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Monkey Forest (Trentham)

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Walk amongst 140 free roaming Barbary macaques.

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      16.07.2012 00:23
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      A lovely day out for all of the family!

      Last September my daughter and I had been to Alton Towers for her birthday, we'd spent the night in the area and were looking for something to do the next day before meeting up with friends on the evening. We decided to visit Trentham Monkey Forest after reading the leaflet in the B&B and I'm really pleased we did!

      Trentham Monkey Forest is home to 140 Barbary Macaques, these monkeys usually live in the wild in Algeria but these two families have been homed here as part of conservation programme, which seems to be ethical and well run.

      The monkeys wander freely within a 60 acre enclosed forest. Other than the fences for the enclosure there does not appear to be any restrictions on the monkeys movement. There are pathways around the forest marked out by knee height wooden barriers to keep visitors to the paths. the monkeys however are not restrained by the barriers and also walk freely along ad across the paths coming very close to the visitors. There are boards with information about the monkeys placed regularly along the path and hour there were feeding talks by the knowledgable and passionate guides who were always around to answer any questions and maintain the safety of the monkeys and visitors. We picked up a quiz on the way in which my daughter completed on the way round and was able to take to school to show her teacher and classmates what she'd been up to and what she'd learnt (on her unauthorised absence!). Its fascinating to watch the monkeys act as they would in the wild and demonstrate the behaviours talked about the info boards and by the guides. You could easily fill in a few hours wandering around the forest - you are free to go in and out of the enclosed area, for lunch etc.

      As someone completely unfamiliar with the area I found the place easy to find following some basic directions and was signposted clearly once you got close.

      I would say the ticket pricing is quite reasonable, it is by no means a cheap day out but not extortianate for a unique attraction. I would say we enjoyed it as much as Alton Towers the day before, which was much more expensive. If we'd had more time or lived close by I would have purchased a joint ticket for the Forest and Estate as there looks some fun things to do there.

      There was a cafe and shop hich were both fairly standard in prices and goods for visitor attractions in the UK. There was also a picnic area. The toilets were clean and the children's play areas a good size and well maintained. There was lots of free parking and from what I remember the place was mostly wheelchair/pushchair friendly.

      We visited on a very sunny weekday in September, it was school term time but the place was still reasonably busy. I would imagine it can get fairly packed in school holidays and at weekends.

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        25.06.2011 14:15

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        Even tho it rained when we went my children all loved it even myself and hubby did too great day trip the monkeys can walk right up to you ( my young brother love that there was a monkey with the same name as him ) we took a pushchair with us and only found one little bit , a bit hard but ok to get around the only down side was the lack of shelter for when it rains and the price int the cafe We all had such a great time we want to go back but have to wait for another day trip as we dont drive and its not that easy to get too by public transport

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        08.04.2010 13:23
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        A great place to visit.

        I went to the Monkey forest near Stoke a couple of years ago, and as an adult going with my husband and no children we thoroughly enjoyed it.

        I had read a few articles about this park and they had all said about the monkeys roaming free, but I was very sceptical as to how close you could get and just how free they were. It turns out that I shouldn't have been sceptical, the monkeys are literally in the trees, walking around, with no cages or fences at all. Apart from a knee high wooden barrier that you have to stay on the right side of, but the monkeys don't know that and roam around everywhere.

        I can't remember how much it cost when I went but I just had a quick look on the website and this years prices are:

        Prices 2010
        Adults: £6.50 each
        Oaps/students £6.00 each
        Children (from 3 to 14 years old): £4.50 each
        Disabled/carers (no restriction on numbers) £4.00 each
        Under 3 years old Free of charge.

        I think these prices are pretty reasonable for the experience you actually get.

        Their website also has lots of other useful information. the site is: www.trentham-monkey-forest.com

        The monkeys at Trentham are all Barbary Macaques, and they are very cute. If you see one carrying around a little baby, it's really sweet.

        I think this is a great and interesting place to visit, and it's so fascinating to watch all the monkeys close up, and just see them out roaming instead of being in cages.

        I would say it only takes an hour or two to walk round this depending on your pace, and you can obviously stay for longer just watching the monkeys. There is a huge car park, but I imagine in the school holidays this place gets very packed. It is easily signposted from the surrounding area, and we found it quite easy to get to.

        I would definitely recommend a trip to the monkey forest, especially with children, I could imagine they would love it. Getting so close to the monkeys really is an amazing experience.

        If your in the area I would also recommend visiting the Trentham Village Garden Centre which has loads of quirky shops and a huge garden centre. You could easily spend a whole day between these two places.

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          07.12.2009 22:29
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          Trentham Monkey Forest is a large sixty acre plot housing Barbary Macaque monkeys roaming the woodland very near to Trentham Gardens in Stoke on Trent, North Staffordshire. If you were coming out of Trentham Gardens, then take the 3rd exit onto the A34, then at the next roundabout take the 2nd exit and you will find yourself on a dirt track which is very rubbly so I advise 10mph will be plenty!! The postcode for the garage opposite is ST12 9HR and you will find the entrance practically directly opposite.

          Barbary Macaques are originally from the Atlas Mountains!

          The car park is pretty large, there are no set spaces but it is easy to navigate and to park up on. Mond the low fences, I have seen someone drive into one, luckily they are wooden so it could have been worse.

          My friend works here so I have been several times and spent time walking around.

          You come to the gates and I think that there are 2 kiosks which accept cash and card payments;

          Adults: £6.00 each
          Oaps/students £5.50 each
          Children (from 3 to 14 years old): £4.50 each
          Disabled/carers (no restriction on numbers) £3.50 each
          Under 3 years old Free of charge

          Just to inform you it is now closed and will not reopen until half term in Feb 2010.

          Herein you come to a bit of a clearing with toilet facilities and a smallish cafe and gift shop. Toilet facilities are good, although they are just huts they are more than adequate for their purpose! The gift shop is quite small and of course expensive as you may guess selling all sorts of monkey paraphenalia. The cafe is nice dealing with hot and cold food at reasonable prices, clean and tidy indoor and outdoor seating areas.

          So begins your 3/4 mile journey around the park!!

          The huge gates to the entrance house an open style hut whereby you get an introduction talk and can leave any possesions that you cannot take into the park behind. I believe food cannot be taken in amongst other things but it will be confirmed at the gate.

          The path following around is lined with very low wooden fences and the trees are so high and the thick foliage often hides the monkeys from sight at the beginning. As you make your way around you will observe many of these creatures and you will see plenty on your journey, a little way in there is a clearing whereby they hold speeches and question and answer sessions by friendly guides, and all the guides are great and very approachable, often they will approach you with information and are well trained.

          The monkeys are all ages and sizes, there were some babies born earlier in the year here. It is amazing to watch each animal interacting with the others and they can be very noisy! All of the animals are named, there is Eddie the main alpha male which is the only one I can remember at the moment :S I must ask my pal, they all have names and the guides recognise each and every one of them.

          About three quarters through there is a fairly steep hill which can be abit hairy when wet, unfortunately I would think this means manual wheelchairs would have to take another way, however electric vehicles should be fine according to the website.

          I have no children and can only say I think they will have a very good time here judging by seeing the families go around they looked like they were having a whale of a time.

          When the sun shines it really is a beautiful place to be, the walk is admittedly short and not a full day out, I would think you would be here for a couple of hours and then could make your way to Trentham Gardens for the rest of the day.

          In summary more than worth it for a visit to see the only park like this in the country! Combine with other attractions for a day or weekend.

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            14.10.2009 15:38
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            Well worth a visit if you have young children

            Back in August, whilst on holiday in Derbyshire, my family found themselves trying to fill a dull and drizzly day. Then somebody spotted a leaflet for Monkey Forest in our holiday cottage and off we headed.

            ~~~ What is it? ~~~

            Monkey Forest is a 60 acre site where you can walk amongst 140 or so Barbary macaque monkeys as they roam free in the forest. The leaflet and website for this attraction show visitors sitting in very close proximity to the monkeys, only a metre or so away from them. I was a bit disdainful when I saw this assuming, that the shot had been set up for the photograph. However, I was wrong - on our visit we were able to get within a couple of metres of a family of monkeys including a tiny baby which was being carried around by its dad.

            After paying your admission fee you arrive at an area containing the cafe, the shop, a picnic area and two adventure playgrounds. The monkeys are in a separate enclosure surrounded by very high metal fences which you have to enter separately.

            Prior to entering the monkey enclosure you are given a briefing by a Monkey Forest Guide. Amongst other things you are told not to touch the monkeys, not to shout, run or make any sudden movements. This is very tricky to comply with if you are trying to control some over-excited children but we gave it our best shot!

            You are not allowed to roam free in the forest yourself, visitors are restricted to a ¾ mile paved walk and there are lots of Guides lurking to make sure that nobody misbehaves! After the briefing we had when entering the enclosure I did feel as though I was under constant observation. However, the Guides are very polite and helpful and will happily tell you more about the monkeys if you ask. Occasionally a monkey will cross the path in front of you and if this happens the guides will keep the visitors back to ensure that they don't get too close.

            Scattered throughout the forest are information boards which tell you a little bit more about the monkeys such as their background, habits and what they like to eat.

            I was a little disappointed by how quickly we made our way around the walk although there were lots of monkeys to see on the way. 140 monkeys may not sound like a lot but they all seemed to be very close to the path and everywhere you looked there was another monkey. We saw lots of monkeys who seemed to be playing chase together and other monkeys grooming each other.

            We had three children in our group - a six year-old, a three year-old and a nine month-old. The two older children loved the whole experience, they were so excited to be seeing monkeys up close rather than in a cage in the zoo. Even the baby sat in his pushchair staring at the monkeys and giggling to himself.

            ~~~ Where is it? ~~

            Monkey Forest is located in Trentham on the A34 between Stoke-on-Trent and Stone. It is easily accessible from the M6 although traffic can be a bit slow if you are trying to get there in the rush hour.

            There is plenty of parking at the attraction; although the car park was very full when we arrived on a day in August we were able to find a space (just about). The car park is unsurfaced and spaces are not marked which makes things that little bit more chaotic.

            Monkey Forest is part of Trentham Gardens and you can buy a joint ticket which will get you entry into both attractions for a slightly reduced price. The car park for Monkey Forest is a mile or so down the road from that of Trentham Gardens although there is a walk you can do between the two.

            ~~~ Cafe and Shop ~~~

            The cafe and shop are housed in the same building. In fact the cafe runs into the shop which makes it very difficult to dissuade your children from wanting to purchase a whole manner of tacky souvenirs whilst you are trying to eat your lunch!

            The cafe sells all the usual stuff - sandwiches, crisps, cake, jacket potatoes, soup and some daily specials. The prices are fairly reasonable for a tourist attraction and are similar to what you would pay at a cafe in a town.

            The shop sells an awful lot of monkey related merchandise from soft toys to notepads, postcards and souvenir pencils.

            ~~~ Facilities ~~~

            In addition to the cafe, there is also a picnic area. This is a large grassy area with the usual wooden picnic tables. There is an adventure playground for older children located in the picnic area and another one for the under 6's near the cafe. The playgrounds are reasonably well equipped and should occupy your children for a good length of time.

            You are not permitted to take any food into the monkey enclosure so if you are planning on a picnic either eat it before you visit the monkeys or leave it in your car. You can get wristbands from the shop which allow you to go back to your car and then re-enter the attraction.

            There are toilets and baby changing facilities on site. These were fairly clean and well maintained.

            The forest is wheelchair accessible although there are some fairly steep slopes in the monkey enclosure which might prove a little tricky.

            ~~~ Prices and Opening Times ~~~

            For 2009 admission prices are:

            Adults: £6.00 each
            Children (from 3 to 14 years old): £4.50 each
            Under 3 years old: Free of charge
            Oaps/students: £5.50 each
            Disabled/carers: £3.50 each

            Until 31 October, Monkey Forest is open from 10am to 5pm. In November it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm and it closes for the winter from the 16th November until February Half Term.

            Website: http://www.trentham-monkey-forest.com/

            ~~~ Overall Opinion ~~~

            In my opinion the entrance fee is fairly reasonable given that it must cost quite a bit to run an attraction like this. I would definitely recommend a visit here if you have young children and are in the area. However, there really isn't very much to see - once you have been in the monkey enclosure and had a play on the adventure playground, that's about it. I would not plan on spending a whole day here, it is probably best combined with a visit to Trentham Gardens down the road.

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              28.08.2009 07:45
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              See monkeys scratch and sniff and chase each other

              It has been decided that I need to behave more like a Brit in Mexico or Colombia when I am a Brit in Manchester. And by that, I don't mean eating ice cream every day (though I may) or filling any pauses with a 'Que más?', I mean actually getting out there and seeing places I always forget to bother with when I'm home. Touristy places. I live just off the A34 in Manchester. Monkey Forest is located on the A34 near Stoke, about 35 miles away. I don't even need driving directions (though we take them anyway, and they get us lost, tsk), so off we go. The park is signed but not as early as I thought it would be, hence a small panic over whether we have gone wrong. Coming from the north you pass the Trentham estate and gardens before you come to the Monkey Forest entrance and car park, though they're only another mile down the road.

              We can't all go swanning off to Borneo every time we feel like it, spinning the 'ooh, it's my honeymoon' line as a handy excuse. But might the Barbary macaques just an hour up the road be a good alternative to the Orangutans located half a day and a lot more airmiles away? We are set to find out.

              Monkey Forest is, to quote their website, "60 acres of beautiful woodland and meadows where 140 monkeys live in total freedom". Looking at the pictures it looks very unlike a zoo (no cages, for a start) which is good as we're not zoo people, but I'm skeptical that the reality will be a bit different. After all, unless they're all seriously drugged up, you wonder what on earth the draw is that keeps the critters here, in the depths of exotic Staffordshire, rather than trying to find their way back home to the mountains of Algeria or Morocco.

              We arrive just before 11am on a Saturday. It opened at 10am, and the car park is busy but there are still spaces. Not drive-through spaces, mind, unless you park in the over flow bit a long way from the entrance. We decide that to risk scratching a car or two as I reverse out later is a better choice than a long walk, and leave the car near the entrance. There is a queue to get in, but as we approach, another window opens so we move through quickly. For a family day out, it's not cheap, but then nothing is these days. Adult entrance costs £6, a 3 - 14 year old child's £4.50 but armed with a Tesco Deals voucher, the two of us get in for £2 of proper money, and a shiny piece of paper.

              We surreptitiously walk through carrying a big bag of food, because I read somewhere that you cannot take it into the monkey enclosure. I am a little confused, therefore, to see a picnic area directly to our left. Reading the signs it appears that by 'enclosure' they mean a certain bit of the park, that you enter through air-lock style gates, like the doors on my local branch of Nationwide, though I assume they're here to stop the monkeys disappearing, not the money.

              And, you can take food through here, but it should be covered, with no eating or drinking while actually inside. As we enter, a friendly guide gives us said rules regarding food and others about keeping our distance and not touching the monkeys, and we also discover that one of their hourly feeding talks is coming up in 15 minutes. As we walk through, I'm reminded of a slightly less humid version of Costa Rica's rain forests, where I spent last Christmas. By this I mean that although there are hoards of people (it's a Saturday in August, and the weather is disturbingly and unusually amazing) all following a set track, you do still get a real, forest-like feel. The trees are beautiful but, like in Costa Rica, I'm fearing I may be stuck squinting at random blobs along the branches we pass, trying to make out which ones are the wildlife I'm supposed to be spotting. My fears quickly prove unfounded as we round a corner and a dozen or so furry little creatures come into view, quite literally crossing the path in front of us.

              It's clear where the feeding talk will take place, so we hand around here in the sunshine as a crowd begins to gather, taking photos of the monkeys sitting on either side of the path. The talk takes maybe 10 minutes, though the feeding, where a bucket of produce is scattered over the grass, accounts for maybe 10 seconds of that. We learn a few facts about these particular monkeys, are told what to look out for as we tour (there are some little babies in the park at the moment, since it's the right time of year) and have a fun 'quiz' and then we're free to continue on.

              The track is about ¾ of a mile, some of which (a shorter lap that cuts off quite soon) is wheelchair / pushchair accessible. The rest is at times hilly and not smooth underfoot, adding a certain challenging dimension to my walk as I'm sporting my MBTs. Even if they weren't rather big and obvious, you wouldn't be able to miss the monkeys as you walk round, since every few seconds you hear parents calling to their children, pointing out monkeys up trees, monkeys lovingly picking dandruff off each other, monkeys carrying babies on their fronts and backs, monkeys scratching their bottoms. They do that last one a lot. What you see depends on when you go, because the monkeys are literally free to do whatever they like, be that hide away shyly, chase each other around on the ground, snooze high up in the trees or play at being Tarzan, swinging on the vines they've turned into their very own adventure playground. It is nice to see them having fun, and you do feel rather lucky to be able to see them in this sort of quasi-natural environment, rather than locked up in cages.

              We go round slowly, taking lots of photos, and then decided it is lunch time. To be honest, I could have eaten lunch before we even went in, but after an hour's walk we certainly have an appetite. The site has two options, a picnic area and a self-service cafe. We have sandwiches with us, so opt for the former, though we end up sitting on the grass since the few picnic benches are occupied. The cafe, on the other hand, has lots of free tables, but we get the impression they're only for people buying the food there. We have a peek in and it looks like standard service station fare, with a heavy focus on jacket potatoes. The cakes look good, but the slices are tiny and expensive, so we stick to the Hotel Chocolat goodies I'm still, rather restrainedly, eating up from my birthday. We also look in the shop (everything you'd expect from a tourist site, from pens to beakers, all naturally monkey themed) and pick up some postcards. At the till they are selling guides to the park. These are £3 which would seem more reasonable if entrance were a little cheaper. We have a quick look then and there, but decide not to invest. We did, after all, pick up leaflets (and a quiz!) at the ticket desk, and unlike the norm with locals in Mexico City, we're not here to turn a fun day out into a long-winded study project. If you want to leave and re-enter the park (to collect food from the car, or have a sneaky ciggie) you have to get a free re-entry wrist band from the shop, otherwise your ticket alone will not suffice.

              The site also has two play areas, one for older kids near the picnic tables (so they can go and play while you eat, I guess) and one for younger ones near the toilets. This is probably deliberate. The loos have a long queue, which moves slowly, though I quickly realise that it's because they're all occupied by parents with their children. I am the only person, it seems, who will be forced to pee with no company. We have a look at the film playing in the room next door, but decline to stay for the full 19 minutes of it. It is all a bit too proper and scientific for us, though no doubt any visiting Mexicans would approve. Instead we look at the display boards whose photos tell the history of the park and of the species. Then we go back in for another lap.

              As you walk through the forest, there are lots of staff members floating around to answer questions (and make sure people are following the rules) and various information signs, and multiple choice quizzes to test your monkey knowledge. Some of the more interesting ones show the different facial expressions the monkeys might be treating you to, and the different positions you might find them in. And yes, one of them is a rather graphically illustrated doggie-style. There is only one thing missing for me: on the website and in the brochures there are tantalising pictures of visitors sitting on benches with monkeys right next to them. I have been dreaming about getting one of those for my Facebook profile pic ever since we decided to come here, but alas, it is not to be. The monkeys come close, but not that close, and are generally moving any time they are near humans. I begin to wonder how long it took them to get that photo for their publicity, and also assume it was probably on a day when the park was a lot quieter than it is today. Shrieking toddlers do not a serene, monkey-human bonding atmosphere make. Instead, I make do with a picture of me pulling my best monkey face next to the poster of facial expressions, though with my scrunched up brow I look more like a Romulan than anything else.

              There is only one type of monkey here, so you don't have to worry about looking out for different distinguishing features, though it also makes it a tiny bit samey as they all look, well, the same. For fun, and to stay awake, you can try to spot the difference between adults and babies, and boy monkeys and girl monkeys, the latter by looking at the size of the bottoms. Someone once lovingly told me I had' a black girl ass on a white girl body', but I suppose that's better than 'a colourful monkey ass on a pale, human body'. Just.

              We leave the park two and a bit hours after arriving, which works out at a very reasonable 50p per hour each, thanks to Tesco. We could have stayed longer, because there are lots of places to sit and read, or chat, both within the forest and outside the enclosure, but it's time to move on. It has been a fun day out, and it's not yet over as we head to the dubious shopping 'village' a mile up the road, whose key selling point is the fancy Welsh ice cream. Alternatively you could explore the Trentham estate, or have a go at being a monkey yourself at Ariel Extreme (like Go Ape) though both of these will add significantly more to the cost of your day.

              The monkey forest is a lovely place and reasonably peaceful (shrieking toddlers and squawking monkeys aside). The landscape certainly makes a change from your standard Good Healthy Walk in the Lakes or Peak District. I am not entirely convinced it is worth paying full price for if travelling en masse, but it's another one for the list if you're a fan of the ol' Tesco Deals. Either way, I would recommend it for school age kids because I don't think the younger ones would necessarily appreciate how amazing (and unusual) it is to have monkeys freely swinging around over your heads and playing beside you as you walk around. It's one for good weather as the walk is entirely in the open, and you might be better going off peak, i.e. not at a weekend in mid-summer, but it does come with an enthusiastic thumbs up from me, even if I'm not yet giving up hope on that trip to Borneo.


              www.trentham-monkey-forest.com/


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                27.08.2009 22:34
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                Get up close and personal with some little monkeys

                With two kids and a mother in law to entertain this week we decided to take our little monkeys out for a trip in the forest. Trentham Monkey Forest in Staffordshire is within half an hour's drive of my home town, so it's a place that we've visited on several occasions now. The concept is apparantly unique within the UK as the forest is home to over 140 Barbary Macaque monkeys who are free to roam as they please, within the grounds of a 60 acre enclosure.

                On previous visits, we've just walked straight through to the kiosk and purchased our tickets but this time (mid-August, so at the peak of children's summer holidays) we found two lengthy queues at the entrance. Even more annoying was the discovery that we'd joined the 'cash only' queue which was indicated by a sign that was only visible once you'd almost reached the kiosk after ten minutes of queuing! Not the best of starts. At least there were plenty of spaces available in the car park and no additional charges for that.

                Past the entrance there are toilet facilities, a cafe and play areas which can be enjoyed either before or after entering the gated enclosure which houses the monkeys. There are some health and safety rules explained by guides before entering the monkey enclosure which are all self-explanatory and include things like no eating and no running or shouting. Any carrier bags have to be left behind with a guide in case a monkey gets tempted by the sight of your butties!

                The first time I visited was around four years ago now, shortly after the forest first opened and I was expecting the monkeys to be hidden away in the trees and that it would be a case of trying to spot them as they lurked behind the branches. I was genuinely shocked when we came across about ten small monkeys sitting in the middle of a grassed area just a few metres away from where we stood, completely unpertubed by their human visitors. It was even more of a surprise when the monkeys started (play) fighting amongst themselves and a group of them went racing across the path almost knocking my little boy over!

                We now know what to expect and whilst I initially felt that this wouldn't necessarily be a place that you would want to go back to, we do tend to go back once every year or so and always find it an enjoyable experience which the adults enjoy as much as the kids seem to. I'm deliberately avoiding using the phrase 'day out' as the time you'll spend at the forest itself is definitely not a full day, although it can easily be combined with a visit to the delightful shopping village just a short drive away. You would probably only need to set aside either a morning or afternoon to enjoy the Monkey Forest experience which might make the admission prices seem less good value than otherwise. Despite the claims that the site is 60 acres, visitors are restricted to a pathway which takes you on a circular trail through parts of the forest. This area is certainly much shorter than 60 acres and takes about an hour (possibly less if you spend less time admiring the lovely monkeys) at most to walk around. We've taken a pushchair with us on our last two visits and it is accessible but there are sections of the pathway that are quite steep.

                There are guides available at certain points on the walkway and they seemed very approachable and knowledgeable about the Barbary Macaques and their lifestyle. There are also scheduled feeding talks that take place every hour which ensures that lots of monkeys are attracted to the areas where the visitors walk through.

                If I was rating based on the monkeys alone, I would be inclined to be more generous as they really are lovely little creatures and it is so enchanting watching them interacting with each other at close quarters. I thought my youngest son who is only two years old might find the visit a little boring but he was mesmerised by the monkeys and we had a little running commentary of all the monkey antics from him! 'Look! Monkey climbed up! Monkey fallen down! Monkey eating apple! Monkey asleep!' My oldest son, at six years old, found the later sections of the walk a little boring as the majority of the monkeys tend to congregate close to the entrance and there is less to see towards the end. A few uninspiring information boards on the way round failed to hold his attention either, except for one which featured images of the different monkey expressions and what they represent. The image of a monkey supposedly displaying 'playful screaming' would be enough to send grown men running for cover!

                After sufficient monkey business, we headed back to the outer enclosure to get something to eat and let our little monkeys burn off some of their own energy. Unfortunately, having decided against bringing a packed lunch we soon discovered the inadequacies of the Banana Cafe. We actually spent longer queuing for food there than we did inside the monkey enclosure - at least it certainly felt like it! Worst still was the poor selection of food available and the high prices charged for it. My Feta Cheese Salad sandwich sounded quite tempting but I was certainly unimpressed with the quality or the freshness. To add insult to injury, the cafe didn't seem to have sufficient highchairs available so my husband ended up with our two year old perched on his knee eating his dinner! I would definitely recommend taking a packed lunch for any future visits as the outdoor designated picnic area looked a much more attractive proposition. I would also advise nipping to the loo before you go into the monkey enclosure as there are insufficient available and you don't want to leave it to the last minute and end up in another long queue! My final criticism concerns the two children's play areas which have been designed for different age groups but are at completely different sides of the grounds so there is no way that parents could adequately supervise children of different ages. There is no shortage of space available so it seems strange to have been designed in this inconvenient way.

                In all, it's a shame that the excellent Monkey Forest experience is let down somewhat by some poorly thought out facilities and services. It is expensive for the time you are likely to spend watching the monkeys but it is certainly an entertaining way to spend a few hours.

                Admission prices (correct at Summer 2009): Adults £6, Children (3-14) £4.50 OAPs £5.50, under-threes are free. It is also possible to purchase a combined ticket which includes admission to Trentham's Italian Gardens and Lake or to use Tesco Deals vouchers for admission.

                Trentham Monkey Forest, Stone Road, Trentham, Staffordshire, ST4 8AY
                Telephone: 01782 659845

                Opening times and further information on the website:
                www.monkey-forest.com

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                  20.08.2009 12:07
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                  A great family day out at a reasonable price

                  Now I'm a little bit biased with this review because I LOVE monkeys. I totally adore them.

                  We live in Manchester and it wasn't very far, about a 50 minute drive away to get to. When we got closer to the Forest it was signposted which helped so much because the sat nav didn't take us to the entrance of the Forest. The car park is very close to the entrance which is good compared to some places where you have to trek just to get to the attraction.

                  When you first go through there are trampolines (strictly for children, I asked for a go and was refused :-( ) and apparently they have now added 2 new playgrounds which look amazing although these were not yet built when I went.

                  I went on a day trip with my friends little boy who was 3 years old. There's only so many monkeys a 3 year old can look at before he's going to get bored and he did eventually. On the other hand I loved it. Its basically a walk through a forest with beautiful scenery (that in itself is worth a walk around) and Barbary Macaques monkeys are everywhere. There is areas where you are not allowed to enter on the walk which are cornered off by small fences to stop you getting too close to the monkeys (especially the babies in which there was a lot) but the monkeys have free reign of the place so you can be walking along and a monkey will run in front of you, or you will be sat on a bench and a monkey will come and join you. There is also feeding talks every hour which I found really interesting, again my 3 year old companion didn't.

                  The walk is approximately ¾ of a mile long and it is mainly flat although I would go in comfortable shoes girls, heels would not work at all.

                  There is a picnic area on site and I strongly suggest that you take advantage of this and bring a picnic along with you. As with many days out the Jungle Café was very expensive and also was attached to the gift shop (in which my purse got abused).

                  The Monkey Forest is very reasonably priced in my opinion, at £6 for adults and £4.50 for over 3's and under 3's have free entry. There is also a discount for group bookings over 20 people.

                  I would highly recommend this day out but I would say that children over 10 would appreciate it much more than smaller children.

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                    29.07.2009 13:12
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                    A disappointing day out for us, and the monkeys only had limited entertainment value afterall.

                    I love monkeys. A lot. So when figuring out what to do on one of my visits to my uni roommate we decided to check out the Trentham Monkey Forest. I had found out about it by reading a Dooyoo review and the fact that it was about an hour's drive from her home in Derby, and there were other things to do there such as an outlet and scenic walks, made it the ideal location for us to pass a pleasant day.

                    Sadly, things didn't end up quite so rosy. First let me explain a little about the Monkey Forest. It is set in the Trentham Estate in Stoke-on-Trent, which as I mentioned is also home to various other attractions such as a retail village, beautiful gardens, an aerial assault course and woodland walks.

                    You enter the Monkey Forest through a separate gate to the rest of the estate, and once through the "monkey-proof gates" get up close and personal with around 140 Barbary apes, who live in the 60 acre park. If you actually consider how big 60 acres is, it doesn't seem like much once you're inside because you do have to follow the paths and a lot of that is out-of-sight woodland.

                    There are also regular talks by "knowledgeable staff", boards with information along the route of the path and feeding times you can watch. We sat down to listen to one of the talks (and a monkey sat next to me which made my DAY until a guy with a camera chased it away!) and weren't all that impressed. The "knowledgeable staff member" was simply reading information we had already learned from the boards and when asked questions kind of fluffed over his answers with pretty obvious common-sense things that Joe Public would probably come up with if put on the spot. I will say, though, that from the staff who were dotted around walking the paths to answer questions, they do seem to know the individual monkeys if nothing else.

                    We finished the walk around the park pretty quickly and although there's nothing to stop you going around as many times as you want, we were hungry for our picnic at this point, which obviously we were not allowed to bring inside. We had got close to the monkeys, and I got some nice pictures. It was a novelty at first but except for those swinging in the trees in the more wooded area the path intersected, they were mostly eating potatoes or sleeping. Sometimes a fight broke out, which was fun to watch, but I do think that no matter how much of a "natural habitat" they are trying to create, a few toys or things to stimulate the monkeys and make them more interesting to watch would be nice. Because let's face it, in their natural habitat these monkeys are not going to have to share their home with tourists pointing cameras in their faces.

                    Before we left, we stopped in the gift shop and purchased some souvenirs to commemorate our day (which had not yet soured). These were reasonably priced and there was a lot of monkey paraphernalia to choose from.

                    After retrieving our picnic from the car, we headed back towards the turnstile, tickets in hand, to go ahead to the picnic area, which along with toilets, the gift shop and a play area is before the gate to the "monkey-proofed" section of the park.

                    When we showed our tickets to the girl on the desk, she informed us we couldn't re-enter as we didn't have a wristband. We pointed out we did have both tickets and card receipts, and even ID to prove these were our cards, used today, but she wasn't having any of it. When we inquired about this wristband, she claimed there was a sign before the exit gate warning us we needed one. So maybe there was (we didn't get far enough again to find out), but we stopped at the gate to pick up leaflets and neither of us noticed, so it can't have been that well-placed, us both being able to read and all! We told her we had bought our tickets from the girl at the opposite desk, some 10 feet away, who told us she had never seen us before. Perhaps because she was sullen and never looked up at the point of sale! I was, I should point out, wearing a bright red hoody and yes I realise they may see a lot of people in a day, but we were pretty conspicuous. I was even clutching my cup I had just bought inside, which they claimed we could have "brought from home", as well as, I'm told, "swapping our ticket in the car park with someone else". And then, I assume, trading identities and credit cards and IDs as well.

                    Needless to say we were very annoyed by this, as we had been planning to re-enter the monkey portion after our picnic, and ended up eating on the grass verge of the car park fuming about the stupidity of the desk staff. In our outrage, we decided to boycott he rest of the estate and head back to Derby. It had cost us £6 each to get in (£4.50 for kids, £5.50 for OAPs/students) so had we been a whole family who had been turned away, we would have blown a lot of money, especially if we had wanted our picnic before seeing the monkeys, as we would have essentially paid that much to use a picnic table!

                    Once home I fired off an email to the park, stating our disappointment and suggesting they maybe stamp everyone's hand or point out at the sales desk that you need a wristband. My complaints letters are EXCELLENT, and usually have people grovelling and sending me freebies, etc. I certainly haven't lost my touch, several people said it was a good letter, although the line about "not realising they let monkeys work there too" could have been a bit excessive. However, all I got was a particularly rude response stating the desk staff were right. What about the customer always being right too? What about thanking me for my quite frankly much more sensible suggestion? I realise perhaps there was a sign which I missed, but there was no need for rudeness either at the park or in correspondence, and we had plenty of proof we'd been in and paid!

                    So, if you do go to Monkey Forest, know that it's pretty small, a little expensive, and you definitely need a wristband.

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                      14.07.2009 22:08
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                      Good for a few hours at most .

                      I had read about monkey forest on the website and thought it would be a good place to take my children , i have to say i was slightly disappointed.
                      upon arriving at monkey forest we had to queue but this moved pretty quickly as they had seperate lanes for cash only etc seemed pretty well organised.
                      we headed straight for the monkey park , on arrival we were greeted by a friendly member of staff who explained the rules of the park etc and informed us we couldnt take food in with us and not to run etc.
                      we then walked round the monkey park and saw the monkeys in trees on the ground etc , it was quite scenic and there were quite a few information boards to read along the way , however had you wanted to ask a question there were no staff around the park at the time we visited to give you information.
                      we spent around 45 mins - 1hr walking round the park then came out , after that there were 2 small play areas for children and a cafe and a picnic area , the picnic area did not have too many benches and we ended up on the floor but it was a busy day so i cant moan about that too much but i feel a few more tables could be added.
                      you had the option to go back round the monkey park but to be honest once was enough for my kids and indeed me.
                      so we spent 2 hours in total at monkey forest , hardly a day out but was ok if you just want to fill a couple of hours.

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                        01.04.2009 19:07
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                        A wonderful day out for animal-lovers of all ages!

                        Monkey Forest consists of 60 acres of woodland inhabited by around 140 Barbary Macaques. What sets this apart from similar attractions such as zoos, however, is that the monkeys aren't caged - they have the ability to roam freely across the entirety of the forest, and so as a visitor you can actually come within touching distance of them... although, obviously, you shouldn't ACTUALLY touch the monkeys!

                        Monkey Forest is in Trentham, near Stoke on Trent in the Midlands. There are also three other parks - two in France (La Montagne des Singes and La Forêt des Singes) and one in Germany (Affenberg Salem). Details on accessing the forest are given on the website (www.monkey-forest.com) - it's easy to find either by car or by using public transport, and is very clearly sign posted.

                        Upon arrival, there's ample space for parking your car, and this is free. At the time of writing, entry is very reasonably priced at £6.00 for adults, £5.50 for students/OAPs, £4.50 for children (3-14 years of age) and free for kids under 3. When you buy tickets you'll be offered the option of purchasing a guide book for £3, which contains a map and some information about the Forest, its history and the monkeys within it. You are free to enter and exit as you wish (so if you came by car you can leave any food there), but in order to do so you need to get a (free) wristband from the souvenir shop. Said shop is on the right hand side of the attraction as you enter, and sells monkey themed gifts such as keyrings, badges, bookmarks, mugs, glasses, beakers, cuddly toys, cards and postcards. These are fairly expensive, but prices are average when compared to any other tourist attraction selling souvenirs - about £2 for key rings and £10+ for cuddly toys, for example. The shop is adjoined to the 'Banana Café' which sells, amongst other things, sandwiches, wraps, chips, soups, jacket potatoes, and hot and cold drinks. Although I didn't sample anything, everything looked appealing. The café is very clean with plenty of seating (indoor and outdoor) and a nice atmosphere, and prices are, again, average for such an attraction - £2.40 for a kid's meal, £3.60 for a jacket potato and £1.40 for a bottled soft drink.

                        Before (or indeed after) entering the actual Forest, there are a few other things for you to see and do. There are 2 children's adventure playgrounds - one located next to the outdoor seating for the café for children up to 6 years old, and one located to the left of the entrance of the attraction, in a picnic area, for 6-12 year olds. These are only small, but enough to keep kids occupied during lunch while parents sit at picnic benches and supervise. There are copious amounts of picnic benches, with some sheltered from the rain. There are also 2 stations where you can learn more about the Barbary Macaques. One is an indoor video area, where an 18 minute information video on the monkeys is on a continuous loop, whilst the other is a sheltered information centre with several posters detailing information on, for example, conservation, breeding and behaviour of the monkeys, and how the Forest is used by many universities to conduct studies. The information is clear and succinct so that youngsters and adults alike can benefit from, and enjoy, it. It's certainly worth a look.

                        Once you've decided to head towards the Forest itself, you'll be greeted by a guide wearing a bright yellow Monkey Forest t-shirt (or waterproof, depending on the weather!). These will give you a quick rundown of the rules, and said rules are clearly posted on signs around the park. It's pretty obvious stuff - don't shout, don't run, don't feed the monkeys. You should probably know before you go that you CANNOT eat or drink once you're inside the Forest, although you can eat on their grounds if you're outside the enclosure.

                        Inside the Forest, there is a main gravel pathway that you must stick to. There is a small fence around this, but nothing to keep the monkeys out - they can climb over or walk under it as it's only about 2 foot high. The Barbary Macaques will frequently stroll across the path in front of you, and generally pay little attention to the strange creatures gawping at them! Although they have full access to 60 acres of forest, the monkeys are generally concentrated within the areas of the 2 main feeding stations - locations of very high monkey-density! There are 5 minute feeding talks given by the guides every hour, whereby you are informed of the behaviour and social hierarchy of the monkeys as well as some information about the park. I highly recommend making sure that you catch one of these - they're very informative with the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have, and children are encouraged to both answer and ask questions. The talks alternate between the two feeding stations, so although they are hourly across the whole park, they are every 2 hours at each of them.

                        The park is beautiful, and it's incredibly easy to forget that you're only a stone's throw away from Stoke on Trent! You could spend hours trying to spot monkeys sleeping or playing amidst the dense foliage, and if you go in the summer you may be lucky enough to spot a baby monkey clinging to the fur of a parent. It's fascinating to watch the way that the monkeys behave and interact with each other in such a wonderful replication of their natural environment, whilst still remaining surprisingly tolerant of any visitors that wish to take their photograph!

                        The walk around the forest isn't particularly hard-going, but the second half isn't accessible to wheelchair users and those with pushchairs may struggle due to the rather steep hill. Dotted around the path are information points that are very easy to digest for younger visitors, whilst still remaining interesting for the adults, concerning issues such as the social hierarchy, habitat and behaviour of the monkeys.

                        I'd highly recommend visiting Monkey Forest - it appeals to animal lovers of all ages, and the freedom afforded by the massive park makes the experience far better than any trip to a zoo or safari park.

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                          04.03.2009 11:04
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                          Unique day out - great for all ages!

                          We discovered Trentham Monkey Forest last October on the recommendation of my husbands work colleague. Set in Trentham, Staffordshire, the site comprises of 60 acres of English forest. Within this forest there are approximately 140 Barbary macaques roaming and interacting freely with each other, and more importantly with the visitors.
                          The site is quite easy to find as it is not far from Trentham Gardens visitor attraction. You can either park in the large car park on site, or as we did park at Trentham gardens and take a scenic walk along the rivers edge (approx 40 mins - lovely on a nice day).

                          The admission price is quite cheap - just a few pounds per person. For anyone wanting to visit here or any other staffordshire attractions at a discounted price visit www.enjoystaffordshire.com to request your free voucher booklet ( this offers one free child for every two full paying adults at the monkey forest).

                          The forest itself is well maintained with pedestrian walkways and feeding areas for the monkeys (feeding times are displayed). There is also a couple of play areas, toilet section, picnic area (under cover) as well as indoor cafeteria. There are also plenty of staff on hand to answer questions.

                          Whilst there is probably not enough for you to do for a whole day, it is definately worth a half day visit. The bonus is that the nearby Trentham Gardens/ play area / parkland is easily accessable, and worth visiting to make your trip to the area complete. Otherwise there are the lovely surrounding walks / boat trips to try out.

                          An ideal visit for any age group. Find out more info at www.monkey-forest.com

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                            18.01.2009 22:43
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                            A day out with a difference!

                            I always love going to stay with my friends in Derby as there's just so much to do in the surrounding area that we never end up at a loose end or tramping round the shops. My boyfriend and I turned up one evening in August and were told "we're going to Monkey Forest tomorrow". Not having a clue what 'Monkey Forest' was but being a sucker for all things animal, this was fine by me.

                            My friend passed me a leaflet the next morning in the car once we were on our merry way. I learned that Monkey Forest is 60 acres of woodland on the Trentham Estate in Staffordshire, where 140 Barbary Macaques roam freely. Although there were pictures showing children practically shaking hands with the monkeys, I was sceptical and expected them to stay a long way away from us scary humans.

                            The high, heavy double gate we encountered upon entering the Forest was a bit disconcerting - how come these animals are allowed to roam freely within, but there's this much precaution taken to stop them getting out?! Putting this to the back of our minds we strolled along the tree-lined path where we soon encountered our first friendly guide. We said hello and I asked how likely it was that would see a monkey. "If you look just behind you there's a female asleep in the tree" he replied. And she was! We stood quietly for a while listening to her gently snoring, then continued along the path.

                            We rounded a corner and I couldn't believe what I was seeing - dozens of monkeys going about their daily business and scampering back and forth across the path. The path winds through their forest with low barriers stopping us going into their territory (they can come into ours!) I couldn't believe how close up we were (of course, you're not allowed to touch or approach the monkeys). We came across more knowledgable guides who told us a bit about the dynamics of this particular group - who was the oldest, who was the boss, who was whose mother and so on. It's amazing how they can tell them all apart.

                            Feeding times are displayed a board on this first part of the walk, I think they were about once an hour. The guides go into the monkeys' areas and scatter food on the floor and in holes in the tree branches so that the monkeys do still have to forage for themselves. We were told that Barbaray Macaques are an endagered species, with only about 10,000 left in the wild, and Monkey Forest runs a conservation programme to get the monkeys to breed and establish strong 'community' groups in this and three other such parks, then reintroduce these groups to their native Morocco, so obviously foraging is a skill they will need in the wild.

                            The park is only small, with the pathway only being less than a mile long, but we spent a good part of the day there watching the monkeys' behaviour. It's fascinating, but without the guides we would not have had an idea about half of what was going on. For example, there was a tiny days old baby clinging to his mother (so cute!), and when a male came over and ran off with him we were informed that, much like humans, monkeys love babies and if the male had a baby in his arms then he would be more popular with the others! You will also observe the monkeys grooming each other (NOT picking fleas, apparently), calling to each other, and doing typical monkeying around type things like swinging from, and falling from, the trees. They are just enchanting for any age group, but I'd imagine it's a brilliant day out for kids especially, and it's so much more fulfilling than seeing them in a zoo (the monkeys, not the kids...).

                            It's also a very educational day out. Not only are there plenty of well-informed, approachable and helpful guides dotted around for you to talk to, but there are information boards all along the path and provision for school visits too.

                            Near the entrance there is a toilet block, a gift shop selling anything at all you could want on a monkey theme, and a cafe, which I can attest does a tasty and reasonably priced soup and a good cuppa!

                            The following prices are from the website for 2009:

                            * Adults: £ 6.00
                            * OAPs and student: £ 5.50
                            * Children (from 3 to 14 years old): £ 4.50
                            * Under 3 years old : Free of charge

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                              09.12.2008 09:40
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                              great fun day for all the family

                              We went here during the recent October half term and absolutely loved the place and fell in love with the Barbary Macaques.

                              This is such an impressive place where the now severly endangered Barbary Macaques are able to roam free in a very natural environment.

                              You walk around with the monkeys just literaly feet away and we felt amazed to see them interacting amongst themselves as such close quarters, what a privilege for us!

                              The staff are great, friendly, informative and you can tell they have a passion for these inquisitive beautiful monkeys.

                              The prices are reasonable and you can also use Tesco vouchers if you collect them.

                              The walk can talk as long or short as you want, we wandered and sat awhile at various points just watching them monkeys playing, feeding and grooming each other.

                              There are little quizzes along the way which are fun for children and adults alike and the walk is pleasant and not too strenuous for those less mobile, though it does slope in places and i expect can be very muddy and maybe slippery in the rain.

                              You are not allowed to eat or drink when walking in the monkey area but there are picnic areas out side the reserve and a nice enough cafe that serves drinks and snacks.

                              There is also a room where you can watch informative films, toilets and a nicely stocked gift shop with lots of various monkey related items including the most adorable Barbary Macaques for you to take home!

                              We are going back again in spring to see if there are any babies ...a fun family day out.

                              THIS REVIEW WAS POSTED PREVIOUSLY ON QYPE BY MYSELF UNDER THE NAME SUNLINESAM

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                              28.09.2008 17:40
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                              Monkeys everywhere!

                              MONKEYS!!!!!!!!!!

                              The monkey Forst in Trentham is something not a lot of my friends have heard of. Shrouded deep in the trees lies a land of fury friends who roam free. This natural reserve breeds the rare and endangered Barbary Macaques who come from Northern Africa.

                              On arrival there is a small entrance fee where you are checked for guns, bombs, drugs, plastic bags and razer blade hidden bannanas.

                              After you go through security you enter what can only be described as a Jurrasic Park type gate (What do they got in there, King Kong?). You walk along a trail where you can see Monkey's roaming without fences in their natural habitat (of North Africa) deep in Stoke-on-Trent's forests.

                              When we arrived one of the park attendance told us to wait as he pointed our a family of monkey's making their way along the trail. You are not allowed to touch the monkeys nor feed them. But you can get very close.

                              Within the forest complex there is a gift shop and Banna Cafe selling various sandwiches and light snacks. The gift shop sells as you might have guessed everything monkey related.

                              It's a great day out for adventurers of all ages.

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