A Travellerspoint blog

Graskop and farewell to the Monkeys!

I can't believe its my last day in South Africa! I fly to Cameroon tomorrow for the next chapter of this adventure, I've not got much idea of what awaits me out there, but one thing I know is that I'm really going to miss life at IPR! Sue's invited me back as a long-termer though, so I know I'll be back, hopefully next summer when they've moved onto pastures new (and bigger and better!). Theres a few things I won't miss, such as Judith the crazy land lady who's forever trying to scam the charity out of more money, but I will miss our scheming sessions for how to get our own back (i.e. Faking an outbreak of Anthrax, moving her garden ornaments about). And I won't miss how cold it is in the tent. But I'll miss my tent club chums and the larks... (see quotes on facebook) aswell as the jackals prowling around the tent! I'm also going to really miss all the animals here, not just the monkeys. Papi's been a bit multiple personality towards me recently, sometimes he'll just ignore me, other times he'll happily sit while I groom him, but occassionally he gives me 'crazy eyes' until I leave him alone, not that I blame him, he's had a shitty life up until now and humans have been directly responsible for that shittyness. I think that being here in SA and working with primates again has stopped me missing Borneo so much too, but I'm pretty sure I'll feel the same about this place when I leave! I've definitely found a new love for the old prosimians here, I've really enjoyed working with the marmosets and cotton-topped Tamarins which are fantastic to watch and great fun to sit in with (I think I acquired a few new piercings from the marms though!)ks (on top of normal monkey duties) I went to Graskop on my days off. We hired a car and drove the 3 hour journey south-east, it was a really nice scenic route and Graskop is a great little town, we stayed at a backpackers called Valley View and I can definitely recommend it, the roaring fire in the living room was bliss after a month of frost-bite in the tent (although I did miss tent club gang including Julio and Pixie!). The first night of our stay we went the Carimambos; a Portuguese/Mozambique restaurant, the seafood and meat dishes looked great but it was pretty limited for vegetarians, a cheese sandwich was the best, no the only, thing on the menu. Breakfast the next day was great though, we went to the legendary Harries Pancakes! (We liked it so much that we went again the next day). It was perhaps not the best idea to fill ourselves up with pancakes before doing the 'Big Swing' which is one of the biggest Gorge Swings in the world! We warmed up for it with an abseil which gave us the perfect view of the 200ft cliff that we would shortly launch ourselves off! Next was the zip wire that took us across the canyon! And then finally the swing itself! Sam and Holly went first, we decided on tandems as it was cheaper, you swung higher and it seemed less scary at the time! Soon enough it was time for Lu and me to take the plunge. We were harnessed up and slowly made our way backwards to the platform edge. After a bit of coaxing Lu got her heels hanging off the edge next to mine and we leaned backwards... The free fall only lasted for 3 seconds but it was incredible, I haven't had so much adrenaline induced fun since my skydive four years ago! Lu said the worst part was the walk back up the rickety steps, most of which we crawled up!
When we got back to the hostel we chilled out by the fire before heading out to Pine & Pint for food, where I had the GREATEST vege burger I have ever experienced. There wasn't actually any burger in it, it was just roasted veg on a bun but it was amazing (Burgertron as Tasha might say). The next day we did the Blythe River Canyon circuit, we went to Pilgrims rest first where we did the museum tour (lots of amusement from posing next to cars in the car museum, etc – see photos on facebook!), then headed to the Mac Mac falls, which were stunning but you could only see them from above, from there we went to the Mac Mac pools, which, in the middle of winter I am proud to say that I swam in (all four of them) along with Sam and Lu, while most other people watched us from the warmth of their polar fleeces! From there we headed to God's Window which has some spectacular look out points over Blythe River Canyon. We also saw Bourke's Luck Potholes (where we ran into some of the guys we'd met at the hostel) which were awesome and surrounded by Vervets! Our final stop was the three round awels, which was the best view I saw all day! I don't know what an awel is, but what we saw were three round hill type things. To Sams dismay I sat on the rock that Steve and Debbie had told us about which overhung the sheer drop, it was a fantastic view though! We drove home that night, it was a shame it was dark as on the way we had vowed to get a photo of the shop with the 'mangina' sign on the window! Love it.
No monkey related drama since I returned from our road trip, but things are coming along with the property, Sue's doing some persuading of banks and owners and I have all my fingers crossed! If all goes well the sanctuary should be rescuing 6 Hamadryas baboons, 11 Spider monkeys and 15 Squirrel monkeys (and possibly some Pygmy Marmosets too!)! Papi duty has continued as usual, we've also been monitoring the Cotton-tops Tamarins to see whether they actually interact at all, BA is so crazy and he just won't get the blatant hints that poor Thimmone gives him (i.e. Scent marking his head). We've also been monitoring Kismit, one of the Common Marmosets as he's seemed a bit down lately, he's been loving the extra attention and will happily sit being groomed for hours at a time! I still don't know all the Marms, I'm getting though, just a shame I'm leaving now!

I don't know when I'll be able to update about my Cameroon adventures as I'll be properly living in a tent (no mattresses, lamps, electric blanket, dogs or the all important mace). So toodles for now guys!

Posted by Chewbecki 00:46 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Monkeying around

Hey everyone! Its been a MAD couple of weeks at IPR! Lots of drama and excitement! A few weeks ago Sue put an ad in farmers weekly asking if anyone had any land they wanted to donate and amazingly she had heaps of offers! The most promising one didn't work out but Sue has since found an ideal property really cheap in Gauteng, so hopefully soon the Monkeys will be moving onto pastures new and much bigger! Sue has also accepted 6 Hamadryas Baboons (and possible 11 spider monkeys and Pygmy Marmosets!) so we have a month to build an enclosure for them (but we may find that we have to start again if the move goes ahead!). Sue also heard from a girl in Columbia who had found a Howler monkey chained up at a hostel, she had managed to get the Monkey out of that situation but she hasn't been in touch since, we can only hope that it found a place in a sanctuary out there and is not in a situation thats much worse.
While I was in Cape Town Twiggi (a 13 year old female Marmoset) had a baby. Shes had awful luck with child rearing in the past as she was uised as a breeding monkey in a lab and all her babies were taken off her after a week. Since arriving at the sanctuary shes had a few babies all of which have died. We really hoped that she'd finally be able to rear her own baby, but sadly after a week we noticed little Twiglet looking really weak with his head lolling and his tail uncurled. Sue wasn't around so Chaya called her and she said to take the baby off Twiggi and feed it. Taking the baby off Nigel (a young male who was carrying it at the time) was awful, the whole family of Marmosets screamed when I did it. We got the baby eating straight away and kept up hourly feeds through the night. Although the baby ate well at first the next day he began to vomit and it looked like he had an infection and sadly died in the afternoon. I felt awful for poor old Twiggi, her mate, Mukka has been vasectomized now so that little one will have been her last baby. We thought that Twiggi had probably stopped lactating, she is an old Marmoset and all those years of having babies taken off her might have suppressed her maternal instincts.
The next day was just as bad, Malika, another female Marmoset had been bitten by a snake a week or so before, she had a massively swollen head and we thought she'd lost an eye! They took her in and cleaned her eye up but she died not long after! So another sad monkey death! Not good.
The last few days have been mad! Loads of new volunteers have arrived and now we have a full house! Tash and I have moved into the tent with Chaya and Julio (we've injected the fun into tent life with our fun syringes) and everyone, except the animals (who were already a bit mental) has gone insane.
Poor old Papi (the Mona monkey) has been having a tough time of it, theres been so many people around he doesn't quite know where to direct his hatred! He had a go at me yesterday when I spilt his juice (BLOODY IDIOT!).
Next week I'm going to Blythe canyon and Graskop with Lu and Sam where we're going to do the gorge swing and a big zip line! Fun times! I can't believe I've got less than 3 weeks left, why does it always go so quickly!
I'm sure I have more to report, but I've forgotten!

Becky AKA Munzie

Posted by Chewbecki 02:42 Archived in South Africa Tagged animal Comments (0)

A crazy week in cape town!

Arrived in Jo'berg on friday afternoon and were escorted from the bus by a travelling Pastor who was very kind and found us a good taxi! We were staying at Accoustix on Jan Smuts and asked the guys there where was good for food and jazz! We went to a place called Moyo where the food was fantastic and the music great! We even got our faces painted there!
We arrived in Cape Town last saturday, decided to spend the first couple of nights at the cat and moose hostel at the top of long street. On saturday we just had a bit on an explore, we didn't get very far as Beck and I were sucked into Cafe Mojito for coffee, cocktails and live reggae! Amazing! On sunday we headed down the the V & A waterfront (the rich touristy part) and then to Green Point for the sunday market wher we got chatting to a guy caving stone pendants and we all bought one! We just had a chilled out evening after walking so far! The next day (the only sunny day!) we went back down the the V & A waterfront where we caught a boat from the nelson mandela gateway to Robben Island, a small island off Cape Town where numerous political leaders including Nelson Mandela were imprisoned by the government when thy opposed the Apartheid regime in South Africa. It was a great tour, we saw the island and the maximum security prison, our guide was really good, he had been a political prisoner there for 6 years himself so knew what he was talking about. We got back and went to our new hostel, Pent House on Long, its a little further down the street and we were in a much bigger dorm but we love it here! Everyones friendly and its such a cool little place, it used to be an office block before it was converted into a hostel! The next day Beck and I decided to climb Table Mountain, the weather wasn't awful but the 'table cloth' was starting to come down, we were a little worried about climbing it after hearing a few horror stories, but we were assured it was safe when we got there. It only took us about 2 hours to climb to the top, but the mist was so thick when we got up there we took the wrong path to the cableway, as we wandered round an increasingly dodgy looking path we came across another person who was lost, a dutch hairdresser called Susanne, who also happened to be staying at penthouse. After wandering around in the mist for about 45 minutes we decided to go back and just climb down, fortunately we heard voices and shouted to some people who directed us to the actual path. By that time we were so cold and fed up we just went straight in the cable car and went back for a shower! Then off to Mr Pickwicks for food! In our absence Leanne and Abi had been sorting out our hire car for our trip to Simons Town; a blue, floral 1977 Beetle! It even has air conditioning (ie holes). Wednesday was possibly one of the most traumatic days of my life. We booked shark cage diving and had to leave at 6 for the 2 hour minibus ride, they fed us breakfast (although I don't really know why...) and then we got straight on the boat. On the boat ride to 'Shark Alley' (between Dyer Island which has a colony of fur seals on it and another island) Leanne and I saw 2 Humpback whales breach, a mother and a calf, it was fantastic! The sea was pretty rough but I was feeling ok, that was until I got in the cage and the sea was so rough I kept getting forced under and drinking seawater by the mouthful. The sharks didn't cme very close when I was in the cage but they were amazing to watch from the boat! Leanne had a really close encounter when one of the 3 Great Whites we saw started chewing on the cage! For me, the trauma started after I'd been in the cage when I chucked up all that breakfast we'd been given. The others had already partaken in a chunderfest, Abi and Leanne were actually sick in the water, and poor old Beck was too ill even to get in the cage. The hour boat ride back was one of the worst hours of my life. I have never felt so sick ever, I think it was the combination of bad weather, the crate of chum and dead fish at my feet, swallowing salt water and watching everyone else throw up. Even writing this is making me want to hurl. 2 out of the 22 people on the boat weren't sick in the 4 hours we were at sea, so I think I did well to hold on until after I'd been in the cage! Having said that, I would love to shark cage dive again, in nice weather and after taking alot of travel sickness pills!
The following day was not without its trauma also. We didn't really have a plan so wandered around town for a bit, back at the hostel we bumped into Cathy and Susanne who were going to the bus station to get Susannes hair braided, I decided to tag along and see if mine was long enough! 3 hours of pain that felt like I was being scalped, sat under a tarpaulin which smelled of piss, in the rain I had a head of hair extensions, thanks to 3 Congolese ladies, one of which had a sister in Rotherham! That evening we went with Chris (an American guy staying at our hostel) to the Eastern Bazar to eat, it was a cool place with all types of Asian food and really cheap! Then we headed to Jo'berg (the bar, not the city) and Cafe Mojito for a Green Iguana (my favourite cocktail!)!
Friday was very cold and wet, but despite the rain we jumped in the Beetle and headed for Simons town and Boulders beach, home to the famous Penguins! Via Camps bay (which I'm sure is stunning in the sun!) The Penguins were cute and a half and totally unphased by the flock of tourists! We didn't stay long as it was pissing it down, so we went to explore Simons town, we decided against heading down to Cape Point, I'd love to see it but I don't think we'd have got alot out of it in that weather! When we got back we were going to head to Daddy Cools to watch some live music, but it was a bit late by the time we were ready. A big group of us from the hostel went out for food, the mexican place was full so we headed to Spur. We went in Daddy cool but soon realised it was not our sort of place! Just a bit too fancy, we felt totally out of place, me in my flip flops and Beck in her walking boots!
We went back to the hostel and then went to Zula! It was AWESOME! There was a band on when we got there, they were like an Afrikaans System of a Down! Love it! We were out til 4, after the band the DJ played everything from Disturbed to Micheal Jackson! All in all a great night to end a great week in Cape Town! We're off to Jo'berg for jazz tonight, meeting Chaya and Tasha at Accoustix then one last night on the town for Beck before she heads home and I head back to IPR!

Posted by Chewbecki 03:32 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

IPR and Kruger

The first 2 weeks!

Hey everyone! Thought I'd do another blog of my adventure this summer! I've been in SA for 2 weeks now and I'm loving it! Have met some amazing people and great new monkey friends! I'm loving work at the sanctuary, which consisits of early morning feeds, supplements of porridge, cooking for all the monkeys! We made mango flavoured pap for them the other day and they were loving it! I've also made some cool enrichment for the marmosets, including a rope bridge type-thing and some holey cola bottles filled with mealworms! One of my favourite jobs is Papi watch; Papi is a Mona monkey, who, like many of the monkeys at the sanctuary had an awful past, his entire family was killed so that he could be taken into the pet trade, he moved around many homes and zoos which couldn't handle his abnormal behaviour until he found a home at the sanctuary. He paces alot and is easily agitated, but with all the attention from volunteers and a good quality of life hes come a long way from the wreck that he was when he first arrived. I haven't quite remembered the names and faces of all 70 marmosets, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually! They are such fun little guys, and the more playful ones love nothing more than a game of hide and seek! I've also enjoyed playing with some of the squirrel monkeys, even though Bobby decided that my hand was his chew toy! In the last couple of days Sue got word of a baby Hippo being kept illegally in Tzaneen, shes offered to keep it until a permanent home can be found (as the sanctuary only takes exotic species permanently) so hopefully in the next couple of weeks we have that to look forward to unless the SPCA find somewhere else for it!
Last weeekend I went to Kruger national park, its about a 3 hour drive to Phalaborwa, so we stayed there over night in a really nice hostel, if anyones ever there its called Elephant Walk Tours and Accommodation, its only R85 (about 8 pounds) a night! We got up early on friday and drove through the park at our accomodation in Satara camp. WQwe stopped on the way at Letaba for an ealry lunch and saw Nyala, bushbuck and some enormous Cranes as we looked out over the river. On the drive we saw Elephant, Giraffe, loads of Impala, Blue Wildebeest, Kudu, 2 tiny Klipspringer, Duiker, White Rhino, Hippo, Cape Buffalo and much more! On the second day we drove down to Lower Sabie to try and find a dead Rhino that had attracted loads of scavengers but got lost and had to turn back to make the gate closure! We stayed at Oilifants camp on the second night, which has a fantastic view over the Oilifants river! At half 5 the next morning we went on a morning drive, we saw loads of Rhino, elephant and antelope, but the icing on the cake for me had to be seeing a Spotted Hyena which leisurely trotted past the car without even looking at us!
I've just booked flights to Cape Town for next week, I really want to climb Table Mountain (despite previous mountain related experiences...) and see Boulder's beach! I'll be back at IPR on the 7th and I'll stay here probably for another month until I jet off to Cameroon and the Gorillas!
I'll keep you updated! Hope your all having fun!

Posted by Chewbecki 02:26 Archived in South Africa Tagged animal Comments (0)

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