Compare Golden Monkey Trekking in Uganda & Rwanda
Golden Monkey Trekking is a regular activity on gorilla safaris in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park, so it’s fair that you would want to compare which one of the two destinations would give you a better experience. We want to help you make the comparison using our travel expertise.
Generally, golden monkey trekking is pretty much similar to gorilla trekking with a few differences. For example, like mountain gorillas, golden monkeys are endemic to the same high altitude rainforests in central Africa. Golden monkeys occur only on the slopes of the Virunga Mountains shared between three national borders in three protected national parks. Other populations have been reported down south in Kahuzi Biega National Park in DRC and Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda.
However, golden monkey trekking occurs only in Rwanda’s Volcanoes and Uganda’s Mgahinga National Parks on the slopes of the Virungas, where a few groups have been Habituated for tourism.
In both destinations, guided golden monkey trekking excursions happen daily, beginning at 07:30 at the park headquarters and heading into the for an unspecified time (maybe 30 mins to 4 hours) to find a Habituated golden monkey group.
Visitors can stay with the primates in both destinations for an hour, observing their peculiar characteristics and social behaviours. Although, Uganda offers a more extensive experience of staying with the golden monkeys for at least fours hours—what is known as the golden monkey Habituation experience.
Let’s look at a more in-depth comparison between golden monkey trekking in Rwanda and Uganda.
Golden Monkey Trekking in Rwanda
Rwanda offers golden monkey trekking with two Habituated golden monkey groups available for tourism only in Volcanoes National Park. one on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi and the second in the bamboo forest on Mount Sabyinyo. These troops are said to be the largest, with about 80 to 100 individuals in a single group.
Trekkers depart for the golden monkey trek at 07:00 at Kiningi Visitor Center. The number of trekkers is not limited like the gorilla trek, and the Golden Monkey permit currently costs $100 per person. You can either arrange the permit in advance or book at the park headquarters on the morning of the trek.
The price and process of securing a permit in Rwanda are quite comparable to Uganda. Both countries charge the same for the permit do not restrict the number of travellers because the activity is not as popular as gorilla trekking, and trekkers will barely exceed a dozen on a particular day.
To make it in time for the experience, you’ll have to spend a night near Kiningi. Very few travellers wild drive from Kigali to trek the golden monkeys on the same day.
Compared to Uganda, which offers the experience twice a day, Rwanda offers one standard excursion at 07:00, the same time gorilla excursions begin. Since most visitors to the park come to see mountain gorillas and add golden monkey trekking to their trip, the timing means you can’t do both activities on the same day and that you’ll have to stay one ot two extra nights to see the golden monkey.
A typical gorilla & golden monkey trip in Rwanda includes about 3 nights, spending one in Kigali and two nights outside Volcanoes National Park on the base of the Virungas.
The negative side of trekking golden monkeys in Rwanda compared to Uganda is that independent and budget travellers will find it challenging to plan a safari in Rwanda. Rwanda Tourism has positioned itself on the high-end of the price spectrum, making it difficult for budget travellers to find decent accommodation choices and affordable logistics.
Otherwise, the experience of tracking golden monkeys in Rwanda is quite similar in both countries.
Golden Monkey Trekking in Mgahinga
Uganda offers golden monkey trekking in Mgahinga with one Habituated group of about 30 individuals. Uganda provides the golden monkey Habituation experience with the second golden monkey group, which is one of a kind and exclusive to Mgahinga National Park.
Golden monkeys in Mgahinga forage in the bamboo forest zone, about 2 km from Ntebeko visitor centre, which means trekking time is pretty much accurately determined compared to trekking in Rwanda.
In Mgahinga, you can choose to join either the 07:30 or 14:00 golden monkey trekking excursion. First, inquire with the park headquarters because time fixing is relative to the number of visitors on a particular day.
After briefing at Ntebeko park headquarters, your trekking group will follow an expert guide radioing ahead for the location of the Habituated monkeys, and two armed rangers will monitor your security into the bamboos slopes to find the golden monkeys.
On a lucky excursion, you may bump into mountain gorillas or one of the prominent forest inhabitants like forest buffalo, elephant or duikers. Mgahinga is a biodiverse reserve with more than 70 mammal species and various bird species to keep you on the lookout during your trek.
Like in Rwanda, the golden monkey permit in Uganda costs $100 per person and includes one hour watching the monkeys, a guide, two rangers and park entrance fees. The habituation permit costs $140 per person, including per fee. You can book your golden monkey permit directly in advance at UWA headquarters in Kampala, with your tour agent/operator or on the trekking day at the Ntebeko part headquarters. For accurate information about permits, contact Encounter Africa Safaris Ltd’s consultants at email@example.com.
Combining golden monkey trekking and gorilla trekking on a single trip in Uganda is much more affordable compared to Rwanda, especially for independent and budget-conscious travellers. The gorilla plus golden monkey permits in Rwanda alone cost $1700 per person, compared to $800 in Uganda. The difference could get you more than two extra nights in Uganda at a descent lodge on the edge of the forest or game-viewing adventures in Uganda’s savannah parks north of Mgahinga.
Compared to Rwanda, Uganda will offer you a more varied choice of safari activities to add to your golden monkey trekking safari other than gorilla trekking. Uganda has ten safari parks and several tourist destinations compared to Rwanda’s four parks and a couple of tourist destinations.
A typical golden monkey safari in Uganda will start with a night in Entebbe (32 km outside Kampala), drive about 10 hours through Uganda’s mountainous countryside to the southwestern tip and spend two nights outside Mgahinga National Park. You’ll trek the mountain gorillas and golden monkeys on each of the two mornings and then drive north to spend another couple of nights in the savannah parks.
Active adventurers usually stick around Mgahinga for another day of hiking the Virunga Volcanoes or birding around the park.
Compared to abundant accommodation around Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, tourists’ lodging around Mgahinga is scarce. Most travellers choose to sleep in Kisoro town (about an hour’s drive away) with a good concentration of lodging choices.
When To Go
Although the golden monkey parks in Rwanda and Uganda are open all year through, the best time golden monkey trekking is during the dry seasons of June to August and December to February.
During the dry months, the walking trails are easy to navigate, and you’ll be assured of a pleasant experience without rain. However, you should note that everyone chooses to travel to these primate destinations during the dry seasons, meaning the availability of lodging may be a big problem when planning. We encourage our travellers to book their golden monkey trekking accommodation months in advance if they’re to travel during the dry months.
March, April, May, October, and November are when the rains invade the region. During this time, most travellers will avoid visiting Rwanda and Uganda but not for independent travellers who want to take advantage of discounted pricing on facilities. This is the best time to travel for gorilla and golden monkey trekking on a budget if you can stand the rains.
What To Pack
You’ll spend nights at a high altitude of about 3000m / 7185feet in both Rwanda and Uganda; it gets very chilly in the late hours and sometimes unexpectedly rains. Pack clothing to keep you warm and dry during your trip.
Trekking occurs at relatively steep trails with sometimes muddy, uneven ground. Pack a pair of lightweight, waterproof walking shoes, trousers and gaiters. You’ll need a long-sleeved shirt to protect your arms and a waterproof backpack to keep your electronics dry.
Make sure you pack light because golden monkey trekking is physically demanding, and you may not want extra weight pulling you down.
On the bright side, if your pack is heavy and you don’t trust your physical fitness, you can hire a porter at the visitor centre for 20 bucks. They’ll carry your daypack and help you through tough spots. Besides, it’s a wonderful way to contribute to communities around these parks and make you feel better about your impact.
Find a more detailed packing list in this post.
Booking a golden monkey trekking safari
After comparing golden monkey trekking in Rwanda and Uganda, the choice of where to go will be purely determined by your budget, other activities you want to add to your trip and availability of lodging and permits. Budget-conscious travellers will avoid Rwanda and opt for Uganda, while activity-conscious travellers will choose Uganda over Rwanda. Independent travellers who would like the in-depth adventure experience will go for Uganda.
Either option you choose, Encounter Africa Safaris Ltd can help you organise a golden monkey trekking safari in both destinations. We’ll cover all the local logistics and grounds handling, including your accommodation, meals, and transport.
Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free quote. Our consultants will be excited to help you plan your primate safari in Uganda or Rwanda.