African Safari Misadventure #3 Messy Monkey Business
Adventurers we were, enjoying our safari having seen some of the wild animals that were often hard to spot. There were several locations slated for us to visit during the almost two week safari adventure. We had just arrived at our next stop where we were to spend the next few days. The group settled into our tents which were partly like cabins, partly a huge tent. Like most things that aren’t supposed to happen this African safari misadventure took us by surprise.
The ceilings were wood with grass covering on top reminiscent of tropical huts. The half-tents were canvas that blended in well with the natural scenery of the area. The bathrooms were brick with concrete floors and there was one tall stone wall in the tent-room.
Arriving at a new camp
Each of the one room and separate bath quarters were raised up several feet from the ground and in general seemed rather a safe and solid home for a few days. When we went out of the tent-like rooms we were instructed to lock the zippers of the canvas tent doors. There was a little baby-size padlock they gave us that we were to use to secure the tent when we were out of it.
That sounded strange since the locks were very small and insignificant, but that were their instructions – to be sure to lock the door flap zippers when we left the tent.Our first dinner was to be in two hours so we sat and talked while unpacking our bags and surveying the general area. Our home for the next few days had canvas windows with mesh screens and heavy canvas flaps that we had to untie, roll down, and zip shut at night.
From the windows we could see out probably several miles so we must have been on somewhat of a hill, although it was difficult to tell because the land was essentially flat where our cabin and most of the camp was located. There was shrubbery all around so in most cases you could not see long distances.
The tent we were staying in was about 50 feet from another tent in which two of the ladies in our group were staying. It too was similar to ours and had a big tree next to it same as ours, but much bigger and the branches were just about lying on the grass roof. We didn’t think much about it, but I was thinking it might keep the tent cooler in the daytime since it shaded practically the whole tent from the hot sun.
So far, on our safari, the temperature was similar to Southern California in the spring. Just about right – not too hot and definitely not cold. However in the higher elevations it does get rather nippy or cold late at night and early in the morning.
It was getting close to dinner when we heard a lot of chatter from a tent close to ours. It was hard to tell exactly where the noise was coming from, but there were several groups of safari goers in the camp in addition to our group and some of their tents were interspersed with the few tents we had. The clatter was rather loud but we couldn’t figure out exactly what it was or what was causing it.
It seemed to get louder and sometimes it sounded like it was really close to us. It baffled us what the commotion was. The clatter got louder and eventually we heard people talking. I told my wife to just ignore it that it was probably people just enjoying themselves. Maybe they were celebrating something.
I figured that it was another safari group just having fun since I could think of no explanation for all the clatter way out here in an area with wild animals all around. The camp was surrounded on all sides with wilderness which is where all the animals live. There are no houses, no people, except safari goers, the staff at the camp, and the Maasai Warriors who acted as guides at this particular camp.
Two Maasai Warriors escorts came to our tent to alert us that dinner was ready and we assumed to escort us down to the eating area. By now it was getting dark and when dark guests at the camp need escorts to accompany them to dinner or elsewhere on the grounds. As we exited out tent and I padlocked the door flaps on out tent-like structure I still wondered what that commotion was that had now stopped.
We walked down the stairs of the porch attached to out tent, yes it had a large porch, complete with chairs and a table. It was a nice touch, especially since we had a very nice view of most of the area below us, probably a 120 degree view. All the tents had similar porches, but we had one of the best views of all the tents we had seen.
After speaking to Safari Kay asking a couple of questions about that experience I was told that the monkeys that I thought had ransacked the tent next to ours were not monkeys, but in fact baboons. I thought for sure they had told us monkeys and even my wife agreed with me, but Kay is the expert and assured me they had told us baboons. So in the interest of not having to rewrite this article I am not changing the title and/or the reference to monkeys.
But know that I am speaking of baboons, probably the Olive Baboon species. We had seen baboons on this and the previous safari I had gone on, but we never actually saw any baboons at this particular camp.
Note: Baboons actually belong to the Old World monkeys family.
Charles – Nov 16, 2011
Messy Monkey Business
At the bottom of the porch stairs the other tent close to us came into view. There were several people milling around the tent where the two ladies were staying. There was some commotion there and we were wondering what was going on. As we walked down the pathway near that tent we were met by the camp’s assistant manager. She informed us that some monkeys had gotten into the tent and messed it up.It was some messy monkey shenanigans and we knew the two ladies would be upset if the tent was really messed up.
Messy monkey business in a tourist camp, it just didn’t add up? If there were monkeys around that threaten anything in the camp they certainly would have told us at our briefing when we first got there. But there had been no mention of monkeys at all. This must be something new, a first for the camp.
We had never heard of monkeys messing up anything in a camp before. How unusual it seemed. Most wild animals just leave people alone if they ever come in an area where people are staying. Of course there are exceptions and this must be one of them.
The assistant camp manager accompanied us down to the large eating area several hundred feet away. She mentioned she was surprised at the monkey incident. But the way she was talking was like it was no big deal to her. But we knew it would be a big deal to the two ladies, depending on exactly what the messy monkey or monkeys did. We went into the restaurant-like dining area and found our group sitting at a large table. We seated ourselves and waited a few minutes as the rest of our group arrived shortly thereafter.
We all started talking about the monkey business that had occurred and wondered just how bad it was. How did the monkeys even get in there if they locked the tent? Monkeys aren’t violent so certainly they would not rip the tent apart to get inside. The canvas on the tents was very thick and sturdy so it would be unlikely the monkeys could rip or tear it, and what would be the purpose for them to go wild and rip apart a tent?
Apparently the two ladies had gone to their tent earlier and noticed bits and pieces of their belongings scattered on the walkway leading up to their tent. When they got up to the tent the canvas flap door was unzipped. They had wondered if someone had broken into their tent while they were gone. That would be most unlikely since the only people around were safari goers and the camp staff. There were a few Maasai Warriors around who not only were there to escort the guests, but also acted also as guards.
Any regular people definitely didn’t live there since we were probably 100 miles or further away from any little village or town. Besides this was in Serengeti National Park and people were not allowed to live there, except maybe the Maasai, who owned a lot of the surrounding land. They make their living off the land and raise cows and other animals as their way of life, unfettered by the way everyone else lives with modern conveniences.
No, in reality there was nothing but wild animals all around us outside the camp. So those thoughts of someone breaking into their tent quickly disappeared when the ladies had looked inside their tent. Their things were scattered around everywhere. Their cloths were scattered all around the tent. The luggage was open and the contents were strewn around the room-like tent.
Who likes candy and cookies?
There had been bags of candy and other snacks in their baggage and it was all gone. However, a few candy wrappers were lying on the floor. All their goodies were gone. That wouldn’t be so bad, but here we were way out in the boonies with no such candy and snack replacements for probably a hundred miles or more.
Their cosmetics had been gone through and tossed around. This was real messy monkey business at its finest. I’m saying that now, right here, but back then (I’m writing this over a year after it happened) the ladies were wondering who or what would do such a thing?
To top it off and make matters worse their medicine had been gone through and some strong medication was missing. If someone took those pills they would be in real trouble. The icing on the cake was the scribbling on the on the large dresser mirror in their lipstick.
After panicking, then reporting the problem to the camp management, that’s when they found out that monkeys had been the culprits. They had managed to unzip the tent door flap and go inside. Apparently the ladies had not padlocked the two zippers when they left their tent. The padlocking a tent was the first time any of us, including Safari Kay, had ever heard of anyone having to do that until we came to this camp.
The tents need to be locked
Apparently they must have had such a problem before which made it mandatory to lock the tents. If that was the case they should have warned us when we had the briefing. Of course that might have upset some people knowing that monkeys roamed throughout the camp. Needless to say that monkey business put a damper on things for the rest of our stay at the camp.
We learned of all the details at dinner from the two ladies. When dinner was over we talked a while, but it was getting late and we had to get up early in the morning for another safari outing. The two ladies were given a temporary cabin that night to replace their tent which had to be cleaned up. We all went back to our tents to get some sleep since it was early to rise the next morning about 4:45 am.
Well that was the end of that… or was it?
After settling down in our tent my wife took a shower and went to bed. I wasn’t sleepy so I stayed up about an hour or so and after I took a bath I got ready to get in bed. That’s when I heard what sounded like footsteps on the roof of our tent. Actually it was more like the pitter patter of little kids playing. It was very disturbing. Initially it was sporadic, but after a short while it became louder and somewhat scary. My wife woke up due to the noise and we both figured it was probably monkeys.
I didn’t want to wake up everyone
At our initial briefing when we first arrived at this camp we were given an air horn to use in the case of trouble and we needed help. We needed help, but I was reluctant to use the air horn because it was so late and our group and probably the others at the camp were sleep because safaris start very early in the morning.
I didn’t want to wake the whole camp just because I heard those threatening noises outside our tent. I felt sure they were monkeys and after all how dangerous were monkeys? Now if I had thought it was elephants or lions or some really threatening wild animal then the air horn would be an indispensable tool.
Since we were right next to the tent they had raided earlier in the day what better thing for them to do than try it again. After all they had succeeded once, and it was next to the tent where the other goodies had been found and ransacked, so maybe they thought their chances of more fun were good. Of course I cannot read any monkey’s mind so I am just speculating.
The footstep like noise now sounded like it was not just a couple of monkeys, but a whole group of them. We got scared and wondered what to do. We made sure the tent door flaps were locked on the inside so if it were really monkeys they couldn’t get in, at least not without a big problem.
As the minutes passed we heard what sounded like light banging on the tent windows, which were really probably fiberglass screening. It was not very solid and had zippers on it so one could unzip the windows and let the fresh air in.
Well fresh air was not the only thing that could get in as it seemed like a whole bunch of monkeys wanted to get in too. I was afraid some smart monkey would figure out a way to get to the zipper on one of the four windows of the tent and get in. It was getting pretty scary now. We weren’t sure what to do. There were no phones in the tent.
It was dark and we didn’t want to chance it going out, especially if there were monkeys all around us as it surely seemed. At the time I distinctly remembered seeing the tree overhanging our tent and thinking that it would be easy and tempting for any monkey to jump unto our roof and eventually get into the tent if it wasn’t sealed tightly.
Now would be the test. Well the noisy patter lasted probably an hour with the last fifteen minutes or so hearing tampering with the windows, which surely must have been the monkeys trying hard to get inside. Apparently they weren’t scared of us, but we were sure scared of them. Imagine being stormed by a bunch of wild monkeys. It isn’t a pretty thought and one we weren’t prepared to entertain that night.
The noisy patter and footstep sounds eventually died down and there was silence once again. It was about midnight by now and we had to get up in a few hours. My wife had fallen back asleep by now and I was trying to forget all we had been through. I finally fell asleep, but it seemed like just a few minutes later I was awakened by one of the Maasai Warriors outside telling us it was time to get up.
We never saw any monkeys at the camp, even that day the monkey or monkeys did their messy monkey business. But we sure were scared that night when it seemed we were attacked by monkeys that never quite managed to break into our tent, thankfully. The next three days, however, we were on the lookout for monkeys and hoped there would be no more messy monkey business.
There wasn’t, and that ended the messy monkey incident, but not the talk about it. We had a great time at the camp and experienced some great safari outings thus relegating the monkey incident to a passing annoyance at best.
In spite of these mishaps we had a great time. All of us felt the same way. Those of us who had been on the first Africa Safari two years previous all seemed to feel this second safari was even better than the first, even though the previous one was a really great adventure in itself. A couple more mishaps happened on the safari, but I’ll only say that they had nothing to do with anything any of us had a part in.
The final mishap was also a big one, like the one at the beginning that almost prevented us from leaving the United States in the first place. Somehow the airlines lost our baggage. For all of us! We finally got everything back a few days later. Safari Kay worked her magic again and got all of us a free trip anywhere in the US as compensation for them misplacing our luggage.
Thus this ends this series of misadventures. Forget the misadventures – they have set the stage for possibly another great African safari adventure in a few years.
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Charles is interested in creating websites and selling domain names.