It was mine and my friends' last day in Kruger National Park during my holiday in 2009; I was probably on a bit of a high because it was such a great trip and also a bit of a low because I was leaving the next day to return to the States. My friend and I had survived three weeks in Kruger facing off herds of buffalo, monkey thieves, rhino road stand offs, lion sightings and more so I may have been a bit cocky too by this point.
Skukuza Camp is the largest in the park and where we spent our last days. That afternoon we set out for the restaurant walking the winding sidewalk along the river that is just inside the fence of the camp. I was a bit uptight about the plethora of monkeys in camp (for reasons you know if you read the blog Smiling at Monkeys) so I was carrying a small water squirt gun intended to use as a monkey weapon should I be harassed by these adorable but obtuse creatures.
Strolling casually on the excessively hot November day we rounded one bend and in the same second we realized a snake was coiled on the cement walkway of our path the large dark colored snake quickly slithered into the reeds. I initially guessed it was a Mozambique spitting cobra but only got a quick glance and wanted to find it again to see if I was right so we leaned over the railing looking closely for the snake even squirting water from my monkey weapon into the reeds trying to get it to move. Being that was my tenth trip to Africa with a vast knowledge of the wildlife stored up in my brain my friend had looked to me during the trip for safety. I said, as we leaned over the fence looking for the snake, "Don't worry. A spitting cobra has to hood up to spit so as long as we don't see him hood up we will be fine." We didn't see the snake again and eventually we went on about our business.
A few weeks after we got home, My friend and I happen to be watching a wildlife show on snakes when the narrator stated that a spitting cobra doesn't necessarily have to be hooded up to spit. My friend and I quickly turned to look at each other, both our brains instantly transported back to Skukuza to us leaning over that fence. He calmly asked, "What else didn't you know for sure?"