Samango Monkeys: Why My Visit to South Africa Was so Exciting

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Samango Monkeys are endangered, and I was lucky enough to see some of them during my visit to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa. For a primatologist, I couldn’t ask for more during my vacation. 

Samango monkey in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa

iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa. On my trip to South Africa, I came here to observe animals such as the hippo and the Samango Monkey in the wild. Needless to say, for me spending a vacation watching monkeys is the best experience I can ask for. These cheeky little guys are rarely seen even though they can be found from Ethiopia to South Africa. They have suffered so severely from habitat loss though, that they aren’t as common as you may think. 

Samango monkey in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
Samango monkey in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa

iSimangaliso: One of the Protected Homes of the Samango Monkey

iSimangaliso Wetland Park comprises an incredible 280 km of protected coastline and is home to 1200 crocs and 800 Hippopotami. I was most excited to learn that it was also home to the endangered Samango Monkeys. The only endangered monkeys I observed on my Wild South African and Swaziland Adventures.

They are found across Africa from South Africa to Ethiopia but only in a few locations in South Africa. The population on Cape Vidal in iSimangaliso Wetland Park is highly endangered due to habitat loss. For me, they definitely made it to my list of top wildlife to see, which naturally included the Big 5. Dare I say maybe the Samango Monkey can be categorized in my very own “small 5” list. 

I hopped out of our safari truck and asked our guide from Heritage Tours and Safaris where the best place was to spot Samango Monkeys. It turns out it was right above where we parked. I turned my head up to find a monkey uncharacteristically quietly observing me. This was strange since usually, you hear the distinctive tweets of the Samango monkeys long before you see them. Our guide surmised that she was being sneaky. The Samango monkeys at Cade Vidal are notorious for stealing lunches carelessly left out in the open. Fruit is a favorite, especially by the males who have more of a sweet tooth than the females do. Hmmm…I wonder if that includes chocolate too?

Samango monkey in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South AfricaMaking new friends

I can confidently say “she” since Samango monkeys live in harems with one male surrounded by females and his young, which can be as large as 35 individuals. The thought of competing for one male’s attention with 20+ other females stresses me out, although it does make for good reality TV – maybe the Samango monkeys were the inspiration for the TV show The Bachelor?

But the troop was peaceful when we were there. Chirping away, curious, intelligent eyes not missing a thing – or any opportunity to steal a piece of fruit.

Travel Tip for going to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Increase your chance of spotting Samango monkeys, other wildlife, and even a leopard if you’re really lucky by booking a tour with Heritage Tours and Safaris.

Their guides are passionate, knowledgeable and I swear they have eyes in the back of their heads. They’re incredible at spotting wildlife. I also visited Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Park and did a Hippo and Croc Safari with Heritage Tours and Safari and saw WAY more wildlife than I would have on my own.

Where to stay in iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Top Pick: Umlilo Lodge 

Located in St. Lodge, Umlilo Lodge offers guests wifi, and air-conditioned rooms. Each of the guest rooms is equipped with a minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. The rooms either offer direct access to the garden or balconies overlooking the pool and garden. Dinner can be arranged around a Boma at a surcharge as guests are free to use the shared lounge area and the swimming pool. 

Travel Tip for Getting Around

While I highly recommend doing the safari tours with knowledgable guides, I also recommend renting a car from Sunny Cars since it makes it much easier to get to St. Lucia and in general for getting around South Africa.

View iSimangaliso Wetland Park in a larger map

Thank you to Heritage Tours and Safari for providing me with the incredible opportunity to observe endangered Samango monkeys in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Thank you to our guide whos tips meant that my lunch didn’t stollen by adorable, but mischievous monkeys. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

My dream of seeing Samango Monkeys was finally realized on my trip to South Africa. Have you seen the Samango Monkey in the wild? 

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