Written August 24, 2013
At 5:30AM the alarm wakes me in mid dream, a rude awakening when your body clock still hasn’t quite adjusted to the local time. Nonetheless we are visiting the golden monkeys today and are eager to get out on the trail.
After a quick buffet breakfast at the lodge we met Alex who drove us the 15 minutes to the park entrance. The visitors wait for their assigned gorilla or monkey group around the rotunda where coffee and tea is served. After what seems like an hour we finally meet our guides and the rest of our group, about 20 of us in all.
Emanuel, with a wide smile, entertains us with his sparkling sense of humor as he informs us of the morning’s visit with the monkeys. We return to our vehicles and drive about 15 minutes to the start of the trail.
It takes about an hour across the potato fields with views of the volcanoes in the background to reach the boundary wall of the national park. Emanuel stops frequently to discuss the monkeys and local farming.
On one of these stops to talk about a young tree I reach out and touch the leaf to smell it. Emanuel turns to me. “You didn’t touch it, did you?” “Don’t touch anything else.” He pours water on my hand and someone give me a tissue to dry it. He then takes a big fistful of leaves from the same plant and shoves them into his mouth. The plant, eucalyptus, is magically no longer poisonous.
But back to the monkeys. At the boundary wall we meet the trackers who take us a short distance to where the golden monkeys have been spotted. At first they are at the tops of the bamboo forest with only the outline of their body visible against the light sky.
After about 20 minutes of chasing the monkeys as they jump from branch to branch, just out of view, we find a number of the colorful primates chowing down in a small clearing.
Our small group crowds into the small enclosed space thick with vegetation. We are now surrounded by monkeys – large males, smaller females and even a couple of juveniles all stuffing their chubby faces with leaves, not unlike Emanuel’s demonstration.
We have just one short hour with them before we retrace our steps and return to the vehicles.
More Golden Monkey Pics: