Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary is about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria. Set within the low mountains of the Magaliesberg range, the sanctuary offers a free-roaming forested home to primates that used to be personal pets, or that used to live in zoos or other places of captivity.

Did you know?

Monkeys eat fruit and tree sap, as well as beetles, moths and even birds and bats.

Being primates ourselves, we have a fascination with monkeys. And such fascination sometimes leads to people keeping monkeys as pets – often a recipe for disaster.

Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary in the Magaliesberg mountains, near Johannesburg and Pretoria, provides a free-roaming home for former captive monkeys.

It is one of only eight free-release primate sanctuaries in the world.

The capuchins, lemurs, squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys and bushbabies at the sanctuary were all either pets or bred for the pet trade, or came from zoos. Here they can shake off their former lives in confined spaces and leap from tree to tree, socialise with their own kind (and breed) and learn how to be true monkeys again.

Their home is a 7ha sanctuary with gorges, waterfalls and natural streams – a perfect place for primates.

Bushbabies is a privately run establishment near Hartbeespoort Dam, right next door to a sister organisation, the Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam.

Visitors will be taken on a guided tour through the thickly wooded area on elevated walkways. Guides will point out the monkeys, which live in similar circumstances to their original homes in South America, Central America and Madagascar.

The indigenous bushbabies only rise at sunset, so they’re the only animals you are unlikely to see during the day.

And if you arrive early enough, you may find the ring-tailed lemurs in their favourite meditative pose, warming themselves in the morning sun.

Visitors may not feed the monkeys as they are being 'de-humanised', or 're-wilded', so that they learn to socialise with each other naturally. (There are 12 feeding stations scattered throughout the property.)

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary
Tel: +27 (0) 12 258 9908
Cell: +27 (0) 71 791 7712
Email: info@monkeysanctuary.co.za

How to get here

From Johannesburg, get on the concrete highway (Western Bypass) and take the Malibongwe turn-off onto the R512 towards Lanseria Airport. Stay on the road, pass the Lanseria airport and turn left at the T-junction towards Brits. From here, pass the Pecanwood Golf Estate and turn right (at the signboard to Brits) to take the long bridge over part of the Hartbeespoort Dam. At the next T-junction turn right, then left at the four-way stop. Within 2.5km, you will see the sign to Bushbabies Monkey Sanctuary.

Best time to visit

Animals, including monkeys, are usually more active early in the day or in the late afternoon. The Sanctuary is open 7 days a week, from 9am to 4pm.

Around the area

Why not visit the Elephant Sanctuary on the adjoining property? The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Sanctuary at De Wildt is also close by and is well worth a visit.

Tours to do

Tours leave every hour on the hour, and take about 90 minutes.

What will it cost

R195 for adults, R175 for pensioners and R95 for children (four to 14 years).

Length of stay

Set aside a few hours - ideally, a morning or an afternoon - to enjoy your visit to the sanctuary.

What to eat

The sanctuary does have a coffee shop where light meals are served. You can also order a picnic basket.

Best buys

The sanctuary has a shop on the premises that sells mementos, T-shirts, bags and soft toys. A part of all sales goes towards primate projects.