Whenever my boyfriend and me travel in the places we are visiting for the first time, we are trying to see and do as much as we can. Therefore when we planned our small vacations in Dominican Republic we planned one activity for each day of our stay. We booked these tours in advance through Viator. We also checked the comments from previous visitors for each of the activities we were interested. If you wish to book the same tour, please press the link with the word Viator.
If you check my previous blog posts Punta Cana, Zip lining in Dominican republic, Coffee and Cacao farm Dominican Republic, you can find out how everything started, through this blog posts I shared my impressions and my experience from the tours we went and as I mentioned above all this tour we booked through the Viator.
So after zip lining and the visit to coffee and cocoa farm our next stop was the Monkey Land.
The tour lasts about one hour.
It is a guided tour where you can interact in close proximity with beautiful and friendly squirrel monkeys of Dominican Republic.
These charming and intelligent monkeys have been trained by a Canadian couple with more than 35 years of experience working with animals, including 12 years at the Toronto Zoo teaching monkeys to trust and enjoy the company of humans.
The tour is based on 5 acres of a beautiful piece of land that monkeys have made their home.
The monkeys are completely accustomed to human contact.
They come down from the trees to sit on your shoulder and eat from your hands.
They also love to pose for the cameras, especially for selfies!
From the Monkey Land you can also enjoy panoramic view of the Eastern mountains the view is amazing and breath taking.
So lets start with the tour describing.
Before we enter the park our guide explained to us that these monkeys are very sensitive animals.
He asked nicely if anyone from the group had applied any sunscreen or bug repellent because these products might be harmful for the little monkeys.
Also they will not allow any person with flu in the park, since this little creatures are very sensitive to the viruses.
If only one monkey get in touch with a virus, he could spread it through the entire colony, and you understand that this would be disaster.
We were told to disinfect our hands and shoes due to potentially passing or any germs to the monkey’s that can endanger them.
Visitors with cold, flu or coughs are not allowed to visit the park for the aforementioned reasons.
There are big wooden boxes next to the welcome desk. All the visitors from the group can place their personal belongings into the box. The box will be locked and the key is kept by the receptionist until the end of the tour.
You are not allowed to take anything with you in the park. Not even water. You are allowed to take your mobile phone or photo camera though.
The monkeys live in a special five-hectare area that they know as home, and where they are accustomed to come in contact with humans.
The park is actually natural forest with a mesh around it.
There is a small human touch in the park, regarding the plantation of some beautiful flowers through the park and building of the walking paths.
The mesh around the park exists to protect the little monkeys from the foxes, since they are hunting and eating those monkeys.
The monkeys are also in danger from eagles or falcons, especially the little ones.
We were very excited when we entered the park. We were looking around but we could not see any monkeys yet.
We were following our guide, until we reached a small rounded square between the trees.
He said that he monkeys will come down from the trees soon to play with us and even pose for pictures.
Our guide shared small silver bowls to all of us. He put some fresh fruits in each bowl. And then he made some sounds with his mouth.
I won’t lie to you, I was kind of afraid in the beginning. I thought that monkeys might bite me or scratch me with their nails.
But soon the first little monkey landed on my hand, then a second one on my head, a third on my shoulder, my fear was immediately gone.
One is for sure, in my life I had interacted with so many different kinds of animals, because my cousin is the owner of the pet shop.
I can now absolutely assure you that these little monkeys were the most gentle animals I have ever seen and touched in my life.
I had cats, dogs and hamster, at home as pets. My grandmother had a farm so I was one of those privileged kids who had a chance to interact with different kinds of animals through my childhood. But these monkeys were the most soft and the most gentle animals I had ever seen.
Their fur was softer than kitty’s fur. Their feet were so soft as the feet of a newborn baby. They were very light. Gentle and adorable.
Squirrel monkeys’ fur is short and close, colored black at the shoulders and yellowish orange on its back and extremities.
Their face is kind of black and white. Their ears are hairy.
Squirrel monkeys grow from 25 to 35 centimeters (9.8 to 13.8 in) long, plus a 35 to 42 centimeters (14 to 17 in) tail. Male squirrel monkeys weigh 750 to 1,100 grams (26 to 39 oz).
Females weigh 500 to 750 grams (18 to 26 oz). I searched this information on the web later on, in the beginning I did not knew this so I was surprised how light they were. They live about fifteen years.
Their nails is totally flat so there is no chance that they will scratch you. You just have to be careful not to step on any of their long tails.
Squirrel monkeys are eating primarily fruits and insects. Occasionally, they also eat seeds, leaves, flowers, buds, nuts, and eggs.
When our guide added some of the sunflower seeds into the bowls we were holding, I noticed that they prefer the fruits more than the seeds.
Guide said that I can try to peel the seeds for the monkeys, maybe they were bored to do it themselves.
I peeled one sunflower seed and I gave to the monkey that was sitting on the fence next to me. In the same time my boyfriend was giving him one unpeeled seed. This little monkey was so smart, because first he looked at me, than he looked toward my boyfriend. Then he grab the peeled seed from my hand first and he put in to his mouth, but in the same time with his other hand he was holding my boyfriend’s hand with his little fingers, because of course he prefers the peeled seed, but he did not want to lose the other one either. I was amazed how smart he was.
I also noticed that they did not liked papaya very much, but I did not liked papaya either.
They were chewing papaya pieces for a second, then they were spitting them immediately, exactly as I did when I tried papaya for the first time.
Few days later I talked about it with one local fellow we met when we visited the Catalina island.
He said that this happened probably because this time of year, the early spring time is not the papaya season. Even the papaya bloom all year long, the peek season for harvesting is summer and fall. But he also said to me that papaya is rich source of Vitamin-A and the Vitamin-A is essential for eyes. A person who doesn’t want to be a victim of blindness or night blindness with his increasing age, he should make consumption of papaya daily in his diet. Papaya is also rich with vitamin-C. So I might consider my issue regarding this fruit after this interesting conversation.
Our guide said that squirrel monkeys live together in multi-male/multi-female groups.
These large groups, however, can occasionally break into smaller troops. They also have their king or leader.
The groups have a number of vocal calls, including warning sounds to protect the group from large falcons, which are a natural threat.
Females give birth to young during the rainy season, after a 150- to 170-day gestation. Only the mothers are taking care for the young.
The time with monkeys passed so quickly. There are so adorable. I suggest you to go and see them if you find yourself in Dominican Republic.
As soon as the plates with fruits that we were holding for them got empty they lost their interest in us.
They were happy though because they had a great lunch.
After they ate it all they continued to play and jump around us.
We stayed for a while to watch them play.
We took some nice photos of monkeys, environment and the panoramic view, but the time had come for our departure.
I was so thrilled with the little monkeys I kept talking about them all the time even several days later.
Great respect to our guide for giving us so many information about these little creatures. About their habits and life in the park.
I am so sorry I forgot his name, because while in Dominican Republic we met so many local people, so better not to mention his name than to mention his name wrong.
I asked him for one memory photo with me. He was so happy that I asked. He said that this is the only way he is able to travel around the world, only through our photos.
He is a really amazing and adorable person. Please, if someone knows his name I would appreciate it very much if you inform me, so I can mention him in this article. He made our visit to the Monkey Land so memorable and amazing.
Also I have to express my great respect for all people who are working in the park, they really take good care of these little monkeys.
Our guide said that monkeys don’t like the veterinarians at all. Somehow they can smell the vet from a kilometer away. He said when vet is visiting the park they run away immediately and they climb on the top of the trees.
So in order to be able to get them down and checked by the vet they have to let them hungry all day. I was so sorry for poor little fellows I almost cried.
When we finished our visit to the Monkey Land our guide Manny and our driver Vergilio took us back to our hotel.
We spent one wonderful day all organized by Runners Adventures and we had an amazing time.
I can truly recommend this tour to everyone who is able to walk a lot and to climb hills and stairs. The experience was unforgettable. If you liked what you saw, and you wish to book the same tour, press the link with the word Viator, there you can find the price of the tour and the rest of the details.