The Rise of the Planet of the Monkeys

What the hell? I said out loud, or to the primates, or was it primeape? Who knew, but they were running around the cabin, throwing eggs, peeling bananas, and smashing pots and pans together like they were DJs at a rave (isn’t that what most people think “rave music” sounds like?).

I was on my International Student Volunteers trip (see:The Song of Swaziland); we were in South Africa, staying in the Blyde River Canyon Lodges. We had just gotten back from tubing, and were relaxing for the rest of the evening.

The lodges are beautiful: they have a kitchen, living room, bathroom, two bedrooms, and can hold at least 6 people. They are spread out throughout the premises, so each cabin has something like a backyard and a front yard where you can BBQ. The lodge is between the Drakensberg Mountains and the Blyde River. The views at sunrise and sunset are spectacular; the mountain lights up in magenta and orange colors, making it look like a watercolor painting. And, get this: there are Vervet monkeys running around, playing in trees and chasing each other. They are harmless, as long as you don’t bother them– or leave the door to your cabin unlocked, since they know how to open a door…



…which my friends did. I was walking to my cabin when I saw about 7 monkeys outside of their cabin eating bananas. My first thought: that’s funny, they gave the monkeys bananas! Second thought: why are they running in and out of their cabin? Here are a few of them:


I walked over, opened the door, and saw them running around their kitchen, throwing things and having the time of their life. To my luck, I happened to have my camera (pictures are a bit blurry, I was scared to put my flash on)






It was hilarious. I never even thought something like this could happen. I felt like I was in the movie Jumanji,one of my favorite movies of all time (RIP Robin Williams).

And then I realized I should probably leave. The monkeys were starting to stare at me, slowly, one by one, as if I was invading their property.

I turned around, walked outside, and suddenly, there were about twenty monkeys lined up, literally, in an army stance, all eyes on me like I was the star.

My heart started pounding. Why did I need to come in here in the first place? Don’t they, whoever “they” are, warn you about disrupting an animal in their habitat? But this wasn’t their habitat. Was it? 

Two monkeys, obviously the ring leaders, the one’s who had the guts, starting walking forward, hands up, hissing. Should I take a picture of this? It’s sort of funny. Maybe not. I managed to gurgle up a laugh. Then, I sucked in a bunch of air, terrified.

One of the Vervet monkeys jumped onto my leg, grabbed on, and in utter fear, I yelped, and kicked my leg into the air and woosh, it flew! Wa-lah. Off you go. One second it was scrunching its eyes together trying to scare me off, and the next thing I knew I had this big furry thing attached to my leg, like one of those monkey dolls with the Velcro hands you can attach to your arm for fun. Why is that fun?

My friend Andrew happened to be walking by (I was getting pretty lucky today), he saw the stand off between me and the monkey army, put his arms out really wide, and started hissing at them (I was terrified then, but thinking about it now, it was actually hilarious). They all scattered away into the trees to watch from afar.

I looked down at my leg, and to my surprise, only had a scratch that was bleeding down my leg. It didn’t bite me! But then I realized I probably still needed rabies shots.

I ran over to my tour leader Elliot who cleaned my “wound”, made a few difficult phone calls, and set up a doctors appointment the next day for me to receive my first round of rabies shots. The fifth round, I would later realize once I got back to New York, would leave me partially famous in the medical world (“so you’re the one who got attacked by a monkey in Africa?”).

A word of advice: If you’re ever in this hilarious situation, just remember- wear pants, in case a monkey does decide to jump on your leg. I now have a very faded scar as a souvenir, though!


8 thoughts on “The Rise of the Planet of the Monkeys

  1. Great story…made me laugh out loud…it really does sound like something out of a movie! A friend of mine who also spent some time in Africa has a similar tale of ‘monkeys-gone-wild’ (I guess they somehow got their little hands on a few cups of coffee, got caffeinated and then decided to have a food fight!) Glad that you walked away relatively unscathed…


    • Awesome, thank you so much Lara! It really was- I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I am glad too, I got pretty lucky! And that’s great- I could only imagine how that could have gone! These monkeys really do have some personality.


    • Thank you, they were pretty funny! There were so many of them running around. A bunch of them even ended up “keeping watch” in the tree next to the cabin for the day after, they wouldn’t leave! It was hilarious


  2. Whoo-eee! What an adventure. Especially the rabies shots (NOT). This is so well written. Kudos. But at least now you know to hold out your arms and hissssss the next time.

    PS: thanks for following me. I might not have found you otherwise, wise and wonderful woman.


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