Not surprisingly, Meserani Snake Park was also the recipient of Monduli District's award for preservation of the environment.
Berry and Lynn Bale, managers of the park can tell you of a time when the shrub and tree filled park that is so well known today was hot, dry and dusty not unlike the area surrounding it.
Originally from South Africa, the Bales arrived in Arusha and started working on constructing the park premises in 1993. "The first thing we had to do was plant tress", says Lynn.
Today the park is green and although you can still smell the dust, it is a pleasant escape from it's desert like surroundings.
The park is "home" to a variety of snakes common in Eastern and Southern Africa, from the Black Mamba to the black and red spitting cobras and the African Python. Other reptiles include monitor lizards. chameleons and crocodiles. There are also a few species of birds that are orphaned or injured for whom a temporary home is provided at the park.
The Bales' project is perhaps one of a few that works well with the local community. Some of the snakes in the park were brought in by the help of the Maasai living in the neighboring area. Instead of killing snakes that may harm livestock, the locals inform the park about any snakes seen in the neighborhood which are captured and taken to the park. The Bales also provide antidote treatment for snake-bites and other basic health services to the Maasai and other local communities free of charge.
In the park premises there are also a bar and barbecue facilities. The bar "has become known around the world", says Berry. "It has the coldest drinks in East Africa" says an article in TanTravel magazine. And it does indeed seem popular. On the roof of the bar hang t-shirts and shirts from what seems to be many if not all walks of life. "have another beer", says one. Another has a full story to tell" This is a story about Wade and the Bukima friends made, A two day holiday was his intention, But how long he stay need we mention? ......." The bank notes from Ethiopia, Hungry, Slovenia, Italy on the walls; the photos of mzungus and trucks stuck or completely off muddy roads further tell of the truckloads of people from around the world who have been to the Meserani Snake Park bar and left their mark.
If you happen to visit the bar do try some of the species of cocktails served (the Manager recommends), 'Green Mamba' may not be too toxic, 'Overland Overdose' may require a dose of Mama Bale's antidote.