Day 11: Part One- Tsitsikamma National Park
**Before we get into the real safari pics I need to pay for an update to my blog, as it has no more storage available on it. I’ve had to delete images in order to add new ones. I’m anticipating a re-haul of the site so it may take a few days, especially since school is about to start back up. Before I work on reformatting the blog though, I’ll recount for you our final morning with Pepe.**
When we awoke this morning we opened our curtain only to find the view of the ocean totally fogged in again. I also spotted two large baboons on the grass in front of our cottage. We watched the monkeys from the safety of our room as they loped off to the next cabin. The baboons were going systematically from garbage bin to garbage bin, looking for food. There were no animal-proof devices on any of the garbage containers in order to keep them out. Our neighbors told us to be careful about locking doors and windows as they had a monkey come inside their cabin to get at food. Consequently, all of the bins in front of the cabins were tipped over and trash was spilling out of them.
Jon and I had agreed to meet Pepe at the restaurant for breakfast, though, so we stepped over the giant baboon turd that was left on our porch, we took a nice stroll along the coastal road. After we set out, however, we heard this animal call behind us in the fog and we knew the baboons were right behind us. I started to walk a little faster because I didn’t want to run into one of those creatures in the middle of the mist. I started to decide baboons weren’t so cute anymore. They are dangerous pests!
When we got to the restaurant we saw that the hike to the Storm’s River Suspension Bridge, which was on our itinerary for the morning, was mostly fogged in as well. Oh well, the first bit was sunny, so we hiked up past a beautiful waterfall and through the forest. I was careful to look around for any and all baboon families that might have been hiding in the trees. We climbed up several steep stair paths to get around the rocky corner and head to the river mouth. Although the bridge was shrouded in fog and we couldn’t really see the attraction, the grey mist added a certain ambiance to the whole experience, which made the pictures very interesting indeed.
On our equally steep hike back, we rounded a corner to find two other tourists wielding sticks and a giant male baboon sitting on a picnic table and rooting through the garbage. Somehow we managed to run the monkey off, but I spotted his wife nearby and she was on her way to take his place near the garbage can. The baboons held us hostage for about 15 minutes when we finally decided to move quietly and quickly around her. It was then that I really decided I didn’t like baboons. They are scary!! On our way out of the park and onto our first game reserve, Pepe went to the headquarters to complain about the bin/baboon problem in the park. The park rangers claimed that they didn’t have a problem with bins; they had a baboon problem because people were feeding the monkeys. Well, after seeing these baboons, we could tell right away that wasn’t the problem. No one in their right mind would feed those animals. Maybe they would throw them something off a bbq grill to get them to go away, but that’s about it. The real problem, from what we could tell was that the trash had no baboon proof lids so the monkeys had gotten used to invading the cottage areas and camping sights for food, forcing the tourists to stay inside for fear of getting into a fight with a monkey. Pepe explained what some of the other parks were doing to baboon-proof the bins and they actually listened. Who knows whether they will actually do anything about it, though. Until Tsitsikamma fixes their bin problem, I would imagine they will see a lack of tourists in their park, even if it is supposed to be very beautiful. Regardless, we left Tsitsikamma behind and headed to Port Elizabeth in order to go to our first of the two game reserves, Shamwari.