Primates to Look-Out for While Gorilla Trekking in Africa

Gangs of chimpanzee eagerly swing from the branches that form a canopy over the lush Kibale National Park, while mountain gorillas knuckle-walk their way through the velvet greens of the jungles in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Both Uganda and Rwanda are sought-after gorilla trekking destinations and – along with Congo – are the only countries where mountain gorillas live freely in the wild. Rwanda and Uganda are premier destinations for gorilla trekking in Africa, but it’s certainly not the only reason why these recently-on-the-map destinations deserve mention ! If you’re drawn to the tropical rainforests of Uganda and Rwanda for its plethora of primates, we urge you to look further than just chimpanzee and gorillas. There are other unique species, even bush babies and that fall into the primate family alongside the monkeys listed below.  

The most commonly spotted monkeys are the elegant long-haired black and white colobus monkeys (they look a bit like a rock star). A striking primate found in abundance throughout the forested regions and riparian woodlands of both Uganda and Rwanda. Unlike other primates, these monkeys actually lack thumbs which is where their namesake is derived. “Colobus” is loosely translated to mean “mutilated” in Greek. This particular species of old-world colobus is easily identifiable by its monochromatic colourations and white-tuft tail.

Black and White Colobus MonkeyBlack White Colobus in Uganda

While we’re on the topic of colobus monkeys, there’s also the Ugandan red colobus species. A primate with a rust colour cap and black face, the red colobus is known for its jumping and launching capabilities. Their long tails act as a rudder for balance which allows them to move at speeds through the gnarled jungle terrain.

Like most monkeys, the colobus forms a vital part of the jungle’s eco-system.  They actually digest plenty of coarse toxic vegetation and naturally disperse seeds across the jungle floor. Most species of colobus monkey provides an easy source of prey for predators, raptors and even chimpanzee.

When you’re traipsing through the rainforests, be sure to spot the territorial colobus monkeys – they make for excellent photographic subjects.

Ugandan Red Colobus - Credit : Charles J Sharp

The endangered golden monkey is a rare species of primate and is also only found in 3 countries (Rwanda, Congo and Uganda). This monkey should definitely on a wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list of primates to spot in Africa. A golden monkey has a face that appears to be covered in tightly woven wool-like fluff, and a body laden with grizzly golden fur that gleams in the light. Their contrasting black limbs and crowns on their heads, give the golden monkey a staggeringly beautiful appearance.

Golden monkeys are hard to photograph because they’re so rarely seen and only naturally occur in the region of the Virunga volcanic mountains in Central Africa.

Another monkey worth spotting is the distinctive De Brazza’s Monkey, an old world monkey found in swamp, bamboo and forested regions of Uganda. It’s an odd looking primate covered in a rainbow of reddish browns, black and white colours; and has what looks like a large beard. They store food in their cheeks, which gives them a rather chipmunk like appearance. An exotic monkey worth photographing should the moment arise.

There are more monkeys found in Uganda than other East African country. From gorillas to chimps and all the primates in between, Uganda certainly provides ample reason to go gorilla trekking in Africa.

De Brazza Monkey