In the gardens of Jinchini on the coast of Msambweni, Kenya live a band of Sykes monkeys who tear through the neighbouring properties like marauding pirates – sucking the pollen from flowers, licking leaves like their lives depended on it, stealing chocolate cakes, fighting over food and inhaling bananas left behind by the Humans.
These comical monkeys, which consist of nervous mothers, gangly spider babies, boisterous and naughty juveniles and the larger ‘dude’ males with their moving caterpillar eyebrows, series of squawk, barks and squeaks and unsubtle crashing from tree to tree, provide hours of entertainment every time I visit Kenya.
They are such characters. . .
One year a large cheeky male carried away an entire round wedge of chocolate cake that had been cooling on the picnic table – disappearing up a fig tree with it under his arm before we’d even noticed it had gone.
Every time I visit there are either monkeys running across the ground only inches from the breakfast table in a subtle game of ‘feed me’, young Sykes leaping from palm tree to palm tree like mad cliff jumpers, or show-off females spreading themselves across the picnic table, arms stretched above their heads, like movie stars in a dramatic state of repose.
This trip a young male Sykes sat only inches away as we played a game of tag with the pool skimmer that rested against a glorious flame tree. I’d turn the skimmer from side to side and the monkey would grab the net and stop it from moving. He’d let go and then we’d start all over again. I truly felt like Jane of the Jungle during this amazing interaction.
Two of the monkeys – a male and female that we’d grown fond of during our stay – even ran along the top of the wall yesterday chasing our driver as we left the compound for Nairobi. I swear if they knew how to wave, they’d have given us a cheery ‘Kwaheri!”
Alongside the prehistoric looking hornbill birds that honk like geese, the dragonflies that hover in your face like tiny police helicopters, the enormous crabs that scatter sideways, the grey heron delicately picking crabs out of the sea at low tide, the brightly coloured blue and yellow geckos that run up and down the white-washed walls and the comically named Speckled Mousebird, Bat Hawk and Lizard Buzzard, it’s easy to see why Jinchini and the coastal town of Msambweni has gained such a reputation as a wild life mecca and a magical paradise.
Just make sure when you visit, you keep a close eye on your chocolate cake …