On Saturday, we decided to take a trip up to Stoke to visit the Monkey Forest. We have never visited before, but I absolutely love monkeys as do my own three, so it was the perfect place for us to go. The Monkey Forest is home to around 140 barbary macaques and is situated next to Trentham Gardens and you can buy a ticket which allows you entry to both at a discounted rate.
The car park was a little hectic so we parked further away and walked up to avoid the chaos of people wanting to park right outside. We went to the desk and collected our tickets and went inside.
I would say that the place isn’t huge. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was quite nice not to be completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of it all. As you walk in, there’s a playground and picnic area off to your left, another play area in the centre next to the gift shop and cafe. There was also a little trampoline area which was £2 for 5 minutes.
The main area where you walk around and see the monkeys is located at the top of a small slope. Before entering, a member of staff gives you a quick safety run through and checks your tickets then you can walk through.
I absolutely love that the monkeys are free and in a natural environment; no cages or bars in sight. They aren’t there for entertainment and seemed incredibly chilled out as a large group.
We managed to catch a keeper talk which is on the main area of the walk. Here they give you more information about the monkeys and their lifestyles. There are also lots of keepers dotted around who you can chat to. They are also keeping an eye on the monkeys in case they want to walk through the crowds.
We were lucky that there were lots of newborn monkeys which were seriously cute indeed. It was so interesting to see how the whole group absolutely adored them and that the babies seem to strengthen the group and bring them closer together.
One of the keepers also told us that they had twin monkeys born in the park recently and I loved that they were the two that were causing the most mischief – I felt I knew that feeling rather well!
You can follow the path around the enclosure and you need to look up and down to ensure you don’t miss any. Along the way, there are information boards and little quizzes that Charlie took charge of asking us and putting the keeper talk we knowledge to the test!
After our walk, we headed off to the Banana café for a spot of lunch. The kids had chicken nuggets and chips and I had a baguette and my husband had a panini. The café was about average price wise but I think as it was a nice day, I really wish we had brought a picnic. The gift shop is attached to the café but it quite small and it was quite busy so we didn’t get to go in.
After lunch, the kids wanted to play on the park so we sat and watched and it was lovely as the playground wasn’t too big that you couldn’t keep your eye on them. We then decided to have an ice cream and go and sit and watch the information DVD that is shown. We got to see the monkeys playing in the snow and found out more information. I was surprised that there wasn’t more people in there as it was nice to get a little more information.
We then fancied an ice cream so sat in the picnic area to the left of the shop and cooled down. P2 decided she wanted to go and see the monkeys again so we went and had another wander. I’m really glad we did as it had quietened down so there was a lot more space to be able to see the monkeys more freely.
We spent around four hours here and wished we had come earlier in the day (we didn’t arrive til gone 12.30pm) and doubled up our tickets, however we really enjoyed our day, especially P2 who spent the whole time singing her own “Monkey Forest” song as we walked around. They seemed mesmerised that they were so close to them and I loved how natural it all felt, and that no animals were being exploited or forced into doing things for the audiences.
I do wish that there was a family ticket available to buy, as a family of 5 I am always swayed to go places where we can save a few quid here and there so that would be my only suggestion. However saying that it is £8 for an adult and £6 for a child, so it is very reasonable. You also don’t have to pay for car parking. You can find out further information about the Monkey Forest by visiting their website. We really enjoyed our day and will definitely visit again.
Disclosure – we were given complimentary entrance to the park for the purpose of this review. All words, images and opinions are, as always, completely honest and my own.