5 Reasons to Visit Kyambura Gorge
- Chimpanzees: this is the only place you will find chimps in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and one of the few sites in Uganda where you can interact with them.
- Unique scenery: Kyambura is a sunken underground rainforest surrounded by cascading cliffs and arid savannah, you won't find a landscape like this anywhere else.
- Birds abound: Kyambura is a paradise for many rare species of bird.
- Biodiversity: there are 13 different habitats to explore each with their unique vegetation and habitats, supporting a huge range of wildlife.
- Get close to nature: you can experience Kyambura on foot with guided nature walks, and the chimp treks take you into the heart of the gorge.
Introduction to Kyambura Gorge
Situated in the northeastern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park,the gorge lies within Kyambura Game Reserve and was created as a buffer zone, protecting the park from encroaching human activities.
Kyambura has something for everyone. The adventurous can make their way through the unruly undergrowth to see the park's only chimpanzees, while the curious can find several fascinating birds and plants with a guided nature walk.
For those, looking to unwind and enjoy the view, you can take a picnic at the gorge's entrance or admire the exquisite scenery from the viewing platform high above.
Kyambura Gorge, within the reserve, is reminiscent of a lost world, somewhere intriguing and mysterious.
Towering 100 m high rock walls surround thick jungle, boggy swamps and large crater lakes, making it feel as though you have entered a pre-historic time.
While the reserve covers 156-sq-km, the gorge itself spans just 11 km but is 100 metres deep. The Kyambura River, which runs through the reserve, connects to the Kazinga Channel.
This unique landscape is an excellent refuge from the savannah's predators above and is the reason that the chimpanzees have made their home here.
Things to Do
Chimp tracking is the main draw of Kyambura Gorge. Excursions take place in the morning and afternoon, and sightings are about 80%. The only place with better chances of sightings is Kibale National Park.
The chimp trek starts with a 200-metre descent down the escarpment followed by a 2-3 hour walk through thick vegetation.
The chimpanzees are used to humans and will often interact and come closer, a great opportunity for photographs.
Walking Tours and Birdwatching
Walking tours are a great way to explore this hidden world and see interesting vegetation, birds and butterflies.
You may also catch a glimpse of the 12 other primate species living in Kyambura, including the colobus, red tail, and vervet monkeys.
Kyambura is a birdwatcher's haven, so make sure you keep your binoculars trained to the sky, and you may see the rare martial eagle, amongst many other bird species.
Flora and Fauna
Kyambura has incredible biodiversity owing to its 13 different habitats.
From hot savannah plains to wetlands, bogs and the cool rainforest undergrowth. There are several rare plants to be found, many of which you're unlikely to see anywhere else.
Kyambura river, that runs through the reserve is an important water source for the wildlife that live in Queens.
Besides the chimpanzees and other primate species, you’re likely to see hippo, antelope, hyena, and the occasional visiting elephant.
Where to stay
Kyambura Gorge Lodge
A converted old coffee store, the lodge seamlessly blends contemporary style with traditional African artefacts.
It is the perfect luxury base for chimp trekking and unwinding, with an excellent selection of food and drinks, a swimming pool and eight secluded en-suite bandas, dotted over the hillside.
Park View Lodge
Another luxury option, guests stay can choose between en-suite cottages: double, twin, or single.
Park View Lodge is perfect for escaping the hot savannahs for a brief recess to enjoy their sauna, swimming pool, fantastic choice of food and beautiful rooms.
While on the outskirts of the park, it is still close enough to enjoy everything Kyambura has to offer. It is just 10 minutes from the main gate.
Mazike Valley Lodge
Perched on a hillside on the edge of Queens, Mazike, meaning chimp in the local Luganda language, is just a short distance from Kyambura Gorge and a terrific mid-range option for travellers.
In keeping with the 1920s old-style safari theme, Mazike Valley Lodge offers eight secluded thatched-roof cottages, a swimming pool, campfire and a lovely area to enjoy sundowners with a great view. The lodge treats guests with an authentic safari experience and panoramic views of the savannah.
Located just 20 minutes from the Kasese Airstrip, Mazike Valley lodge is in a prime location to start your adventures in Kyambura Game Reserve.
When is to Visit
The best time to visit Kyambura Game Reserve is during the dry season from December to February and then again from late June to October.
This is considered the best time to visit for activities like chimp-trekking and nature walks because they are not likely to be affected by rainfall, which could lead to the paths becoming inaccessible or too slippery for excursions.
Visiting in the dry season can also increase your chances of seeing more wildlife, as they will be in search of water and more likely to congregate around watering holes.
How To Get There
Kyambura Game Reserve, located in the northeastern corner of Queen Elizabeth National Park, approximately 30 km from park headquarters and can be accessed by road and air.
From Kampala to Kyambura Game reserve, there are two main routes to choose. The drive takes 6-7 (420 km) hours via Msaka, Mbarara, and a slightly shorter 6 hours (410 km) via, Fort Portal.
If you chose to fly, there are daily flights from Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala and Entebbe International Airport to the Mweya and Kasese airstrips in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Flight is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes.
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