Golden monkey tracking in Uganda: Golden monkey trekking safaris offer a remarkable opportunity for you to immerse yourself into the tropical rainforest and bamboo forest of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park to enjoy up close & personal with the unique golden monkeys. The golden monkeys are a few endemic species and they thrive in the Virunga Mountain region: Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo.
Golden monkeys are scientifically referred to as Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti, a sub-species of the sky and a single troop can consist of 60 golden monkeys. A dominant male golden monkey leads the troop/group and unlike mountain gorillas or chimpanzees, golden monkeys are known to be jumpy creatures. To take a good shot, you must be keen enough and a sharp camera man.
Golden monkeys’ fur features a golden-orange and black silver patch, taking their name from the nature of their bodies. They are an endangered primate listed and thrive only in the Virunga Region. As of 2023, fewer than 5,000 golden monkeys are estimated to be thriving on the planet earth.
On Ugandan primate list, golden monkeys are among the 20 charming primate species you should expect to encounter in the pearl of Africa. In Uganda, tracking golden monkeys is possible on a tour in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. A normal trek with these primates takes between 2 and 4 hours with guarantee of one hour of face-to-face encounter.
The trek involves navigating through the bamboo forest and with an experienced park guide leading you through. According to Uganda Wildlife Authority standards, participants should be above 15 to track golden monkeys. You should also be a holder of valid golden monkey trekking permit and each permit is issued at USD 60 per person for both foreign residents and foreign non-residents; UGX 40,000 for the East African citizens which includes Ugandans. Note that this rate does not include the park entrance fees which should be obtained separately.
Cost of golden monkey permits & how to book
Golden monkey permits guarantee you a visit to see a troop of golden monkeys in Mgahinga National Park. The permits are available for booking through Uganda Wildlife Authority team or a reliable tour operator on the ground. A single permit for tracking these primates costs US Dollars 60 for foreign residents and foreign non-residents. The trek to see golden monkeys in Mgahinga starts at Ntebeko and the park official first takes you through briefing. This briefing is done to people who have purchased the golden monkey tracking permit as well as the park entrance permit into Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
When is the best time to travel for golden monkey watching (Mgahinga NP)
The best time of the year to travel to Mgahinga and enjoy a trek to see golden monkeys is during the dry season. Each year, the park experiences 2 phases of dry season- the long (June, July, and August to September) and short (December, January to February). Unlike the rainy or low/wet season, the dry season comes with no or little rains and it is easier walking through the bamboo forest while searching for the magnificent golden monkeys. Note that Uganda being a tropical country, expect the rains any time of the year. There have been countless stories of people who have visited Mgahinga during the rainy season and they did not experience any rains and yet some people who have gone during the dry season experienced some rains. Rodriguez whom had a land cruiser prado with a rooftop tent narrates that while he had visited other parks during the month of August and they were dry, Mgahinga is where he encountered the rains.
What you should have for a golden monkey trek?
The essentials to have to make your golden monkey trekking safari successful include waterproof rain jacket, long-sleeved shirt, insect repellent, rain jacket, hiking boots, energy giving snacks, backpack/daypack, camera free of flashlight, additional batteries, walking stick, sweater and others.
Accommodation to book in Mgahinga Gorilla N. Park
Mgahinga is a complete destination for golden monkey safaris. There are budget, midrange and luxury lodges to be booked including Muhabura Motel, Mount Gahinga Rest Camp, Montana Guesthouse, Mount Mucha Hotel, Kisoro Tourist Hotel, Kisoro Travelers Lodge and Mount Gahinga Lodge.
Distance of Mgahinga from Kampala & how to get there
Mgahinga from Kampala is about 500 km and getting there is possible by road or air transportation. Road travel takes 9-10 hours for visitors who would wish to rent a car and drive from Kampala and you navigate via Masaka-Mbarara-Kisoro.
From Kigali, it is easier to connect to the park within 4-5 hours’ drive via Cyanika border to Kisoro. By air, it takes about an hour and 15 minutes to fly from Entebbe Airport to Kisoro airfield and the driver pick you up, then you proceed to check in at your accommodation.
Other golden monkey destinations in Africa include Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in the D.R. Congo. Golden monkey trekking tours can be combined with gorilla tours in Rwanda and Uganda.