Golden monkey trekking is an exciting activity that offers an epic encounter with the rare and beautiful species of monkeys called the golden monkeys. As the name suggests, the monkeys have a striking golden fur coat, that add to their sprite character, are quite lovely to watch and offer excellent photography. The golden monkey trek is overshadowed by the popular gorilla trek, and is therefore best done as an add-on to the gorilla tour in Volcanoes National Park.
These are live in the bamboo forest and vegetation at the base of the Volcano Mountains and mostly feed on bamboo shoot. Golden Monkeys are playful, nosy and flit around in the Bamboo Forest in a most playful manner that proves to delight those who have come to track and observe them. The terrain is relatively flat and therefore easy to hike but still high level of fitness is required.
There are two habituated troops of golden monkeys in the volcanoes national park and in Sabyinyo volcano. The golden monkeys are endangered species, and are unique to the Virunga mountains range which covers the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Rwanda and Uganda are the only two countries where visitors have the opportunity of trekking to see them at a close range. The golden monkey trekking permit costs is at US100 and no limit to how many people can do the trek.
What You Need to Know
There is only one session in a day for the golden monkey trek and takes place in the morning like all other activities in the Volcanoes National Park. Visitors have to report to the Kinigi Park Headquarters (at 7am) where to meet the park ranger guides for some briefing and then drive to the start of trek which is 15 minutes away at the edge of the park. The monkeys will easily be found as they live at the bottom of the Volcano Mountains in the bamboo forest, and by following clues of fresh leftovers from eaten bamboo shoot the trackers are able to locate them in less than an hour. Visitors spend a maximum of one hour watching closely these incredibly beautiful monkeys as they skillfully pick bamboo shoots and make huge leaps from tree to tree which is enabled by their extra-long tails that provide great balance. The long tails can get trapped by the bamboo and cut off as you will see some monkeys with short tails. The monkeys spend a lot of time at the top of the bamboo, but also do climb along the tree to eye level and even move on ground.
They are some of the least shy monkeys, so you can get so close to them within a meter. They are wonderful for photography and flash is permitted which is not allowed for other primate adventures – gorilla and chimp treks. Apparently even these monkeys love camera flash. Sometimes the monkeys venture out of the park into the open potato fields to eat the Irish potatoes left behind after the harvest. The monkeys’ act of digging and cleaning the potato before eating is amazing to watch! Seeing these endangered animals in their natural habitat is worth an extra day in the area. There’s only one tour per day for the monkeys and one overlapping tour for gorillas, so you can’t visit both the big and small primates in the same day. So once you are to make a Safari to Rwanda, the following should be considered while trekking the Golden monkeys;
- Hiking shoes
- Drinking water
- Rain jacket
- Camera, flash is allowed
- Mosquito repellent
A great add-on to the Gorilla tour is tracking these striking Golden Monkeys that inhabit the bamboo along the lower slopes of the Mountains and the experience is a life time. Email Experience Africa to make an inquiry and have an encounter with our close relatives