Visitors who have attempted chimp tracking elsewhere attest to Uganda being a better place for either chimpanzee tracking or the habituation experience. By comparison, Uganda deals with habituated chimp families vs. the unhabituated chimps elsewhere in East Africa. While Kibale is the premier destination for those wanting to go chimp tracking, Uganda has many chimps and many habituated Chimpanzee communities. The Kalinzu Forest is another popular destination especially if are based in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Despite its popularity, the forest is much less visited than Kibale and Kyambura Gorge.
The Kalinzu Forest Reserve is about 375km from Uganda’s capital - Kampala city and strategically located along the Mbarara - Kasese Highway, very close to the Ishaha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park - about 40min – an hour south towards.The 137km² forest ranges in altitude between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above sea-level.
Kalinzu Forest is a biodiverse tropical rainforest that is teeming with life. There are six primate species including chimpanzees, baboons, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, Vervet monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys.
Over 379 species of birds here - making this a must-visit Forest for birders. There are 414 species of Trees and Shrubs that you will find here, 261 species of butterflies, reptiles, and various mammals such as Forest Elephants, Forest Buffaloes, Antelopes, Bushpigs, to name a few – plus nocturnals like bush babies, Pottos and Galagos.
The close proximity to two major wildlife conservation areas as earlier draws many large mammals like wild pigs, antelopes, leopards and buffaloes to the forest from time to time.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest
For most people coming here, Chimpanzee trekking is the focus. Kalinzu Forest is apparently the second-best Chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda after Kibale Forest Park. Of the 320 estimated chimps found in this forest reserve, about 70 are habituated under two troops and open for visitors. It is the best Chimpanzee Destination from Queen Elizabeth Park. There is a better chance of seeing Chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest than in the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth Park.
Kalinzu Forest is a better Chimpanzee Destination from Queen Elizabeth Park than the Kyambura Gorge inside the park. Although there is a morning and afternoon trekking shifts, there are no fixed times for the Chimpanzee treks. It can take place when you arrive at Forest. The treks don’t seem quite easy and not too strenuous but experiences are always different, but you need to be prepared. Trackers at time have leave trail and then walk through the underbrush, cross a couple of streams and waterbeds, and hike off-trail up and down graded terrains. - be prepared to hike in a semi-humid environment. Long before you see the Chimpanzee, you will hear their hoots in the distance. Cries that only get louder as you get closer and are spotted by the Chimpanzees.
Your waterproof Daypack should contain a packed lunch from your lodge and two liters of drinking water. Wear Longtrousers which are best tucked into the socks, hiking boots, and a long-sleeve shirt to protect your skin from nicks and cuts, which you can put into your daypack.Also, bring insect-repellant. You will need binoculars while you are trekking in Kalinzu Forest and of course camera.
Chimpanzee trek experiences here last 3 – 5 hours total. The guides are well trained and experienced. They go above and beyond to seek the chimps out and follow them.
Here is our humble advice; one of the realities with any wildlife experience is that there are no guarantees. While many travellers may talk about how brilliant their experiences were, yours may be different but the best way to approach any trekking expedition is to go in hoping for the best but managing expectations. If you do have a great encounter, then you can count yourself amongst the lucky ones. If your encounter is less than perfect, allowed yourself to be a bit disappointed but also be reminded of how grateful you are to be here in the first place. Not everyone has the opportunity to even attempt to trek in Africa so to have that ability in the first place is special.
The Forest Trails: There are four forest trails that you can hike. A moderate level of fitness is advised since this is hilly terrain. The length of the trails vary, and there is one right for you.
The Valley Trail - This 3½ km circular trail takes about 2 hours and offers spectacular views over the valley. Visitors will trek along a ridge and past several exciting forest features. A forest favorite is the ‘Mutragyne rubrostipuleta’ or ‘viagra’ tree.
The Waterfall Trail - It is an 11 km loop trail taking that will take 4 and 5 hours over some hilly and, in parts, wet terrain. This trail leads to a magnificent waterfall “kilyantama” locally known as ‘the sheep eater.’ Visitors will
discover the tree that “baboons cannot climb.”
and barkcloth figs which are used in the craft industry to make beautifully decorated table cloths, curtains, handbags, and ceremonial clothes.
The River Trail - This short 2½ km circular trail takes approximately an hour. The primary feature along this walk is the River Kajojo or ‘elephant river’ so-called because elephants used to bathe here.
The trail goes past some fine specimens of “Parinari excelsa,” the climax tree in the Forest, and a colossal strangler figure. Visitors will see some primates along this trail, including Chimpanzees.
The Palm Trail - This is a 5 km circular trail and it takes about 2, - over relatively flat terrain. Visitors will discover some fascinating forest trees along this trail including the rare Fame tree. The tree has large, red, tulip-like flames which supposedly activates sexual desire in women. There are also the “Raphia Palms,” which are used for making local mats, and the somewhat spectacular “Dragon tree.” There is a variety of paltreies among
If you would like to receive additional information about Chimpanzee trekking and other things to do and at Kalinzu Forest, please feel free to either call us on +256 777 201697 or write to us today, we're always happy to answer your questions.
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