On a visit to Volcanoes National Park in Eastern Rwanda, the central show is obviously a Mountain Gorilla trek. However, there is a lesser known [and far cheaper] option – trekking through the bamboo forest to catch a glimpse of the elusive Golden Monkey.
On the list of critically endangered animals, the Golden Monkey is a species of Old World monkey found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Eastern central Africa, including in national parks in Uganda, Rwanda; and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
For years the Golden Monkey was mistakenly thought to be a subspecies of the blue monkey, but now that convention has been challenged. This elusive monkey is not very well known or studied, but what is known about it is that it lives in groups of thirty to forty and lives primarily on bamboo leaves and fruit, flowers and shrubs.
I trekked about an hour in the bamboo forest until I came across the Golden Monkeys who at the the time were high at the tops of the bamboo trees. They were voraciously feeding on the bamboo leaves and playing. After about thirty minutes they became playful and curious and came down from the tops of the bamboo trees to the forest floor. They were everywhere, and it was an amazing sight to see these creatures up close.
While a trekking permit for the Mountain Gorillas will set you back US$750 the trekking permit for the Golden Monkeys will only set you back US$100. So, if you have limited funds and still want to catch a glimpse of the primate life Rwanda has to offer, you may want to say hello to the Golden Monkeys.