In the Virunga ranges that stretch from D. R. Congo to South western Uganda are all the best places for golden monkey tracking. These can only be found in Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla national park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes national park and D. R. Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National park.

The gorgeous monkeys with brightly colored orange-gold fur mixed with black and some silver/white fur are endangered and their numbers are estimated to be between 4000 and 5000 individuals. Golden monkeys live in groups called troops that are led by an alpha male and always in numbers of up to 100 in one troop. They feed on vegetation that usually includes bamboo leaves and shoots, lichens, leaves, fruits and small invertebrates.

Couple of hours of trekking in the ups and slopes in the Jungles of Rwanda and Uganda during your tracking experience, will finally get you to have a glimpse of these creatures. And just like their cousins, the gorillas and Chimpanzees an hour is allowed together with the habituated groups of these apes.

Although most tourists have always been attracted to gorillas and chimpanzees for primate encounters, the golden monkeys are quite much as exciting as their cousins. Though they play in the shadows of mountain gorillas, golden monkeys are slowly grabbing attention and fan base.

Despite making home in 3 countries and 3 parks, two of these are popular for the activity.

  1. Mgahinga Gorilla National park

This was gazetted to protect gorillas in the 1990s. Despite the name “Gorilla national park”, golden monkey business is better off here than gorilla tracking since the park has only 1 gorilla group.

Mgahinga offers 2 experiences. The standard tracking that only offers one hour with the gorillas at a 7m distance from these primates, and the Golden monkey habituation experiences that gives an in-depth encounter with these primates. The habituation experience doesn’t necessary mean meeting large numbers of golden monkeys and even if you do it is always more than that to experience this. Experience 4 hours with the monkeys and the scientists as they study these monkeys. This is a rare behind the scenes that will give you knowledge about their behavior and insights into their science. It is also a great opportunity, that you will be one of the first people to meet these primates before they are completely habituated (semi wild) and open to the public.

A permit for Golden monkey tracking and Habituation experience cost 60 USD and 100 USD respectively.

  1. Volcanoes National Park

A session that starts at 7am with a mini briefing at the park headquarters just 15 minutes away from the park. This starts off the day for an encounter with the primates in the park. There are two troops on in Volcanoes on the foot hills of Mt. Karisimbi and in the Sabinyo Mountain. Tracking here is easier (3-5hrs) compared to the 4-6 hours in Uganda.

A tracking permit can be obtained online at 100 USD. Visitors who are visiting the park for gorilla tracking can opt for an extra day and experience these amazing primates or even do it as a standalone activity.

Rwanda Gorilla trekking