Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, Western Cape
Did you know?
In the morning, lemurs warm themselves in the sun while sitting in tranquil yoga positions.
A ring-tailed lemur at Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary casts a calculating sidelong glance at one of the vervet monkeys and starts rubbing his wrists up and down his long, barred, floating tail.
Stink fight time.
The vervet knows something is up, but stink fighting for status is a foreign concept for these African primates. He gives the lemur a last baffled look before leaping up to rejoin his mates in the high yellowwood trees.
For the most part, though, the 15-odd species that share this virgin Tsitsikamma forest along the Garden Route live happily ignoring one another.
Conservationist Tony Blignaut started Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary near Plettenberg Bay in 1998, and it has quickly become one of the best Garden Route attractions.
This is the first place in the world where different species of monkeys, all born in captivity, can roam free in a massive forest sanctuary.
Many of them had never even seen trees before when they first arrived, and are sometimes nervous and unskilled. "I remember the time we released the first squirrel monkeys from their cage, and a little later, it was like raining monkeys, plop, plop, out the trees. But they learned fast," grins Tony.
Many monkeys are former pets - others come from zoos where they've outbred the available space. Some of the zoo-bred lemurs took months before they'd climb higher than 2 metres - the height of their previous enclosure. Now you'd swear they had always been wild.
The newly arrived captive-bred monkeys learn which forest berries and leaves are good to eat from the resident troop of wild, indigenous vervet monkeys.
To see these cheerful creatures at treetop level, take a walk along Monkeyland's suspension bridge, the longest in Africa. You'll also probably see Atlas the gibbon whoop to his mate, and hear the black-and-white ruffed lemurs fill the forest with their wild chanting.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
Tel: +27 (0) 44 534 8906