A golden monkey trek to Volcanoes National Park is one of the major highlights of primate tracking tours in Rwanda. Golden monkeys are very playful primates that are endemic to the Virunga volcanoes.
This means they are only within the ranges of the Virunga volcanoes that cross through Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo borders. In Rwanda, the golden monkeys can only be seen at Volcanoes National Park which is where mountain gorillas also survive and the only place for Rwanda gorilla tours.
Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis Kandi) is a species of the Old World monkey found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Africa.
Unfortunately, due to the loss of their habitat in the past wars, the golden monkey is listed as endangered. About 2000 to 4000 individuals are estimated to be existent in the Virungas.
The golden monkey was previously thought to be a subspecies of the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) but found to just be similar. The golden monkey is differentiated by the golden-orange patch on the upper flanks and back.
They are mainly herbivorous known to eat mainly bamboo branchlets, shoots, flowers, fruit, and leaves. However, they are opportunistic feeders whose diet is easily influenced by the availability of fruit. In rare cases, they also feed on insects.
Because of their kind of diet, the golden monkeys live in habitats with a lot of bamboo and fruit, which is part of the Virunga Volcanoes. They move between areas depending on where there is food.
In the dry season, they look for ripe fruit and stay in those areas with fruit. When the rainy season begins, they move to the bamboo areas since the bamboo is shooting at that time. In most cases, they prefer places with both bamboo and fruit.
They live in groups of different sizes sighted from 3 to as large as a group of 100 each group led by an alpha male. In size, the golden monkeys that live in the higher elevations are smaller compared to those in lower elevations.
In most cases, the golden monkeys sleep in one of their sleeping areas after a day of feeding. They sleep on top of the dense bamboo plants or several bamboo plants that they weave together to make a sufficient foundation to sleep, they do this in small subgroups of 4 individuals.
When they make a sleeping area, the next day, they will feed close to the sleeping area such that they return in the evening to sleep. This is different from the mountain gorillas that spend each night in a different place.
In Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, there are two habituated golden monkey groups in the park one of them comprising 80-100 members. This group is mainly found at the foot of Mt. Sabyinyo. The trek starts from the park headquarters in Kinigi at 7:00 am.
Unlike gorilla trekking where a maximum of 8 individuals can trek a single group of mountain gorillas, there is no restriction to the number of people who trek golden monkeys.
However, a maximum of 1 hour is what is allowed for tourists to spend with the golden monkeys. Golden monkey trekking permits can be booked early or bought at the park headquarters on the morning of the trek.
A golden monkey trekking experience in Rwanda is very amazing and affordable for travelers visiting Rwanda. Golden monkey trekking can be customized into any form of Rwanda tour including wildlife trips to Akagera National Park.
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