We spent the balance of the night at Musanze (formerly Ruhengeri) and dragged ourselves out of bed to get to the Volcanoes National Park head quarters by 7 am. So that we could hurry up and wait.
The capital of Rwanda is Kigali. Volcanoes N P is about 2 hours drive to the north-east. The first impression we had of Rwanda was the road quality, way better than Uganda. This impression would be reinforced on our travels by encountering a lot more road construction in progress.
The park has an area of about 160 square kilometres in mountainous country on the border with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The scenery is spectacular but the major drawcard is the Mountain Gorilla not the volcanoes.
The waiting was made a little easier by free tea and coffee and the appearance of a troop of drummers and dancers who put on a spirited performance against the rather incongruous back drop of eucalyptus trees.
We were then marshalled into groups and briefed on the habits of Golden Monkeys before setting off to find them.
Then a short drive. A queue of uniformed would-be porters awaited us. We could hire one to carry our day pack if we wanted. Walking sticks and attention were lavished upon us.
It was steep going but not a long hike, the monkeys are found only in the bamboo zone which circles the mountain at an altitude not much above our starting point.
Our guide was not only knowledgeable he was also very likeable. He had studied Golden Monkeys for his honours research. Once we found them we could enjoy their company for one hour.
They live in male dominated hierarchical groups and mainly eat young leaves. There is precious little in the way of fruit available to them in their habitat. Perhaps to broaden their otherwise narrow diet this group were very interested in tadpoles in a small pond.
They intently followed the tadpoles’ every movement and would occasionally lunge at them. From time to time they would eat what they’d grabbed but it wasn’t possible for me to determine if this was tadpole or leaf.
Let me leave you with a quote, to which I hope to return …
When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.