08 November 2012

My Happy Place.

Last weekend, Jurgen surprised me with a weekend date to {Bush Babies Monkey Sanctuary} in Hartbeespoort.  We visited Bush Babies for the first time earlier this year and I haven't stopped talking about it since.  It's just such an incredible experience to be able to interact so closely with the primates and to observe the wonderful habitat that Bush Babies has created for them as their new home.  As you can see in the photo below, it looks like a monkey's paradise if I've ever seen one.  And I mean really... where else in the world can you actually hold a monkey on your shoulder?!

Bush Babies is one of eight free-release monkey sanctuaries in the world and is home to a variety of different primate species including squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, lemurs, capuchin monkeys, and bush babies.  All of the inhabitants used to either be household pets or were bred for the pet trade.  Many of the monkeys were victims of previous abuse and are on a long, slow road to rehabilitation and recovery.  Others were donated by typical pet owners who just weren't able to meet the daily demands of caring for a monkey.  Either way, Bush Babies attempts to provide it's primates with a safe and secure natural environment where they are able to flourish and live as they would in the wild.

Meet Sarah.  She's the only spider monkey in the sanctuary at the moment and they are actively searching for a mate to keep her company.  When we were last at the sanctuary in April, Sarah hitched a ride on Jurgen's shoulders, but this time she seemed content observing the group from a distance.  The guide described her hair style as the "Justin Beiber look".... adorable right!?  I never understood how spider monkeys earned their names until I saw Sarah walk on all fours during the tour.  Doesn't she sort of look like a four-legged spider in the photo below?

... And this adorable Capuchin monkey's name is Apie {monkey in Afrikaans}.  He's undoubtedly the star of the show at Bush Babies and is also a total kleptomaniac.  He greets each and every tour by searching everyone's bags and pockets to see if he can find any stray wallets or cell phones to add to his stash.  {Note: it is recommended that you leave all bags and wallets in the car for this tour!}  I have a hunch that Apie's previous owner used him as his personal thief - this monkey has a serious obsession with pockets, zippers, and gadgets of any kind!  It's amazing to see how clever he is.  In the above photo, the guide is trying to lure Apie away from that enticing pink backpack with a bottle of water.  As you can see... he's not having it.

After Apie was satisfied that he'd searched every crack and crevice, he decided to hitch a ride on my shoulders throughout the majority of the tour.  Needless to say, I was in heaven and more that happy to offer him a lift!

Ring-tail Lemurs from Madagascar!  These cuties are extremely endangered.

A black and white ruffed Lemur, also from Madagascar and also endangered.

Apie also had to take in the view from Jurgen's shoulders :)

This photo is from our previous trip in April, but it's one of my all-time favorites so I had to share it again.

And the above is Apie wallowing in total self-defeat.  No new gadgets this time.

On the way back home, Jurgen turned to me in the car and asked "Was today really like getting a present for you?" - I immediately resounded with an absolute yes!  It was indeed better than any material gift anyone could ever give me {with the possible exception of a dslr ;)}.  This is one tour that I will never tire of and I'm sure this will not be our last visit to Bush Babies.

So Apie.... until next time!!!

- - - - -

Bush Babies is open 7 days a week with tours operating between 9:00am and 4:00pm.  It's located in the beautiful little town of Hartbeespoort {about a 45 minute drive from Jo'burg}.  For any South Africans and tourists passing through the area, it's an absolute must!  Tickets are R195.00 per adult {about $25 per person} and tours are approximately 90 minutes long.  For more information visit their site here.


  1. there are monkeys ON YOUR SHOULDERS! it just blows my mind that that's normal in your life - in an amazing way!

  2. AWWWW! Monkeys are cuddling you guys...SO SO adorable :)

  3. I really need to pay them a visit. something to put on my summer "to do" list!!

  4. Soooo cool!
    Now I want to go there!

  5. Seriously, how do you go there and NOT leave without a monkey? These pictures are amazing, and I so wish we had something like it here! I did feed a monkey once in Costa Rica...it was pretty awesome :)


  6. Those monkeys are so cute! reminds me of the monkey forest in Bali, but those monkeys were mean and would jump on you to steal your sunglasses!

  7. Oh my goodness, Jenna, that is incredible! What a neat experience to be able to actually interact and be hands on!!

  8. this is awesome! i saw on twitter that you had a monkey on your shoulder and i wondered where you were - so fun!

  9. Oh wow! Amazing photos and awesome experience. I'm putting Bush Babies on my dream list of places to visit!

  10. Oh my gosh! I'm in love with this place!

  11. that is a great experience!
    thankj you for sharing :)
    happy weekend

    style frontier

  12. I think Apie really wanted to go home with you guys! :)

  13. Aww...I would have wanted to take Apie home! How cool, to be on a monkey tour with a monkey on your shoulders almost the whole way (un-heard of!). Awesome place!

  14. Oh my gosh, HOW FUNNNNNNN!!!! This looks absolutely amazing!!

  15. This tour would definitely be on a top-ten list of best gifts. You don't hear people very often saying that they got to hang out with monkeys on their shoulders.

  16. This looks so amazing - what an experience!!!!!

  17. I know I posted this same comment on your other poster, but THERE IS A MONKEY ON YOUR SHOULDER. I still haven't gotten over how cool that is. :)

  18. i am beyond envious of this trip! what a cool experience!


Thanks for the love!