I do not care for zoos or the caging of animals and prefer to be in the car/truck cage driving through the wild yet for a more personal experience and intimate photos I did enjoy getting close up at Monkeyland.
I’ve seen monkeys coming into camp in Kruger, Mountain Zebra and Addo Elephant National Parks. They are the one animal that can conquer high fences. And just like US National Park squirrels, while looking for human food often become troublesome and destructive.
My hosts at Wild Spirit recommended Monkeyland and others at the Backpacker’s Lodge wanted to go as well. I had a car so we crammed five people into the VW Pollo and cruised up the road about 20 minutes to The Crags. The one hour guided tour cost $27 each which also included almost unlimited time walking through Birds of Eden on our own.
Ring-tailed Lemurs greeted us and seemed to be everywhere. Although they didn’t approach us they were unfazed by our close proximity.
Monkeyland is the worlds first free roaming multi-specie primate sanctuary created by Tony Blignaut in 1998 to provide safe haven for otherwise caged primates from private homes and zoos. This educational facility strives to teach visitors about the rapid decline of natural habitats due to logging, mining, agriculture and human settlements.
I was surprised to see a tortoise lumbering through the foliage.
Monkeyland’s forest encompasses almost 30 acres (12 hectare) designed to protect indigenous Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and other wildlife. The sanctuary provides a home to almost 450 primates and since most are originally from exotic habitats this forest does not naturally provide enough appropriate food so a variety of food is supplied to fulfill their needs.
The guide told us about all the different animals seen but to be honest I was busy snapping photos and not paying much attention.
This unlikely match of Langurs hang out together. I think the guide said that the ‘he’ Hanuman takes care of the ‘she’ Spectacled, but no worry about cross breeding as she’s not fertile. Hey, they’re friends.
The suspension bridge is reported to be the longest in Africa at 420 feet (128 meters). Keeping all the thousands of visiting feet off the ground reduces impact on the environment. And being up in the trees kind of reminded me of the Tsitsikamma zip-line.
New arrivals are kept in cages to acclimate as are some disabled, orphaned, elderly or blind. The idea is to give these animals a chance.
Getting close up at Monkeyland was OK but I still prefer to see wildlife in the wild. And the mosquitoes were horrific.
I’d recommend visiting Monkeyland early to allow more time to visit the adjacent Birds of Eden where you can stroll at your leisure with no guide. There’s also a restaurant which I didn’t eat at and souvenir store. Plus there is more to see in the area.
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