Beautiful Birds of Eden

DSCN5591I think Birds of Eden might be what heaven is like. Or if we get to choose our own heavens, Birds of Eden would be mine. If you like bird sanctuaries, this one will ruin all other sanctuaries for you for life, because it is magnificent. In fact, it is the largest free-flying aviary in the world, and being inside of it feels a little bit like magic.

I love birds. I don’t really know why. It’s not like I had an exceptional cockatiel as a kid and have never recovered from it. In fact I actually don’t like cockatiels so much. How did the segue into cockatiels… My apologies. Moving on…

Oh yes now I know why it segued into cockatiels: because what on earth could I possibly say about Birds of Eden that would properly express how I feel about the place. Very little probably. Or at least very little that wouldn’t have me coming off as a gushy poodle of some sort.

It truly is a wonderful place though. There’s something so special about ambling through the trees along the boardwalk and pointing out each new birdy discovery with your spouse and children. I imagine going alone would be satisfying in itself, but sharing it with my favourite people, ticking off each bird species in the bird booklet as we spot it, getting excited together at the magical shots we’ve caught with our cameras, and grunting in disappointment at the shots we’ve missed, always proves to be an especially good way to spend some time together.

I wish I could build a tiny little cottage at the bottom of that valley, under all those beautiful birds, and just spend my days being surrounded by them. They’re noisy, no doubt, but at the same time they are somehow very peaceful.

And so very special…

My Instagram pics of Birds of Eden can be found here: #nayesexploresbirdsofeden

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5 Monkeys in Monkeyland

DSCN5028Where are we at now? Three weeks since we got back from our road trip? Four? I can barely remember… This week alone has already felt like three weeks all on its own. So actually I wouldn’t mind going back in time a little and finding myself wandering back through Monkeyland, back when life was simple and my children didn’t need rescuing from bullies. Perhaps I should just take us all on another trip again? If only my bank account could agree with that!

Back to Monkeyland though…

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are two of my absolute places in South Africa. I’ve been to Monkeyland 3 times and Birds of Eden 4 times, and I can still say that I’d be happily up for revisiting both again any time.

DSCN4952I can’t say I’ve been to many sanctuaries in my lifetime, but in comparison to the few that I have been to, Monkeyland is an undoubtedly superior space. Mankeyland is basically a fenced off piece of forest (I won’t pretend to know the dimensions, but it’s big!) where rescued and rehabilitated monkeys (and lemurs – so many lemurs!) can live out the rest of their days in “freedom” while still being cared for and fed by humans. The creatures in Monkeyland come from all over the world. Most of them are rescued or surrendered pets or performance animals, who are not capable of surviving in the “real” wild. While this is a bit of a sad thought, it does at least provide a way for folks like you and me to experience the wonder of these creatures without having to resort to frequenting the horrors of the nearest zoo.

Taking a tour guided walk through this place is an exceptional education for both young and old and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone touring through The Garden Route.

I wish so much that I could just quietly hang out in the sanctuary with my camera for hours on end, quietly waiting for the perfect photo opportunities to present themselves, but alas time and circumstance meant that in reality  I could only shoot off a couple of snaps as we wandered through the trees. I did a terrible job, but I have shared a couple on Instagram (follow me please – barely any of my instameet friends are following me back and I need some validatory love!) and tagged them with #nayesexploresmonkeyland if you’d like to check them out.