Overview: Golden Monkey Trekking
These little-known primates, Cercopithecus kandti, are a subspecies of the Blue Monkey. You might not get as close to the golden monkeys as you may to the gorillas, but their antics are fun to watch and the bamboo forests, which they inhabit, are an interesting environment. These fast-moving little creatures live in social groups of up to 100 individuals and they are very entertaining as they constantly swing through the bamboo or chase each other in circles all around you. They’re also very pretty, with shiny reddish-gold backs that blend in perfectly with the golden bamboo.
Preparation for your golden monkey trek:
Permits for golden monkey trekkingEven in peak season, there are generally plenty of permits available, though we would usually recommend booking them before your trip, to be on the safe side.
We will make all of the necessary arrangements to buy your permits prior to your trip.
What kit should you take for a golden monkey trek?Paths on the treks can be slippery and muddy, so sturdy walking boots are essential. You might also find a walking pole helpful. A waterproof jacket is a good idea, as even in the dry season you'll find there may be occasional downpours. You’ll often find your trekking through patches of thistles, nettles and brambles, so we’d recommend wearing long trousers versus shorts.
Age limit: You need to be at least 15 years old for this trek. This is strictly enforced and there is no flexibility.
How fit do I need to be to take part in the golden monkey trekking?You don’t have to be super-fit for a golden monkey trek, but it does help if you have a good general level of fitness, if only to enhance your overall enjoyment.
The monkeys can move fast when they’re searching for food, and so at times the pace of the trek can move fairly swiftly, though the guides will stop regularly for breaks.
Some travellers can find the treks particularly strenuous; though you’re not climbing up into the volcanoes, and the terrain near the bamboo forests is relatively flat, you’re still going to be at an altitude of around 2000-3000m. Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit breathless at this altitude, this is perfectly normal. We'd advise keeping well hydrated, paying attention to the directions given by your guide, and letting your guide know if you feel unwell at any point during the trek.
The golden monkeys are a great stand-alone experience for primate lovers, but we also do suggest that anyone trekking to see the mountain gorillas takes part in a trek to see the golden monkeys on the previous day, to help acclimatise to the altitude and surrounding terrain.
What's it like on the golden monkey trek?Your driver-guide will collect you from your accommodation early in the morning. The trek starts from 7.00am at the park headquarters.
Your dedicated driver-guide, who will be with you for the duration of your trip in Rwanda, will accompany you to the park headquarters, and introduce you to your trekking guide.
You’ll be placed in a group of a maximum of 8 people, accompanied by your trekking guide and an armed park ranger.
For a small fee, you’ll also have the choice to hire a porter to accompany you on the trek, to help carry your backpack and offer a hand during tricky parts of the hike. Even if you don’t really need them, hiring a porter is a helpful way to contribute directly to the local economy
After a safety briefing, you’ll be driven to the start of the trail you’ll take to reach the golden monkeys. Your guide will be in radio communication with the trackers locating the golden monkeys, and will lead you along generally clear paths to the edge of the forest, at which time you’ll then be moving through more dense vegetation,
The duration of your trek depends on the location of the golden monkey group. The monkeys can cover a fair amount of distance daily, so it can sometimes take a while for the trackers to locate them. Once you’re with the golden monkeys, you’re allowed an hour, maximum, with them before heading back.
The two groups of habituated monkeys are getting more used to their human visitors, so don't be surprised if they jump quite close, and be aware of standing directly underneath a group in the trees, as little ‘presents’ can drop down at times!
No meals are included with the trek, but you’ll be served a light breakfast at your lodge prior to trekking. If you wish, your lodge will provide a packed breakfast to take with you – ask the day before.
Do remember to take plenty of water with you for the trek – your guide will provide extra for you – as it’s easy to become dehydrated. You may also want to take a snack, for extra energy.
Golden monkey trek rulesWhen you’re with your group, you should try not to make sudden movements and to keep your voices low so that the group remains relaxed. Although these monkeys are now used to seeing people, do bear in mind that they are still wild animals and can sometimes react unexpectedly, so always heed your guide’s and trackers’ instructions.
You won’t be allowed to eat or drink when you’re with the golden monkeys, and smoking is not allowed during the trek.
Please note: Expert Africa only books excursions as a part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary.
- Start location
- Any of Expert Africa's camps or lodges around the Volcanoes National Park
- End location
- Back at your safari camp
- Meals included
- No meals are included
- Half day - one hour with the monkeys
- Maximum group size
- Eight people
What to look forward to.
Golden Monkey Trekking reviews
24 independent first-hand comments from our travellers.
Ideas for holidays which can include Golden Monkey Trekking
Add this experience to these trip ideas or contact us to start planning your own tailor-made safari to Rwanda.
Other excursions in Rwanda
Inspiration and great ideas for other experiences in Rwanda to include in your safari.
Rwanda fact file
Useful information to help you prepare for your trip in Rwanda