Gorilla trekking and golden monkey tracking are the two key tourist activities that are conducted in Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National park. There are currently 880 mountain gorillas surviving within Bwindi Forests of Uganda and the Virunga region (comprising of Mgahinga National Park of Uganda, Virunga National Park in DRC and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda) while there are about 4000 to 5000 golden monkeys surviving within the Virunga Massif only (in Mgahinga National Park, Virunga National park and Volcanoes National Park). Much as they are all important activities within the Virunga Massif, they don’t offer the same excitement. Imagine the excitement of meeting enormous creatures that are 98.2% related to humans. This feeling cannot be described in words unless you take a gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda – because it will sound like a fairy tale, so it is better to experience it yourself.
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered species that occupy the mountainous and forested areas between 2200 and 4500 meters above sea level while the golden monkeys are endangered species that inhabit the highland areas especially within the Bamboo zones of Mgahinga National Park and Volcanoes National Park. Much as these two primates are very fascinating and tracking them is a once in a lifetime experience for every tourist, meeting face to face with the mountain gorillas is not an ordinary encounter but for the lucky ones only. Gorilla trekking offers an experience outside the ordinary and golden monkey tracking experience can never match up this great experience. What make the mountain gorillas even different and exceptional creatures from other gorilla species are the darker hairs on their skins. This allows them to thrive easily in these areas which is not possible for other gorilla species.
Because Golden monkeys are mainly found within or near the Bamboo zones, the process of golden monkey tracking is considered less strenuous/challenging than gorilla trekking because Mountain gorillas are mainly found in the mountainous forests of higher altitude/elevations. Also it takes lesser time to find a habituated golden monkey group than it is for the habituated gorilla group.
There are currently over 22 habituated gorilla groups in both Uganda and Rwanda (with 12 gorilla groups in Uganda and 10 gorilla groups in Rwanda). This means that a total of 96 gorilla permits in Uganda and 80 gorilla permits in Rwanda are available for tracking by tourists. There are currently a total of 4 habituated golden monkey groups in Uganda and Rwanda (2 groups within the former and 2 groups within the latter). With their larger size, it would be expected that more golden monkey groups would exist within these National Parks. Do you know why? It is because Golden monkeys live in larger groups of between 80 and 100 individuals which can never happen with the mountain gorillas where the maximum number of members in a group is 30 Mountain gorillas.
When the costs of permits are compared, gorilla tracking permits are relatively higher than the price of golden monkey tracking permits. For Rwanda, gorilla permits cost $1500 for all tourists at all seasons and the permits cost $700 for foreign non-residents, $500 for foreign residents and Shs 250,000 for East African Community residents visiting Uganda. Golden Monkey tracking permits cost $100 in Rwanda and $50 for foreign non-residents and foreign residents, and Shs 20,000 for east African Community Residents for golden monkey tracking permits in Uganda. The prices of gorilla tracking permits are worth the action-packed experience you will gain from tracking these Giant Apes.
Therefore, much as golden monkey tracking and Mountain gorilla trekking are prime activities conducted within the Virunga Massif, these experiences can never be equivalent because one is more exciting than the other. To experience both of them, visit Mgahinga National Park of Uganda and Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda for unforgettable memories.