What to expect on a Golden Monkey trekking safari in Volcanoes National Park in 2024-2025
What to expect on a golden monkey trekking safari in Volcanoes National Park in 2024-2025. Golden monkey trekking is one of the unique safari activities that is carried out in Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park, which is part of the Virunga region, is the only golden monkey trekking destination in Rwanda, and the only other place where golden monkey trekking takes place is Mgahinga National Park, located in southwest Uganda. Volcanoes National Park is the top safari destination for tourists visiting Rwanda, and the government offers discounts on the permits if you book to also visit two more destinations within the country, for example, Akagera National Park and Nyungwe Forest National Park, as a way of promoting tourism within the country.
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Golden monkeys are a bit larger than normal ones; they live in groups of about 60 to 100, and a dominant male leads them. The yellow-golden color of their fur also makes them unique and easily identifiable. Golden monkeys feed mainly on bamboo shoots and wild fruits, although sometimes, they tend to raid gardens in the communities for food.
What to expect on the Trek day
Golden monkey trekking starts early morning at the park headquarters with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow while golden monkey trekking. After the briefing, groups will be allocated a golden monkey family to trek, and then the trek will officially start. The easiest way to trek golden monkeys is by following the bamboo shoots and leaves trails left behind by the monkeys.
Golden monkeys are very playful creatures moving from place to place, so you need to be patient when trekking. It can take 30 minutes to 5 hours, depending on the family you have been allocated to. During the trek, you also get to see the various wildlife species that are found in the Volcanoes National Park, like bird species, both endemic and international, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, Mountain gorillas, baboons and tree and plant species among others.
After locating the golden monkeys with the help of the experienced tour guide, you get an hour with them, learning about their behavioral patterns, recording videos and taking photos, watching them feed, jumping from one tree to the next, and caring for their young ones.
Golden Monkey Trek permit
When purchasing Golden Monkey Trek permits, there are a few things that you need to note, and these are: The permit needs to be booked in advance with full payment because a deposit is unacceptable, tourists are expected to show up with their permits at the Visitor Centre for validation, and the process includes showing a reference number given to you when booking or a copy of the trek permit.
What is included in the trek permit? The Golden Monkey trek permit includes two armed rangers to provide security, an experienced guide, and an hour with the golden monkeys. However, it does not include tips, snacks, accommodation, or any personal purchases.
Cost of a Golden Monkey trek permit:
The Golden Monkey trekking permit is less expensive than the gorilla permit, but it also depends on the category of tourist that you belong to. Rwandan citizens pay 4000 RWF, $100 for foreign non-residents, $80 for foreign residents, and $65 for East African citizens per person per trek. The Golden Monkey permits are easier to get and more abundant than gorilla trekking permits, and they can be easily obtained even during peak season. However, this does not mean that you should take your time when booking. We always advise our clients to book earlier in advance and combine the golden monkey safari with other adventures into one big travel, plus purchasing your permits in advance.
Can I get last-minute Golden Monkey permits? :
Yes, last-minute Golden Monkey trek permits are available, and this is because of the low number of tourists who are interested in the activity. However, we advise tourists to always book in advance, especially if you plan to add gorilla trekking as one of the activities you intend to participate in. Booking early means you can get both the Golden Monkey and gorilla trekking permits on your desired travel dates.
How to book a Golden Monkey Trek safari permit in Rwanda
Golden Monkey trekking permits in Rwanda can be booked directly from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) through their official website (IREMBO website), via telephone calls, or email. You can also contact us to help you book the permit and organize your Golden Monkey safari for you.
The booking process is easy, and the first thing to do is contact us with all the necessary information including names (as they appear on the passport), date, month, and year you wish to visit the country for a Golden Monkey trek safari. We then check for availability of the permit, and if they are available on your desired date, you will be requested to make a deposit, and upon receiving the money, the permits will be booked. Booking with us is the best thing to do because we help with booking the permit and organizing your safari, which involves other activities, transport, safari to other destinations, and accommodation.
Is Golden Monkey trekking in Rwanda worth it?
Golden monkey trekking is worth all the money paid because you get to see the endangered species and other wildlife within the national park and help conserve the natural habitat that the locals had once destroyed through poaching and encroaching.
The money paid for golden monkey trekking helps protect the bamboo trees that the golden monkeys usually feed on. The money paid at the national park entrance benefits the local community through the government.
Golden Monkey Trek Rules and Regulations in Volcanoes National Park
Golden monkeys are an endangered species, so the Rwanda Development Board came up with trek rules to be followed by all hikers to protect and conserve them from extinction. Some of the regulations include:
- The minimum trek age for all tourists is 15 years, and no one below that is allowed to trek the golden monkeys.
- All tourists are expected to bring a copy of the permit before they gain access to the national park.
- You are to keep a distance of 7 meters from the golden monkeys after locating the family you have been assigned to, and this is to protect the monkeys.
- Tourists are not allowed to feed the golden monkeys.
- Eating and drinking when with the monkeys has been prohibited.
- Tourists get to spend an hour with the monkeys after locating them.
- Turn off your phone or put it in flight mode to avoid abrupt noises, as this will disrupt the behavioral patterns of the golden monkeys.
- If you feel sick, especially with cough and flu, you should only volunteer to stay off trekking. The main reason is that it might wipe out hundreds more once the monkeys are affected.
- The national park must be kept clean at all times, so you must keep all the rubbish with you until you find a dustbin.
- There are no toilets, so if you want one, dig a hole 30 cm deep (guides usually have tools for digging), and after you are through, cover the hole properly to eliminate infections.
- Turn off the flash from your camera before taking photos of the golden monkeys. Golden monkeys are not used to the flashlight, which might scare them off.
- Avoid smoking when with the golden monkeys. This is only allowed if you are over 300 feet from the golden monkeys.
How many days do I need for the golden monkey trek in Rwanda?
The number of days depends on your travel budget and other activities on your itinerary, but the recommended days are 3. You can go for a 3-day golden monkey safari or a 4-day golden monkey and gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park.
Packing list for a golden monkey safari in Rwanda
Safari packing lists are always essential to have a fun-filled experience because you want to avoid packing unnecessary items, and that is why we have come up with a list to help with your packing.
- Strong hike ankle-length boots for the terrain within the national park.
- Neutral-colored clothes (long-sleeved shirts, undershirts, and trousers are the best).
- A waterproof rain jacket (for both the dry and rainy season)
- Warm sweater for the cold weather
- Thick socks to keep warm and to stop insects from crawling on your body by tucking trousers into the socks.
- A sun hat and glasses
- A good camera with extra lenses and batteries. If this is your first time, the point-and-shoot camera is the best.
- Snacks, a packed lunch, and drinking water
- Insect repellent for protection from insect bites and sunscreen
- A day backpack to help carry all the necessary items during the trek, like water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and camera equipment.
- A walking stick can be provided to you, especially when the terrain is muddy and slippery.
- A first-aid kit
- Refillable water bottles, wet wipes, biodegradable toilet paper, toiletries, and sandals to be used after the trek.
Best time for Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda
Golden monkey trekking is an activity that can be merged with other safari activities in the country, and this means that the activity can be carried out all year round. The best time, however, is during the dry season is the best time for Golden Monkey trekking because trek routes are easy to use and it is also easy to spot during this season. The rainy season, on the other hand, is a good season of travel for golden monkey trekking; however, you need to be able to brave the rains and muddy and slippery terrains, although it is considered to be a good time for tourists who prefer few crowds.
Accommodation options during a golden monkey trek in Rwanda
There are a variety of accommodation facilities that can be used during a Golden Monkey trek safari, and these range from budget/basic to mid-range and luxury accommodation facilities. Some of the facilities around Volcanoes National Park include Kingi Guest House, One and Only Gorilla’s Nest, Sabinyo Silverback Lodge, Garden Place Hotel, Hotel Muhabura, Five Volcanoes Boutique, Virunga Lodge, Garr Hotel, Le Bamboo Gorilla Village, Mountain Gorillas Nest Lodge, La Palme Hotel, Gorilla Solution Lodge, Five Volcanoes Boutique, Faraja Hotel, Da Vinci Gorilla Lodge and Ruzizi Tented Lodge among others.
Other activities carried out in Volcanoes National Park
Besides golden monkey trekking, there are other activities that you can participate in while in Volcanoes National Park, and these are:
Gorilla trekking: This is the main activity carried out in Volcanoes National Park with about 10 habituated gorilla families. Tourists get to spend an hour with the endangered Mountain gorillas after locating the assigned gorilla family.
Mountain climbing: Volcanoes National Park is home to three volcanic mountains that are part of the Virunga region, and each of these gives tourists beautiful and unique scenery. Hiking can be done along Mount Muhabura, Mount Karisimbi (the highest mountain in the Virunga region), and Mount Bisoke.
Cultural trips: Get a chance to visit the local communities and learn more about the unique Rwanda culture. You also get an opportunity to participate in the Kwita Izina, which is carried out annually and is where baby gorillas are named.
Getting to Volcanoes National Park
Located in the northwestern part of Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park can easily be accessed by road from Kigali in a two-hour drive. When you get to Kigali International Airport, a safari vehicle with a driver’s guide will be waiting for you (in case you booked with us) to drive you to the Park headquarters for your golden monkey safari.
In case of anything, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.