Macaque: The Tale of a Tail in Malaysia and Morocco

Spotting wild monkeys always makes us smile when we travel. My first encounter was long before I met hubby. We were drifting down the Belize River at dusk when my friend’s father pointed out the howler monkeys up in the trees. This was in the days before I had a digital camera, and the photos are filed away right now.

It was only a couple of years ago we came upon macaque for the first time. It was early on our family trip around the world. The beautiful macaque roam all around the Batu Caves just outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Ben, our Malaysia guide, explained that monkeys are protected here. While they roam amongst the people, they are still wild animals. It’s not uncommon for tourists using poor judgement to feed these monkeys or worse try to pose with them for a photos, only to end up bit or scratched.

Macaque eating a banana at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

He looks so cute and friendly with the banana, but don’t be fooled, macaques do bite tourists.

Injured macaque at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This macaque with an injured hand sat along the rail to the stairs.

Aside from humans the macaques are the most widespread primate genus, ranging from Japan to Afghanistan, with one species, the barbary macaque also found in North Africa and Southern Europe. We first saw the barbary macaque near the Cascade D’Ouzoud, a stunning 3 drop waterfall in the Atlas mountains of Morocco (about a 3 hour drive from Marrakesh). We didn’t initially recognize it as being the same genus of monkey, as they have only a vestigial tail. Because of this, they are often mistaken for and called apes, but they are macaques, a monkey.

Barbary macaque near Cascade D’Ouzoud

This barbary macaque climbed through the fence stopping directly in front of us as if he was asking for food.

Barbary macaque near Cascade D’Ouzoud Morocco

The vestigial or lack of tail is clearly seen on this adorable baby on the rocks surrounding the amazing Cascade D’Ouzoud in the Azilal Province of Morocco.

Barbary macaque near Cascade D’Ouzoud

The tables and chairs in the background make it clear how close these wild animals are to tourists. They easily pass through the rails.

These barbary macaque are probably best known from the Rock of Gibraltar (we didn’t go there).

Health Watch

And in other news: I am currently doing only domestic (New Zealand) travel while I get the intracranial hypertension under control. My goal is fitness through weight loss and walking (the only exercise they allow) as there is small chance that if I loose enough weight I can put it into remission. Each weekend I share my weekly progress:
Steps Last 7 Days: 81,067
Total Steps (since 6 June when I got my Fitbit):497,339
Total Weight Loss (since 13 May): 10.4 kg (23 lbs)
I am over two months caffeine free and sugar free.

Have you seen macaque or any wild monkeys? Have you traveled to either Malaysia or Morocco?

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Macaque: photos of the wild monkeys in Malaysia and Morocco

This post also linked to Travel Photo Mondays at Travel Photo Discoveries and Weekend Wanderlust at Justin plus Lauren.

Weekend Wanderlust
Kauri Trees: New Zealand's Oldest and Largest Natives
A Black Sheep in the Family: Baby Lambs in Shakespear Park


  1. says

    First off, I’m so proud of you for all your hard work exercising (walking) and getting your weight down. It’s hard work, but if you can put this in remission it’s a small price to pay.

    I’ve never been to either country, but I’d love to see those wild monkeys. Too cute.

    Have a fabulous day Rhonda. 🙂

    • says

      Thanks Sandee, and I agree a small price to pay. Honestly, the fear of loosing my sight makes it all not that difficult. I just got back from a long walk in the rain, and I only eat what is on the food plan. Simple.

  2. says

    I love all animals. So of course I’m drawn to articles about them. These little guys are cute, but yes, people need to know any wild animal is likely to bite, scratch, or ram someone. Should people feed the macaque? Doesn’t that take away their inherent ability to forage? Or have we encroached so much on their territory that they now depend on us for their food? I love your work and thank you for sharing it.

    • says

      They are cute, but dangerous. Our travel doctor specifically talked about monkeys when he tried to talk us into rabies vaccines. As for your question, my guess after seeing them is that yes, humans have over encroached on their territory and they know they can get food from us, either by waiting for the stupid humans, or stealing it.

  3. says

    What an interesting life you have! I’ve always been a little afraid of monkeys since a childhood experience with one owned by a friend of a friend. I can’t imagine seeing them walking around on the street.

    I hope you get your health condition under control. I know how it is to have to plan everything around that.

    • says

      Thanks Marti, I guess in this context interesting is a good word. Last time I heard it the Doctor said, “the radiologist rang to discuss you because your case is so interesting, you don’t want to be interesting!”

      Sorry you had a bad monkey experience. I imagine they are quite common after listening to some of the stories our guide told about the stupid tourists taking photos with the monkeys.

  4. says

    I recognise them. They are the thieves who broke into out room in Malaysia and ransacked it. Even though I had shut the door I hadn’t locked it and we caught them the next day jumping up and down on the handle to get in again. Macaques …mmmm

    • says

      Oh my! I will admit, seeing them on the street or forest is cute, but not in my room. I don’t think I would like that too much. Which part of Malaysia were you in? To date we have only stayed in Kuala Lumpur – and there were no monkeys in our hotel – although we did see a giant rat by the pool. But that’s a story for another day.

  5. says

    Hi. I’m sorry to hear about your health, but you’re doing a great job walking. I also have a fitbit and am trying to lose so I know how much walking those steps really is. I like your health update. Good motivation!

    Now for the monkeys, I see them here in Singapore, sometimes right outside my apt building, but not often. I’ve also seen them at Batu Caves and Angkor Wat. They are cute, especially the babies, but I agree they can be aggressive. I saw one slap a woman and try to grab her purse. He wanted the baby bottle inside. He eventually got it after a struggle and ran off with it. So many people feed them at Batu Caves. Very dangerous!

    • says

      Right outside your apartment, is that really cool, or a bit scary, or just is so common you don’t even think about it. Angkor Wat is still on my bucket list. We had a guide that took us to Batu Caves, and he told us several stories similar to yours with the baby bottle. Lucky for use, we never saw that kind of aggression.

    • says

      True, they are cute, but not so much when they bite. The travel doctor warned us about wild monkeys before we left, while he was suggesting we get rabies vaccines. And thanks.

  6. says

    Oh Rhonda. Cute monkey story =)
    And, at least it’s been identified. Making it a priority, you’ll be back traveling longer distances in no time! keep your wonderful pictures and experiences coming. you’re an inspiration!

  7. says

    I love to see monkeys. I have seen a lot of them in Central and South America. I have not seen macaques in the wild yet. But, like you mentioned, monkeys can bite and scratch (I have seen it a lot of times). So, it is advisable to observe them from a distance.

    • says

      When we saw them in Central America they kept their distance, they were up in the trees. But the ones here on this page, they are no longer afraid of humans and they get quite close.

    • says

      Alex, you would be surprised how stupid some people are when they travel. We have met many people who seem to have this mentality that it’s okay because they are on holiday. Our family rule is that if it’s not safe at home, it’s not safe when away.

  8. says

    Monkeys are a common sight even in Sri Lanka if you visit some of the places.It is really nice to see them ,but there are times they are very troublesome too. 🙂
    Glad to see you are progressing with your health condition.

    • says

      I haven’t been to Sri Lanka, yet, but like so many places it is on the list. Do people try and keep clear of them, or are there stupid tourists there too?

  9. says

    Ive never seen wild monkeys but I think they are such funny mischevious creatures. Funnily enough Morocco has been one place on my list of places to visit for quite sometime.

    • says

      Morocco was one of our favourite countries when we went around the world. It is one of the few we extended our stay, in this case from 7-10 days to 31 days, and we all wish we stayed longer. I hope you get there. I have blogged a lot about it, so have a look when you get to planning.

  10. says

    81k steps in the last 7 days? Wow!! That’s awesome!! I can say I’ve done lots of 15’s — it’s about 15 steps to my refrigerator and back again, and I go there often. Not kidding. (I’m so bad.) I had no idea there were monkeys in Morocco or Southern Europe. Monkeys make me nervous. They’re a little too aggressive and unpredictable – a little too like humans. I wish you a very lovely weekend! 🙂

    • says

      Yes, this was definitely my biggest walking week. I had two 15k days mixed in. My goal is only about 65k per week, as I do 10k per day with a rest day (that I didn’t take last week). I knew about the macaques in Gibraltar, but I was surprised in Morocco. I don’t think they are very wide spread. We only saw them in the Atlas foothills. Love your comparison to humans.

  11. says

    Interesting info, I have not seen these up close but every time I see a monkey I laugh it’s just their faces never fail to start me off heheh!

    Well done on your continual weight loss and no caffeine or sugar your doing great and the good thing is the better you feel the more you want to carry on with it, I’m sure you will get there and get nearer to your goal…remission 🙂

    Have a monkeytastic day Rhonda 🙂

    • says

      They are more likely to have me saying Awww, than laughing, unless they do something silly – or we are laughing at stupid people trying to pose with them. And thanks.

  12. says

    I was just thinking of monkeys when I put the blog post together about Singapore. Our friends took us on a behind the scenes tour as it was of the place and out to a place where wild monkey roam. . . however a brief, but intense rainstorm had driven all but a few of the braver ones to find cover. It was fun trying to spot one of the little critters though. Fun post, and continued good progress on your weight loss and exercise program!

    • says

      I don’t remember seeing any monkeys when we were in Singapore, but for us it was only a two day stop over. I do remember having to look for them in the trees in Belize, and yes it was fun, when we spotted one.

  13. says

    I remember of our cruise to Costa Rica when we went down this river and we saw these beautiful monkeys. I placed my head out to take a photo and the guide told me to get my head in the boat. I asked why and he said when these monkeys see humans, they will throw their poop at us so he didn’t want them to do that. Later someone else did the same thing but didn’t put their head back in and suddenly we wear being bombarded with smelly brown pieces of monkey poop. I couldn’t wait until we left the area. I wasn’t impressed with these monkeys.
    Have a wonderful but not smelly Sunday Rhonda. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

    • says

      LOL – These are the moments that make the best stories. Were they chimpanzees? I am pretty sure they are the ones that throw poop. Fortunately this is not a characteristic of macaques.

  14. says

    Monkeys are so fascinating and human-like, but a lot cuter (from afar, at least).
    Congratulations! Losing more than 20lbs and being sugar AND caffeine free — VERY IMPRESSIVE, Rhonda. You can fight this thing successfully. You’re well underway with it.

  15. says

    Hi Rhonda – first time I’ve seen your blog, thanks to #wkendtravelinspiration. Reading your post, I could almost hear my mom muttering “cheeky little monkey”…although she was usually referring to moi. 😉 Great work on the fitness goals! It’s amazing how simple it is (though still not always easy) when properly motivated. Keep it up, and thanks for sharing!

    • says

      We only saw them in the Atlas Mountains. I don’t think they were in the big cities in Morocco – except for the ones with the storytellers at night – trained to do tricks 🙁

  16. says

    They are so cute the little monkeys, I have been giving them banana from my hand and it didn’t pass my mind they can bite me! I’ll be more careful next time, I don’t want rabies or other illnesses…
    Well done with your weigh loss xxx

  17. says

    Very fun photos. As cute as they are, it has to be a great temptation to thing they are tame.

    Good luck with your health goals.

    • says

      We went back up today and they were bouncing all over the fields. So cute, but I know they are not tame, and that my disturbing them would only end badly.

  18. says

    we visited a monkey forest in Bali. We followed all the instructions – no shiny jewelry, simple shoes, no food in your pockets, etc. But we definitely saw monkeys go after people who brought food along. a few pestered a girl whose flip-flops had decorations on them. These monkeys seem like they were relatively good natured about it but still, people should know better!

    i would definitely visit here if I went to Malaysia.

    • says

      Were the instructions posted so everyone can see them, and people just ignored them? The monkeys we saw are wild, but obviously quite used to being around people. It’s bad enough that they sometimes scratch or bite people who are feeding them, but I think it would be pretty scary to have them come and take your food or jewellery. I was taught you never feed wild animals as it allows them to become reliant on humans for food. It may be the next person who comes by without food for the animal that gets bit.

  19. says

    There was one time we saw wild monkeys, in India. My siblings and I were all under ten at the time, and our parents told us to get inside the house, lock all the doors and windows, and wait for them to pass. The monkeys were aggressive and were after food without any concern for collateral damage.

    In terms of your health progress – well done! How did you manage cutting sugar and caffeine out? Did your body react okay? I’ve cut down sugar lately but should probably work on having less caffeine…

    • says

      I am glad the wild monkeys we have seen left us alone.

      As for my eating, the caffeine was eliminated by the doctor along with a list of activities like bending, lifting, going above 5K feet elevation, coughing and more. There is a chance I can put the IH into remission if I loose enough weight, so the nutritionist cut out my sugar. At this point it is all about trying to save my eye sight, so it’s easy. Fear is a brilliant motivator.

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