In the whole world, golden monkeys live only in central Africa and the Virunga massifs has a population of about 3000 to 4000 individuals.
The Golden Monkeys of Mgahinga
Golden monkeys are beautiful primate species that inhabit in the Bamboo forests of the Virunga ranges and not anywhere else. In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park at least a troop of 40 – 60 golden monkeys are habituated and visitors hike to higher altitudes in the bamboo zones where they stay most of the times. These primates are very striking to photograph with their golden and silvered black fur, though they move swiftly you just have to be good at taking pictures.
Mgahinga National park also offers chances of golden monkey habituation where you spend the whole day with the golden monkeys compared to trekking which allows you only 1 hour, golden monkey habituation is only done in Mgahinga National park at US$100.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) successfully habituated golden monkey troops for experiential tourism. The activity is very new and you should never miss to encounter the rare golden monkeys either during morning or afternoon hours depending on your interests. This experience is done in the morning and it is guided by well trained tour guides who will lead you to the higher slopes where they live.
The golden monkeys can easily be spotted because they do not move to long distances instead move up on the bamboo trees in the forests where they are easily seen. On encounter with the golden monkeys, visitors are allowed to spend only 1 hour for observations and photography then return back.
There are primate safaris that feature golden monkey tracking in Mgahinga and you can look out for tour operators.
Experts estimate that over 3000 golden monkeys inhabiting the bamboo forests at 2,000 meters above sea level. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) habituated 42 to 60 of them and groups of six visitors led by experienced guides can closely encounter the rare primates not found anywhere else within Uganda.
The activity costs US$90 inclusive of park entry fees and usually lasts for four hours depending on the average fitness of visitors and capacity to move. Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga National park costs 50 US dollars for foreign nonresidents, 40 US dollars for foreign residents and 20000 for citizens of East Africa countries.
Please note that unlike gorilla trekking, visitors are not required to book for golden monkey tracking in advance. Get to the park Uganda wildlife visitor center and pay for the permits.
The cost of a Golden Monkey Permit
Not like Mgahinga Gorilla National Park’s gorilla tracking licenses. Despite the scramble to find the primates, tracking golden monkeys is rather affordable. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), in charge of all national parks and national reserves, issues the permit for golden monkey tracking. Simply make a reservation at least three months prior to your tracking date to receive a golden monkey tracking permit. Without paying for park admission, a permit to search for golden monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park costs US$60.
How Is It Like Tracking Golden Monkeys?
Similar to gorilla tracking, finding golden monkeys requires penetrating dense tropical forests and bamboo-covered hillsides. The track begins with a briefing on proper tracking technique, after which you are paired with an armed ranger guide who will take you up close to these magnificent animals.
Every day, there is only one session for tracking the golden monkeys. The activity is done in the morning and begins at 8 AM. To locate the community you have been assigned to track, the ranger will guide you on a hike to the bamboo zone of the Mgahinga National Park. Upon reaching the bamboo zone where they live, you have up to one hour to watch them in the wild. This is an opportunity to observe, among other things, how these primates behave and go about their daily lives.
When is the Best Time to Track the Golden Monkeys?
Although tracking the golden monkeys can be done at any time of the year, the dry season is the best. The grounds are less muddy and slick during the dry season because of the infrequent, and occasionally absent, rainfall that defines this time of year. Compared to the rainy season, when the ground is soggy and it occasionally rains while you’re hiking, the trek is simpler. The best times to follow the golden monkeys are, ideally, from December to February and from June to August, when the weather is dry.
What are the Essential Things to pack for the Trek?
You should consider what to include in your tracking pack when preparing for golden monkey tracking. Always have these things on hand before setting out on a mission to look for lovely primates. Hiking boots, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a packed lunch, at least two liters of drinking water, a cap, rainproof clothing, and anything else you would desire are some of the items in the tracking pack for the golden monkey tracking adventure. Bring your binoculars and a designated camera for taking pictures.