For years I drove behind cars with this Rorschach on the trunk:

What is this?

We thought it might be a country, but we couldn’t find anything close to that shape. A political statement? A beastie only living in Germany? We were stumped until, one day, we drove past the Bodensee (Lake Constance in English), a little over an hour away. It is Germany’s favorite lake. And the inspiration behind the sticker.

On Sunday it was our destination. Part of our staycation and exploring close to home. Our goal was to go see the monkeys. We had heard so much about Monkey Mountain, aka Affenberg, and we too wanted to feed the monkeys. We packed up our car, called up our friends, and drove up mid-morning.

Much to our surprise, instead of monkeys, we saw fields full storks. And roofs. All the buildings were covered in storks, with nests on every corner. Oodles of storks. No monkeys. The storks were free. For the monkeys you had to get in line and pay.

Once inside we came across a big pond, populated with ducks, swans, geese and more! Near the banks was a big, lidded, food box filled with fish food for the carp. Monkeys were briefly forgotten and fish were fed. As soon as little hands were once again empty, we hurried onward toward the promised monkeys.

Monkey mountain is actually a hill, it’s not a mountain at all, enclosed inside tall gates, with big gaps between the trees inside the enclosure and the trees outside. Safety instructions are blared over a speaker system before you enter, and again in person right at the gate. I translated for our friends and in we went.

Immediately I spotted monkeys! Off the manicured path, in a small meadow between the trees, four monkeys horsed around. Playing chase, chattering, or sleeping. I’m assuming that was the mom. Or dad. The others all looked a bit younger. The kids almost popped with excitement, even Tess who was trying to play it cool.

Not much farther up the path a people-traffic jam had formed. A park ranger (monkey wrangler?) was handing out free popcorn. Sadly not for us, though each kid nibbled at least a kernel or two, but to feed the monkeys. It was only then, for the first time, I saw the monkeys lined up on the rails along the path.

We took our handfuls of popcorn, taking care not to fill our pockets as instructed, and moved up the path, away from the crowds, to feed our own monkeys. The kids carefully followed the rules:

  • One piece of popcorn at a time
  • On a flat, outstretched hand
  • The other hand hidden behind their backs

The monkeys carefully, and gently, took each piece of popcorn offered. The kids, and to be fair the adults too, beamed with joy. The monkeys looked a little bored and not very grateful.

It was a fairly short hike up the mountain, and right back down on the other side. We saw, and fed, plenty of monkeys and learned a little bit from the presentations give at intervals by both guides and signs. It was the perfect morning activity. Long enough to keep the kids interested, but not so long that they started acting like monkeys. The best part? Monkeys!

A small subset of the huge stork flock at monkey mountain!

Entrance sign: Affenberg, Salem Germany

Our first monkey! Dane got to hand feed him popcorn.

Dane was almost bursting with happiness. Monkeys!

Monkeys, like teens, are not interested in being photographed.

This was obviously one of the oldest monkeys there. He was not impressed with free popcorn.

Even Tess, maybe especially Tess, loved feeding the monkeys!

Monkeys could easily escape from the crowds and hide in the trees, or play further away.

This beautiful monkey put up with my picture taking, not enough to look or smile, but there was no rolling of the eyes.

The littlest monkey we found! So human-like!

The main building, seen from the mountain, with all the storks on the roof.

Yes! You can spend 2€ and FREE money. With monkeys!