Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge: Chimpanzee trekking in Queen Elizabeth National Park’s Kyambura Gorge takes you to one of Uganda’s most popular wildlife parks. There is so much to do at Queen Elizabeth National Park that it is nearly difficult to explore everything the park has to offer in a single visit. The Kyambura canyon is an underground tropical forest deep within the park. The gorge is 100 meters deep and one-kilometer-long, and it is an extension of the Kyambura Game Reserve, which is now part of the larger Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Primates, birds, hippopotamuses, and elephants live in the Kyambura gorge. The neighboring grassland receives a lot of sunlight, yet the gorge exists because of the huge trees that hide it from direct sunlight. The gorge also contains a constant river in the center, which draws both local and park wildlife, especially during the lengthy dry season.
During the rainy season, the river obtains its water from adjacent rocks.
How was Kyambura Gorge formed?
It is thought that many years ago, when people were just beginning to settle in the region, huge rains and floods swept over the area, destroying settlements and carrying people and their property with them. After the floodwaters receded, the remaining residents went in search of their loved ones. They returned empty-handed after days of seeking, saying “Kyambura,” which means “it got lost” or “I failed to find it.” Aside from this local legend, Kyambura Gorge is also known as the Valley of the Apes due to the large number of monkeys and chimps that are imprisoned in the lush green forest.
However, there are several theories as to how gorges arise across the world. What is true in practically every case is that there is never a single correct solution to explain gorge creation. Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park is thought to have arisen as a consequence of persistent soil erosion caused by the strong waters of the Kyambura River. As the erosion accelerated, it left behind a valley that evolved into a massive subterranean forest.
Another school of thought connects the development of the gorge to the formation of the East African Rift Valley. According to this school of view, stress on the planet’s crust caused certain areas of the earth to be elevated on each side, resulting in a massive valley in the middle. There are also many who believe that once the rift valley formed, subsequent faulting resulted in the construction of lesser valleys such as the Kyambura Gorge.
About Chimpanzee Trekking in Kyambura Gorge- Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Although the Kyambura Gorge, its subterranean forest, and river are all fascinating, most visitors come to monitor the 80 chimps who call the gorge home. Chimpanzees are our closest cousins (more so than gorillas). In many respects, chimps resemble and behave like humans. They can walk on two legs for great distances if they wish to. Chimpanzees, like humans, live in groups or communities of 30 to 80 individuals, comparable to a typical African village environment.
Chimpanzees build nests on the tops of trees but must climb down every morning to eat the fruits, leaves, and bushes. Chimpanzees, like gorillas, consume meat. They have been seen hunting tiny antelopes and smaller primates for meals on several occasions.
Chimpanzees used to depart the Kyambura Gorge and wander freely to the Katsyoha-Kitoma, Maramagambo, and Kalinzu forests before the forest corridor was lost. Chimp hiking in Kyambura Gorge would frequently migrate in search of food, shelter, and new friends. The chimps are currently imprisoned in the canyon due to human activities, deforestation, and the fear of predators.
Although this makes them easier to detect, experts are concerned that inbreeding may result in mutations or reduced birth rates. The Uganda Wildlife Authority and Volcanoes Safaris are working to restore this habitat by planting over 6000 trees. This will allow the chimpanzees to wander freely and interact with chimpanzees from different clans.
The chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge is separated into two sessions: morning and afternoon. A normal trekking day includes 8 people each session. Only 16 persons are allowed each day. Due to the limited amount of hiking permits, travelers must get them early enough from Mweya, where the park headquarters are located. Each chimpanzee trekking adventure begins with a briefing for all trekkers during which rangers explain the nature of the terrain as well as facts on the chimps and what to anticipate.
Following the briefing, tourists are escorted down the forest to track the chimpanzees. The odds of detecting the chimps are around 88 percent. Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge is unique in that it exposes tourists to the subterranean forest’s tremendous variety.
How to Get to Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park?
From Kampala to Kyambura, you will travel around 420 kilometers through Mbarara town vs 410 kilometers via Fort Portal town. To bypass the long road trip, guests can arrange a chartered flight from Entebbe directly to Mweya airfield, cutting the 6-hour journey in half.
Your tour operator should arrange for you to be picked up from Mweya airport and taken to the Mweya Visitors Centre for registration. After registering in Mweya, your tour organization or hotel should provide transportation to the trek’s starting location. It takes around 30 minutes to go to the gorge through Murrum Road. Before seeing the gorge, expect to see amazing vistas of the grasslands and wildlife.