Finding The Monkeys

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Text by Patty Simon | Images by Dick Simon


Nyungwe Lodge is literally plopped in the middle of a tea plantation. Early morning brings the pickers, wearing pieces of plastic used as an apron, plucking handfuls of the youngest light green leaves from the top of each plant. The young men and women throw the leaves behind into a woven basket. Sometimes the bottoms of the baskets are worn out and patched with red or green plastic netting.

We see all this as we are eating French toast with honey and fresh banana, and of course, Rwandan black tea!

We arrange to go see the Colobus monkey – shiny black with whiskers of white fur around the face and running down each arm. They have long tails that are used for balance, not to hang from branches. They never drink water… only eat leaves.

The babies were adorable – miniatures of their parents. The newborns are all white and cling to their mothers for dear life. The families spend their time eating and playing with each other, which sometimes lead to skirmishes of bared teeth. Eventually they swing from tree to tree to move on. (If the young are too small to swing through the canopy, they jump to the ground and quickly run to the next grove of trees.)

We watch for hours as if it is just another lazy afternoon laying in the tea fields with a women trekker nearby. It is one of those magic moments of travel. Not moving, just “being” with the landscape and what it has to offer… in this case, beautiful Colobus monkeys.

We get close and watch a juvenile pick leaves and chew them up. Sometimes they stare at us and give us a photo opportunity and sometimes they all have their backs to us. What must they think of us?

After getting a great view of the white baby with its mother and seeing eye-to-eye through binoculars, we head back to the lodge for a beautiful lunch. I take a swim in the infinity pool set next to the forest and then join the family to watch  “Gorillas in the Mist” – preparing for what everyone says is the highlight of our time in Rwanda.

Merry Christmas to All from Rwanda!

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