In Fall 2014, I was lucky enough to spend four weeks at Monkeyland. The whole team as well as the other volunteers made it easy for me to feel instantly comfortable and happy and soon this little paradise felt like home. I was surprised how fast one can learn about the primates as well as the philosophy of the sanctuary, this way I was able to start tour-guiding after a couple of days. Volunteering at Monkeyland never got boring – whether it was watching Atlas (my favourite gibbon in the world), throwing peanuts in the forest, guiding visitors or simply having a good time with the team. In the end, I am looking back to one of the most amazing experiences in my life – building awareness for the importance of animal liberation and being part of such an inspiring institution changed my view on certain things and I am very grateful for that. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me. If I could, I would pitch a tent at Monkeyland and move in.
Anna Styblo, Austria
In the period October to November 2014, I worked for 3 weeks as a volunteer at Monkeyland. It was just an amazing and unforgettable time in South Africa and I don’t regret a second of it. Plettenberg Bay is an awesome city and a really nice place to stay. A beautiful landscape, nice people, beach with dolphins and whales, a lot of good restaurants, many activities (Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani, Bungee….) are only some of the points what make Plett so awesome.
At the time I was volunteering at Monkeyland, I stayed at the homestay at Plett HomeStay (Stephanie’s home). It’s a beautiful place with the beach around the corner. If you needed something you just had to ask Steph or Paul and they was always there for you.
The work as a volunteer is really cool and makes a lot of fun with the other volunteers and workers there. You learn a lot about the different types of monkeys, the nature, the projects and so on. There is always the opportunity to take a look into the other projects (Birds of Eden, Jukani).
Before I started to work as a volunteer in Plettenberg Bay I already stayed two months in another project. First I was scared to move on to Plettenberg Bay but Stephanie was just lovely. She gave me a home for the next 3 weeks and I found a new mom in her.
In the 3 weeks as a volunteer in the Monkeyland it was my job to help where they needed some help. This includes to clean some pre-release cages, to feed the tables in the forest and to take care that the forest is free from trash and other stuff. My job also includes to sit at the gate, welcome and walk the people inside to the reception and explain the different rules to them (do not feed, touch or play with the monkeys).
After 1 or 2 weeks, I was allowed to work as a tour guide (a German one) to walk the people through the forest to show them the monkeys.
The time in South Africa and at Monkeyland was an awesome and unforgettable time where I met a lot of people from all over the world and where I found a new home.
Kim Schnackenberg, Germany
First of all I want to say that I really enjoyed the two months at Monkeyland. I think everybody working there can be proud to be part of this amazing team. It was one of my best decisions ever to come to Plettenberg Bay! I really enjoyed my stay, had the most fun with all the volunteers and really loved the forest and all the monkeys! The work I had to do was basically guiding German tourists. Between the tours, we waited for new tourists and the gate and showed them to the reception. Sometimes we had to feed the monkeys and clean the pre-release cages. A great way to learn about animals and nature.
These two months also changed me and my personality…..Now I know that I want to see even more of the world and experience as much as possible before I go to University next year. I can’t say that I now want to do something with biology, but I definitely feel closer to animals.
Before I came to Plett, my expectations were actually pretty different. My organisation didn’t really tell me much about the project itself and the actual goal of Monkeyland. I can imagine that a lot of volunteers come there with the expectation to touch and really interact with the monkeys. And I know that this is exactly the opposite of what Monkeyland wants to do.
The forest and the animals there can only become part of your heart, and you always see something new when you have a tour.
Nevertheless, there are some things that I’d like to point out.
My first day there was a little bit disorienting. When I arrived I got my uniform and then went for a walk in the forest with Felecia (permanent guide) who gave me the basic information about the monkeys. Then I was sent to Birds of Eden to go for a walk there. After that I just sat at the gate doing nothing, until I finally asked somebody what to do. Nobody ever explained it to me. I just think it would be good, if there was somebody to explain EVERYTHING to the new volunteers right from the beginning, simply in order to prevent people from making mistakes.
Of course I can understand that there isn’t always a lot to do during the day. Still I want to say that it can be very boring to just sit at the gate doing nothing. I don’t blame anyone for this, but maybe there is a way to find a solution for this problem.
Till Irmisch, Germany
I volunteered at Monkeyland for two weeks in November 2014. Although I only had these two weeks holiday to volunteer at Monkeyland, I had a great time during my stay and the work there, as well as meeting a bunch of interesting people, was so inspiring to me. Not only that it gave me a deeper understanding and knowledge of the monkeys and lemurs living there, my soul was at peace once I could be inside the forest, watching and photographing all species of monkeyland.
I’m doing a lot of photography in my free time and from time to time doing freelance photographing jobs. Since I had a great interest in animals and their well-being ever since I can remember and I’m falling for south africa, it was the best opportunity for me to go to Monkeyland and do volunteer work there as a photographer.
During my two weeks work at Monkeyland I was asked to shoot pictures especially of the howler monkeys for documenting all family members and get an idea of the family tree. So I spent a lot of time walking through the forest and searching for the howlers since they are not that active monkeys. I also had the chance to get to know a lot of the staff members of Monkeyland and Birds of Eden while shooting portraits and doing small interviews with them for re-newing the Staff section of the website. But of course I as also helping with feeding and getting the tourists to reception.
All in all it wouldn’t have been that great experience if I haven’t had such a nice place to stay. The homestay at Steph’s. Stephanie herself and the people I met there were so warm and open! Not only the work at Monkeyland but also Steph’s place and all the people affected my life in the way that I can only recommend everyone to step out of everyday routines and travel to other places because it enriches life!
Anne Reich, Germany