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Golden Monkey Trekking in Rwanda

Also known as “The land of a thousand Hills”, Rwanda is a paradise for primate encounters and among them is a sight of the beautiful golden monkeys in their natural habitat. This article offers you all the necessary information you need to know about golden monkey trekking in Rwanda.

Golden monkeys are beautiful and rare primates known to have unique characters, these species are endangered at the moment, and they are only found in the Virunga Mountains stretching through Rwanda, Uganda and DR. Congo.

These primates are easily recognized due to their yellow patches that can be seen all over their bodies, the golden monkeys are known as the “Old World Monkey” and the only way to separate these primates from others is by their noses. The unique character about golden monkeys is that they have nostrils facing upwards unlike other primates where they point to the sides.

Also, the golden monkeys are a sub-specie of the Sykes Monkey also referred to as “Blue Monkeys” and they are scientifically known as Cercopithecus Mitis Kandti. They are social creatures living in troops of about 60 members mostly on the lower slopes of the mountains within the Virunga ranges.

“With only about 5,000 individuals left in the world, the golden monkeys are listed as an endangered species by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN)”

Golden monkey trekking in Rwanda is done only in Volcanoes National Park with is home to two golden monkey troops, the largest troop is located in the Sabyinyo and this has 80 to 100 monkeys and it is the most visited troop in Rwanda. The other troop is located in the Volcanoes, and it is slightly smaller in number.

This park is the most popular safari destination in Rwanda located in the northwest region of the country, the park stretches 160 kilometers protecting Rwanda’s section of the Virunga Mountains and comprises of 5 volcanoes.

Volcanoes National Park has two human – habituated golden monkey groups with the largest consisting of about 80 to 100 individuals, daily trekking excursions in the park are done and they start 08:00 am from the park headquarters at Kinigi with briefing. (Visitors should be there by 7:00 am for briefing before the trek).

Note: There is only one gorilla trekking session in Volcanoes National Park per day

After being taken through rules and regulations to follow, you will head out to the starting point (individuals in each group is not limited), you will head into the forest with trackers and armed rangers in search for the golden monkeys.

Tracking mountain gorillas takes a shorter time (about an hour) and is less strenuous than gorilla trekking, however some effort is required to locate them because they are smaller and do not leave behind clear evidence of their previous location like mountain gorillas do.

Each day of trekking is different, and the weather and the troop movement will determine how the day will go, because of the constant movements on tree tops, taking photos of these monkeys involves some difficulty. The only the golden monkeys stay still is when taking shelter during the rains or when it gets too windy, the winds make it difficult for them to local their enemies and a need to stay alert for eagles.

The best way to take photos of the golden monkeys is to set you camera on fast shutter shot speed.

Once you located the golden monkeys, trackers will often have to follow them around because they love jumping from tree to tree. Their long tails help them with balancing but get stuck and cut off by the bamboo trees.

After spending a set time with these beautiful creatures, you will trek back to the park headquarters marking the end of this incredibly thrilling Rwanda Primate Experience.

Golden Monkey Permits in Rwanda cost $ 100 per person per trek for Foreigners, as a tourist you can obtain the golden monkey permits through your tour operator o from the RDB Tourism Reservation Office.

Category of Tourist



$ 100

Foreign Resident

$ 65

East Africans and Foreign residents

$ 80

Rwandan Citizens

RWF 4,000

Note: Each traveler interested in golden monkey must have golden monkey permits and only travelers of 12 years and above are allowed to do golden monkey trekking.

To avoid disappointments, you are advised to book your golden monkey permit in advance.

Trekking golden monkeys in Rwanda are possible throughout the year, but the best time to go is during the drier seasons that is from June to August and December to January. In these seasons the trails are easier to navigate and spending time with the beautiful mountain gorillas is more enjoyable when it is not raining.

However, it is important to know that the dry season in Rwanda are also peak seasons for tourist which means that most good and desirable lodges are fully booked and obtaining a golden monkey permit is not easy in this time as they run out quickly. We recommended booking your accommodation as well as your golden monkey permit in advance particularly between June and September.

On the other hand, the low seasons from March to May and from October to November are characterized by high rainfall, misty forests and challenging trails. Though it is not recommended for most travelers, for adventurous travelers who are okay with the weather. The rainy season offer the opportunity to enjoy the trails without the crowds and at discounted rates at the lodges.

Volcanoes National Park is located in the northwestern region of Rwanda about 105 kilometers from the Kigali City – the country’s capital and airport – Kigali International Airport. All international travelers have to fly to Kigali International Airport and connect to the park on a 2 hours’ drive.

Bisate Lodge – a high-end safari lodge located in the foothills of Mount Bisoke, on the edge of Volcanoes National Park. Bisate Lodge is an oasis of safari lodging in Rwanda offering an eco-luxury experience accompanied by unique insights into the remotest parts of Rwanda.

Virunga Lodge – this high-end is perched on a 2,300 – meter ridge between Lake Ruhondo and Lake Bulera, this remote lodge boasts breathtaking views of the volcanoes and offers a bush – chic experience.

Singita Kwitonda Lodge – set right on the edge of Volcanoes National Park, Singita Kwitonda is a high-end lodge with eight luxurious suites features a private heated plunge pool, wellness treatment area, fireplaces and large timber – framed windows that boats breathtaking scenery and volcano views inside.

One & Only Gorilla’s Nest – This beautiful lodge is surrounded by swaying eucalyptus trees which will waken your spirit of adventure during your stay.

Other accommodations include Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel,  Sabyinyo Wildersness, Ingagi Parkview Lodge and Mountain Gorilla View Lodge among others.

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