The Kyambura Gorge – BBC called it “the Lost Valley.”
Chimpanzee Trekking in the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda
For the adventurous at heart who are searching for experiences beyond the typical tourism activities, there is in Queen Elizabeth the mysterious Kyambura Gorge.
The Kyambura Gorge, pronounced Chambura, is a gigantic gash or chasm amid the Savannah. Most tourists bypass it, and only the venturesome traveler descends one-hundred meters down into the underground forest called the “Valley of the Apes” or the “Lost Valley” by BBC.
When nature created the western portion (Albertine Rift) of the East African Rift Valley, the Gorge came into being. The area that is today Queen Elizabeth Park was created by violent subterranean forces that tore apart the earth’s crust.
Today, you will see an enormous gash in the Savannah that is eleven kilometers long, a kilometer across at its widest point, and one hundred meters deep.
The Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth Park gives you a glimpse into another, almost prehistoric world. BBC called it a lost valley where surprising natural wonders await you. A must-do and see off-the-beaten tourist spot for the primate enthusiast, photographer, birder, conservationist, and hiker.
Things to Do and See in the Kyambura Gorge
1. – Chimpanzee Tracking
Chimpanzee Trekking is what brings most to descend into the Kyambura Gorge. The price of tracking permits is a fraction of what it is in Kibale Forest. The chance of seeing chimpanzees’ hovers is around 60%.
There are reasons for that. One, there is a smaller than 30 chimpanzees habituated Troop found here. It is an isolated community cut off from other nearby forests like Kalinzu and Maramagambo, which are few offspring.
Efforts are underway to change the inbreeding that is now taking place by introducing females from elsewhere in Uganda into the Gorge to the residing chimpanzee troop. The Kyambura Lodge has created a buffer zone, and wildlife, primates, and birds are returning.
Despite the lower odds of seeing the chimpanzees, the Chimpanzee trek is well worth it. Most do see, hear, see and observe the chimpanzees. The terrain and the one-of-a-kind experience are worth it. You will see other primates such as black and white colobus, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, baboons, vervet monkeys, and other primates.
Please note: We aim to tell you the reality and not give you a sales pitch. We strongly recommend the Chimpanzee Trek here. Plan B is to trek Chimpanzees in the nearby Kalinzu Forest, a short drive from the Gorge, should you fail to see them.
Difficulty level: You should be in reasonable shape for this three-hour trek. An average level of fitness is required to complete the trek comfortably.
2. – Hiking in the Kyambura Gorge
Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will love the experience of hiking down and up the Gorge. They are hitting the trails along the Kyambura River, the river of the blind, and beyond. The underground forest covers 157 square kilometers, crisscrossed by many hiking trails.
A legend behind Kyambura River’s name runs through the valley floor toward the Kazinga Channel.
In the local oral tradition, the story is told that there was a flash flood many seasons ago, surprising those who lived there. The flood swept everything was swept away, and all was lost. Some went to find their swept away possession but returned empty-handed. Thus the river was named Kyambura, meaning in the local tongue, “I cannot see it – the river of the blind.”
As you cross the Kyambura on the logs provided, we suggest you find and see with open eyes.
Besides the chimpanzees, hiking down the Gorge exposes visitors to unique and incredible biodiversity. Visitors will have an opportunity to spot rare vegetation and tall tropical trees. The Gorge is also home to mammals like hippos, forest elephants, giant forest hogs, various antelopes, and smaller primates.
Nature walks in Kyambura Gorge will introduce you to a completely different environment from Savanah’s hotter equatorial one. You enter a cooler underground forest with beautiful tree canopies and fantastic creatures.
Your Guide will share information about the valley, including its history, animals, and birds. The nature walks are organized in two shifts – the morning and afternoon.
Level of Difficulty: You should be in reasonable shape for this three-hour trek, and an average level of fitness is required to complete the tour comfortably. Additionally, it would be best to balance yourself crossing the river on logs.
Where else in the world are you going to find a giant gash in the middle of the Savannah? Its unique scenery does not justice, and it is a National Geographic-worthy photography scene.
Kyambura Gorge will be a “Wow Moment of Discovery’ for Amateur or Professional photographers.
A photographer is like a discoverer from the past. The difference is that you will be using a camera instead of a gun to capture primates and wildlife.
It is one of the most photogenic spots in the Pearl of Africa. There are photo opportunities from above or in the lost valley. Scenes leave you with lasting memories of their time on safari in Uganda.
Please Note: Permits are required for a professional photographer that we assist in obtaining.
Kyambura Gorge is a special place for birders. Various species of birds are drawn here due to the 13 different habitats. There are over 300 species of birds here. Most are forest dwellers, but other birds feed and then retreat to their habitats in the Savannah or wetlands close to the Kazinga channel.
You might see some birds, including falcons, blue-headed bee-eater, black and white kingfisher, and others. Kyambura Gorge features over 332 species that you need to identify and look for during your birdwatching walks in Kyambura Gorge.
Where to Stay – our Recommendation is Kyambura Gorge Lodge
Our opinion is that the hands-down winner is the exclusive Kyambura Gorge, which is the best lodge to explore the Gorge.
Not only is the lodge best for those visiting the Gorge but Queen Elizabeth Park. We consider it the best lodge in Queen Elizabeth Park and one of the best lodges in Uganda.
If you are a conservationist, then Kyambura Lodge should be the lodge of choice for you. Volcano Safari Lodges have purchased a large chunk of land, a buffer zone between villages and the Gorge. An area that is being restored in a way that it once was.
Guest are invited to plant trees as part of the restoration process. The lodge offers birding and nature walks to give them a glimpse of where some lodge profits are going.
Amenities are there and most often exceed the discerning traveler’s expectations. A stay at Kyambura Gorge Lodge is more than a bed for a night; but an African Hospitality experience.
Best time to Visit
The best times of the year for chimpanzee trekking, hiking, and birding are during the two dry seasons of the year. From mid-June to early October, the trails tend to be more doable for most.
The second dry season begins in mid-December and ends in March. Though with climate changes, Uganda’s previously reliable weather patterns have changed.
The Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth Park in Uganda is a must-do and-see activity for the outdoor enthusiast who visits the Mweya area of the park. You can include it in your safari by contacting us.