“It must be tough being an attention seeking golden monkey. No matter how hard they try, they just don’t seem to gather much of a fan base. In order to grab our attention, the monkeys have tarted themselves up in an amazing multi-coloured coat of rusty red, fiery oranges, shadowy blacks, tints of blue and, yes, even some gold” writes UK’s Stuart Butler
In certain places they have been habituated to humans and will happily jump and prance around Homo Sapien visitors without a care in the world. And yet, despite all the golden monkeys’ best efforts, we largely ignore them.
Indeed, so overlooked is this fascinating primate that until very recently the golden monkey was considered just a novelty sub-species of the more wide-spread blue monkey. So why should an animal, so attractive and entertaining to watch, be so blanked by us, celebrity-obsessed humans?
Well, unfortunately for the golden monkey, it chose to make its home in the high, cloudy volcanic forests in and around the Virunga mountains of Rwanda, Uganda and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo or DRC). And these forests are also home to that most enigmatic of all primates: the mountain gorilla.
So, while all the monkey business focuses on mountain gorilla tourism and conservation, the golden monkeys play in the shadows with only few human visitors making the effort to go and see them.
Despite the name, many people would say that Uganda’s smallest national park actually offers better golden monkey viewing than it does gorilla viewing. There are two types of monkey viewing on offer here.
The standard visit, golden monkey tracking, gives you just an hour in the company of the little fellows and is similar to the golden monkey visits on offer in Rwanda.
Much more interesting, and unique to Mgahinga, is the far more in-depth ‘Golden Monkey Habituation Experience’. The monkeys here have been at the center of a long running study into their behavior. By signing up to the habituation experience, you get to spend four hours in the presence of the monkeys and follow the scientists around as they study them. Not just does this give you the chance to learn a huge amount about golden monkey behavior, but it also offers a rare ‘behind the scenes’ insight into primate science.
Mgahinga National Park is Uganda’s smallest beautiful national park and is located at the extreme south western part of Uganda on the borders with Rwanda and DRC. The park was established in 1991; it is an integral part of the Virunga Conservation Area and is contiguous with Parc National Des Volcanoes in Rwanda and Parc National Des Virunga in DRC.
Mgahinga National Park is afromontane tropical rainforest, with a montane forest belt, a bamboo forest zone and an alpine zone. The park is surrounded by the Batwa people, initially the Batwa People were hunters and fruit gatherers but after the establishment of the Park into a National Park they switched to farming as they were restricted to hunt wild animals in the park.
Golden Monkey is a beautiful monkey with high rufous-red on the back, cheeks and tail. The monkey has black legs, crown and tip of the tail, pale patch around the nose and mouth. Golden monkeys live in groups of between 30-60 individuals; each group is led by one adult male. There about 4500 endangered golden monkeys left on the planet.
If you chose to take on golden monkey tracking, you have to relinquish USD $50 per person for a Golden Monkey permit and you’ll allowed to track them and spend 60 minutes with the golden monkeys.
On the other hand, the golden monkey habituation permit price is US $100 per person -you stay with the researchers following the monkeys and habituating them for four hours while you practice on your nature photography skills, filming, even seeing how golden monkeys play and live in their habitat.
Golden monkeys are arguably one of the best adventures in Uganda or Rwanda; golden monkeys are special creatures with their outstanding golden coat. Golden monkeys move very fast, if you want to take pictures you need to be very steady on the camera. Habituated golden monkeys are so playful and they are used to human beings.
Contact one of our experts to help you plan your golden monkey safari in Uganda, we’ll make sure you find it easy by buying you the permit, booking your accommodation, meals and organising your transportation.