For two Wild travellers, a visit to Mokala National Park dished up more than they bargained for. When they first spotted a Cape cobra, they didn’t make much of the sighting – until snake two, three, four and five made their appearance.

The Kameeldoorn Tree House in Mokala National Park is a cosy and secluded spot to spend the night in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Karen Levin and her partner had just settled in to watch wildlife from their deck, when they spotted a slithering surprise. A Cape cobra was making its way towards the tree house…

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Mokala’s charming Kameeldoorn Tree House. Pictures by Karen Levin

Karen writes: 

We were sitting on the deck, watching tsessebe and warthog wallowing in the mud, when we spotted a snake at our own private waterhole. It slithered through the mud, swam through the waterhole and proceeded past our tree house – thankfully! I am no snake expert, but we guessed it to be a cobra of some sorts.

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Snake #1


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Snake #1

Snake #1 had barely vanished when snake #2 made its appearance. It approached from a bush on the side of the tree house, but soon also slithered off.

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Snake #2

Not long after this we watched anxiously as snake #3 crossed the waterhole, following the same route as snake #1: though the mud and water past the tree house. I was now feeling rather uneasy with all these snakes around. But it was not over yet. My eyes caught some birds making a fuss in a nearby tree. On investigation we saw snake #4 – it appeared to be searching for a gap to enter the tree house.

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Snake #3


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Snake #4

As I went into the tree house to make sure snake #4 did not gain entry, I was confronted by snake #5 on a little ledge on the rear of the tree house.

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Snake #5

Needless to say, at this stage we locked ourselves in the room. The next thing there was a hiss above our heads behind the wooden slats – snake #4 was giving us a subtle warning. To my shock I noticed a wooden slat missing above the kitchen sink. With snake #5 exploring the deck, we bolted onto the picnic table – thank goodness for its strength as we are not the smallest of people.

Whilst my partner kept a close eye on snake #5, I immediately loaded the car. I must mention: the 25L water container that initially took us 6 minutes to offload was back in the Pajero with a few hasty steps!

We drove to Mosu Lodge where the staff was fantastic and gave us a room for the night. The next morning we met a few rangers at the tree house, but no sign of any snakes.

An experience that will never be forgotten!

What do you think – would you have stayed the night?

Johan Marais, snake and reptile expert, confirmed that all five sightings were of Cape cobra.


Interested in snake awareness? Snakes & Snakebite in Souther Africa-Johan MariasOne lucky Wild fan stands a chance to win a half-day snake course (valued at R950), presented by internationally known herpetologist Johan Marais from the African Snakebite Institute. The course will be held in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg at Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge on Saturday 3 September 2016. As an added bonus we are also giving away a copy of one of Johan’s books, Snakes & Snakebite in Southern Africa, worth R200 courtesy of Struik Nature.

How to enter

Email the answer to our simple question to [email protected] (subject line: Snake) before Friday 21 August at 12:00 to stand a chance to win the half-day snake course and book. Remember to include your full names, contact details and postal address. QUESTION: Who is the author of Snakes & Snakebite in Southern Africa? Wild will randomly select the winner. The winner will be notified via email. The prize does not include transport to the course.

Video courtesy of the African Snakebite Institute.

WINNER: Jennifer Anne Achterberg