Golden Monkeys are beautiful, exceptional primates that can only be found on the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes shared by Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, golden monkey trekking takes place only in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which is located in the district of Kisoro in south-western Uganda.
They are colored in black, grey and have a unique and beautiful shade of orange-gold, granting them the phrase “golden monkeys.”
Golden Monkeys prefer to camp in the bamboo sections of the forest where they feed on young bamboo shoots. Albertine Rift Valley is home to golden monkeys and mountain gorillas, both of which are critically endangered.
One of the most incredible activities one can do while on a primate safari in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is golden monkey trekking. They are a critically endangered species, with only 3000–4000 individuals remaining on planet earth and live in large groups of up to 100 led by an Alpha male and do not relocate as much as mountain gorillas because they stay in one place for extended periods of time. Golden monkeys eat bamboo leaves and shoots, seasonal fruits, flowers, sprouts, leaves, lichens, and other forest invertebrates.
Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park entails hikes through the forest in search of golden monkeys in their natural habitat. The activity begins at 8 a.m. with a briefing on what to expect, after which travelers set out on the Gahinga trail in search of the golden monkeys. The golden monkeys make the forest come alive with their monkey activity, jumping from one bamboo tree to another as they play and eat. Once encountered, travelers are only allowed one hour with the monkeys before returning to the starting point.
The activity altogether isn’t strenuous and it can take about 2 — 3 hours as the monkeys live in lower areas and also depending on where they nested the previous night and how far it is from the starting point. Children below the age of 12 cannot do golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
To track golden monkeys in Mgahinga, visitors must have proper equipment, which includes good hiking shoes, long-sleeved shirts, trousers or tracksuits, rain jackets, insect repellents, binoculars for birdwatchers, energy-giving snacks or lunch, and water for refreshment during the hike. A hiking stick could also be useful or you can also hire a porter at the start of the trek to assist you, with carrying your backpack or supporting you on slippery paths by pulling or pushing you, while keeping a good mood in mind.
Travelers must purchase golden monkey tracking permits in advance, which allow only one person to participate in the activity. A trekking permit costs $60 for foreign non-residents and UGX 40,000 for East African citizens and can only be used once.
Permits can be purchased on-site at Ntebeko park headquarters or by a reputable tour company.
Golden Monkey Habituation Experience.
Travellers can also take part in golden monkey habituation experience where they learn about nature and behaviors of golden monkeys in the company of researchers and experts. One needs to purchase a golden monkey habituation experience permit at only $100 for foreign non-residents and UGX 100,000 for the East African citizens
Best time to visit Golden monkeys.
Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park can be done throughout the year. You can visit the park at any time of the year and be guaranteed a chance to take part in the activity. Mgahinga gorilla national park can be accessed by both air and road, and also from Rwanda.
By road, one can drive from Kampala for about 9–10 hours to the park. Scheduled flights are available for booking from Entebbe or Kampala to Kisoro airstrip from where travelers get transported to the park.
The park is easily accessed from Rwanda too, travelers can opt to fly into Rwanda directly and be transported by road on a 4 hours’ drive from Kigali to Mgahinga through the Cyanika or Katuna border.
Travelers who would like to spend a longer time with the golden monkeys can opt to have a golden monkey habituation experience in the park, as well as are other activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park other than golden monkey tracking that travelers can take part in, like gorilla tracking, bird watching, nature hikes, visiting local communities and Golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is a great activity that travelers visiting the park can take part in together with gorilla tracking.
Travelers must first purchase golden monkey tracking permits, which allow only one person to participate in the activity. The permit costs $60 for foreign non-residents and residents and UGX 40,000 for East African citizens and can only be used once. Permits can be purchased in advance from UWA offices or through a reputable tour company.