Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda is done in Volcanoes National Park, and is an exciting adventure that offers an epic encounter with a rare and beautiful species of monkeys called “Golden Monkeys”. As the name suggests, the monkeys have a striking golden fur coat, and add to their spiritely character, are quite lovely to watch and offer excellent photograhy. The golden monkey trek is overshadowed by the popular gorilla trek, and is therefore best done as an add-on to the gorilla tour in Volcanoes National Park.
The golden monkeys are endangered species, and are unique to the Virunga mountains range which covers the Democractic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Rwanda and Uganda are the only two countries where visitors have the opportunity of trekking to see them upclose.
The golden monkeys live in the bamboo forests and vegation at the base of the volcano mountains. The monkeys mostly feed on bamboo shoot.
There are two habituated troops of golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park and the larger troop in Sabyinyo volcano with 80 – 100 members is the most visited.
Golden Monkey Trekking in Rwanda
The golden monkey trekking permit costs US100 and there is no limit to how many people can do the trek. There is no age limit as well.
There is only one session in a day for the golden monkey trek and takes place in the morning like all other activities in the Volcanoes National Park. Visitors have to report to the Kinigi Park Headquarters (at 7am) where to meet the park ranger guides for some briefing and then drive to the start of trek which is 15 minutes away at the edge of the park.
The monkeys will easily be found as they live at the bottom of the volcano mountains in the bamboo forest, and by following clues of fresh leftovers from eaten bamboo shoot the trackers are able to locate them in less than an hour. Visitors spend a maximum of one hour watching closely these incredibly beautiful monkeys as they skillfully pick bamboo shots and make huge leaps from tree to tree which is enabled by their extra long tails that provide great balance. The long tails 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. They are wonderful for photography and flash is permitted which is not allowed for other primate adventures – gorilla and chimp treks. Apparently even these monkeys love camera flash. Sometimes the monkeys venture out of the park into the open potate 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!