Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I have been in South Africa ‘experiencing life’… But I am officially back in Edinburgh and I’m happy to be back I must say We had an amazing time, although absolutely nothing like what we expected, and we didn’t follow our original plan…Had a few disasters but hey it’s all life experience and I will definitely never forget this trip. Cape town is beautiful!
Ok so our original plan was to fly to Johannesburg and then end up at the International Primate Rescue center in Pretoria and stay there for 7 days doing various monkey activities, before chilling in Cape Town for three days. Aaaaaand that never happened…Let me fill you in.
Ok so after our 11hour flight from Amsterdam to Jo-berg, we were collected from the airport by a pre arranged private taxi service, and we ripped to shreds- the charged us £35 EACH for this taxi, bloody £70 for a taxi fare to this monkey sanctuary. We were under the impression that it was only £35, not £35 each, so we were kinda dubious…
Anyhoo! Not to moan, we arrived in the pitch black darkness to this “monkey sanctuary”…I really have to laugh here when I think back, just before we arrived I was saying to my sister ‘oh I wonder if someone will be sitting waiting with cookies and milk for us to welcome us’…LOOOOOOL I don’t know where I got this nice wee idea from, I was obvs delirious from the 11hr flight…Anyway it couldn’t have been further from what actually happened! When we arrived all we could tell was that 1)There was no cookies, no milk and 2)This was gonna be dodgy as hell… We stumbled out of our RIP OFF taxi and then this random long-term volunteer came to greet us. She was half asleep, fair enough I mean it was like 11.30pm, and she showed us to our ‘dorm’, (she opened this door to a mysterious black hole and pointed out our dirty bunk bed). We obvs had all of our luggage and felt pretty random, we got into our little bunk ‘beds’ (more like a mat on a metal frame) and we lay fully clothed, bomber jackets and all- until the morning. That first night I was petrified, I thought there was some dodgy paranormal activity situation which I later discovered was a wee dog creeping about the room.
Here is a pic of our dorm…
In the morning we got up, crapping ourselves…Feeling very dubious. It was clear that the sanctuary is in DESPERATE need for donations…We were showed the monkeys by the Sanctuary owner, Sue. There are over 100, I particularly loved the wee mini monkeys the marmosets. One of the marmosets was kept in a cage with a parrot at a hotel reception, which is how he ended up at the rescue centre. Some of the other monkeys were lab monkeys used for testing, and some of the others were kept as pets. We learnt quite a lot, I was so shocked to learn that some of the monkeys were on anti depressants because they self harm- they are actually like humans. Even the way the react to you, i.e. try to groom you and play with you, they are like wee people. Very fascinating to watch…
So anyway, after our monkey tour, still feeling kinda random we had a wee shower then kinda farted about looking for someone to speak to. There is literally NOTHING to do if you’re not ‘working’ at the sanctuary, it’s in the middle of nowhere, so we found ourselves painting a new enclosure for the monkeys… We were also told before hand that we would be fed at the sanctuary which was a lie…Whats all that about? Food is my life, it wasnt cool! We had some chat with some of the other volunteers, a couple of girls were really cool and laid back, the rest of them seemed a bit strange to say the least…
They have a rota for all of the volunteers on the wall, and it was pretty obvious that since me and nat were only there for a week, we had to endure a fair level of p-taking. We had read reviews of the sanctuary, and it was meant to be ‘relaxed’, and it wasn’t anywhere neear relaxed, if you sat down for one minute someone would be walking past and in a VERY patronising tone say “jobs jobs jobs poppets”. The use of the word “poppet” in itself is enough to make me sick in my mouth. Poppets are sweets, not people, don’t get it twisted. Anyway, what I wasnt too happy about is the fact that in one week, you are only allowed 1 hour of ‘monkey time’, ie time in the monkey enclosures, physically touching the monkeys…I thought that we would be allowed a lot more than this, but no. Gutted. I mean, I was totally expecting to help with enclosures and food etc, but I did expect to be able to interact with the wee guys a bit more.
Anyway, apart from the VERY basic accommodation, lack of food, it was only day one and me and nat (my sis) found ourselves getting attitude from one of the long-term volunteers…Day one was our ‘day off’, y’know, to settle in to the nothingness and to recover after that rank flight…Anyway a couple of the girls asked us to go to this pub up the road that night, so as we were getting ready to go, some jobs worth came up to us and pretty much demanded that we ‘do the bowls’…Now at this stage, we knew what that actually meant just as much as you guys reading this now…Nobody had explained anything to us but we were being ordered to ‘do the bowls’ on our day off…We were fine about it, we were eager to help so we were like yeah whatever we will help…But what was the need in the attitude? I mean it’s a bloody voluntary monkey sanctuary? I thought everyone would be chilling and y’know, earth people, not a bunch of arseholes.
The next again morning we endured p-take #2, on our first ‘working day’ we had to get up at 3.45am to feed the monkeys. So we did. Btw the wee monkeys get porridge and fruit at 4am every morning. Then I was sent to chop fruit for 3 hours, then top up the wee guys porridge… When I went to top up their porridge at mid day I seen the sweetest thing…The wee marmosets had porridge around their wee mouths! Adorable! Like wee old men! I loved them so much I cried when I left them lol.
A wee marmoset with porridge round his mouth.
Anyway, I could actually write for days about my experience at the sanctuary, but to cut a very long story short, we decided to leave after 2 days because 1)There was a very obvious divide between the short and long-term volunteers the long-term volunteers even have their own kitchen which is way better than the short termers kitchen 2)There was an atmosphere created by a couple of the girls towards me and my sister 3)It was completely unsafe, intruders every night to the sanctuary, I couldn’t sleep because I was petrified. Apparently a policeman got shot and cut into pieces just outside the sanctuary! and 4) They lied when they said food would be provided
Cookies and milk, ohhhhh dear….What a laugh.
I have to say, the best moments were at the end when we were allowed in with a wee group of marmoset monkeys, they launch themselves from the branches onto you and use you as a climbing frame…And we were given sugary cereal to feed them to tempt them…So sweet. We were also happy when Sue told us that the money we had donated has gone towards building a new enclosure for a couple of monkeys, and without our money they wouldn’t have been able to accept the monkeys. So that was really cool.
Me and my wee marmoset pal, monkey time
So we left and headed for cape town! Had to sleep in Jo-berg airport but hey, it was safer than the sanctuary.
Done some amazing stuff in Cape Town! In fact the 2 decent girls we met, Steph and Jen, came to join us in Cape Town We went shark diving which was amazing and actually not scary (or maybe im just getting more hardcore, or maybe the sanctuary toughened me up lol), we went up table top mountain in a cable car, we drove all around the peninsula it’s very beautiful, we went to roben island, we also got involved and ate some african food and managed a cheeky wee night out which is when Nat got her phone and camera stolen…
All in all, very eventful! I even managed to lose Nat in the mall for 2 hours which was really scary, we simultaneously had the surveillance teams searching for one another on cctv and then were reunited when Nat spotted me waiting on a bench for her… She said she seen me on cctv going into the chocolate shop lol…
Me and my sis, Natalie, on the beach
Me at the top of Table Top mountain
Table top mountain, Gorillas in the mist style
Penguins at Boulders Bay
Cape town- how amazing does the sea look?
Caterpillar, or someones strip lashes?
So yeah! Go to South Africa! Just stay safe
Has anyone else had a similar experience with an animal sanctuary? I would love to hear it!