Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Mgahinga National Park is a considerably smaller park compared to other parks across Uganda, but doesn’t fall short of fascinating attractions. It is located in southwestern corner of Uganda and shares 3 Virunga volcanoes – Gahinga, Muhabura and Sabyinyo that spans across Rwanda and D.R. Congo. Mgahinga sits about 10kilometers south of Kisoro district, in Bufumbira county.
It’s surrounded by rich ecosystems, Virunga National Park in D.R Congo, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. It’s a 33.7 square kilometers national park and is filled with forest cover and successive highlands.

There’s distinct wildlife in this National Park which attracts hundreds of visitors every year. Major wildlife resident here are the mountain gorillas, forest elephants and buffalos. There’s a unique species known as
golden monkeys, rare in their looks and DNA. The highlands within this park also create a good environment for the hikers. There’s absolutely great uniqueness in its flora, insects and bird species.

About Golden monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
These are a very rare species of monkeys, only present in East and Central Africa, globally. They are considered to be associated with blue monkeys, although physical appearances between the two species is extremely different. Golden monkeys are endangered species and therefore among the priority conservation species globally. They are marked with black limbs, tail end and the crowns. Golden monkeys have gold-orange tails, cheeks and stripes around their heads, a reason for their name, “Golden Monkeys”.

For many years, this species was only dominant in Gishwati Forest of Rwanda, but since the happening of 1994 genocide, this led to the disruption of wildlife in this forest leading to migration of most of the golden monkeys in to the nearby Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda, while some crossed to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park’s jungles. Their numbers are estimated at about 4,000 individuals in Mgahinga National Park. They share the jungles with mountain gorillas, forest elephants, and other mammals in the park. Initially, golden monkey trekking was extremely difficult owing to the fact that they were accustomed to the wilderness with minimal to no experience around humans.

A sight of humans would have them running away. With time however, they started coping with human presence, and now, the tracking is modest and interesting. Their movements are unpredictable, and this is a determinant for an interesting trekking experience since it introduces some hardships in locating golden monkeys.

Genetic and family composition.
Golden monkeys are from suborder Haplorhini; infraorder Simiiformes; family Cercopithecidae; genus Cercopithecus; and species C. kandti. Golden monkeys move in groups of up to 60 individuals at a time, but overall, it’s rare to find a golden monkey isolated and solitary. They spend most of the day feeding on bamboo shoots and branches, flowers and shrubs and also feed on invertebrates especially larvae. In the evening, they start tracking where to spend a night and it’s common to sleep in distinct small groupings of 4 to 6 golden monkeys.

Trekking the golden monkeys.
Golden monkey trekking is the main activity around these primates and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park gives that required environment for doing so. It’s a thrilling experience which comes with hiking due to the fact that Mgahinga National Park is largely mountainous.

How is Golden monkey trekking conducted?
Golden Monkey trekking is in so many ways similar to mountain gorilla trekking. Visitors arrive at the park, and at about 7:30 AM first activities of tracking are ushered in. The trekking then starts with briefing by park authorities on what is expected of visitors while in the wilderness, especially on their conduct and other regulations. It takes about 30 minutes, and at 8:00 AM, the actual golden monkey trekking commences.
The adventure starts with a simple hike into the thick rainforests to locate these golden monkeys, though it isn’t as challenging as mountain gorilla trekking. Different from mountain gorillas, the golden monkeys prefer inhabiting lower altitude areas. This factor reduces the time trackers have to take while locating these species. Upon locating the golden monkeys, visitors get amazing moments with golden monkeys for about one hour. Important to note, golden monkey trekking is also limited to only 8 trackers per trek, every person must be 12 years or above. 

Golden monkey trekking permits.  

To track golden monkeys, one needs a valid permit. The permit costs come at different prices depending on visitor nationalities and age. Foreign non-residents pay 60$, each foreign resident pays $50, while each East African National pays UGX 40,000/= for agolden monkey tracking permit. Since the permit is an entry document into the park, the fee is inclusive of park entry and guiding costs while in the forest for over one hour. Booking a golden tracking permit must be done in advance either through a licensed tour company or directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Golden monkey habituation experience however allows visitors get to enjoy more time around the golden monkeys and Mgahinga national park offers this incredible adventure. This costs $100 per person.

Scroll to top
× Talk to Us