

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We drove approximately five kilometers to the nearest lookout point, Mathekenyane (Grano Hill) approximately 10 kilometers from Skukuza with a convoy of vehicles following us to enjoy a piece of the action.

When we parked on the hill, Leon opened the car bonnet and then asked me to bring the camera. Mr Snake was lying on the engine, eyeballing all the commotion around him. Leon patted the snake, took it by the tail and the snake exited the same way it came in.

The snake sailed away unharmed and luckily there was no damage to the car. Later that morning we received a message that someone spotted a very relaxed python on Mathekenyane!

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The lions were forgotten for then and Leon had to drive me to Skukuza so that I could get some sugar water to calm my nerves. I was in shock and terrified while we drove to Mathekenyane with the snake somewhere in the car. Leon a real ‘Ace Ventura’ was extremely excited about the experience.

Later that evening we had a good chuckle about the reactions of the bystanders when the snake exited the vehicle. People were scattering in all directions and I am only disappointed that I was numb with fear and didn’t take more pictures.

The snake is estimated to be between four to five meters and we never once imagined the response we would get from this experience.

Leon and I are absolutely crazy about Kruger and visit as often as we can. Having a snake in our car bonnet was an experience that I will NEVER forget!