Golden Monkey Trekking is one of the sought after tourist activity, specifically done in Mgahinga Gorilla National park of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park is located in musanzi, northern province of Rwanda well known as Ruhengeri. It’s a 2 ½ hours drive from Kigali city. Volcanoes national park has various activities like Mountain Gorilla trekking, hiking Mount Bisoke and Karisimbi volcanoes, visiting the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Bulera pluss the most appreciated activity the golden monkey trekking. This park harbors different animals for example buffaloes, elephants, bush buck and over 178 bird species.
Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla national park is the second activity liked by many visitors and done similarly to Gorilla trekking. Currently there are two habituated Golden monkey groups that are available for visiting by tourists in the park. These Golden monkeys live in the bamboo vegetation at the base of the volcanoes and they have overcome the shyness due to habituation and the daily visits by tourists and researchers.
The Golden monkey is an Endangered primate specie, currently found on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains which are shared by Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. They are easily recognized by the Golden patches all over their bodies. The unique characters about Golden monkeys is that they have nostrils facing upwards where as the other monkeys have their nostrils facing sideways. These golden monkeys are divided into two troops, the largest located in Sabinyo having 80 – 100 monkeys and it’s the most visited. The other troop is in the other sides of Volcanoes and slightly small in number.
These golden monkeys sleep in nests that they weave from various bamboo plants and feed on plants and fruits that are in the forest having their major food as bamboo though they can adapt the different seasons and eat anything. The live-in groups of 30-80 having one male showing dominance over the rest. The lifespan of the golden monkey is in twenty years, the females give birth every two years and their gestation period lasts for only five months and they give birth to only one infant like human.
A tourist going for Golden monkey trekking in both Uganda and Rwanda, he/she needs a permit that allows access and spend an hour with these amazing creatures, these permits are on affordable rate, costing USD 100 per permit in both Rwanda and Uganda, from Rwanda development board (RDB) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Uganda. These permits need to be booked some months in advance to ensure timely planning. Given that golden monkeys do not go into higher altitudes, tourists spare less time of hiking though it’s not specific about the total time it will take to reach these golden monkeys and back, since it depends on their movement looking for food and strength of tour participants.
Briefing and Visitor registration plus allocation of groups are done at 07: 00 Am at Kinigi – Volcanoes Park headquarters in Rwanda, while in Uganda Golden monkey tracking starts by briefing at Ntebbeko Visitor centre in Uganda at exactly 8:00 Am. Trekking begins from there by driving for 15 – 20 minutes if you are in Rwanda side. Porters can be hired at point of entry at the park at a cost of 20 USD each porter and hiking sticks can also be provided free of charge at the trekking start point.
While going for the Golden monkey treks, these are some things one needs to get prepared of, so as to enjoy the trek including: