The Garden Route: The Monkey Who Ate Our Lunch

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This is the fourth stop on our trip along South Africa’s Garden Route. If you missed the eco-lodge in Gansbaii, the ostriches in Oudtshoorn and the elephants in Plettenberg Bay, go back and check them out first.


After we were through with the elephants, we started to head back to our lodge, Hog Hollow, only to realize Monkeyland was just up the road. So we detoured and bought admission to the park. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a sucker for wildlife experiences. Plus, monkeys happen to be one of my favorite animals (second only to the camel, of course).

But this was no trip to the zoo. Monkeyland is an open-top sanctuary where the primates roam free. More than 400 monkeys  comprising 15 species swing through the trees of the 30-acre park.

We were told to watch out for “warm streams,” as the naughty creatures like to give the visitors showers (as this little bugger tried). They’re also notorious for swooping down and swiping cell phones off  unsuspecting tourists, so you have to hold your belongings tight as you wander through the forest on the one-hour tour.

Of course, allowing 400 monkeys to roam at will creates unpredictability. We never knew who might be blocking the walking path (or, in one case, shielding us from crossing the suspension bridge).

If you’re wondering if it’s true that all monkeys do all day is lay around and pick fleas off each other, I now can vouch that yes, this is indeed true.

I’m not going to so much as comment on this guy. After all, “animal porn” is still the most popular search term that brings people to this site; I needn’t add fuel to the fire.

Monkeyland is next door to Birds of Eden, a dome-like structure housing many native South African species. I’m not nearly as fond of birds as I am of monkeys—and besides, as always on this trip, we were on a schedule—so I took a pass. But if you have the time, it sounds like a fun activity. When we finally did make it back to Hog Hollow, we sat out on the porch and had lunch with our new friends Vanessa and Simon. They weren’t the only ones eager to be our dining companions.

This little guy watched us curiously, ravenously, from the top of the Main Lodge for a solid 10 minutes. (Hog Hollow is situated in a plush jungle just off the coast of the Indian Ocean, and the general manager warned us we might encounter some mischievous locals while we stayed there. We just didn’t know how truly mischievous they’d be.) I knew he wanted to make a move; I just didn’t think he’d have the balls to do so with so many people milling about. But he did, oh did he.

Almost as if in slow motion, I saw him creep around the perimeter of the patio, scaling the handrails all Mission Impossible-like, then stop just behind my mom and Vanessa. Now I know you’re never supposed to feed the wildlife, but here’s where I found myself in a pickle. If I were to grab my mom’s and my plate and try to run away, I was 99 percent sure the monkey would follow and catapult himself onto the elusive tableware—or worse, my face—in my escape attempt. So instead, I sat and watched it all unfold.

That varmint ran straight up to the table, performed a graceful hop, skip and a jump, Nadia Comaneci style, onto the empty chair and up on the table, and grabbed my mom’s sandwich—right from under her nose!

At this point, we were all keeled over with laughter—and my mom busted out her camera just in time—so Sir Cheeky decided to come back for seconds, stopping just long enough to pose for his mug shot.

But if we thought he was trouble, we clearly had yet to meet the baboons of Knysna…

  • February 16, 2011

    Number 4 is my favorite. Looks like a Muppet!

  • February 16, 2011

    Okay, weird coincidence! I just commented on a site that we had an experience in Knysna (on the Garden Route) where monkeys broke into our room and raided our mini bar while sat on the patio watching in stunned horror (monkeys are cute until they are stealing overpriced snacks!). Anyway, as I hit send, I noticed that you had left a similar comment with a link to this post. Kind of a weird co-inky-dink, don’t you think?

    Great post by the way. Wasn’t the Garden Route spectacular?

    • February 16, 2011

      Ha, that’s hilarious! Yeah, weird coincidences on the blogosphere today…I had just hit publish then the first two posts in my Google Reader were African butt shots by The Road Forks (when I had posted a monkey crotch pic above) and Travelated’s breakfast-swiped-by-birds post. But that’s absolutely crazy that the monkeys BROKE INTO YOUR ROOM.

      And yes, I loved every last part of the Garden Route. My only regret is that my mom and I had just five days to drive it. I felt like we were in the car so much of the trip and didn’t have a lot of spare time to just enjoy the scenery and places we were visiting.

  • February 16, 2011

    Oh, that last picture is just priceless. The look on his face is totally “what? what did I do?”

    The monkey in the fourth picture is kind of creepy-looking, but the first little guy is a cutie.

  • February 16, 2011

    Joan so warned me about the monkeys, and baboons. I only saw them from a distance. Must have missed the sign for Monkeyfarm.

  • February 16, 2011

    These pictures had me in stitches! The second monkey looks so forlorn, the cross-eyed monkey looks just… wow, and the that last one is quite the impudent little devil. Love it!

    • February 16, 2011

      We were all in stitches the rest of the day. The staff came running out and chased him away, which we felt bad about, but at least they let us have our fun first!

  • February 16, 2011

    That looks like a hilarious time! the last picture is absolutely priceless as he has not one, not two, but three things he is making off with at once!

    • February 16, 2011

      You raise an excellent point, Scott. He was ridiculously greedy! As if it weren’t enough that he ruined our lunch, he took both my mom’s and my sandwiches while at it–before we were even done, no less.

  • February 16, 2011

    I agree with SVV, I adore that guy!!! Monkeys are soooo cheeky! I’ve had a couple steal my food as well.

  • February 16, 2011

    I went to Monkeytown but my pictures … they completely sucked ass. Monkeytown is definitely a place i’d visit again.

    The monkey’s balls are blue …

  • February 17, 2011

    Love the monkeys! I am a sucker for the wildlife stuff, too. Always seems to be a highlight on my trips!

  • February 18, 2011

    Woah, lady, i have an evil monkey post coming right up, and you just stole my thunder. Glad you like them. I’m kinda ambivalent. On the one hand, the babies are the cutest. On the other? The adults…

    • February 20, 2011

      There’s enough monkey love to go around! Can’t wait to read about your monkey mishaps, as well =)

  • February 18, 2011

    I´m not much of a wildlife girl but a couple of months ago I visited a monkey rescue centre and totally fell in love with them. They are such playful pranksters.

  • February 19, 2011

    The monkey in the 4th picture down with the spiky hair is cute–and I don’t even like movies.

    What I really want to know is if your mom got a replacement sandwich!

    • February 19, 2011

      Oh dear, I meant that I don’t even like monkeys, not movies. I like movies, but not monkeys!

      • February 20, 2011

        Haha, I totally knew what you meant…I doubted that you hated all movies as a general rule of thumb =)

        We did *not* get a replacement sandwich, mainly because we were full and our stomachs hurt too much from laughing by then!

  • February 24, 2011

    You definitely can’t stay mad at these little critters! Nice that he stopped for some photographic evidence of his crimes!

  • March 3, 2011

    OK…that monkey has blue balls, I mean an azure nut sack!

  • March 18, 2011

    Hello Kistin.

    I like your photographs + site. I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Monkeyland. It is a pity you missed Birds of Eden though. It happens to be the World’s largest bird avairy.

    I am emailing because when we revamped our websites, most of the links were lost, I am therefore in the process of re-adding them. I am also adding some extra links and would like to add your company as a link to our site.

    On average we now have more than 1 000 000 (1 million) hits to our websites per month and I am currently updating our website on a basis daily.

    Could you please send me your url address and a short description of your company so that I can link you to our sites.

    I hope you make use of this offer.

    All the best,
    Lara 082 9795683

    Monkeyland & Birds of Eden
    P.O.Box 1190, Plettenberg Bay 6600
    Mobile +27 (0)82 9795683
    Fax +27 (0) 86 5453729

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