What to expect on a Golden Monkey trekking safari in Mgahinga National Park
Golden monkey trekking is an exciting activity, only carried out in Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, and the activity involves walking through the forest on foot in search of the golden monkey habituated families. Golden monkey trekking is easier than mountain gorilla trekking since they live in the lower lands compared to gorillas who prefer the higher areas of the national park.
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Located in the southwest part of Uganda, Mgahinga National Park is the smallest National Park in Uganda, found in the Kisoro district at the border of Uganda in the Virunga region, neighboring Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Golden monkey trekking can also be carried out in the Kahuzi Biega National Park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
Golden monkeys are larger than normal in body structure and have a golden brown coating on the lower body and back. The golden hair is the easiest way to identify them, and although they are currently used to humans, do not expect them to settle in one place because of their playful nature. They mainly feed on bamboo shoots and fruits and live in communities with an alpha male as the head of the family. During the day, they split into smaller groups to easily search for food.
Expectations of the Golden Monkey Trek
Golden monkey trekking is an activity that is carried out in Mgahinga National Park, the smallest park in Uganda. The trek starts early in the morning with a briefing from the guides at the headquarters about the expectations from the trek and the rules and regulations that need to be followed. Immediately after the briefing, the trekkers will be divided into groups of 8 and assigned a habituated family, and with the help of an experienced guide, you get to trek and spend an hour with the monkeys.
Golden monkey trekking takes between 1 to 5 hours, depending on the location of the golden monkey family assigned to you. They are very playful and are known to move from one place to the next in search of food, and one of the best ways to locate the monkeys is by following the trail of leftover bamboo shoots on the ground. Once you locate the monkeys, each group is allowed to spend an hour with the golden monkeys, watch them jump from tree to tree, take photos and videos, and learn about the behaviors of the golden monkeys in their natural.
Golden Monkey trekking permit
Golden monkey trekking permits are documents issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to tourists 12 years and above, granting them access to the golden monkeys found in Mgahinga National Park. The trek permit is a legal document; no one can trek the Golden Monkeys without it.
Cost of a golden monkey trek permit
Golden monkey trek permits in Mgahinga National Park costs differ depending on the category that a tourist belongs to for example the permit is 40, 000 UGX for East African citizens (Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan), $50 foreign residents and $60 for foreign non-residents per person. Habituation permits cost more since you spend more time with the golden monkeys. A golden monkey habituation permit costs 100, 000 UGX for East African citizens, $80 for foreign residents, and $100 for foreign non-residents. Note that the permit cost does not include the park entrance fees.
Booking the Golden Monkey trek permit
How to book a Golden Monkey trek permit is one of the first questions asked and is quite easy. You want to avoid being scammed, so you can only book the permit directly through the Uganda Wildlife Authority or a trusted tour operator like us. Get in touch with us with your desired golden monkey trek dates. After contacting us, we check the availability of the dates with UWA and advise where necessary, and when the dates are set, you will be required to make a deposit. After confirmation of payment, we proceed to purchase the trek permit on your behalf, sending you a soft copy.
What does the permit include?
The golden monkey trek permit gives you an hour with the monkeys as you study their behavior, armed rangers, and a UWA park guide. Note that the permit only works for the one hour spent with the monkeys and cannot be used a second time.
When to book the trek permits
Golden monkeys are always in high demand, especially during the dry season which is December to February and June to September, so the best time to book for a Golden Monkey trek is 3 to 4 months in advance to avoid last-minute purchases.
What to pack for a golden monkey safari in Mgahinga National Park
You need to pack right for the safari if you plan on enjoying your golden monkey trek in Mgahinga. But no need to worry because we have come up with a list of essential items that you will need for your golden monkey trekking safari and these are:
- Long-sleeved shirts and trousers for protection from the sun and insect bites and at the same time keep you warm. These should be in neutral colors.
- A waterproof rain jacket for the rainy season, but you can as well carry it during the dry season.
- Drinking water and snacks
- Insect repellent to protect yourself from Insect bites. Remember that you are in the jungle where there are different insect species.
- A day backpack to help you carry all the necessary items during your hike
- A camera with camera equipment like extra batteries, a tripod, extra lenses, and cleaning lens material
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- Warm sweaters thick socks and are used for tucking in trousers to avoid insect crawls on your body and to keep you warm.
- A walking stick, especially during the wet season when the trek routes are muddy and slippery.
- Binoculars are also needed
- Strong ankle-length hiking boots
- Sunscreen, a first aid kit, garden gloves to protect your hands, a refillable water bottle, and a recognition book.
Golden monkey trekking rules and regulations
The Uganda Wildlife Authority developed rules and regulations to protect the natural habitat of the golden monkeys and trekkers, and these are to be followed by every trekker. The rules are re-echoed during a briefing on the trek day and these include:
- The minimum trek age is 12 years
- Only 8 members are allowed to trek with an assigned golden monkey family.
- Switch off your flash when taking photos of the golden monkeys
- You are not allowed to trek the primates if you are sick (flu and cough)
- Each group spends an hour with the golden monkeys
- Avoid making noise in the presence of the monkeys because it might agitate them
- Keep a distance of 7 meters, and only approach them if they are approaching you first.
- Littering in the national park is not allowed, and you have to keep the rubbish with you until you find a dustbin
- Dig a 30cm hole if you like using the toilet and cover it afterward.
When to go for a golden monkey trek experience in Uganda
This is an activity that can be carried out all year round; however, the best time is from June to September and December to February when the park receives little or no rainfall, making it easy to trek through the jungle due to the passable hike routes, unlike the wet season from March to May and October to November when the trek routes are muddy and slippery.
FAQS about Golden monkey trekking in Uganda
What is the cost of a golden monkey safari in Uganda?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about golden monkey trekking. Several factors affect the cost of the golden monkey safari, and these include:
The season of travel: The peak seasons experienced during the dry months of June to September and December to February is always an expensive time to travel as some service providers tend to charge high prices and this is because of the high demand for safari activities. The low/wet season, on the other hand, is the best time to travel if you are on a budget due to the reduced costs.
The length of the safari: The more days you spend on your safari, the more money you spend, and the fewer days, the lower the cost of the golden monkey trekking safari.
Safari activities: The more activities you select to combine with golden monkey trekking like bird watching, primate walks, Batwa trail, and gorilla trekking, the higher the cost of the safari because some of the activities require payment before you participate in any of them.
The number of people traveling: The more people traveling in a group for the golden monkey safari, the lower the cost because costs are shared among them like gas/fuel, driver guide tips, and accommodation among others. Whereas a private golden monkey safari is expensive on the other hand.
What activities can I combine with Golden Monkey trekking?
There are a variety of activities that you can combine with golden monkey trekking and these include bird watching, gorilla trekking, enjoying the Batwa trail, going for game drives, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale, enjoying a cultural tour around the country, visiting the source of the Nile and go for boat rides among others.
Is golden monkey trekking safe?
Yes, golden monkey trekking is a safe activity. The Golden Monkey permit’s cost covers the security provided by the park and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You also need to be keen on your security by making sure that your property is well taken care of and following the rules and regulations.
Are golden monkeys dangerous?
No, golden monkeys are not dangerous primates, but you still need to follow the guidelines and rules given to you during briefing. The rules do not only protect the animals but they are put in place to protect you as well from provoking the monkeys, which might lead to agitated behavior.
How long does Golden Monkey trekking take?
Golden monkey trekking depends on the weather conditions experienced for example, it might take longer during the wet season due to the muddy and slippery trek routes, and it is also hard to locate the monkeys. It might take between 1 to 6 hours, depending on where the family allocated to you is found during the dry season; however, it is hard to determine the exact amount of time spent on a golden monkey trek in Mgahinga.
Other activities in Mgahinga National Park
Mgahinga National Park like other national parks in Uganda offers other exciting activities besides Golden Monkey trekking. These include birdwatching with over 200 recorded bird species, gorilla trekking is the main safari activity carried out in Mgahinga with one habituated gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi family, mountain hikes on the three dormant volcanoes that are part of the Virunga region. These are Sabinyo, Muhavura, and Mgahinga. Join the nature and primate walks and experience the Batwa trail, where you learn more about the Batwa culture and their way of life.
Accommodation in Mgahinga National Park
As earlier noted, Mgahinga National Park is the smallest national park in Uganda and you will not find any accommodation facilities within the national park but there are lodges and hotels that you can use that are near the park and these are categorized into three: basic/budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation facilities. Some of the facilities that you can use during the Golden Monkey Trek safari include Amajambere Iwacu community camp, Lake Mulehe safari lodge, Kisoro Traveller’s Rest Hotel, Mount Gahinga Lodge, Ikaze cottages, Montana Guest House, Mucha Hotel, Mount Gahinga Rest camp, Lake Mutanda Resort, Mgahinga Gorilla Triangle Lodge and Mucha Hotel among others.
Getting to Mgahinga
Getting to Mgahinga is quite easy and can be accessed by air. Charter flights can be booked daily to Mgahinga from Entebbe International Airport and Kajjansi Airstrip to Kisoro Airstrip and after connecting by road to the park headquarters.
You can also drive from Kampala to Mgahinga, which takes about 9 to 10 hours. A safari vehicle is provided and you get to drive from Kampala to Masaka to Mbarara to Kabale to Kisoro before driving to the park headquarters.
Contact us for more information.