Meet Uganda’s golden monkeys in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

Like mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, golden monkeys are another primate species on Uganda’s tourist menu. Unlike their counterparts which can be found in more than one location around the country, Uganda’s golden monkeys exclusively live in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, which is part of the Virunga Mountains that also extend to Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Over the years, golden monkey tours are marketed together with gorilla trekking safaris and usually tourists visit Mgahinga to see these beautiful primates after trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. However, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) now wants to improve on this by fronting the endangered golden monkeys as a unique tourist attraction able to attract independent safaris in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is famously referred to as a place where “gold meets silver,” a tourism marketing phrase which means that both golden monkeys and mountain gorilla silverbacks coexist in the park.

Like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys largely feed on bamboo shoots that grow high up in the volcanic ridges of Mount Muhabura one of the volcanic summits within Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Golden monkey troops are bigger in number than those of mountain gorillas with about 100 individuals in a single troop which are led by an Alpha male.

As part of the new plans to make golden monkeys a complete tourist attraction, UWA is currently habituating a group of about 80 monkeys in addition to another already habituated group of about 60 golden monkeys.

Trekking golden monkeys amidst Covid-19 restrictions

Like the case is with tours to other primates like mountain gorillas and chimpanzees, UWA has put in place Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that should be followed by tourists wo want to visit golden monkeys. These include hand-sanitizing at the park gate, wearing face masks, and observing social distance in order to control the possible spread of Covid-19 to the monkeys. Upon reaching the monkeys, visitors are urged to keep a distance of at least 10 meters away from them.

Uganda’s golden monkey tracking permit is sold at $100 per person for foreign non-residents while East African residents can buy it at Uganda Shillings 60,000 including park entrance fees. The rules and regulation that govern golden monkey tracking are not so much different from those of gorilla trekking with visitors also restricted to spend one hour in the presence of the monkeys like the case is with mountain gorillas.

What else can be seen and done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park?

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is basically known for golden monkey trekking and a little bit of gorilla trekking with the park being home to one gorilla group which is visited by tourists periodically. However, there are also other tourist activities that can be done in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in addition to the major two. These include mountain climbing where visitors hike to the top of the volcano summits found within the park including Mount Muhabura to see the beautiful mountainous scenery that surrounds the area. Other activities include bird watching with the park hosting some of the rare bird species including Rift Valley endemics while visitors can also enjoy some nature walks around the park to see its beauty and other wildlife species within it.

Click here to book your Uganda golden monkey tracking permit or to inquire about any other safari in East Africa including gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo and game viewing safaris in Kenya, and Tanzania.