Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge Uganda

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge Uganda

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge Uganda : Kyambura Gorge is an incredible site for chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda found in Queen Elizabeth National Park in western region of the country.

Kyambura Gorge is an underground tropical forest of about 100 meters deep and about 1 kilometers long, and is an extension of the Kyambura Game Reserve which is part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park a popular Uganda Wildlife Safari Destination.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge Uganda

Kyambura Gorge is surrounded by vast summer grasslands on all sides with crop plantations and villages nearby, the gorge is crossed by River Kyambura from which it gets its name and is the key source of water to the flora and fauna of the area. River Kyambura gets most of its water from the rocks surrounding the gorge.

The gorge is characterized by dense tropical rainforest which is home to a huge population of birds, primates including chimpanzees and mammals like elephants and hippopotamus.

Often referred to as the “Valley of Apes”, Kyambura Gorge is home to a small community of chimpanzees and other primates living in the forest, the chimpanzee population in the gorge is habituated and open for visits from tourists “Kyambura Gorge is the only place in Queen Elizabeth National Park to see chimpanzees”.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge

  Chimpanzee tracking is one of the best Uganda safari activities to do in Kyambura Gorge, chimpanzees are the closest relatives to man and this activity offers visitors a chance to be in contact with your relatives.

 Chimpanzees are also highly intelligent compared to most primates, they walk on two legs like us, though they normally prefer using all four limbs for short distance. They are social animals living in communities of between 30 to 80 members, they groups are divided into smaller groups that feed separately before getting back to the group before the night. They build nests on top of trees for rest in the afternoon and at night.

Building the nests they sleep in takes them a very short time and they do this by bending several tree branches together to form a comfortable chimp couch, chimpanzees are most active after getting out of their temporary nests in the morning, they start by picking up fruit randomly in the morning becoming very selective as they get fuller in the afternoon. Because of their high level of intelligence, chimpanzees use tools like stems, stones and tree branches to fight their enemies including humans. They also use the stems to remove/lure termites out of their holes, although chimps feed on mainly fruits they will kill small antelopes and other primates for food. The hunt is organized in a group in which the unfortunate victim is chased, cornered and eaten.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge Uganda

For years, chimpanzees in the Kyambura normally cross over to feed and mate other chimpanzee communities in forests like Katsyoha – Kitoma, Maramagambo and Kalinzu through a natural and smaller forest corridor. This forest corridor was completely destroyed by humans through deforestation and setting up new settlements. The chimpanzees become trapped in the gorge, the only path to the other forests is through the savannah which is full of predators such as lions, leopards and hyenas. The chimpanzees now have no alternative but to remain in the gorge and forge for life for themselves.

Scientists fear that inbreeding could lead to mutations and slow birth rates.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority has embarked on planting over 6000 trees along the former forest corridor to link the chimpanzees to Katsyoha – Kitoma forest, this new forest corridor will allow the chimpanzees in the gorge to cross and meet other chimpanzee clans hence widening the gene pool.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge is done in two sessions that is morning and afternoon sessions, the first session – the morning session starts early in the morning with a briefing at the visitors Center close to the Gorge. You will have briefing at this point and your permits will be verified by officials from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

To take part in chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge, you need to have a chimpanzee permit purchased from Uganda Wildlife Authority from the park’s offices in Mweya, the Uganda Wildlife Authority issues only 8 permits for each session hence a total of 16 permits per day.

From the Mweya Visitor Center, you need to drive to the briefing point at the gorge, after the briefing visitors are assigned a walking stick and guides to lead them down the gorge. You will go down the 200 meter slope up to the river down the valley, chimpanzees are very vocal and their location can be identified by following their hoots and distant cries. In case they are quiet, their foot prints in mud and poop can also be used in locating them. Once they locate them, you will be able to watch them play, breastfeed, mate, rest and even fight.

kyambura chimp trekking

The chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge have a remarkable habit of getting down the trees each time they see visitors, this allows for great photos from a close distance. Apart from the chimpanzees, hiking down the gorge exposes visitors to sights and encounter of the amazing biodiversity.

Visitors will have an opportunity to spot rare vegetation and tall tropical trees, the gorge is home to mammals like hippos, elephants (ocassionaly) and other small primates like black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons among others.

The whole activity takes between 2 to 3 hours.

Note: The age limit for chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge is 12 years.

Cost of a Chimpanzee Trekking Permit in Kyambura Gorge

Category East African Community Citizen (EAC) Foreign Resident (FR) Foreign Non Resident (FNR)
Price Ugx 50,000 $ 80 $ 100

What you should know about Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura gorge

  • All chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge open for visitors are habituated.
  • It is important to book your chimpanzee permit in advance to avoid getting disappointed at the last minute
  • Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge is very demanding because it involves hiking up and down a valley, you need to follow the primates for long periods once you down the gorge. So visitors need to be a bit physically fit with much strain on the body, however the activity is highly rewarding for those who love nature.
  • Visitors 12 years and above are allowed to participate in chimpanzee trekking
  • Chances of seeing chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge are not as high as of Kibale Forest National Park, this is beaches the chimpanzees sometimes head too far into the gorge which make it impossible to reach them on time. However, most guests do see the chimpanzees and only rarely do they miss out.

How to Get to Kyambura Gorge

From Kampala – the capital of Uganda and where most safaris start from, it is about 420 kilometers using Kampala – Fort Portal Route and generally takes about 6 hours of drive.

There are also domestic and chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport to the airstrip in Mweya “Mweya Airstrip”.

Kyambura Gorge is located 30 kilometers away from the Mweya Visitors Center, the gorge has its own small Visitor Center at Fig Tree Camp just at the edge of the Gorge.

kyambura chimpanzees

Where to Stay in Kyambura Gorge

There are several accommodation facilities close to Kyambura Gorge ranging from simple to  high end facilities, also visitors can reside at lodges close to Queen Elizabeth National Park offices and go early in the morning for activities in the Gorge.

These accommodations are as follows

  • Budget lodges include Mweya hostel and Simba safari lodge
  • Mid-range lodges are bush lodge, Ihamba safari lodge and hippo hills lodge.
  • Luxury lodges include Jacana Safari Lodge, Katara lodge, Kingfisher camp and Mweya safari lodge
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