Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Golden Monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Golden Monkeys are highland primates that belong to the Old World Monkey species. These fascinating small primates are listed as heavily endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources [IUCN]. IUCN added these species to the list due to a drastic fall in their numbers all over the world, plus they are only limited to the Virunga Massif of East and central Africa.

The Virunga massif covers three countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda and is an area of high altitude which also shelters mountain gorillas, another endangered species that is endemic to this same area. Factors that have led to reduced population of golden monkeys include hunting them for trophies, destruction of their natural habitat by man due to encroachment to serve his purposes like agriculture and settlement. Because of having nearly no serious predator in the wild, human beings are the most threat to these species.

With this in mind and their numbers dwindling, trekking golden monkeys is one worthy experience you can add to your list of experiences, as you might be witnessing one of the last groups even with the serious conservation efforts by government authorities in these countries. Golden monkeys are found in 4 national parks in these three countries namely, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Kahuzi Biega and Virunga national parks in D.R. Congo and Mgahinga national park in Uganda. In this article, we will look closely at Golden monkeys in Uganda.

Located in the south-western part of Uganda, Mgahinga national park is one of the priceless gems the pearl of Africa has got. It boasts being home to the two most endangered species in the world – mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. Though known to be highland primates, golden monkeys prefer slightly lower altitudes compared to their counterparts the mountain gorillas who have a liking of higher and cooler altitudes.

Primarily herbivorous, their main diet is mainly made up of bamboo shoots, leaves, fruits and occasionally lichens. Easily identified by their striking golden hues covering their back and flanks they can be seen flashing from one landing spot to another while stopping just for a few moments to show off their playful antics and pick something to chew.

Golden monkeys, just like other monkeys are curious creatures and visitors are assured to be intrigued by their presence. Living in social groups called troops, they usually migrate from one part of the park to another depending on food availability which is affected by seasonal changes. A troop is run by one alpha male and can include from 3 to over 50 members.

In Mgahinga national park, two sessions are offered to guests interested in interacting with the golden monkeys. One is the normal trekking which usually takes 1 to 2 hours that involves a briefing process of about 30 minutes where a guide takes you through a list of the dos and don’ts while trekking for example strictly no littering or feeding animals. Keeping on the designated paths and always stick as a group.

They will also run through background and history of the park, conservation efforts and what to expect on the trek. Once you find the monkeys, visitors are permitted one hour with these photogenic creatures as they are not shy and will leave you laughing with their endless fun tricks. The other experience is golden monkey habituation that comes with four hours of being with the experiential groups of making them suitable for visiting by future guests.

All in all, a golden monkey visit is one amazing activity that comes at a whooping lower cost than gorilla trekking yet visitors can be lucky to meet gorillas on the trek too. Furthermore, the trek is not much hectic since these monkeys reside on the lower slopes plus fewer restrictions like on the number of people to trek, 12 years is the age cap for trekking golden monkeys, unlike gorillas where an individual has to be 15 years of age and you can get a golden monkey trekking permit without even prior booking. Though we advise guests to book earlier for easier planning and time management.

Tourists are able to go enjoy both gorilla and golden monkey trekking in addition to cultural tours while in this national park.

Where to stay while visiting Golden monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park?

For interested visitors, there are very many accommodation facilities to pick from ranging from budget, standard and luxury facilities. It all depends on your preference and budget. Some of these include Kisoro tourist hotel, Travellers rest hotel, Mount Gahinga lodge and many more high- end lodges and camps.

Trekkers are advised to carry long-sleeved attire as the tracks tend to be thick and bushy, sturdy hiking boots to use through rough grounds, a bottle of drinking water, energy – giving snacks and rainproof gear, because even during dry seasons, there are still chances if rain. In addition to these, visitors are advised to always consider traveling during dry season, which spans from the months of December to February and early June to October. During these months, tracks are more passable and less difficult to use compared to the rain season when they are muddy, slippery and uncomfortable to navigate.

Visitors can also incorporate a safari in Lake Mburo national park or Queen Elizabeth national park to make a complete African adventure in the wild. If you were contemplating where to go for your next trip in non-congested location, then choose Golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga gorilla national park.