I can’t take the grin off my face. Especially when I look back through the photos. After the Lion Park we drove out to Harties, which is an hour away from Jozi, to visit the Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary. It. Was. Awesome
We arrived for the last tour of the day at 16.00. As ever, it meant that we were the only people on the tour so it felt like a private tour – always more enjoyable than sharing your time with 2o strangers
We met with Joe, our guide, and we set off into the heart of the sanctuary to learn about the monkeys that live there. At the very start of the tour, there is a sign that warns you that monkeys are kleptomaniacs, and that we must be careful with our personal belongings
As we walked in, right at the start, the previous tour was walking out and there was a monkey on the guys shoulder! Just a regular guy who was on the tour. I was so excited to see this, but even more excited when the monkey decided to jump over onto my shoulder! My heart swelled instantly, and my grin was wider than the Cheshire Cat!
He was the cutest little thing, a Capuchin, which are apparently the most intelligent and are often used for entertaining as they are so easy to train. His name was Apie, which means monkey in Afrikaans. He was chewing away on a peanut and happily jumped between our group, testing out the most comfortable shoulders/head to sit onHe seemed to enjoy sitting on the boys shoulders the most, but after a while he jumped back up on my head and stayed there until the end of the tour! At first I was ecstatic as he is so cute, but after a while he was chewing his food into my hair, eating my actual hair, pulling on it to balance and trying to steal first my sunglasses, and then my iPhone! At one point I turned round to find him unpopping Rob’s button on his shirt and shoving his hand in there. Cheeky little monkey! LiterallyHe then jumped back across, lay across my shoulders like a shrug and seemed happy to just chill out there. It was comfortable and he wasn’t as heavy as Midas, but he has the hottest little body in the world and it was a very hot day as it was!
Joe was a great tour guide – very knowledgable. He explained to us about the different kinds of monkeys that they have at the sanctuary – Capuchin, Spider, Squirrel and Lemurs. Apparently there are Bushbabies too, but you can’t see them until sunset and it was too early for themThe monkeys at the monkey sanctuary are rescued or donated after living as pets, entertainers etc, and given a new lease of life, after rehabilitation, and released into a “wild” environment at the sanctuary. Apie hasn’t got the hang of just being a monkey yet. Joe said that before he came to the sanctuary his owner had a whole wardrobe of clothes for him, and used to dress him up in little pink dresses and the like. He still obviously loves to be around humans. Hopefully he will get the hang of being a monkey soon, although I will be sad that future visitors won’t experience carrying him around the placeThe sanctuary is beautifully crafted. There is a conference and venue centre (I REALLY want to host a party there!!), and the woodland itself is stunning. There are wooded walkways, elevated platforms and the most stunning view. They use recycled materials where possible, and I just loved the whole set up
Unfortunately, I was too busy messing around with Apie, and I missed a lot of what Joe had to teach us. It’s this blimmin’ blog – I had to get the pictures for the story, and the light was terrible! We had Rob’s mum, and our 2 friends visiting from the UK, and they thoroughly enjoyed it all too. They said that Joe was absolutely great, and they learnt a lot. I am going to be back here next time we have visitors, for sure, and I will ensure to pay more attention to what the guide has to say
It was really stunning to walk around the wood, and nice and cool under the cover of the trees. The view from the elevated positions was so awesome, but I can tell you something for nothing, it’s nigh on impossible to use a DSLR camera whilst you have a naughty monkey on your back/head/shoulder. He grabbed hold of the Canon strap and was tugging it, as if I was going to let him take the camera! Apparently he has stolen 21 mobile phones since he has been there!
I think that this is a really worthwhile day out from Joburg, and if you are driving from Joburg and the monkey sanctuary is on your left, just past the elephant sanctuary (due a visit!) there is a Cape Dutch looking venue that is a pub and restaurant. I fully recommend that you check it out for a bite to eat – some of the places in Hartbeespoort are really dodgy. The pub has only just changed hands a few weeks ago to the new owners, but I’m hoping to go back to their opening night and write about them properly – it’s an awesome little place!