Chimpanzee Tracking In Kyambura Gorge

Chimpanzee trekking in kyambura gorge is done in two shifts one in the morning at 8am and the other in the evening at 2pm.

Chimpanzee Tracking In Kyambura Gorge

Are you looking for chimpanzee tracking in kyambura gorge? Well, this is a magnificent valley of apes located in Queen Elizabeth national park in the eastern part of the park in Uganda. Kyambura gorge is 100 meters deep and 1 km long. The gorge is an extension of kyambura game reserve part of Queen Elizabeth national park. Kyambura gorge is made up of tropical rain forest that are a home to a number of birds, primates and mammals such as hippos and elephants.

 The gorge is surrounded by savannah grassland which receives a lot of sunshine while the gorge remains relatively cool because of tall trees that prevent direct sunshine. River kyambura is a source of water to plants and animals and it flows in the middle of the forest throughout the year. The George connects Kazinga channel through a vast wetland to Queen Elizabeth national park. It’s believed that the word kyambura came up after people went out to look for their loved ones and property that were taken by the massive floods in the area and never found them. Everyone came back shouting kyambura which means got lost or I couldn’t find them hence the name kyambura.

How was kyambura gorge formed?

Many scientists have come up with theories about how the gorge was formed. Some scientists believe that the gorge was formed as a result of continuous erosion by forces coming from river kyambura. According to these scientists, the river below the gorge was at a time massive and flowing at a great speed and force which created a valley after a reduction of water volume. Another theory attributes the formation of kyambura gorge to the time the east African rift valley was formed. The east African rift valley was formed as a result of compression forces causing tension on the earth’s crust to lift some parts of the earth creating a vast valley in between, later there was a secondary faulting on the floor of the east African rift valley which led to formation of valleys including kyambura gorge. The gorge is sometimes called the valley of apes because of a small number of chimpanzees and other small primates trapped in the forest. All chimpanzees in kyambura gorge are habituated and it’s the only place you can track primates in Queen Elizabeth national park.

Chimpanzee tracking in kyambura gorge is the most done activity in the gorge. Chimpanzees are man’s closest relatives with 98.6% and they are highly intelligent compared to other primates. Chimpanzees can walk with 2 legs just like human beings but for a short distance reason being they prefer using all the 4 limbs. Chimpanzees live in groups of 15 to 80 members. The large groups divide into 2 while going for food and they join again in the evening after hunting before night. Chimpanzees build their nests by bending several tree branches together on top of the trees for resting during day while tired and at night. Chimpanzees use sticks to fight enemies including the humans, to gather fruits, to beat insects and to dig hole of the termites. Chimpanzee main food are fruits but they kill small antelopes and primates for food, they eat insects as well as termites.

For many years, chimpanzees at kyambura gorge would move to feed and mate with other chimpanzee groups in the forests such as katsyoha-kitoma, kalinzu and maramagambo through the natural and smaller corridor.  This corridor was destroyed by human beings after deforestation and setting up of settlements. These chimpanzees got trapped in the gorge and the only pass now is through the savannah which is home of predators such as lions, hyenas and leopards. These chimpanzees had no any other alternative but to remain in kyambura gorge and create life for themselves. Volcanoes safaris together with Uganda wildlife safari have planted over 6000 trees along the former forest corridor which will allow the chimpanzees to move and meet other clans.

Chimpanzee trekking in kyambura gorge is done in two shifts one in the morning at 8am and the other in the evening at 2pm. All sessions start with the briefing by guides at the briefing center close to the gorge. From the briefing visitors go to the gorge with walking sticks accompanied by guides and armed rangers. The first task is going down using a 200 meter rope up to river kyambura down the valley. To take park in chimpanzee trekking, you must have a trekking permit obtained from Uganda wildlife authority or from the park offices at Mweya. Only 8 permits are issued out per session making 16 the total number of permits issued out per day. Chimpanzees are vocal and you can use their hoots and distant cries to track down their location. Once you find the chimpanzees, you will be given an hour with tem as you watch them play, mate, breastfeed, rest and also fight. The chimpanzees in kyambura gorge have a habit of getting down the trees every time they see visitors and this allows them to take photos at a distance and tracking them might take 2 to 3 hours. Apart from chimpanzees, hiking down the gorges gives tourists a unique and an amazing experience as they see rare vegetation and tall tropical trees. This gore is not only a home to chimpanzees but also mammals such as hippos, elephants, birds and other small primates

What you should know about chimpanzee tracking in kyambura gorge.

All chimpanzees in kyambura gorge are habituated meaning that they are used to human presence around them. Chimpanzee trekking in kyambura gorge costs USD 50 for foreigners and non-foreign residents whereas Ugandans and east African nationals pa 30,000 shillings. Even though you can get your permits on that day its better you book in advance to avoid disappointments.

Chimpanzee tracking in kyambura gorge is very demanding because it involving moving down the valley using a 200 meter rope and hiking up again the valley. You will also need trace the chimpanzees for a long time once you have reached down the gorge. For one to complete this activity without body strain, they must be fit. However for those that love nature, this activity is highly rewarding. Touring an underground forest with beautiful flora and fauna is not a common treat. One must be 15 years and above to qualify for chimpanzee tracking.

Chances of seeing chimpanzees in kyambura gorge are not as high as seeing them in kibale forest national park. This is because the chimpanzees in kyambura go too far to look for food which makes it impossible for you to reach them in time. However many of the visitors see chimpanzees and a few miss to see them.

How to access kyambura gorge for chimpanzee tracking

Kyambura gorge can be accessed from Kampala through Mbarara town which is about 420 km. those using Kampala fort portal route will take 410 km taking you about 6 hours. Tourists who hate long distance roads can use charted flights from kajjansi airfield or Entebbe international airport up to Mweya airstrip. From the air strip a car can take you up to the visitors’ center in mweya where you will be transferred to kyambura gorge 30 kms away.

Other Top Tourist Activities at kyambura gorge

Primates and other wildlife viewing: apart from chimpanzees, the gorge is a home to olive baboons, vervet monkeys, colobus monkeys and red-tailed monkeys. You can stat spotting the primates and birds feeding down the gorge or on savannah vegetation. This view from the surrounding savannah is a beautiful experience, those who donnt want to use the rope can walk around the edges of the gorge to explore the beautiful scenery. When you reach down the gorge expect to see elephants, lions, hippos, antelopes, buffaloes, leopards and hyenas.

Nature and forest walk:

Besides chimpanzee tracking in Kyambura; the gorge is a beautiful place to explore. Many people focus on savannah and wildlife while visiting the park. Guided nature walk and forest walk can be done separately on foot or alongside chimpanzee trekking to see some tree species and creatures such as forest hogs, colobus monkeys, hippos and red tailed monkeys. Nature walks in kyambura gorge will make you explore the savannah vegetation surrounding the gorge, the cool underground forest with canopy trees and beautiful creatures. Well trained guides will give you information about the valley, vegetation, animals and birds. Early morning nature walks begin at 8am while afternoon session begins at 1pm.

Bird watching:

Kyambura gorge is a home to a number of beautiful bird species which makes it a birders parasite. The gorge has trees with fruits which attracts birds. Many birds here are forest birds but there are also migratory birds in the forest that go to feed and retreat their nests in wetlands near Lake Albert and Lake George. The common birds here include black headed bee-eaters, Pinkbacked Pelican, African broad bill, Shoebill storks, Corncrake, marital eagle, papyrus canary, Chapin’s Flycatcher, falcons, papyrus gonolek, Black-rumped Buttonquail, African fin foot, white-tailed lark, white winged warbler, bar-tailed godwit and flamingos.

Accommodation close to kyambura gorge

Closes near kyambura gorge include jacana safari lodge, katara lodge, mweya safari lodge, kingfisher lodge and other luxury lodges such as kyambura gorge safari gorge.

Kyambura gorge safari lodge

Kyambura gorge lodge was opened in 2009 and is owned by volcanoes safaris. This lodge is the closet luxury lodge to kyambura gorge with 8 cottages built using local materials. The rooms have Wi-Fi, shower toilets, balcony among other luxury facilities. Kyambura gorge lodge has a lounge area, a camp fire place and a restaurant with both local and international dishes. The lodge is built on a raised surface where visitors can go and see the gorge, savannah and Rwenzori mountain ranges from a distance. The lodge has a large swimming pool, private garden with local vegetables and fruits severed on the guest’s meals. There are arranged evening entertainments from traditional dancers and local tribes

Apart from building kyambura safari lodge, volcanoes safari has eco-tourism projects that it works with Uganda wildlife authority to ensure that they bring back the lost forest corridor that chimpanzees can use to go the nearby forests such as kalinzu and maramagambo. The forest bridge will help to increase the number of chimpanzees because they will be allowed to mate with others in the neighborhood. Another thing done by the volcanoes safari eco-tourism projects is reclaiming wetlands that were encroached by the neighboring communities. They also started kyambura community café to teach the youth in hospitality management.

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