Nestled between Plettenberg Bay and Nature’s Valley on the Southern Cape’s beautiful Garden Route lies The Crags, an extremely popular tourist destination with both local and foreign visitors alike. Named after the sheer cliff faces of the surrounding Tsitsikamma Mountains, The Crags is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts – particularly hikers and mountain bikers. A veritable treasure trove of other attractions can be found in the area, including various animal sanctuaries, the region’s only wine estate, a Puzzle Park, arts and crafts outlets and fine eateries. In the animal sanctuary stable a visit to Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary is well worth one’s while.
So-called sanctuaries are often no more than a commercial pretence at conservation and rehabilitation. Lawnwood, however, is underpinned by the passion of both its owners, Mike and Emily. Snakes are generally misunderstood and feared and Mike always dreamed of one day opening a snake park with the objective of overcoming the public’s misconceptions regarding these fascinating reptiles. His growing collection of rescued snakes required more space than urban living could provide and, eventually, Mike and Emily fulfilled their dream through the establishment of Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary on a farm at The Crags. Many years of dedication and persistence enabled the two to overcome the many hurdles en route to the birth of Lawnwood.
Lawnwood now houses over 200 snakes and most of these species can be found in the Southern Cape. Informative one hour guided tours afford visitors the opportunity of getting up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. A snake pit housing some 30 indigenous individuals is the perfect exhibit to hone one’s snake spotting skills – most visitors, at first glance, see only what appears to be a lifeless patch of grass with rocks and logs dotted around, but, with their guide’s assistance, they soon notice the well camouflaged snakes seeking shelter amongst the vegetation and rocks. Having shifted their vision into snake mode visitors soon realize that there is more to serpents than meets the eye as Mike and his guides share some of their vast knowledge of the lifestyles and habits of these amazing animals. As the tour moves on to the other exhibits visitors get the chance to handle some of the non-venomous species – always a somewhat terrifying experience at first for those with phobias about snakes! The most venomous snake exhibits are always a hit – particularly those housing the cobras, mambas and the boomslang. A highlight of the tour is undoubtedly the python encounter – draping a large albino Burmese python around one’s shoulders is an experience one will surely remember!
Whilst snakes are the main feature of Lawnwood, other animals encounters from crocodiles and monitor lizards to horses and a pot-belly pig! Bamboo guests heading for The Crags should include Lawnwood on their list of venues to visit – for a very special experience!