Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda is carried out in Volcanoes National Park, northwestern part of the country. The entire experience of trekking these fascinating creatures is so epic and memorable; encountering with a rare and beautiful species of monkeys known as the ‘’Golden Monkeys”.
Golden Monkeys are quite appealing to watch and offer fantastic photography. Even though golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes National Park is overshadowed by the famous mountain gorilla trekking safari experience, it’s also a must engage-in activity in this remarkable Rwanda Park – Volcanoes. The golden monkey permit is of course affordable, costing US$ 100.
Golden monkey trekking can be an add-on activity in the park after trekking the endangered mountain gorillas or you can even take it as your main activity in the park still, especially if you can’t afford the Rwanda gorilla permit that’s a bit pricey – Rwanda gorilla permit costs US$ 1,500. So, for visitors who can’t afford the gorilla permit, you can opt to trek golden monkeys in the park which is also an exciting and memorable activity yet at an affordable price.
Similar to mountain gorillas, golden monkeys are also classified as endangered species and are very unique to the Virunga Mountains range which covers Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Rwanda and Uganda are the only two countries where visitors have the chance of trekking to see these beautiful monkeys up-close. In Uganda, the golden monkeys are trekked from the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, of which you can also trek mountain gorillas there as well.
The golden monkeys live in the bamboo forests and vegetation at the base of the Virunga Mountains. The monkeys mostly feed on bamboo shoot, bamboo branchlets and young bamboo leaves. Volcanoes National Park comprises of two habituated troops of golden monkeys and the larger troop in Sabyinyo volcano with 80 – 100 members is the mostly visited in the Park. Golden Monkey trekking is only eligible to individuals aged at least 12 years.
There is only one session in a day for the golden monkey trekking that takes place in the morning like most of the other activities in the Park. Tourists always have to report to the Park Headquarters, at Kinigi, very early in the morning where they will meet the park ranger guides for briefings about the activity. After the briefings at Kinigi, you will then drive to the start of trek which is like a 20 minutes’ drive from the Park headquarters.
The monkeys will easily be found as they live at the bottom of the Virunga Volcanoes in the bamboo forest, and by following clues of fresh leftovers from eaten bamboo shoot and leaves the trackers are able to locate them in less than an hour.
Once trekked and found, trekkers will be allowed to spend utmost one hour watching these amazingly beautiful golden monkeys up-close. You will watch these fascinating monkeys as they skillfully pick bamboo shoots and young bamboo leaves while making huge leaps from tree to tree which is enabled by their extra-long tails that provide great balance.
However, the long tails usually can get trapped by the bamboo and cut off as you will see some monkeys with short tails. The monkeys spend a lot of time at the top of the bamboo, but also do climb along the tree to eye level and even move on ground. They are some of the least shy monkeys as you can get so close to within a meter.
Sometimes the monkeys will venture out of the park into the open potato fields to eat the Irish potatoes left behind after the harvest. The monkeys’ act of digging and cleaning the potato before eating is amazing to watch and will provide for a perfect snap!