CHIMPANZEE TRACKING IN KYAMBURA GORGE – QUEEN ELIZABETH NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Chimpanzee tracking/trekking activity in Queen Elizabeth national park can be done at Kyambura gorge. The gorge that is well known as the valley of apes, has an underground tropical forest located in the far eastern corner of Queen Elizabeth national park in south western Uganda.
This gorge is approximately 2 km from the main turmac road and about 30 km from Visitor information center in Mweya. From Kampala city, this beautiful gorge is about 420km by road. It covers a distance of 1km and 100meters deep and links to Kazinga channel by river kyambura forming the northern boundary of this reserve.
The Kyambura gorge got its name from a history that the river once flooded and carried away local people’s property and when the waters reduced, people followed the river in search of them but in vain, so they came back lamenting that kyambura meaning “i couldn’t find my thing” in the native language thus naming the place kyambura.
This beautiful gorge was formed by the disorderly waters of river Kyambura, having a rain forest and a river flowing through it that acts as a home of some animals in the park such as hippos.
Kyambura gorge is the only place in Queen Elizabeth national park where habituated chimps are found. Its also a home of different primates like the red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons and vervet monkeys. Different bird species can also be seen like the African pigmy kingfisher, Blue headed kingfisher, falcons, black and white conquered hornbill many many more.
According to researchers there are about 17 chimpanzees remaining in this gorge. The chimpanzees in this area have been habituated for almost two years so they are used to human presence and can do their daily activities with out being scared.
For any one interest to go chimp tracking, Chimpanzee tracking permits can be got from your tour agency that deals with Uganda wildlife authority or can be purchased directly at the park headquarters or at (VIC) Visitor Information Center in Mweya opposite the lodge at a cheaper price than all the other chimpanzee tracking places like Kibale forest and budongo.
The Chimpanzee trekking here at kyambura is not so tiresome though it involves hiking up and down the hills looking for them but due to their loud shouts and hooting that can be heard at a distance, guides can be able to allocate them and if no voices heard, guides take you while following the foot prints and poop left on the floor.
Once the Chimpanzee are found they can be seen very well playing and interacting with each other some times mating. Chimpanzees here often climb down the trees when they see visitors giving you a chance to get nice photos and close view.
Trekking chimps in Kyambura gorge has two sessions, the morning and afternoon sessions. Only 8 permits are available per session making it 16 permits per day. If you plan to do this trekking activity, you will be assigned a guide to lead you to the gorge after the briefing. The whole activity takes about 2-3 hours.
The chances of sighting the chimps in kyambura gorge is not as high as those in Kibale national park, because they sometimes move too far into the gorge in search of food, making the tracking so difficult. people only above the age of 12 are allowed to do chimpanzee tracking.
Besides chimpanzees, a Safari in Queen Elizabeth national park will let you explore the plain savanna of Kasenyi on the morning and evening game drive to search for other different wildlife which includes, Elephants, Lions, the famous Uganda Kob, Waterbuck, buffaloes, hyena, and many different bird species.
Kyambura gorge has other activities apart from chimpanzee trekking like nature walks and birding. The gorge can be explored on foot giving you a chance to interact with wildlife and the nature therefore do not miss this great home of wildlife in the heart of queen Elizabeth park.
Chimpanzee tracking rules in Uganda
For own safety and protection of the chimpanzee, you are required to follow these few chimpanzee trekking rules along the forest trails.
- Chimpanzee share 98% of their DNA genes with human beings and therefore can catch your disease. You must not enter the forest to track them when you are sick.
- The minimum age for people interest to go chimp tracking is 12 years
- Do not litter in the forest. In other wards what you take there should be brought back with you at the end.
- If you need to urinate or defecate, do so off the trail, bury your waste in the hole of 30 cm deep along with any toilet paper.
- Keep as quite as possible if you want to see more and enjoy all what the forest can offer to you.
- Stay at least 8 meters (25feet) from the chimpanzee at all times
- Do not mimic the chimpanzee vocalization, you may not do it the way their fellows does and it will not give you good experience.
- Make sure you do not eat near the chimpanzees
- Never chase the chimpanzee, you may get bad results as they remain wild though habituated.
- Do not use flush photography as this may scare away the chimpanzee.
- Listen to all what your guide has to say, you will enjoy a lot in the forest jungle.