Golden Monkey Trekking in Uganda – Everything you need to Know
Few wildlife experiences are more thrilling and magical like Golden Monkey Trekking in Uganda, as they friskily go about their daily routines, especially with its stunning color and playful tricks.
Primate lovers always have an unforgettable fascination with Uganda’s primates, especially the endangered golden monkeys and the best and only way to see them is within their natural habitat.
Golden Monkey Trekking is among the best things to do in Uganda that provides entertainment to primate lovers, revenue to the Government, education to visitors but also fosters fundamental conservation principles.
While the popular mountain gorilla trekking tours receive all the attention in Uganda, the thrill of coming face to face with the Golden monkeys, endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley is something that no primate lover can afford to miss.
There are few places on Earth that can offer the rare opportunity of tracking the colorful and playful Golden monkeys in their natural habitat. It will interest you to know that these endangered creatures are endemic to the Bamboo-dominated lower slopes of Virunga Volcanoes.
In Uganda, the Golden Monkey Trekking happens in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, extending for 34 square kilometers in the south-western side of this beautiful country and it part of the Virunga Conservation that also includes Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Exciting facts about the Golden Monkeys
Golden monkeys are scientifically referred as Cercopithecus mitis kandti and belong to the Cercopithecidae family. They are herbivores that feed on 20-30 plant species but their favorite is bamboo leaves. You will find them savoring on fruits, insects on leaves for proteins.
They are categorized as “endangered” under the IUCN Red List and in their natural environment face a number of challenges that include poaching, habitat loss and diseases.
These species of the “Old World Monkeys” are generally marked by a golden-brown parch from their long tail to back as well as cheeks and it is from this color that their name was derived. They live within the lower slopes of Virunga Volcanic Mountains in the East and Central Africa. They exhibit sexual dimorphism whereby females are lighter than males.
Golden monkeys have a gestation period of only 5 months and babies are born with little fur a well as wide open eyes, and nursed for two years before they finally attain their freedom. These primates can live up to 19 years.
Being social creatures Golden monkeys live in troops of 30 to 100 individuals and mainly feed on bamboo branchlets, bamboo leaves and shoot, fruits, flowers, shrubs, and at times invertebrates.
How Golden Monkey Trekking in Uganda is done?
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is currently the only place to track the golden monkeys in Uganda and so far, two troops have been habituated.
Primate lovers are therefore provided the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of tracking and spending a magical one hour in photographing and watching their interesting behavior as well as adorable physical characteristics while going about with their daily activities in the bamboo forest.
Guided Golden Monkey Trekking adventures in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park start from Ntebeko Visitor Center at about 8:00am after the pre-tracking briefing as well as registration.
While this activity involves hiking through the slops of Virunga Volcanoes, it is slightly shorter than mountain gorilla treks and last 1-3 hours. Afterwards, one hour will be provided to watch and enjoy photography. The minimum age limit for golden monkey tracking in Uganda is 12 years and requires basic fitness levels.
Golden Monkey Trekking Permits for Uganda
Golden Monkey Trekking permits for Uganda cost only $60 per person per trek for the foreign resident and non-resident travelers or Shs. 40,000 for the East African Community resident travelers.
Unlike gorilla trekking, there is no limit on the number of visitors who can take part in the activity at a time, and permits can be booked on the actual tracking day.
These permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority and can be purchased through a credible Tour Operator. Contact us to not only purchase your permit but also organize the entire Golden Monkey Trekking Safari.
When is the best time of the year to go for Golden Monkey Trekking in Uganda?
Golden Monkey Tracking adventures are available throughout the year but each season comes with challenges and opportunities.
The dry season-June to September and December through February are considered perfect for this activity because the forest trails are drier, less muddy or slippery hence less challenging for travelers. Because of this, the demand for golden monkey tracking permits is also higher hence advance booking is recommended.
During the wet season- March-May and October-November, forest trails are muddier and more slippery because of heavy rains hence making it more challenging to maneuver through the bamboo forest and Virunga slopes.
However, treks are shorter because there is plenty of food (vegetation) for the primates in addition to most Lodges offering discounted rates.
Accommodation options for visitors planning to undertake Golden monkey tracking in Uganda
Having a comfortable place to stay is important to achieving a memorable Golden Monkey Trekking experience and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offers a number of places to spend overnight and enjoy nice meals, as well as breathtaking views of the forest and Virunga Mountains peaks or slopes.
These accommodation options include the luxurious Mount Gahinga Lodge, Kisoro Travelers Rest Camp, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Mucha Hotel, Amajambere Iwacu Camp, Lake Mulehe Safari Lodge and many others.
Packing list for the Golden Monkey tracking adventures in Uganda
Golden monkey trekking in Uganda involves walking through the rugged slopes of Virunga Volcanoes and dense Bamboo vegetation, which sometimes become challenging to walk through when wet and muddy.
For this reason, we recommended packing right for the adventure and this involves:
- Having a lightweight rain jacket,
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirt,
- Sturdy but comfortable hiking boots with enough ankle support,
- Cotton socks,
- Wide brim safari hat,
- Basic first aid kit,
- Toiletries (such as hand and body lotion, toothbrush, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, wet wipes, deodorant, hair comb or brush, hand towel and many others)
- Insect repellent,
- Sizeable waterproof backpack,
- Breathable and breathable safari pants of khaki, (brown, green and dark blue)
- Gardening gloves,
- Re-usable water bottle and many others.