They may be less well known than their mountain gorilla counterparts, but Rwanda’s golden monkeys are no less precious and rare, and are well worth a visit.
Found deep in the heart of the Volcanoes National Park’s bamboo forest, the golden monkey is one of the most endangered primates in Africa. Indeed, it is thought that the Virunga volcanoes, which form part of the boundary between Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are home to the last viable population of these monkeys.
Weighing some 5-15kg, golden monkeys have distinct golden bodies and cheeks that contrast with their black limbs, tails and crown. While their diet of primarily leaves and fruits has been well recorded, little is known about the environmental needs of golden monkeys and total population numbers have never been confirmed. Still, tourists have the unique opportunity to view one of two newly habituated groups within the park. The Kabatwa group is made up of 40 monkeys and lives on the slopes of Mt. Sabyinyo. For the more advanced trekker, there is the Musongo group, with 100 individuals, which lives higher up on the slopes of Mt. Karisimbi.
For one hour, you will be able to observe these rare monkeys in their stunning natural setting as they climb trees, feed on bamboo shoots, and play happily in front of you. Although smaller and nimbler than mountain gorillas, making them more difficult to spot, they are becoming more accustomed to visitors and thus bolder.