Tag Archives: Safari

Monkey Magic!

Paje is famous for it’s beaches, but that’s not all this Zanzibarean delight offers. The Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is all that’s left of the island’s indigenous vegetation, and is home to thousands of zany monkeys. As a primate fancier (no, not in that way) I was determined to head out to the park whilst staying in Tanzania. As I’ve been living on beer and pizza for the past week, I decided to ride a pushbike out there, and asked for one at my hotel’s front desk.

​”I’ve got a bike, you can ride it if you like,” sang a very camp black man, pushing an old-school fixed gear clunker out from the shadows. “It’s got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good. I’d give it to you if I could, but I borrowed it.” Whilst oddly phrased, I thought it sounded like a good offer and started to say yes, when my new mate cut me off.

“You’re the kind of girl that fits in with my world. I’ll give you anything, everything if you want things.” The conversation had become uncomfortable, so I took the fucking bike and got out of there.

It took me about three seconds to realise the pushie was a piece of shit and was probably built back when the world was still black and white. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s first owner was a triceratops. If you know anything about my sex life, you’ll be aware that I refuse to ride anything that’s banged up and older than me, but I didn’t have any other options, so I rode that clunker 17km through farms and forests, up hills and around villages. I don’t reckon Lance Armstrong could guide that thing to see dealer, but I made it all the way to the legendary Jozani Park. Go me!

The jungle is as thick as an Arabian’s pubes, and I couldn’t wait to get amongst the trees and start tracking down monkeys. My plans were scuppered, however, when I was informed that I’d need a guide to take me out there. As an Australian, the thought of paying some dude to help me walk through the bush makes as much sense as paying some dude to root your girlfriend, so I told him that there was monkey on fire behind him, and ducked into the jungle when he turned around. It was far from the first time an imaginary flaming monkey has saved me.

Jozani is definitely pretty, with all sorts of ancient ruins hiding amongst the almost-impenetrable jungle. The paths are poorly signposted and meander through the vegetation, often disappearing into the swampland, so it wouldn’t be hard to get lost in there and end up having to marry a monkey. Actually, that sounds like a nice life; monkeys are always gobbling bananas, so they’d probably give great blowjobs. I bet a monkey’s never forced their husband to watch Orange is the New Black, either. Any monkeys out there, get in touch.

After traipsing through the jungle for half an hour, I stumbled into a clearing and realised that I was being watched by dozens of pairs of tiny eyes. Red colobus monkeys were perched in every tree, and a swarm of shifty-looking Sykes’ monkeys were hootin’ and hollerin’ and pullin’ themselves off. It was an incredible, and I felt like I was in a nature documentary as the wildlife lived wildly around me. 

Of course, that didn’t last long. I was sitting a metre away from a colobus and feeling at peace with the world when I heard gutteral screeching coming from the bush. I thought it might’ve been a herd of wildebeest, but it was something much worse – a bunch of Germans! They smashed through the bush, squawking away in their grinding voices, scaring all the monkeys away as they rushed to take selfies of themselves. My monkey friend gave me a worried look and then disappeared into the green while a fat, sausage-guzzling German ran after him. The moment was lost.

I left the krauts to continue their blitzkrieg on the bush, and crept through the bush on my own, finding monkeys everywhere I went. I’ve seen elephants, rhinos and giraffes over the past couple of months, but this experience was special because I was able to become completely immerses in the monkeys’ culture. After an hour or two I felt more simian than man. I was sitting in a tree, sharing a banana with a cute little critter named Kirk and contemplating dropping out of society, when the monkey placed his paw on me. He looked into my eyes, and I into his, and the message was clear. As much as we both wanted to spend our days in the trees together, I had to go back to my world. We were just too different.

I hugged the monkey, wiped a tear from my eye, and climbed back to the ground. I was miserable, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I looked back at the monkey and waved as the sweet sadness of departure washed over me. And then the contents of the monkey’s bladder washed over as the dirty bastard pissed into the afternoon sun. That’s the last time I give my heart to a fucking monkey.

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Monkeys? Check. Crocodiles? Check. Hot foreign backpackers who laugh at my jokes and not at my penis? Erm…

Every day in Swaziland is a cracker, and you just need to look at the locals to see that. They dance and sing from sunrise to sunset, and have smiles the size of split watermelons. I had a beaut time today, too, with another exhilarating hike through the wilds of Mlilwane.

I was wokwn up early by a pack of monkeys outside my room, and ran outside to chase them through the fields. From there I bumped into a herd of zebras, before coming across a swamp full of crocodiles. The cheeky pricks kept trying to swallow cocks eat birds, but the feathered champions were too quick for them. Score one for the good guys!

Yesterday’s mountaintop heroics had me coming back for more, and this time I made it to the summit of Nyagato Peak, which offers an unrivalled outlook at the Swazi scenery. I even managed to keep my clothes on, largely because there was a creepy tribe of blackfellas banging drums not far below me, and they’d be licking their lips and preparing to toss me in a pot if they saw what I keep in my shorts.

After walking further than Olympic hero Jare Tallent I finally made it back to my hostel and rehydrated with a dozen cans of Hansa beer. There’s not a lot going on in the dark, dingy corner of Mlilwane that I’ve called home for the past few days, so I climbed into the Hyandai and cruised through the wilderness towards the main camp. It’s about 5km away and would be, I was sure, crawling with well-travelled spunks looking for a root after a long day of sizing up zebras. I was badly mistaken.

The camp’s bar was deserted, so I ordered a beer, and then another, and drank them on my lonesome while weird deer things mucked around beside me. I had the wobble boots on by the time I made it back to the car, tried to start it with a plastic spoon, and did my best to guide it down the dark, narrow track towards the other wnd of the park. I’m telling you now, it’s not easy to drive, drink a beer, dodge wildlife and sing along to Freebird at the same time.

I’d almost made it back, relieved that I didn’t have an endangered animal spiralling around my back wheel, when I turned a corner to see a massive buffalo standing there, his eyes wild and his balls shimmering in the moonlight. I slammed on the breaks, he stared at me for a while, the trudged off into the spinifex, his massive beanbags slapping from side to side. I’d never felt so close to nature – or so close to going to jail for drink driving my way up an oversized cow’s arse.

Patrick Swaziland

I’ve been an admirer of Hollywood heartthrob Patrick Swayze for decades, and was crushed when he was tragically killed during a breakdancing competition several years ago. So when I discovered that there’s an entire country where Swayze fans congregate, I hopped in my 1965 Buick Rivier, blasted the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, and headed over to check it out. Swayzeland, I assured myself, would be as awesome as watching Road House and Ghost back-to-back with a bucket of choc chip ice cream (otherwise known as every Tuesday at my place).

I expected the border to be full of handsome white folk with big hair and acid wash jeans, and was shocked to see large numbers of black people who certainly didn’t look like Swayze’s regular audience (unless his films have found unlikely popularity with people who cook chicken in the burning wrecks of cars). It was then, like a kick to the stomach, that I realised I was actually entering Swaziland. I bet it’s a common mistake.

Swaziland is geographically close to Lesotho, but a world apart in most other ways. Instead of steep, barren mountains, I was greeted by rolling green hills. The capital, Mbabane, is easily bypassed on the impressive road system, but looks tidy and prosperous. It was certainly a gentler welcome than the culture shock of the comparitively bizarre Lesotho. 

I was cruising through the spacious valleys of inner Swaziland when I saw a sign pointing to a concert for one of my favourite black rapping men, the face-tattooed, hat-wearing, buck-toothed singer of Bitch Wat A Ho, Bitch, Yo, Lil Wayne. Seeing him ‘spit fire’ on stage would ease my Swayze disappointment, so I turned up a dirt track and followed the signs. However, instead of finding the finest voice of our generation, I was ambushed by a herd of zebras. Turned out I’d actually ventured into the Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Sometimes I think I’m not very smart.

It’s a quiet and peaceful park in a gentle and welcoming country, and offers plenty of hiking opportunities, so I laced up my boots and got out there. Antelope and weird horny cow things grazed in the wide open paddocks that I sauntered through, and birds flapped around me. I just hoped I didn’t bump into the park’s resident hippos, which are known to plod around like they own the place.

Before long I found myself surrounded by dozens of zebras, and they really are goofy-looking things. Fat horses with short legs and mohawks, really. They’re very tame here and I was able to hang out just metres from them, which was a much better experience than watching them from my car in Addo. I was able to get so close that I can confirm they’re not just ponies with spray-painted stripes, so the Swazis are one up on the Chinese in that regard.

Nyonyane Peak dominates the skyline around Mlilwane, so I got my legs moving and powered up there. It provides an incredible look out over the park and a good portion of the tiny country of Swaziland. Even though the park is only 20km out of the capital, the valley it lies in is quiet and rural, with fertile farms and surprisingly tidy villages. This country is certainly a surprise after the shambles that is so much of South Africa, and the barren wastelands of Lesotho.

Now, if they can just stop naming everything after my favourite celebrities, we’ll be fine. What next, Garyglitterville?