monkeys

12 Most Extraordinary Monkeys in Uganda

More than ten species of peculiar Old World Monkeys are found in Uganda. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the adorable saucer-eyed galago to the massive 14-kilos baboon—and everything in between.

What’s Old World Monkey, you asked, huh? Old World monkeys live on the Africa and Asia continents in tropical rain forests, savannas, shrublands, and mountainous terrain. They don’t have prehensile (gripping) tails like their relatives, New World Monkeys in America, but some are born with special cheek pouches that store massive amounts of food.

Whether it’s a mating call piercing the night air or the reflective saucer eyes shining in a spotlight as you walk through Kibale Forest in the night, there’s something special about these intelligent primates. Here are 12 of the most extraordinary monkeys in Uganda.

red colobus monkey uganda
The Ashy Red Colobus (Piliocolobus tephrosceles), I like its crown. Cool, huh!

1. Back-and-white and Red Colobus Monkeys

The Red colobus and black-and-white colobus monkeys are closely related although they have a few distinguishing features like their slightly tufted crown and coat colouring. Of course, you can easily tell from their names that they have distinctive colouring. To see these peculiar monkeys, walk around Bogodi Wetland Sanctuary near Kibale, in Kibale National Park as you go chimpanzee trekking and Semuliki National Park, western Uganda.

Potto (Perodicticus potto)
Potto Monkey (Perodicticus potto) looks back at the photographer

2. Potto

The potto is a sloth-like nocturnal primate that lives in Uganda’s forest interiors, spending nights foraging upside down from tree branches and days curled in tree hollows. This slow-moving monkey is also called a bush bear, tree bear, or softly-softlys, names that pretty much describe its characteristics. It’s also a nocturnal weird primate with a firm grip that helps it cling to branches tightly and a smooth gliding gait that makes it relatively inconspicuous. If you want to watch this extraordinary monkey, join the night nature walking excursions in Kibale Forest. Make sure you take a flashlight!

Bush Baby aka galago
Bush Baby with weird eyes hanging on a small tree branch

3. Bush baby

Bushbaby, also called galago, is a small nocturnal noticeable monkey with its huge saucer eyes, collapsible ears that rotate independently like radars, and an extremely long tail. Also known as nagapie or night monkey, this strange monkey has a piercing night cry that sounds like an annoying baby that won’t go to sleep. And, each bushbaby has a distinctive cry that differentiates it from others. If you want to watch this peculiar monkey, follow its baby cries through Kibale Forest or Semuliki on a guided night nature walk with a flashlight like Shaggy and Scooby.

grey-cheeked mangabey
A cool smiling Grey-cheeked mangabey (Lophocebus albigena)

4. Grey-cheeked Mangabey

It’s electrifying to watch this monkey smile with its inviting eyes and cool teeth! The grey-cheeked mangabey is like a small, hairy baboon. It can stash a whole basket of food into its cheek pouches to feed on later. Only in Kibale National Park and Semuliki National Park are where you can see the cool mangabeys.

L'Hoest's Monkey Uganda
L’Hoest’s monkey (Allochrocebus lhoesti) looking up the canopy

5. L’Hoest’s Monkey

The L’Hoest’s Monkey‘s pale moustache and prominent white bib make it look like an 18th-century clergy. Its dark brown coat with a chestnut colour across the back and a dark belly make it the smartest-looking monkey in Uganda’s forests. This handsome Wold Old Monkey is less known and more difficult to see than most of the other unusual monkeys in Uganda. You must go with an expert to track L’Hoest’s Monkey in Kibale, Bwindi Impenetrable, or Maramagambo Forests.

De Brazza's Monkey uganda
Stunned look of De Brazza’s Monkey.

6. De Brazza’s Monkey

I would be stunned if I encountered such a face. De Drazza’s monkey has this spectacular thickset, hairy face with a reddish-brown patch around its eyes, a white band across its brow and a distinctive white moustache and beard. Its orange crescent on its forehead makes it look like those weird-looking lawyers in court; I wonder why they insist on violating modern fashion. Well, wait till you see this male monkey’s reddish-brown back and a white rump accentuated by blue balls (scrotum) up in Mount Elgon or Semliki national parks.

red-tailed monkey uganda
Happiness for all from the red-tailed monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius)

7. Red-tailed Monkey

The red-tailed monkey is one of the most widely spread unique monkey species in Uganda. You can find this guenon species in most forests in Uganda, including Kibale Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable, Semuliki and Queen Elizabeth National Parks and even the botanical gardens in Entebbe. You will find them in Budongo, Mpanga and several other forest reserves across the country.

blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis) in Uganda
Perfect picture pause for an old-world blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis)

8. Blue Monkey

Interestingly the blue monkey is not no noticeably blue; it has little hair on its face that sometimes gives a blue appearance, but it never has the vivid blue appearance of like a mandrill. I would forgive you if you mistook it for the Golden Monkey; the two relatives look very similar. Unlike the widespread blue monkey, the golden monkey is stuck in the Virunga Mountains and it’s literally golden. You can find the blue monkey in every other forest in the country and in all national parks except Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo National Parks.

golden monkeys in Uganda
The cute little face of a golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti)

9. Golden Monkey

The golden monkeys, together with their housemates, the mountain gorillas, are responsible for the thousands of tourists visiting Uganda’s southwestern mountainous jungle. You see, they are not found anywhere else in the world and they are cute to watch. These awesome monkeys live in small clans of about 50 individuals in Mgahinga National Park and the Uganda Wildlife Authority has habituated a few groups for tourism to help reverse their endangered status to extinction.

vervet monkey uganda
I bet there is no Ugandan who hasn’t seen these cunning little vervet monkeys

10. Vervet Monkey

Of all the extraordinary monkeys in Uganda, none melts my heart more than the vervet monkeys that bound through the beige grass, spiral up tree trunks or pitter-patter on my safari tent roof, excited to sneak in and tear my bags apart. Vervets are little people really, and like so many animals, we can learn so much from simply stopping and watching them. They’re practically anywhere in Uganda and every time I meet them, I stop and watch the Vervet monkeys playing, living, interacting. Like people, Vervet monkeys are entirely unique, as is their whole civilization, with its shared mothering and family alliances. I think you would appreciate watching them as much as I have–it’s not unlike a good Telenovela drama.

Patas Monkey
The savannah-dwelling Patas Monkey

11. Patas Monkey

If you’ve ever been on a safari game drive in Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley, you mush hase seen these reddish-brown coated vervet-like monkeys sitting on an anthill or brash staring across the grassland. Patas, like baboon, have adapted to life on the ground with slender bodies and long limbs morphologically suited for land movement and speed rather than tree movement.

Olive baboon in Uganda
Have you ever seen a baboon (Papio anubis) this humble?

12. Baboons

Baboons are wacky dog-faced primates considered vermins in Uganda. We know them as thieves, bullies and belligerent freaks that don’t deserve our attention. That’s just bad PR for Uganda’s largest World Old Monkey if you ask me. But no one asked me, so I’ll see you next time!

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