See that little guy above? That’s who greets you at the entrance to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. So little, so cute, so calm. You think ‘How could this attraction be anything less than a serene chance to connect with nature?’ Then you are greeted by the other green monkeys, running a-muck, much larger, much more aggressive (we saw one pull a banana out of the hand of a toddler in the parking lot*), much less little & calm. Now you start to think ‘Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.’
These were most definitely the thoughts running through my head the afternoon we visited the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. Fresh off an afternoon Barbados rain shower, the animals seemed especially enthusiastic the day we were there, arriving just in time for the 2pm feeding.
The first part of the Reserve is peaceful, calm, thick jungle – it’s what I imagine many of the other, less developed Caribbean islands look like. A winding stone path leads you to the Grenade Hall Signal Station. A walk up three flights of stairs in this once in use signal station leads to this beautiful view of the east coast:
After we enjoyed the nature walk a bit more, we moved over to a separate section, where the animals are “kept” (the monkeys are free to leave the fenced in area & often move in & out throughout the day). The first animals we saw were turtles & deer. The turtles were everywhere, going about their own business, which pretty much seemed to be moving slowly & sleeping (& hanging out on the backs of alligators). The main goal of all the animals, we realized, was to get themselves to the area where the Reserve staff serve lunch on a daily basis – lunch consisting of a huge pile of lettuce, fruit & veggies.
One turtle, pictured below, was especially endearing. While the other animals were cutting across dirt, running, jumping & heaving themselves toward the food, he stuck to the brick path the whole way, even though it took much longer. What a proper little guy!
While it was cute to watch the turtles & deer eat together in peace, it was quite an experience to watch the monkeys dive for food. The grabbed the bigger pieces – especially oranges – & found more secluded spots to eat on their own. Occasionally, one monkey would decide he wasn’t happy with his chosen piece & would grab one away from another monkey – very mature. The most amazing thing was that the monkeys were totally un-phased by the tourists standing around, watching them. I guess they’re used to human interaction by now.
So while the Wildlife Reserve is definitely one of the more touristy things we’ve done in Barbados (hello bus loads full of cruise passengers!), it was also one of the more fun. Unless your skiddish around monkeys. In which case, I definitely don’t recommend it. It should be noted that you may not realize that you’re skiddish around monkeys until you actually get there – like me.
*Yeah, so hello bad parenting! There are signs all over the parking lot telling you not to eat. So what does the parent do in the car next to us? Give her child a banana. You’re eating a banana in an area where wild monkeys, which eat bananas, run free. That banana, & toddler, stood zero chance. Way to be smart!
PS I’m not perk’d or paid to write any of this – I can assure you that the Barbados Wildlife Reserve has no idea that I am terrified uneasy about their monkeys & have no idea that I exist.