Mgahinga National Park is the smallest National Park located in the south-western part of the country. This is the only place where you will find golden monkeys in Uganda and t has a population of about 5059 golden monkeys.
The National Park is on the Ugandan side of the Virunga Mountains making it one of the few destinations where you can view the golden monkeys in Africa. Mgahinga is also a good destination for gorilla trekking with Bwindi Impenetrable National Park but the best part of visiting Mgahinga is the golden monkeys.
When Does Golden Monkey Trekking Start?
Golden monkey trekking starts as early as 8:00 am at the Ntebeko trail and this is known as the standard half-day trek. After locating the primates, you get to spend an hour with them before trekking back to your accommodation facility. Golden monkey habituation is also carried out in Mgahinga and this was made possible with the one habituated family of golden monkeys found in the National Park.
What you need to know about golden monkeys
There are a lot of things that you need to know for you to understand more about the golden monkeys and these are:
Golden monkeys got their name because of the gold colouring on either side of the cheeks, around the eyes, and on the stomach sometimes which is a contrast to the rest of the body that is black. Communication between the monkeys is done using gestures, facial expressions, and sounds and this has been proved by scientists.
Female golden monkeys initiate mating and they give birth every after two years with one baby each time they give birth. The females also take care of the group because the male keeps on moving from one place to the next in search of other females for the mating process. The female only stops feeding their babies when they are preparing for the next baby and once a monkey hits puberty, it joins the other older monkeys and starts looking for its food. While golden monkey trekking, you will be able to see other primates like colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, and vervet monkeys among others.
They also live in groups of 30 to 80 monkeys and one male can act as dominant in different groups. Golden monkeys sleep in groups on top of the bamboo trees and research shows that they can live up to 20 years. Golden monkeys feed mainly on bamboo shoots but in cases where there is a scarcity, they can also feed on flowers and fruits.
Cost of golden monkey trek permit
Golden monkey trek permits are the only way you will be allowed to participate in the trek and without them, you cannot gain entrance into Mgahinga National Park. A standard golden monkey permit cost depends on numerous factors like nationality. Below is an approximation of the permit costs.
Foreigners $60 per person per day
East African citizens 40,000shs
Foreign residents 40,000shs
The above rates were set up for 2021 to 2022 and they can easily change. Therefore before booking, you need to find out how much the permit costs at the time of your planned safari. Note that the golden permit fees are exclusive of accommodation and other services like park entry fees and transport.
Golden monkey habituation permit is a little bit higher and it goes for $100.
Golden monkey packing list
Most of the things that you should pack while going for golden monkey trekking should be able to keep you warm because the Mgahinga forests receive rainfall even during the dry season. Since you are going to be trekking through the jungle, below is a list of what you should pack.
• Lightweight hiking boots will help while trekking because heavy boots will make the trek more tiresome.
• Long-sleeved shirt
• Insect repellent
• A backpack
• Walking stick
• A camera with extra batteries
• Bottled drinking water
• Garden gloves
Golden monkey trekking vs. Gorilla trekking in Uganda
Golden monkey trekking and gorilla trekking are similar in most ways especially when it comes to trekking in the National Parks but some differences make each session unique in its way.
Golden monkey trekking is less strenuous compared to gorilla trekking and this is because gorillas normally build new nests each day in new locations making it hard to trace them from the previous location whereas the golden monkeys usually keep to the same place for as long as there are bamboo shoots to eat. The golden monkeys only move to a new location if the food in a certain area is getting done.
Golden monkeys are very active and do not stay in one position like the gorillas making it hard for tourists to take much-needed photographs. You might end up taking random photos of the monkeys and later on choose the ones that came out right.
Mountain gorillas are endangered species and therefore the number of people that visit per day is limited by printing a few gorilla trek permits. 8 people per group are allowed to visit the gorillas for an hour. Golden monkey trekking on the hand is not restricted and tourists can visit the primates irrelevant of how many they are.
Gorilla trekking receives a wide range of tourists per year even when there are restrictions and this is not the case with the golden monkeys. Gorillas also can usually be seen sitting in one place for a very long time and yet golden monkeys keep on moving from one place to the next, coming close to the visitors before jumping into the trees.
Where to stay Before and After The Trek?
There are numerous accommodation facilities that you can use while on your golden monkey trekking safari and these are grouped into three categories that is basic, mid-range, and luxurious accommodation facilities. Some of the best facilities that you should look out for include:
• Bird nest Bunyonyi
• Lake Mutanda resort
• Chameleon Hill lodge
• Gahinga lodge
Best time to go for golden monkey trekking in Uganda
The best time for golden monkey trekking is during the dry season. The dry season is from June to August and January to February and these are considered to be the best months because the trail treks are drier, easy to trek, and less slippery. It can, however, be carried out all year round and if you are planning on carrying out golden monkey trekking in the wet season you should be prepared for the rains and slippery and wet trail routes.