Hout Bay’s impressive World of Birds avian-focused animal sanctuary and its exotic garden theme has been a staple of the Cape Town tourist scene for years now.
The birds, the greenery, the animals, the sheer size, everything combines to make for a fantastic family outing option (for both locals and tourists alike), and is certainly a visit that we’ve all enjoyed in the past.
So of course, the girls and I paid them a visit.
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And yes, as far as the girls were concerned, the interactive squirrel monkeys enclosure was by far the biggest hit of the day.
Sometimes I don’t particularly feel like driving very far when it comes to my weekend outings with the girls, and so invariably we end up at Monkey Town, situated a ridiculously convenient ten minutes down the road from me.
Founded back in 2000 by animal lover and habitual monkey rescuer Roseline Grobler, the Monkey Town Primate Sanctuary is a Somerset West based wildlife center for monkeys and apes with more than 230 animals split among 28 different exotic species, including Tammy, Ruby, and Sunny, Monkey Town’s famous chimpanzee sisters.
The sanctuary has an interesting layout as you essentially walk for large swathes of the park in a fenced tunnel, with monkeys moving about in the open all around (and above) you.
Although you are more than welcome to browse and work your way through the sanctuary on your own and at your own pace (strolls through Monkey Town don’t normally take much longer than an hour), it is recommended to rather join in on the frequent guided tours, primarily because that way you will learn a lot more about the animals running around in front of you.
Feeding time is quite the fun spectacle (for that matter, the chimpanzees never cease to amaze with both their catching and bottle opening skills), and if you want an even closer look/interaction with some of the smaller, fluffier critters, then there are a couple of encounter options eagerly awaiting your purchase.
The girls rather enjoyed this particular outing last year, with Jessica, as she invariably does on these outings of ours, taking quite a shine to our guide and pretty much never leaving his side for the duration of the tour!
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These guys do a lot of great work in terms of taking in, rearing and caring for abandoned, captive-bred monkeys and are definitely worth supporting, meaning that if you have kids, then undoubtedly this is one of those visits that you can safely leave on your To Do list.
(Also, if the kids get bored, there is the kids play paradise of Cheeky Monkey right next door. In all honesty, I can’t really recommend them as a restaurant of choice, but they do have all the necessary equipment if you have kids with lots of energy to get rid of!)
Last Sunday (following our relaxing picnic on Saturday), Chantelle and I rounded up the girls and headed off nice and early across the Boerewors Curtain to Hout Bay, where the plan was to meet up with Monty and Cheryl at the world renowned World of Birds sanctuary. As it turned out, neither of us quite made the 10:00 meeting time – we got stuck behind a sightseeing bus whilst they got stuck behind cyclists! (Not that one complains though – driving past Kirstenbosch and then on to Hout Bay is always a fantastic treat in terms of the scenery).
Anyway, in the end we arrived at the World of Birds at pretty much the same time, and first stop for the in-laws was a cup of coffee at the little Robin’s Nest restaurant. There it was a rather nice surprise to have Robert and new squeeze Tarryn join us for the day, and with everyone now awake, and Jess pretty restless, it was off to view the feathered fowls!
World of Birds bills itself as such:
“World of Birds is the largest bird park in Africa and one of the few large bird parks in the World. Over 3 000 birds (and small animals) of 400 different species are uniquely presented in more than 100 spacious landscaped walk through aviaries, allowing you the most intimate closeness with nature.
A tropical garden setting in the Hout Bay Valley is the environment in which the aviaries are spaced over 4 ha of land, framed by the back of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Constantiaberg, Chapman’s Peak and Little Lion’s Head. A paradise for nature lovers and photographers, the World of Birds is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist attractions which no visitor should miss.”
Yup, that’s a lot of ground to cover and a lot of birds to see, so it’s no wonder that we ended up wandering around the sanctuary for 3 hours or so! The variety of bird life (from literally right across the world!) is always astonishing, not to mention the fact that you literally walk alongside them in the enclosures it an absolute delight. In fact, it is best summed up as a proper treat of an outing!
(If I was a photographer with a proper camera I would be in seventh heaven thanks to all the feathered models I would have access to… but I’m not, which explains all the tiny, tiny birds on the photos taken with my phone!)
The weather was perfect, and apart from a little slip and slide that saw Jess soaked to the bone, boots and all, everything ran pretty smoothly, with the kids (and adults) thoroughly enjoying themselves.
As you can see, I was pretty busy with my camera phone as well:
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Having seen our fill of eagles, owls, storks and chickens, we ended our adventure in Hout Bay by joining the heavy traffic to the harbour, where our initial plan of enjoying some takeaway fish and chips fell through based entirely on just how busy the harbour was – i.e. it was packed!
In the end, we headed up the ramp to the nautically themed Mariner’s Wharf, where after a bit of a wait in the bar for a table, we sat down and enjoyed some particularly tasty (but expensive!) fish and chips.
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All in all, a fantastic day out for the family, and as always, a trip that I can highly recommend! :)
Related Link: http://www.worldofbirds.org.za/
I tried really hard to get out and about with Jessica as much as possible over my December vacation period, and one of the trips we managed to go out on was to Monkey Town, literally down the (National) road from us, and a place that neither Chantelle nor I had been to in at least three years!
Pleasingly, despite the fact that it doesn’t seem like anything has changed at all in those three years gone by, Monkey Town remains an awesome experience for the little ones (and to an extent the adults), and Jessica for one certainly enjoyed it!
For a change, Chantelle was available to join us for our little excursion, and so late morning after all the naps and feeds were dispensed with, we drove out to Monkey Town where Chantelle twisted my arm that first order of the day should be a light lunch at the pub/restaurant situated adjacent to the Monkey Town facility, overlooking the cool family braai, swim and play area that sprawls out in front of it.
After enjoying our food, next stop for the pram was Monkey Town reception, where we handed over our money, convinced the cashier that Jessica still made the cutoff for free entrance (instead of the R10 required for children over a year), grabbed a map and listened to the helpful instructions from the girl welcoming everyone in.
As luck would have it, feeding of the small monkeys had just recently taken place, meaning that all the food troughs in the massive enclosures with full of fruits and whatnot, meaning that the legion of squirrel monkeys, capuchins and lemur had been drawn out of the shade and into full view of the multitude of spectators that had braved the scorching heat in order to come monkey watching!
Jessica love being up so close and personal with the playful little monkeys, and eventually we managed to drag her away (there was no way she was going to stay stuck in the pram to watch all of this!), past the rutting tortoises, and just in time to see the handlers lure the chimpanzees out of their shady enclosure and into the outside play area island for some yummy snacks and drinks (which come in normal Energade bottles which the chimps open themselves and drink out of!).
After this it was pretty much straight into dawdle mode whilst trying to get Jessica to make monkey noises, and after a quick return to the start point to give Jessica her bottle and for us to grab something to drink, it was back along the walkways, taking in the various monkeys and lemurs that were on display in the variety of enclosures that make up Monkey Town.
To be frank, the selection of monkeys isn’t particularly huge at Monkey Town, but there are enough to be interesting and like I said before, the kids absolutely love the furry critters, meaning that even if there are a 1000 squirrel monkeys to take in, they’re certainly not going to complain!
One of the sights which I did in particular like was the up and close with the emus which Monkey Town has acquired (I think I counted about five). The male makes the most peculiar of noises when a human man (i.e. me) walks past, sounding almost like the beat of a drum! Guess I was a little bit too threatening or close to him? He certainly didn’t mind the ladies walking by, that’s for sure!
We spend a good hour and a half to two hours ambling around with Jessie and her pram, before Chantelle’s time was finally up and she needed to return to work, marking the end of our enjoyable little excursion with the carpet crawler/finger nibbler!
And based on that, I’ve got a good feeling that Monkey Town might be seeing a little more of the Lotter Clan from now on… ;)
(For more photos, visit the gallery here)
Related Link: http://www.monkeys.co.za/