Last week my family and I went to Trentham Monkey forest,which is an outdoor attraction that houses 140 monkeys all roaming free. I was super excited abut this as monkeys are my favourite animals ever since I studied animal psychology and spent two weeks at Chester zoo analysing their every move. We decided not to tell the boys where we were going instead we gave them clues along the journey, which despite the multiple signs we passed they never guessed until we pulled up in the car park right next to the main sign. I wish I had filmed the tiddlers reaction because it was simply hilarious and adorable and there was no denying he was just as excited as me to spend the day at the monkey forest.
At the admission station we were offered a children’s quiz to do on the way round, the tiddler wasn’t really interested but the big one surprised me by being very eager to find all the answers which was great as it made the trip more educational for him and he really learnt a lot about the monkeys. I’m sure the mention of a potential prize was his motivator but either way at 8 years old I’m happy to see him reading and learning of his own free will.
When you first enter the monkey forest you will see that there is a play park in front of you, there is also one to the left that is a little more hidden but worth a visit, especially if you have older children. It’s a good idea to let the children have a quick play on here to burn of some energy before you go in to the monkeys especially if they have been stuck in a car for a while. I would also suggest a quick toilette stop here as there are no toilette’s in the actual monkey forest bit.
The monkey forest itself isn’t very big and doesn’t take very long to cover so I would suggest that you just take your time and stop and take in what all the monkeys are doing without worrying that you need to get round and fit loads in. There are also interactive boards on the way round and our boys enjoyed asking the questions and guessing the answers, although I’m convinced their was some cheating going on by my own monkeys who always seemed to find the boards first and miraculously knew the answers before I had even read out the question. It was a good family activity and again taught us all a lot about the monkeys we were watching.
The first section you hit is where the feeding and talks take place, we some how managed to time this just right and only had to wait five minutes before we got to watch. The boys found this fascinating and as the food encourages the moneys to come out of the trees it is a great way to see them.
From here the path makes a loop round the forest, going down and then up a slight incline with greenery on either side and lots of opportunities to see the monkeys in their natural habitat. The path is suitable for prams and buggies but I would think carefully about doing this if you have mobility issues as some parts are steep.
I think it is fair to say that all of us were quite surprised at just how close the monkeys will get and how happy they are to just run across the path right in front of you, which at one point really startled me when I turned to see one hot on my heels crossing the path. It’s wonderful to see how chilled out they are and seemingly not bothered by our presence in their home at all.
There are a number of keepers throughout the monkey forest and they were quick to move the monkeys on if they suddenly stopped in the path and are really knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you may have.
Once the path loops back it starts a descent which is quite steep so be careful with your prams here. This side of the monkey forest has a small stream running along side it that the monkeys can cool off in if they wish and is very picturesque.
The path then leads back to the main grassed area where you can watch them being fed if you haven’t already or indeed watch again if you wish. From here you can either loop round again or leave to the right and stop for refreshments.
As with most days out we took a picnic, although they do have a restaurant on site if you choose to eat out. If you do take a picnic make sure you leave it in the car and come back for it after you have seen the monkeys because you can’t take it into the main monkey forest area for obvious reasons. However, you can come in and out as much as you like and they have a great area with tables and a park where you can enjoy your own food before going back in and doing another loop which is what we did.
We had a wonderful day and stayed for about 3 hours before heading home with an ice cream to coll us down. I think it is important to point out that although the whole attraction is outside don’t let the this put you of visiting in the hot weather as there is a lot of shade provided by the trees on the walk round.
If you or your families are monkey mad then I would recommend a visit to the monkey forest as it is great to see them playing freely with so much space to roam around in compared to how we see them in the zoo.