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Golden Monkey Trekking in Rwanda

Golden Monkey Tracking In Volcanoes National Park

While many travelers rush straight after trekking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, it is recommended to stay in the park for another day to visit rare and endangered golden monkeys.

Tarted up in an amazing multi-coloured coat of rusty red, fiery oranges, shadowy blacks, tints of blue and gold, golden monkeys are among the most beautiful primates you will see while on yours safaris in Africa.

There are two golden monkey groups in Volcanoes that have habituated for tracking and will happily jump and prance around visitors without a care in the world.

The larger and the often visited troop is Sabyinyo. This group consists of about 80 to 100 monkeys.

How Is Golden Monkey Tracking Like In Volcanoes National Park

Your driver-guide will pick you from your accommodation early in the morning. The trek starts from 7.00am at the park headquarters.

You will be placed in a group of a maximum of 8 people, accompanied by your trekking guide and an armed park ranger.

For a small fee, you will also have the choice to hire a porter to accompany you on the trek, to help carry your backpack and offer a hand during tricky parts of the hike. Even if you don’t really need them, hiring a porter is a helpful way to contribute directly to the local economy.

After a safety briefing, you will be driven to the start of the trail you will take to reach the golden monkeys.

Your guide will be in radio communication with the trackers locating the golden monkeys, and will lead you along generally clear paths to the edge of the forest, at which time you will then be moving through more dense vegetation.

The duration of your trek depends on the location of the golden monkey group. The monkeys can cover a fair amount of distance daily, so it can sometimes take a while for the trackers to locate them.

You might not get as close to the golden monkeys as you may to the gorillas, but their antics are fun to watch. These monkeys live in bamboo forests at the higher elevations of the Virunga Mountains, as well as at the foot of Sabyinyo Mountain.

As you hike along the trail, enjoy the beauty of the flora and spot some of the stunning 200 bird species that Volcanoes National Park is famous for.

When you near the monkeys, your guide will point them out in the trees and you can watch them swing through the bamboo, foraging for food or chasing each other in circles all around you.

They’re also very pretty, with shiny reddish-gold backs that blend in perfectly with the golden bamboo.

Take all the photographs you want, but be warned that golden monkeys are fast-moving creatures and very active and make for challenging subjects.

On rare occasions, you may even spot these fascinating creatures grooming one another on the forest floor. Remember, you’re allowed an hour, maximum, with them before heading back.

Do Trekking Golden Monkeys Require Physical Fitness

You don’t have to be super-fit for a golden monkey trek, but it does help if you have a good general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment.

The monkeys can move fast when they’re searching for food, and so at times the pace of the trek can move fairly swiftly, though the guides will stop regularly for breaks.

Some travellers can find the treks particularly strenuous; though you’re not climbing up into the volcanoes, and the terrain near the bamboo forests is relatively flat, you’re still going to be at an altitude of around 2000-3000m.

Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit breathless at this altitude, this is perfectly normal. We’d advise keeping well hydrated, paying attention to the directions given by your guide, and letting your guide know if you feel unwell at any point during the trek.

The golden monkeys are a great stand-alone experience for primate lovers, but we also do suggest that anyone trekking to see the mountain gorillas takes part in a trek to see the golden monkeys on the previous day, to help acclimatize to the altitude and surrounding terrain.

What To Carry For Golden Monkey Tracking In Volcanoes National Park

  • Garden gloves long sleeved shirt/blouse and long pair of trousers to protect your skin from stinging nettles, thistles and branches.
  • You will need a rain jacket since the weather in the forest cannot be predicted you will expect rain at any time.
  • Carry some energy giving snacks and enough drinking water.
  • Paths on the treks can be slippery and muddy, so sturdy walking boots are essential.
  • You will also need to carry good hiking shoes that do not slide due to the wet ground.
  • A wide brimmed hat when it is hot to shield you from the sunshine can be necessary.
  • Do not forget repellent to avoid insect bites.
  • Carry your camera and a pair of binoculars

How Much Is A Golden Monkey Trekking Permit

Travellers who wish to visit the golden monkeys while on their vacation in Rwanda should work with their Rwanda tour operators to get the necessary golden monkey trekking permit. The Rwanda golden monkey permit costs;

  • Foreign Non-residents: US$100 per person
  • Foreign Residents in Rwanda: US$65 per person
  • Rwandans citizen: 4,000 Rwf per person
  • East African citizen: US$65 per person
  • East Africa Foreign Resident: US$ 80

Even in the peak season, there are general plenty of permits available, though is advised to book your trekking permit prior to your trip, to be on the safe side.

Golden Monkey Trekking Rules In Volcanoes National Park

  • As with the gorillas, your time with the monkeys is limited to 1 hour.
  • During the trek, trekkers are not allowed to feed the golden monkeys since this may cause infections to the monkeys.
  • During photography, flash lights are not allowed when taking photos of the monkeys since these will scare away the golden monkeys.
  • When you’re with your group, you should try not to make sudden movements and to keep your voices low so that the group remains relaxed.
  • You won’t be allowed to eat or drink when you’re with the golden monkeys, and smoking is not allowed during the trek.
  • Although these monkeys are now used to seeing people, do bear in mind that they are still wild animals and can sometimes react unexpectedly, so always heed your guide’s and trackers’ instructions.
  • Unlike the gorillas, children are allowed to take part and permit price is the same as for adults.

Want to visit Volcanoes Park?

Want to visit Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda's only mountain gorilla trekking park?