CONTRIBUTED BY LUCY B.
The Affenberg is a great day trip if you’re visiting the Bodensee (Lake of Constance) region for summer vacation. It’s a nature park featuring a large pond full of fish and birds, but the main feature is the group of Barbary Macaques that live up on the hill. The roofs of the buildings there have also become a very serious nesting spot for a huge group of storks, which had me humming the “Look out for Mr. Stork” song from the beginning of Dumbo for about two days.
Parking is free (finally!). As you enter the park, you can begin to see the buildings where the storks have nested. They have built enormous nests on the rooftops, and fly around all the time, bringing in food for their young. They make a loud clap-clapping sound sometimes with their beaks, much to my kids’ delight, but watch out for “gifts” from above.
There is a nature trail that leads past a pond featuring ducks and coy. Food for the birds and fish is available for purchase at the gift shop, but the popcorn to feed the monkeys is included, and available after you enter their enclosed area. A large part of the park’s mission is to breed the endangered Barbary Macaques and to educate the public about them. This is not their natural habitat, but it is similar. They even stay in the trees all winter, as they would in Northern Africa, their native home.
It’s about a half a kilometer past the pond and up the hill to the door of the monkey enclosure. The guide explains very specific rules for encountering the monkeys while in their habitat. If you need the rules in English, they provide them in a binder for you to read. It’s very important that you stay at least a meter away from the monkeys (2 meters for mothers with children attached) and children under 6 must hold an adult’s hand. The technique for feeding is that you place a piece of popcorn into your flat palm and extend your arm out offer it to them. They take it with their hand and munch it up. Needless to say, my kids were delighted. We saw a few monkeys have disagreements among themselves, but no aggression toward humans at all. There are guides all around the area to help supervise and guide the guests.
There were information and feeding shows at 11am, featuring some discussion of the animals’ preservation and the breeding mission (all in German). Our favorite part was definitely feeding the monkeys popcorn and then taking pictures. The path is pretty well-worn and passable. We took a very rickety travel stroller and had no problems with access, but be advised that there is quite a bit of walking, and a lot of it is uphill. There are very specific rules about strollers and having your belongings all packed inside a bag before you enter the monkey area. There are also cubby hole storage spaces at the entrance if you want to just leave the diaper bag there.
If you’re not ready to go home after all that, the outbuildings feature a rather large playground with climbing frames, balance challenges, and our favorite: a baby swing. There’s also a beer garden type of cafeteria restaurant where you can get the usual Schnitzel and fries and sit outside while the kids play. If you keep your ticket and get your hand stamp, you can go up the hill and visit the monkeys all over again after lunch.
For more information visit the Affenberg Salem website.
Kids under 6 are free. Kids over 6 are €5.50, and adults €8.50. There’s a discount family ticket, too. For just about the price of a movie, we had a whole day worth of fun.
15 March – 25 October: Daily 0900-1800
26 October – 2 November: Daily 0900-1700
3 November – 14 March: Closed
Last entrance is half an hour before closing.