Bio-Ken is reputedly the biggest and best snake farm in East Africa, housing the largest collection of snakes in East Africa.
It makes a wonderful place to visit just for an hour or so; or alternatively, you can go for a snake safari into Tsavo Game Park where you will see nature close up, with an assortment of exotic wildlife including snakes.
Bio-Ken is primarily a research centre, dealing with reptiles – especially snakes. The centre makes anti-venom, which is sold to medical centres worldwide. There are about 127 different snake species in Kenya and this place has seen them all! The guides are incredibly knowledgeable, so if you want to go on a safari with a difference, why not try a snake safari with these guys!
The safaris are offered from one day safaris to longer depending on your time constrainsts and interests. Tsavo East is a Game Park about 2 hours from the Coast and will give you the opportunity of seeing the big 5 equivalent of snakes:
Tsavo East/Galana River 2 Night Snake Safari Itinerary:
You’ll be collected from your hotel at 6.30am (Malindi & Watamu only) by a The BioKen team, and will then head straight to Kulalu Camp on the outskirts of Tsavo East National Park (approximately a 2 hour drive from Malindi). The Kulalu camp is a small private camp on the banks of the Galana River. The surrounding bush is a hive of reptile, insect, bird and mammal activity.
After refreshments at the camp you’ll head out on foot in search of a possible sleeping Puff Adder, Bitis arietans or arboreal Boomslang, Dispholidus typus as well as Sand snakes, Psammophis Sp, Beaked snakes Rhamphiophis Sp, and other species common in this area.
After a trek looking for (and hopefully at) snakes, it’s time to return to camp for lunch. After lunch, you may want a siesta, relaxation, or reading time as it’s pretty hot here in the bush! After tea it’s time to head out on foot for an afternoon river walk and sundowner. Return to camp for hot showers and dinner by the camp fire.
After dinner it’s time for a night game drive in search of that quick Red Spitting Cobra Naja pallida and other nocturnal species. Return for overnight at Kulalu.
Wake up early at 6am and have tea and toast before an early morning trip across the river to the damns. This is where we are likely to find the largest spitting cobra in the world. -the Large Brown Spitting Cobra Naja ashei. This was newly discovered by BioKen members in 2007. Here’s a part of the press release about it:
In December 2007 the world learned about a remarkable new species from East Africa. It was an entirely new species of snake from the lowland areas of East Africa. This was not just any snake it turned out to be the largest spitting cobra in the world. It all started in 2004 when Royjan Taylor of Bio-Ken Snake Farm, a reptile centre in Watamu, Kenya, contacted Dr. Wolfgang Wuster, a lecturer at the University of Bangor in Wales, about a big Cobra that they had suspected to be very different. Dr. Wuster had just concluded a paper on a new species from Sudan the Nubian Spitting Cobra Naja nubia They managed to prove the difference by sending blood and tissue samples to Dr. Wolfgang Wuster. He was so excited at what he found from what Bio-Ken sent him that he came out and spent some time at Bio-Ken taking more samples for DNA analysis as well as taking reference photos and descriptive notes.
Other Snake Safaris Offered
Longer safari’s are available to look for the Kenya Big 5 snakes. Contact BioKen and they’ll put together a full itinerary for you so fit in with your arrangements and interests.
The Big 5 you can go in search of would be:
- The first snake on the list is the Cobra. Kenya has 6 species. We are told that a large aggressive cobra is a magnificent sight to behold and Snake Safari staff use grab sticks and wear protective goggles while catching cobras – but it is still a tense procedure.
- Next, guests are rowed along calm stretches of river, searching the reeds for Pythons. We are warned that a large Python can make a formidable wrestling opponent!
- One of the most dangerous snakes in Kenya, is the Puff Adder, These are large sluggish vipers, slow to move out of the path of an approaching human, but fast to strike – with a pair of massive fangs!
- Boomslang, or other back fanged snakes – such as the Twig Snake.
- Lastly, the infamous Mamba (black and green species) are searched for. The highly aggressive black Mamba often exceeds 10 feet in length!
Telephone: +254 742 23303 / +254 733 290 324
Directions: Located less than 5 minutes drive from the hotels in Watamu (Turtle Bay, Hemingways etc). Bio-Ken Snake farm is off the main Watamu coast road, and is clearly sign-posted.