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Kyambura Gorge is a crack of 11 km long in the Earth’s crust inside Queen Elizabeth National Park, the most biodiverse protected area in Uganda.

Situated south of the Kazinga Channel, this beautiful gorge was named after Kyambura River which runs through its thick “underground rainforest”, 100 meters underneath the Kichwamba Escarpment of the Albertine Rift Valley.

The name Kyambura locally translates as ‘it lost’. It was obtained as a result of the river shifting some local members with their belongings and on return; they couldn’t find their colleagues anywhere.

Living within its impressive underground forest is a variety of monkeys, butterflies, and birds. But, Kyambura Gorge is best known for a small, isolated community of 30 wild chimpanzees that have become known as the “Lost Chimpanzees”.

Most tourists on wildlife safaris in Queen Elizabeth NP bypass the Gorge, and only the adventurous descend one-hundred meters down into this mystical rainforest jungle called “the Valley of the Apes” by BBC. Explore it and you may glimpse chimp’s knuckle prints, or hear their screeches reverberating through the trees.

Highlights of Kyambura Gorge

  1. Wild Chimpanzees: Kyambura Gorge is the only place you will find chimpanzees within Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is also one of the few sites in Uganda where you can interact with them in their natural habitat.
  2. Impressive Scenery: Kyambura Gorge is well known stunning scenery. This sunken underground rainforest is encircled by cascading cliffs and classic savannah; you won’t find a landscape like this anywhere else.
  3. Monkeys: Kyambura Gorge features a vast bio-diversity and should you miss the Chimps, your guide will still point out the Black and White Colobus, Red Tailed Monkeys, Olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, and the Grey Cheeked Mangabeys.
  4. Birds: Kyambura is also home to many of Queen Elizabeth National Park’s 612 recorded bird species. It is a paradise for rare bird species including colourful bee-eaters and the aquatic African Finfoot.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge

Location of Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge is found on north-eastern side of the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park, approximately 30 kilometers from the park office at Mweya Peninsular. The gorge spans a distance of 11 km and links to the Kazinga Channel.

It lies within the 156km2 Kyambura Game Reserve and was created as a buffer zone, protecting the park from encroaching human activities.

Kyambura and Queen Elizabeth National Park, together with Maramagambo Forest and Kigezi Game Reserve, all adjoin, and are referred to as the Queen Elizabeth Protected Area (QEPA), this borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and together these areas completely encircle Lake Edward.

Other nearby protected areas are Kibale Forest National Park to the northeast and Rwenzori Mountains National Park to the northwest.

How was the Kyambura Gorge formed?

Kyambura Gorge was formed by the same geological forces that created the East African Rift Valley, an active continental rift zone in East Africa.

The East African Rift Valley began developing approximately 22 million years ago. It was formerly considered to be part of a larger Great Rift Valley that extended north to Asia Minor. The valley was formed when compression forces caused tension on the earth’s crust that lifted some parts of the earth and created a vast valley in-between.

Later on, there was secondary faulting on the very floor of the East African Rift Valley. It is this secondary faulting that created others valleys among which include the Kyambura Gorge.

Things to Do in Kyambura Gorge

chimpanzees in Kyambura Gorge

1. Chimpanzee Tracking in Kyambura Gorge

Over the past 2 years the Chimpanzees of Kyambura Gorge have been habituated to tolerate the presence of human visitors.

But sightings are not guaranteed and as such permits here are offered at considerably reduced rates compared to the more well-known Kibale Forest National Park. This is however a chance to track the Chimpanzees in a remote and lesser known location of Africa.

Chimpanzee treks in Kyambura are offer in the morning and afternoon with approximately 4-6 people in a group each led by a Ugandan Wildlife Authority specialist guide.

From the grassy savanna plains of Queen Elizabeth National Park you drop 100 meters down into a lush subterranean Eden, a sanctuary for all kinds of wildlife.

The hike takes 2 to 3 hours depending on how far the chimps are in the gorge and it requires the occasional bush whacking as not many people visit this hidden gem.

Please note that chimpanzee trekking in Kyambura Gorge is available to guests aged 12 years and older. The trekking permit costs:

  • US$100 for foreign non-residents
  • US$80 for foreign residents
  • UGX 50,000 for East African citizens

While finding them is not always guaranteed, the experience of tracking them down is a reward in itself and contributes immensely towards conservation of these endangered primates.

My Five Top Facts about Chimpanzees

Kyambura Gorge
  • Chimps are our closest living relatives. We share 98.7% of our DNA with them.
  • Chimpanzees know how to use tools. They have been observed using sticks and stones to crack open nuts, leaves as sponges to soak up water, and even spears to hunt small prey.
  • While chimpanzees don’t have spoken language, they use a sophisticated communication system including hoots and barks to express various emotions and warnings. Like us, they also use facial expressions and body language to communicate.
  • Chimpanzees show self-awareness, a trait previously thought to be unique to only a few other animals (and humans of course).
  • Chimpanzees are not just intelligent, but are also emotional creatures. They experience a wide range of emotions, including joy, sadness, fear, anger, and even empathy.

2. Nature walks and Birdwatching In Kyambura

The nature walk in Kyambura Gorge is also one of the best scenic day hikes in Uganda. As you approach the start of the Kyambura Gorge walk, nothing reveals the lush Lost World- a gorgeous gorge that is home to interesting vegetation, birds and butterflies.

You may also catch a glimpse of the 12 other primate species living in Kyambura, including the black and white colobus monkeys, red tail monkeys, Olive baboons, and Vervet monkeys.

Kyambura is a haven for bird watchers, so make sure you keep your binoculars trained to the sky, and you may see colourful bee-eaters and the aquatic African Finfoot.

Other Activities And Attractions near Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Gorge is located in Queen Elizabeth National Park and there is a whole list of activities to choose from!

  • Game drives offer great opportunities to see lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, topi, warthog, and giant forest hog.
  • Afternoon boat trip on the Kazinga Channel at Mweya offers amazing sights of elephants, hippos, buffaloes, crocodiles, and many of the park’s 600 bird species
  • A lot of visits to local attractions are also possible – to the Katwe Salt Lake Community, the Omwani coffee tour and café, and the Omumashaka wetland.
  • Search for the Tree Climbing Lions in the southern Ishasha sector
  • Track Mongooses on Mweya with the Uganda Wildlife Authority
  • Track radio-collared lions
  • Chimp tracking can also be arranged in Kalinzu Forest and Kibale Forest.
  • Go gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Where to stay Near Kyambura Gorge

1. Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

Kyambura Gorge Lodge is a luxurious property and one of the top lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Situated on the edge of Kyambura Gorge, the lodge is set within a former coffee plantation and estate at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains. In fact, Kyambura Lodge is the result of a sensitively restored coffee-processing and drying shed.

The lodge launched the Kyambura Gorge Eco-tourism Project in 2009 to safeguard the surrounding ecosystem and has a vital role in the survival of Kyambura Gorge’s chimpanzee population. It also works with local communities to promote sustainable ecotourism and conservation in one of Africa’s most important areas for primate and avian biodiversity.

Accommodation here suits most types of traveller, and the lodge’s family banda may also be used by honeymooners hoping for a little extra privacy.

2. Park View Lodge

Park View Lodge Near Kyambura Gorge

Park View Lodge is another luxury option near Kyambura Gorge and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Here, you can choose between en-suite cottages: double, twin, or single.

The lodge is ideal for escaping the hot savannahs for a brief recess to enjoy their sauna, swimming pool, fantastic choice of food and beautiful rooms.

Best Time Visit Kyambura Gorge

There is two good times of the year to head out on a Uganda safari to Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The first is during the months of December, January and February, and the second is between the months of June and August.

These are the driest times of year in the country, with little precipitation, which makes them ideal for game viewing and chimpanzee trekking, as well as other safari experiences.

You may also like; best time to visit Uganda

How to Get To Kyambura Gorge

Kyambura Game located in the northeastern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park, about 30 km from park offices and can be accessed by road and air. From Kampala to Queen, there are two main routes to choose. The drive takes 6-7 (420 kilometers) hours via Masaka, Mbarara road and a slightly shorter 6 hours (410 km) via, Fort Portal.

If you chose to fly, there are daily flights from Entebbe International Airport in Entebbe city to the Mweya Airstrip in Queen Elizabeth NP. The flight takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. If your next destination is the nearby gorilla trekking destination of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, direct flights from the Mweya Airstrip can be organized.

Want To Visit Kyambura Gorge?

Kyambura Gorge Lodge

If you are interested in an unforgettable, well-priced safari in Uganda with guides you can trust, then contact us and we will send you our top recommendations – simple! You can also click the bottom below to see more of our suggested Uganda safaris packages.