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Andy Awa - Primates are pretty awesome

Andy Awa is a charismatic and passionate guide at Monkeyland, Plettenberg Bay. He has a real love for the primates that he cares for every day and says he feels like he is one of them. Guided tours with Andy promise to be enlightening as well as highly entertaining, as his character makes for a very unique experience. Andy has special nicknames for different species, an appreciation of individual primates and can distinguish between the calls of species in what he calls “The Voice” competition for primates. Andy’s connection and understanding of these animals is a testament to his dedication in the years at Monkeyland.

“Before Monkeyland, I had no clue about primates. I really took time before I came here because I was scared of monkeys. You get these stereotype stories about them being naughty and an aggressive type of animal, but you get a surprise when you work with them, to find out these are actually a lovely species. Our primates are similar to the human race, in many aspects of their social life compared to our human social life.

“I am from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), but I came to South Africa to study in Johannesburg. I studied culinary art so I am a qualified chef as well. I also have a background in the tourism industry, to which I wanted to add the Monkeyland experience. Now I am going for my second year at Monkeyland. It is hard to count, you feel that you have been here forever. My plan was only to stay for 3 months, but these lovely gibbons made me stay longer with their lovely song.

Andy Awa, a friendly and charismatic guide at Monkeyland in Plettenberg Bay, the Garden Route
A lemur at Monkeyland where Andy Awa from Plettenberg Bay in the Garden Route works.

“My plan was only to stay for 3 months, but these lovely gibbons made me stay longer with their lovely song."

“I had to go through training which everyone has to do. We actually have books about primates here, and my personal research has led me to know more about primates because I was interested in knowing what I was working with. The first thing I learnt was, what you have to do when you have a new challenge in your life or new and challenging work, is just go with no fear about what you’re going to learn.

“I have many experiences that I can share about these primates. Every day we see so many things. The first thing was when the Vervet monkeys stole my phone when I was on a tour. That’s the most amazing thing that I found out about these monkeys, that they are interested in cell phones. I never got it back, I only got a piece of that phone, only what was remaining.

“I love them, I love these guys. I am actually one of them. I feel like one of them. Being with monkeys makes you know more about yourself because it is something that we came from. We may have become more evolved, but I think we still have lots to learn from them… life is about learning, and we are learning every day. Every day is a new day which you have to give a chance. I know you have good days and bad days, but you don’t really fix this. Just try to keep your mood as happy as possible. That is my nickname, ‘Happy man’.”

Andy Awa is nicknamed the Monkey Whisperer at Monkeyland, Plettenberg Bay, the Garden Route

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