If there is that one place where silver meets gold, there are definitely two places to visit; Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda. Remarkably, this is the only protected area in the Land of a Thousand Hills where you can strike your imaginations with not only a group of magnificent mountain gorillas but also striking golden monkeys. Therefore on your next Rwanda safari, don’t miss golden monkey tracking, an encounter that makes both Uganda and Rwanda, the u;ultimate primate destinations not to miss in Africa. A trek to see these amazing primates is incredibly the most captivating experience which rewards travel endeavors with great views over these most eye catching creatures. These primates feature incredible golden fur coat hence the name golden monkeys and this is one of the rare features that make them worth exploring and while on your trip, you will have great photos of these playful creatures.
Golden monkeys are a few endangered species and only thrive within the jungles of the Virunga Massif which covers areas of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south western Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys too thrive mostly within the bamboo forest and vegetation at the base of Virunga volcanoes between altitude of 2500 and 3200 meters. They mainly depend on bamboo shoot. The size of male golden monkeys ranges from 48 to 67 cm while females range between 45 and 53 cm with weight of about 4.5 and 12 kilograms for males and 3.5 and 4.5 kilograms for females. In Volcanoes National Park, 2 groups have been habituated for tourism and they are mostly within Sabyinyo volcano comprising of 80-100 individuals and this group is incredibly one of the most explored. To differentiate these primates from other monkey species, you look at the reddish color on their backs and dorsal parts of their sides plus the grayish brown patches. Females are light colored and feature less grayish brown patch on their skin. Scientifically, they are called cercopithecus mitis kandti a subspecies of the blue monkey also known as Sykes’ monkey/diademed monkey.
Only one session is available each day for this primate adventure and it is conducted in the morning just like other adventures in Volcanoes National Park. You are expected to be at the Volcanoes National Park headquarters early enough for briefing on dos and don’ts to be observed while you are in the wild looking for these fascinating creatures. They can easily be traced around the base area of Virunga volcanoes at the park just around the bamboo forest. The best way to trace them is by following the fresh leftovers of the bamboo shoot they fed and upon getting them, you have an hour to strike your imaginations with them face to face, take as many photos as you can but you have to be sharp during this moment the fact that these creatures are so jumpy. Golden monkeys spend much of their time at the bamboo forest and climb trees. They are shy although they can even get close to humans. For primate enthusiasts, these are some of the most beautiful creatures for you need to capture their pictures and you will be left amazed. Like other primates, flash light cameras are not accepted for photo taking during golden monkey tracking. A trek to see these creatures isn’t that exhausting although you need some physical wellness in you to be able to hike through volcanoes lush vegetation. The 160 square kilometers protected area is suitably located in northwestern Rwanda just at the border with the DRC about 2 to 3 hours’ drive from Kigali.
What to pack for golden monkey tracking
Just like mountain gorilla adventures, equally a trek to see golden monkeys requires you to pack appropriately and the most essential items not to miss in your packing list include waterproof hiking boots/shoes that are light weight, rain jacket/poncho, bottled water, energy giving snacks, a camera with no flash light, permit.
Cost of permit for golden monkey tracking in Rwanda
Permits for golden monkey tracking in Rwanda costs $100 per visitor. You can obtain one through a ground tour operator or through reservationist at Rwanda Development Board. But to ease the process, simply deal with a ground tour operator. The cost of the permits covers the pack entrance, the 1 hour of magical encounter with these fascinating creatures, park ranger guide and others.
Where to stay at Volcanoes National Park while on golden monkey safari
There are many comfortable accommodation options in and around Volcanoes National Park for you to spend a night on. They range from luxury to budget with luxury ones costing between $500 and $900 each person or more, standard ones go for $300 to $500, midrange $100-$290 per person per night. Budget lodges are equally pocket friendly.
Conclusively, a side from trekking to see mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, you can as well take part in golden monkey tracking. However, you can incorporate the 2 primate adventures and you will have the most thrilling primate experiences of a lifetime.