In the spirit of finding fun things to do in Joburg (see my last post on Walkhaven) we decided to spend the weekend in the Cradle of Humankind for a little getaway. Just 30 minutes from Joburg, it’s a beautiful spot to be in especially in summer, and there is no shortage of fun things to do or see.
Our first stop was to a spot called ‘Bushbaby Monkey Sanctuary‘ which is just past the Chameleon Village outside of Hartabeespoort. At R200 per person I was very skeptical, but it proved to be the best money I’ve spent in a while.
The Monkey sanctuary is a sanctuary to monkeys which have been previously owned as exotic pets, and has been built on several hectares to closely mimic and resemble a monkeys natural habitat. The guided tour consists of a 3km walk (takes about an hour) with a brilliant guide, who talks you through the monkeys, where they came from and what differentiates the species.he also explains that, while being very cute, keeping a monkey as a pet is the equivalent of keeping a 3 year old in the house for 45 years. No thanks!
The entire walk is along elevated wooden platforms, so as not to damage the natural environment, and allow you to get closer to the animals. The animals are also free to roam where they like, and the humans are not fenced off, so its unlike any zoo experience you’ve ever had. All the walkways and barriers are sourced from unused rubble piles, and were carefully and laboriously put together by the people at the sanctuary.
The second you walk into the double enclosed doors, Sarah a spider monkey and Uppie, a Capuchin monkey greet you by either jumping on your head, your back, your shoulder, stealing your cellphone or jumping frantically from branch to branch. They are both hilarious, and as you carry on along the walk, Sarah chills at the entrance while Uppie happily jumps from one person to the other, enjoying the free ride. He’s a cheeky bugger though and tried several times (unsuccessfully) to steal the contents from my handbag which he sneakily unzipped when I wast looking. It’s no surprise these guys are trained as pickpockets in many countries.
The sanctuary currently has 75 monkeys, but has space for 350, and with all varieties and shapes lolling in the trees and running about, it looks like primate paradise!
The sanctuary also encourages breeding, but limits the amount so as not to worsen the problem of overpopulation. For those looking for a more interesting function venue, there’s also an exquisite venue set in the middle of the sanctuary, which can hold up to 200 people. I’m sure if you warned your guests beforehand, they wouldn’t mind a couple of monkeys bombing their photos. (Monkeys wedding, anyone?)
The Sanctuary is set on a beautiful property, with a coffee shop, bar and gift shop. Definitely recommended for a fun morning out!