Golden monkey Habituation Experience in Mgahinga National Park : Golden monkeys are subspecies of the more common blue monkeys. They are characterized by a gold color on their back and cheeks. Golden monkeys are found in only three countries – Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They thrive on the slopes of volcanoes and especially where they can find nutritious bamboo trees. Golden monkeys are sociable primates and live in groups of about 60 individuals. They feed on mostly bamboo trees, fruits and occasionally on small insects. On a normal day, the monkeys head out to look for bamboo shoots and fruits before resting for the night. They sleep on the branches of large bamboo tree where they cannot be easily seen by predators like eagles.
Apart from standard golden monkey trekking, tourists also have an opportunity to take part in what is known as the golden monkey habituation experience. This experience is only possible in Mgahinga National park in Uganda. Golden monkeys generally avoid humans like any other wild animal. Before tourists can visit them, they have to undergo the habituation process in order for them to feel at ease in the presence of humans. The golden monkey habituation process is normally carried out by a team of primatologists and local trackers. They usually start with studying the social structure and behavior of a particular troop which they then use to their advantage to gain their trust.
The habituation process can take up to 3 years. The golden monkey habituation experience is open to tourists who are interested in learning how the researchers win the trust of the monkeys. It is a more expensive and longer activity in which tourists spend more time in the jungle studying and observing everything there is to know about the monkeys. Under the guidance of Researchers/ primatologists, tourists will also learn what is being done protect them globally.
Packing list for Golden Monkey Trekking
In order to have the most comfortable time tracking the monkeys, you need to consider packing the right items, water, snacks and clothing. Golden monkey trekking involves hiking for long distances and in unpredictable terrain. You will need hiking boots with good traction. Apart from the boots, you also need clothes that cover the entire body. By this we mean long-sleeved shirts and trousers. You will also need a raincoat in case it rains. During the dry season, a cap and sunglasses will protect you from the strong sunlight. Do not forget to pack drinking water and snacks or else you will get hungry. Hand sanitizers are also important but an insect repellent is even more important for keeping off tropical insects. Do not forget to show up with a binocular and a good camera to take photos of the primates. Porters are available for hire at the starting point for about $15. If you have a hiking stick, come with it. Park officials will also offer you simple hiking sticks for free. The packing list for golden monkey trekking is similar to that of gorilla trekking.
Golden Monkey Permits in Rwanda and Uganda
How much is a golden monkey permit in Uganda?
In Uganda, the golden monkey trekking permit costs $60 per person for all the foreigners. East African residents only need to pay 40,000 Uganda shillings. The golden monkey habituation permit goes for $100 for foreigners and 100,000 Uganda shillings for East African citizens. The permit fee includes Park Ranger fees but excludes park entrance which is at $40 per person. In Rwanda, the golden monkey trekking permit goes for $100 person and includes park entrance and Ranger costs.
Golden monkey permits are acquired in the same way as gorilla permits. It is the same organizations in the respective countries that issue out golden monkey permits. In Rwanda, the Tourism Department of the Rwanda Development Board is responsible for issuing out permits while in Uganda, it is the Uganda wildlife Authority. Travelers can acquire golden monkey permit directly from the two government bodies or indirectly through the local operator planning their trip. Since golden monkey trekking experience is not as popular as gorilla tracking, the permits are usually available. A traveler may not need to book them in advance during the low seasons. In fact, it is possible to acquire them at the park offices a day before the trek. However, we recommend that you book the permits in advance especially if you are planning to traveling between June to August and December to March.