Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is found in Uganda’s district known as Bushenyi southwestern region of Kampala the capital city of Uganda. The forest reserve is located near Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kalinzu forest reserve is a home to several animal species as well as birds and insects. There are over 379 species of birds and about 200 butterflies that exist in the forest. The forest has 6 species of primates which include chimpanzees that are prominently trekked by tourists. Kalinzu is believed to  be the second best destination for chimpanzee tracking in Uganda after the Kibale forest national park

There are other animals that roam around the forest including baboons, blue monkeys, red tailed monkeys, l’hoest monkeys, Vervet monkeys plus black and white Colobus monkeys. Kalinzu is also a home to nocturnal animals such as bush babies, Pottos, Galago’s and many more. The forest has 414 species of trees, 98 of moths, flowers and reptiles. Kalinzu closeness to two major wildlife conservation area, has enable it to attract large species of animals living in the park like Lions, wild pigs, antelopes, leopards and buffaloes and many more that are at times seen by visitors to the forest. But many of these animals are best seen by tourists while on game drives in Queen Elizabeth National Park. When visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park, you may choose to see chimpanzee in Kalinzu forest, which is outside the park or Kyambura gorge, a chimp spot in the north of the park. So an alternative to chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu is Kyambura gorge chimp tracking as the two places are not far apart from each other.

Chimpanzees trekking in Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

Chimpanzee Trekking in the Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is the main tourist activity done there. Chimpanzees are actually only present in 21 African countries. Scientists and conservationists estimate that Chimpanzees will be endangered in 10 more countries in the next 10 years. While 5,000 or so chimps can be identified in Uganda, 90% of the community of chimpanzees has been destroyed in the last 80 years.

Chimpanzees are fascinating as they look and behave as we humans do. In reality, they share at least 98% of their DNA with us humans. Chimps give birth every 5 years and take care of their young until they are about 12 years old. The chimps live in large groups, each with a language. Chimps are very intelligent and are known to use a variety of tools and tricks to hunt insects, small primates.

The biggest threat to chimpanzees in Africa is the loss of habitat by deforestation. Chimpanzees are also killed for their food among the peoples of the Congo or offered as pets to illicit animal dealers. In the last century, Uganda lost thousands of chimps owing to snares and other traps set up for other species, such as antelopes. The Government has taken steps and ruled the killing of chimps unlawful and has worked with wildlife conservation organisations such as the Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Ngamba Island to preserve the chimps. Strict measures are in place in all major national parks and woodland reserves, such as Budongo, to preserve the animals and to set aside someone found murdering a chimpanzee.

The Top Most Tourist Activities in Kalinzu Forest

Chimpanzee trekking

One of the top activities that draws tourists to kalinzu forest is mainly chimpanzee trekking, kalinzu forest harbours the highest population of the chimpanzee in Uganda, the region is a home for the habituated chimpanzee families and it has become one of the second-best locations for chimp trekking after Kibale forest national park. the park harbours an approximately value of 320 chimpanzees and 50 habituated chimpanzee that have been open to tourists for chimpanzee trekking. Many tourist visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park have always preferred to take part in chimpanzee trekking in kalinzu forest. Although there is a highest concentration of chimpanzee in Kyambura gorge also situated in queen Elizabeth national park. its easier to reach kalinzu forest through the Mweya sector of queen Elizabeth national park, the route is a bit shorter and covers approximately 40 mins drive to get to kalinzu forest. Chimpanzee trekking, usually starts in the morning with the briefing at he parks headquarters led by the ranger guides who will guide you through the does and the don’ts while with the chimpanzee. The activity is a bit tiresome but not has hectic as gorilla trekking but it also requires physical fitness to walk through the stiff terrain and sometimes, the ground is muddy in the forest which sometimes makes it difficult to trek through the forest, the trek normally lasts for 3 to 4 hours before you locate the chimpanzee. The chimpanzees are very mobile so you will need to follow them closely until you locate them. You will be guided by the rangers/ tour guides through the forest since they are a bit familiar with the habituated chimps, they will guide you through and help locate the chimpanzee for you.

Chimpanzee trekking in kalinzu forest has two sessions, the morning session and the afternoon session, the morning session starts at 8:00am while the afternoon shift starts at 2:00pm. Either you go for chimp trekking in the morning or afternoon, its all up to the clients choice since there is no difference, the trek offers the same experience throughout, the chimps are more active in the morning since they be feeding around and securing their territory and the afternoon, the chimps take time to relax the shade under trees to protect themselves from the heat of the sun therefore, it makes it easy to locate them since they are all settled in one place and a successful rate of you spotting the chimps in kalinzu forest is 95%. Chimpanzee trekking in kalinzu forest is $ 50 per person compared to the same activity in Kibale forest national park which costs $150 per person trekking. Chimpanzee permits can be booked in advance through the tour operators or the reception centre of the reservation of permits. Despite the fact chimpanzee permits can be got on the day of trekking, but it’s always advisable to book your permit earlier in order to void inconveniences. Planning to have chimpanzee trekking safari, you can check on our 3-day chimpanzee trekking safari these will help guide you through when planning for your trip in Uganda the pearl of Africa.

Besides Chimpanzee Trekking, There Other Activities to Do in Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

Nature Walks: besides chimp trekking, travellers can also take part in nature walks which will help you explore the forest on foot, the guided Nature walks in Kalinzu forest will give a memorable experience of being in the dense forest with a lot of beautiful sceneries .During the guided nature walk, you will have an opportunity to view beautiful scenery, waterfalls, singing birds and primate species. Walk up to Kishunja Hill Viewpoint and see from the edge the mountains as well as the Rwenzori Mountains and Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can be guided out of the forest to see beautiful plantations. Your Guide should share all the knowledge about the forest, its ancient myths and the animals that live in the woods. The forest has four main paths for nature walking–a loop for nature walks, the waterfall path, the river trail and the Palm trail. Kalinzu Forest Reserve in Uganda the walk of the valley takes you through beautiful valleys and forest canopies. Completing this journey takes 4 hours, and you would have seen many of the animals and primates living in the forest at this stage. It takes about 4 and 6 hours for the waterfall walk. The main draw here is the Kilyantama waterfalls. The track crosses high altitude places,

Wildlife viewing:  Next to Queen Elizabeth National Park and the wonderful Maramagambo reserve is the Kalinzu Central Reserve. Many species in the reserve, such as leopards, wild pigs and antelopes, move to eat in the trees. The agreement can be created to go to the forest area which connects Queen Elizabeth National Park where you have a great opportunity to view some of the large animal’s species and even big cats and also it’s a great opportunity for the visitors to spot other primate species such as baboons, blue monkey, black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and many others.

Birdwatching: Kalinzu Forest is a sanctuary of birders. It’s one of Uganda’s best places for birding. The genus contains the Black and White Casket, Cuckoos, Turaco Great Blue, and Sunbirds. When you look for the birds in the Kalinzu Mountains, you expect to find other mountains animals, monkeys, trees, and amazing scenery as well. In the morning hours, is the appropriate time for bird watching experience. You will also view a lot of butterflies the forest has over 200 species of butterflies with the help of the guide, you will have a great chance to view this beautiful creature in their natural habitat.

Camping: the forest also offers the perfect site for camping activities, in the middle of the forest, a camping site has been set up where tourists can sleep close to nature and enjoy the beautiful African night while listening to amazing night animal sounds.

How to reach Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

Kalinzu central forest reserve is situated in western Uganda in the district of Mbarara and Kasese high way, the distance is about 375 km from the Kampala the capital city of Uganda. From Kampala to kalinzu forest reserve takes approximately 5 hours which is also closer to the Ishasha sector of queen Elizabeth national park. when one needs to reach queen Elizabeth national park, and kalinzu central forest reserve, visitors can take a bus from the main bus station in Kampala to Butare the you will get a special hire (taxi, car) to connect you to kalinzu forest central reserve offices. In addition, the offices where situated in an environment that would allow visitors to link to and from Queen Elizabeth National Park, to get to the forest of Kalinzu from Kampala.

Accommodation in Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

In the Kalinzu woods, there are no standard / formal lodging facilities put in place as per now. This can only be accomplished by those involved in camping activities, its allowed for the visitors who are interested in camping, but they need to come with their own bedding, food supplies and tents. The key camping site is nearer to Nkombe forest offices, and provides simple amenities such as solar-powered showers and the pit latrines. It is necessary to arrange firewood and water at the station or they can also be purchased from a nearby trading centre.

There are several lodges where one can choose to stay in during his/her visit to queen Elizabeth and mainly to kalinzu central forest reserve, the lodges here include, Mweya safari lodge, Simba safari lodge, Elephant hub lodge, park view safari lodge, Enganzi lodge, Marafiki lodge among other.

Rules and tips for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest

The Central Forest Reserve of Kalinzu is managed by the Uganda Forestry Authority. Before and during the chimpanzee monitoring operation, visitors are required to know and follow rules. In consideration of the protection of tourists and forest animals, these rules are designed. For instance: –

A maximum of 6 people is allowed to trek one particular chimp community per session. This is to avoid overcrowding and irritating the chimpanzee.

A person trekking chimps should be 12 years and above in order to be allowed to trek the chimpanzees in Kalinzu forest.

Visitors are not allowed to enter the forest to trek the chimpanzees on their own without Guide/ rangers who are familiar with the chimps. This is because chimpanzees can get aggressive when they spot unfamiliar faces.

Visitors with flue, cough, diarrhoea or any other transmittable diseases are not allowed to go near the chimps to avoid risk of exposure.

Keep a distance of at least 7 meters feet away from the chimps, and you must observe these at all times.

Using flash cameras is prohibited as it could alert the chimpanzees.

Always follow instructions from the Guides and do not come to close to chimpanzees. They are more aggressive than gorillas and though relatively small are more powerful than most humans.

Do not litter the forest while tracking the chimpanzees.

Visitors are only allowed one hour with the chimps. This is to limit the spread of diseases but also to avoid getting them agitated or alarmed.

While with the chimpanzees, keep your voice low.do not make noise, this may disturb the chimpanzee.

Don not eat food while close to the chimps.

Don’t try to provoke the chimps.

Do not wonder alone in the wilderness, keep yourself within the group and have company even when going to ease yourself.

Remember to move with packed snack and drinking water when heading in the forest to trek the chimpanzee since these take much time before you return to the lodge.

You need to be well equipped with good hiking boots, long stockings, a hat, long trousers and shirts. Do not forget to move with a hiking stick and rain jacket especially during the rainy season which in most cases the ground becomes muddy and slippery so you will need a stick for support and the right clothing to protect you from the rain and keep your body warm.

Binocular will enrich your experience, since it helps you view distant chimps who try to keep themselves up on the trees.

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