Golden Monkey Trekking Uganda
Mgahinga national park is situated in the southwestern part of Uganda in the Kisoro District. It was established in 1991 and governed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is the smallest of the 3 Virunga conservation area covering 33.9kilo meters squared.
The other two are the Virunga Park and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. The park hosts over 39 mammals and 79 bird species including the Golden Monkeys, Mountain Gorillas, elephants, buffalos among others.
Golden monkeys are so unique in appearance with gorgeous golden hair mixed with orange. They are small and so fast in movement. For tourists who therefore like taking pictures, you should be steady and fast with your camera.
The bamboo vegetation harbors these primates in the park. There are over 4000 individuals and also feed on a variety of seasonal fruits, lichens, sprouts, leaves, bamboo, etc. The Golden monkeys are classed as endangered because they are only found in Virungas.
Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga National Park
During the dry seasons that is December – February, June – October, trekking of golden monkeys is very easier compared to the rainy season because of the muddy and slippery roads in the forests.
Golden monkey trekking is the 2nd activity liked by tourists and done similarly to Gorilla Trekking. Of current, there are two groups of habituated golden monkeys available for tourists.
Trekking Golden monkeys are not as hectic as Gorillas because they don’t build nests every day and don’t require trackers in the park to first track them before the visitors.
A golden monkey trekking permit costs 100 USD and is sourced at the Uganda wildlife authority offices. Trekking time is always 7:00 am with start off of briefing about the dos and the don’ts while with the Golden monkeys. The hike in search of the primates then begins at 8 am. Only 2 hours are granted for you to spend with these gorgeous primates upon spotting them.
The Golden monkey also known as Cercopithecus kandti is a species of the Old World Monkey endemic to the Volcanic ranges of Virunga. The Virunga volcanoes are designated in three national parks of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park of Congo. The Virungas’ have bamboo as part of their vegetation and the golden monkeys are restricted in these highland forest areas with bamboo. The golden monkey has a golden-orange patch on the upper flanks and back which differentiates it from the other monkey species. Because of the few numbers, golden monkeys are classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Golden monkeys live in social groups of up to 30 individuals. They travel in various group sizes with even small groups as low as 3 individuals and large groups as big as 60 individuals. Smaller monkeys are at higher elevations and those in lower altitudes are slightly bigger. At night, the monkeys often return to one of the several different sleeping areas after a day of feeding sleeping in small sub groups of four with nests on top of bamboo plants.
Their diet consists mainly of bamboo, leaves and fruit and also thought to at times eat insects. Because of their diet, golden monkeys prefer to live in habitats with abundant fruit and bamboo, they move around the forest depending on where there is ripe fruit. Areas with both fruit and bamboo are very much frequented by the golden monkeys. They are also opportunistic feeders influenced by availability of fruit whereby they stay more in areas that have ripe fruit in specific seasons.
Mgahinga is such a unique park as it hosts both mountain gorillas and the golden monkeys. This is why it is referred to as “where gold meets silver” because the silverback mountain gorillas co-exist with the golden monkeys. These can also be tracked during a planned golden monkey trekking experience where tourists get chance to see these very active yet beautiful primates. The golden monkeys are a very playful specie of monkeys that delight to watch as they leap through the bamboo in the park.
Golden monkey trekking is not as exhausting as gorilla trekking since the monkeys do not build new nests every day and therefore no need for pre tracking making it much predictable and easy to track. When planning a primate tracking safari in Uganda, consider including golden monkey trekking especially when going gorilla trekking. Permits to trek are always available and very affordable.