These magnificent creatures are only found in Uganda and Rwanda in east Africa. These are very tinny in nature, believed to be sub species of blue monkeys however the golden monkey has a golden-orange patch on its upper flanks and back. They usually on a move in groups of 30 members up to 60 members of that social group moving in search for food especially fruits and bamboo shoots. Their movement in search for food has made it possible for them to be seen however they are very hard to track since they are always on the move. These monkeys are only seen in Virunga regions of Rwanda and Uganda, volcanoes national park in Rwanda and on mgahinga national park which is a home to about 300-400 species similarly , Congo has got these golden monkeys however, they are not habituated which makes them very hard to track in the African amazon forest of Congo. The golden monkeys have been included on the IUCN list of endangered primate species.
In preparation for such a track, tourists are expected to first of all book a permit which allows the tourist to track the golden monkeys. Permits costs vary according to the country where in Uganda; the golden monkey permits go for 60USD per person for foreign nonresidents, 40USD for foreign residents and 20.000 UG shs for east African residents and the park entry fee at 40USD. In case you want to see the habituated golden monkeys, the permit goes for 100USD excluding the park entry fee while in Rwanda, the golden monkey trekking permit costs 100USD per person.
The best time to track the monkeys
Rwanda and Uganda experience the same weather conditions therefore the best time to track the golden monkeys during the dry season which is in the moths of June, July, August, December, January and February. This is because the paths in the forests are usually drier and there is no surprise weather changes and rain which may put a pause on the trek however, during this season, there are very high numbers of tourists and yet the permits are limited for the safety of the animals therefore, you are advised to book your trip earlier and the golden monkey permit.
You are expected to also park the following items before the trek
- Touch and spare batteries
- Water bottle
- Camera and lenses
- Hiking boots for this needs walking up hills and mountain climbing.
- Binoculars in case you are interested in bird watching and wild life.
- Rain jacket should not be forgotten in case there is rain
- Insect repellants since this trek is done in deep forests
- Gardening gloves
- A walking stick to support your hiking
How to get there
How to get to these places is either by road or air; one can fly to either Kigali international airport and drive to mgahinga national park or from Entebbe national airport where you will be driven to Mbarara and then to mgahinga national park alternatively, if you are going to volcanoes national park, you can either used air or road and this can be accessed either in Rwanda or Uganda depending on where you are that is to say; in case you are in Kabale or Katuna.
Rules that guide trekkers
Golden monkey tracking has its own rules and regulations therefore the tourists are escorted by UWA/RDB ranger to assist in interpreting nature and also leading the way into these thick forests. The following are the golden rules for viewing these golden monkeys. Note UWA is Uganda Wildlife Authority and RDB is Rwanda Development Board.
- You are only given one hour to view the monkeys and be in their company
- You are prohibited from photographing these monkeys with the flash on because they might act in an uncontrollable manner.
- You are only allowed to trek these golden monkeys only when you have the permit.
- There is no limited number of trekkers however there is an age limit where by a tourist below the age of 12 is not allowed to trek.
- Always keep the voices down when approaching a group of golden monkeys
Since the golden monkeys are always on the move, it makes it very hard for them to be tracked and to get to spend time with them before they move.
Walking for quite a long period should be expected and this involves hiking up hills, this may be tiring for those who are not physically fit
Sometimes, you may not be able to see a single group of golden monkeys while trekking and this requires a bit of patience to successfully see them because they never create nests since they are always on the move.
For the people with disabilities or the elderly, this trek may be hard for them since it is tiring however, there has been a solution for this challenge with the introduction of the African helicopter where a person who will need this service gets to book people who will help him/her trek by carrying him on a metallic or wooden sedan chair who are about 12 bodied men.
This gives a chance to the people with such need to take part in the trek at a cheap cost however these prices are not fixed and may change with time.
What to expect
A tourist is expected to get very thrilling adventure during this tour since these primates can only be seen in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo in the whole of east Africa
Expect to gain a high level of physical fitness because this trek requires a person to move for over four hours which may seem tiring but gets you physically fit.
Cultural experience in both Uganda and Rwanda, in Uganda, get to share with the Batwa people of western Uganda in the mgahinga national park. These are commonly known as pygmies and see their cultural, economic and social aspect. In Rwanda, in the volcanoes national park is the Iby’wachu cultural village which is located in the area of Musanze near Kinigi and get to see their economic and social culture.