Tracking Golden Monkeys in Volcanoes National Park

Golden monkeys, a highly endangered species, are most notably found in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda. Easily identified by its distinct golden yellow patches covering the body and face, and unique upturned nostrils, these Old World monkeys are a sight to behold. Golden monkey trekking is only conducted in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, with a single morning session beginning at 7:00am. All visitors are required to check in at the headquarters for a short briefing before the trek begins, and from there it is only fifteen minutes until reaching the park. The two habituated troops of monkeys are located in the Sabinyo region, where about 80-100 individuals reside, and in the Volcanoes region, with a slightly smaller troop.

Guided tour groups will proceed through the rugged terrain surrounding the foothills of Sabinyo mountain, while admiring the diverse array of fauna and avian species. Touring the habituated troops alone is not permitted and porters are available to accompany hikers throughout the experience. Once the golden monkeys are located, trekkers are allowed to observe them for one hour before continuing on the journey. To optimize the experience, visitors may take advantage of combining activities with other national parks and conservation areas in the vicinity, such as Nyungwe Forest National Park.

In order to make the most out of the golden monkey trek, visitors should come prepared with appropriate clothing for the cold mountain air, as well as waterproof boots, rain gear, and gloves. Additionally, it is important for all visitors to purchase the necessary permits prior to the trek. Despite the physical exertion, the journey does present sights and lasting memories like no other.

Trekking Permit & Costs

Trekking in search of the Golden monkeys of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda is an experience like no other. Easily distinguished from other primates by their unique golden yellow coloring and upturned nostrils, these Old World primates are a rare sight to behold. Guided golden monkey trekking tours are held exclusively in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, beginning at 7:00am in the morning and requiring a fifteen minute commute from the main headquarters. All visitors must purchase a permit for $100 per person, and anyone of any age is welcome to join the experience.

The two habituated family troops are situated in close proximity to the Sabinyo region, the largest troop including around 80-100 individuals. Tourists must observe the monkeys with a guide to ensure the safety of both humans and primates, while porters may be hired to accompany the trekking expedition. During the journey, trekkers may observe the monkeys interacting with each other, as well as other native fauna and avian species. To further optimize the experience, activities may be combined with other national parks and conservation areas such as Nyungwe Forest National Park.

In light of the cold mountain air, visitors must dress appropriately and come prepared with waterproof boots, rain gear, hand gloves and any other necessary items of personal nature. An hour is allowed for observation before trekkers continue their journey, and the overall experience promises to leave lasting memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Essential Gear for Golden Monkey Trekking in Volcanoes National Park

Exploring the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda to seek the endangered golden monkey species is a ultimate and once-in-a-lifetime experience. These Old World primates, distinguished by their unique golden yellow patches and upturned nostrils, are a great sight to behold. Golden monkey trekking tours are held exclusively within Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, with a purchase of a permit being required for $100 per person. To further optimize the experience, activities may be combined with other national parks and conservation areas, such as Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Before setting out on the trek, visitors should come prepared with the necessary items for the cold mountain air, including waterproof boots, a waterproof jacket, and gloves. Snacks and lots of water are also a must to have, as there are no other food stops along the way. Flashes are not allowed on cameras as they may scare away the primates. During the journey, which allows for one hour for observation, trekkers will be able to observe the interaction between the primates, as well as take in the beauty of the area’s native fauna and avian species. The rewarding experiences make for lasting memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

How do golden monkeys communicate with each other?

Golden monkeys of Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains communicate with one another through unique gestures, vocalization, and facial expressions. Young golden monkeys employ communication calls to demonstrate their submissiveness to the older monkeys, while adult males use them to assert their dominance and show aggression. The female primates also use call signs to bring the troop of monkeys together, or to give instructions. Scientists have observed and studied these subtle, yet meaningful forms of communication, with the primates using facial expressions such as excitement and anger, as well as certain sounds designed to initiate interaction with other members.

The opportunity to observe these endangered primates is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime experience available in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. All visitors to the park must purchase a permit for $100 per person and are accompanied by an experienced guide. Tourists are then allowed one hour of observation, before continuing the journey and leaving behind memories sure to be treasured forever.

Where do the golden monkeys sleep?

The golden monkeys weave together various bamboo plants to create a nest, which serves as their dwelling and a place to sleep after a long day. These nests are typically built up in the trees, providing them with a secure and comfortable home.

Rwanda’s Total Population of Golden Monkeys

The estimated population of Golden monkeys in Rwanda is between 2,500 and 3,500, though this number is rapidly declining due to deforestation and human encroachment on their natural habitat in the Albertine and Virunga forests. Human activities such as logging and farming have severely reduced the amount of suitable habitat available to these endangered species.

What do the golden monkeys eat?

The Golden monkeys are primarily herbivores, and feed primarily on bamboo, as well as other plants, fruits, shrubs, flowers, branches, shoots and larvae found on the trees that are available in the forests. They tend to search for food in areas close to where they sleep, allowing them to provide food for the group, especially the young. They are also able to adapt their diets to changing seasonal availability of food.

How do the Golden monkeys live?

The Golden monkeys live in groups of roughly 30 to 80, with one alpha male having dominance over the group. Male monkeys are often nomadic, moving from group to group to mate with females who tend to guard their own territories. Their life span is around 20 years, and they are active during the day, often seen jumping from one tree to the next. To sleep, they gather in groups of four up in the trees, constructed from the nearby bamboo. This provides protection for the group and especially the young.

The Mating Habits  Of  The Golden Monkeys

The mating process between male and female Golden monkeys is largely unknown, though it is thought that the female initiates the mating. As one alpha male is usually present in the group, these monkeys tend to become polygamous, with the male mating with all of the females in the group. The males will stay in a group for a certain period of time before moving on to another group. The female’s gestation period is 5 months, with only one infant born every 2 years. The baby is well-developed at birth and is nursed by the mother in its early months, after which the mother will stop feeding the baby to prepare for her next gestation period. Once it reaches puberty, the monkey will leave the natal group to join the older monkeys.

If you’re looking to observe Golden monkeys in the wild, you can take a trip to Volcanoes National Park, near the Virunga region, where these monkeys can be spotted due to the golden hue of their coats. Going on this trek also usually entails gorilla trekking, providing a two-in-one experience.


The experience of trekking the elusive Golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park is an incredible one – with the challenge of finding them, the reward of spotting them, and the opportunity to learn more about this unique species. Though their population is declining as a result of deforestation and human encroachment, there is still hope for the Golden monkeys, with conservation efforts underway and wildlife treks to help support their habitat. With the right steps taken, these monkeys can continue thriving in the forests of Volcanoes National Park.




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