A Chimpanzee Trek Tour in the Kalinzu Forest Reserve Uganda

Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is located in the Bushenyi district of southwestern Uganda. The forest reserve is close to Maramagombo Forest and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kalinzu Forest Reserve is rich in wildlife. There are more than 379 species of birds in the forest. There are six species of primates, including chimpanzees, baboons, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, tufted monkeys, tufted monkeys, and black-and-white monkeys.

The forest is also home to nocturnal creatures such as jungle baboons, photos, and galagos. Those interested in butterflies can look forward to more than 261 species of butterflies. The forest reserve has 414 species of trees and 98 species of moths, flowers, and reptiles. As mentioned earlier, the proximity of two large game reserves helps to occasionally attract large mammals such as lions, wild boars, antelopes, leopards, and buffaloes to the forest.

Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Chimpanzee Trek Tour in the Kalinzu

Chimpanzees in the Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

Chimpanzees are the main attraction of the Kalinzu Forest reserve. Chimpanzees are currently found in only 21 African countries (out of 25). Scientists and conservationists believe that in 10 years, chimpanzees will become extinct in another 10 countries. Although about 5,000 chimpanzees can be found in Uganda, 90% of the chimpanzee population has disappeared in the last 80 years.

Chimpanzees are interesting because they look and act like us humans. They share at least 98% of our DNA with us. Chimpanzees give birth every 5 years and take care of the young until they are about 12 years old. They live in large communities – each with its own culture. Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and have been known to hunt insects, small primates, and antelopes using various IT tools and tricks. Unlike gorillas, chimpanzee societies always evolve as female babies develop, especially when living with others.

The biggest threat to African chimpanzees in the Kalinzu forest reserve is habitat loss due to deforestation. Chimpanzees are also hunted among tribes in the Congo or sold as pets to illegal animal collectors. Uganda has lost thousands of chimpanzees in the past century to snares and other traps set for other animals such as antelope. The government has decided to ban the killing of chimpanzees and has partnered with wildlife conservation agencies such as the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary to protect the chimpanzees. All major national parks and forest reserves (such as Budongo) have strict measures in place to protect primates and kill anyone caught killing chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee Walk in Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest is a big tourist attraction forest. Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve has one of the largest chimpanzee colonies in Uganda. It is arguably the second-best place for tracking chimpanzees after Kibale Forest in Uganda. Of the approximately 320 chimpanzees in the forest reserve, almost 50 are domesticated (open for tourism). Most visitors to Queen Elizabeth National Park prefer to track chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest, although the park has its chimpanzee community in Kiambura Gorge. Kalinzu Forest is easily accessible through the Mweya area of ​​Queen Elizabeth National Park. The journey takes only about 40 minutes.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest is not as demanding as gorilla tracking, but you need to be fit enough to walk for 3 to 4 hours in sometimes difficult terrain. Excursions may include crossing steep hills and muddy sections of forest. Although chimpanzees generally live in flatter terrain compared to mountain gorillas, they are highly mobile and must be prepared to follow them at high speeds, which can be tiring. Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu Forest starts in the morning with a guide and an armed ranger. Chimpanzees are well known to rangers and guides because they are involved in their adaptation. Chimpanzees may not be so welcoming to strangers, which is one of the reasons why this activity must be led by official guides.

Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Chimpanzee Trek Tour in the Kalinzu

When to Go for Chimpanzee Tracking in Kalinzu Forest Reserve?

There are morning and afternoon classes. Morning shifts start at 8:00 a.m. and afternoon shifts start at 3:00 p.m. Each shift offers a unique experience. Chimpanzees are very active in the morning when they go out to eat and defend their territory. Chimpanzees are full in the afternoon and prefer to rest and avoid the heat of the sun. Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu Forest begins with a briefing from the guides and rangers. During the briefing, attendees were divided into 3 groups based on their overall fitness and pace.

After the briefing, you go into the forest to look for chimpanzees. By this time, some of the birds had left early to pinpoint the chimpanzee’s location. While trekking in search of chimpanzees, you will also encounter other forest creatures, birds, and primates such as baboons, blue monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys. The head tracker communicated with the guide by phone, allowing him/her to understand the chimpanzee’s movements and location. Chimpanzees are very mobile and spend most of their time in the treetops. Spotting and photographing them requires some skill and effort.

How Long is Chimpanzee Tracking in Kalinzu Forest?

After spending an hour or two tracking chimpanzees through dense forest, steep terrain, and covered in branches, ants, and brush, your attention is suddenly caught by the distant call of a primate. You will soon find their location. Spend an hour observing their behavior and group dynamics as they swing through the trees. Perhaps some are resting, others are mating or feeding. Some chimpanzees may approach you, while most will keep their distance. You will notice that they make different sounds to express different emotions. You can understand the meaning of each call by watching how the other chimpanzees react.

The rate of finding chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest is 95%. A chimpanzee permits in the Kalinzu Forest costs $50. This is much less than the $150 charged by Kibale National Park. Chimpanzee permits can be ordered at the refugee reception center or, more conveniently, through a travel agency. Although it is possible to obtain a chimpanzee permit in Kalinzu Forest on the day of the course, it is important to reserve it in advance for safety reasons. We have a fun 3-Day Kibale Chimpanzee Tracking Safari Package for you to read. Other activities in the Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Nature walks

Guided nature walks in the Kalinzu Forest are truly unforgettable. You will get lost in a whole new world of lush forests, beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, singing birds, and primates. You can go to the Kishunja Hill Viewpoint and see the forest from above, as well as the Rwenzori Mountains and Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can take outside the forest to discover beautiful plantings. Your guide will share information about the forest, ancient myths, and creatures. There is four main nature walking trails in the forest – Valley Trail, Waterfall Trail, River Trail, and Palm Trail.

The valley walk leads to spectacular valleys and Kalinzu forest canopy. The trail takes 4 hours, during which you will encounter many forest-dwelling creatures and primates. The waterfall hike takes 4 to 6 hours. The main attraction here is Kilyantama Falls. The trail passes through higher elevations and offers fantastic views of the forest. The river trail is best for those interested in chimpanzees. In addition, visitors will encounter the Kajoyo River, where elephants swim. It takes about an hour to complete the river course. The palm trial, on the other hand, involves a two-hour hike through flat terrain and a chance to see interesting tree species, including the flame tree, whose leaves are believed to increase a woman’s libido, the dragon tree, and raffia. used to make traditional carpets Sub palm wood.

Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Chimpanzee Trek Tour in the Kalinzu

See Large Mammals and Other Wildlife:

Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is close to Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Great Maramagambo Forest. Some of the park’s animals, such as leopards, wild boars, and antelopes, travel through the forest in search of food. Arrangements can be made to travel into the forested areas that connect the Queen Elizabeth National Park to see some large mammals and even big cats.

Bird watching:

Kalinzu forest is a paradise for bird watchers. It is one of the best bird-watching spots in Uganda. These species include black-and-white chests, cuckoos, great blue parrots, and black thrushes. While hunting for birds, you will encounter other forest creatures, primates, plants, and amazing nature. Bird watching is best in the morning. Identifying butterflies: With the help of a guide, you can identify more than 200 species of butterflies in the forest, morning or evening.


A campsite has been set up in the middle of the forest where visitors can get close to nature and enjoy beautiful African nights listening to the amazing sounds of nocturnal animals.

Overnight in Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve

There is no standard/official accommodation in Kalinzu Forest. Those interested in camping can do so but must bring their bedding, food, and tents. The main campsite is close to the forest office (Nkombe Forest Station) but has basic amenities, solar showers, and pit toilets. Firewood and water can be arranged at the station or purchased at trading centers near the Kasese-Mbarara highway. The nearest hotel to the forest reserve is Homeland Hotel near Ishasha.

For those interested in a more comfortable trip, the best option is to book one of the various Queen Elizabeth hotels such as Engiri game Inn, Jacana Inn, Katara Inn, Mweya Inn, Mweya safari Inn, Park View Safari Lodge, and Queen Elizabeth Pvt Hotel. These hostels offer budget, mid-range, and luxury options. After securing a room at one of the above accommodations, head to Kalinzu Forest early in the morning for some activities before returning for dinner and overnight.

Kalinzu Forest Reserve

Chimpanzee Trek Tour in the Kalinzu

Rules and tips for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest

Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is managed by the Uganda Forest Service. There are some rules that visitors should know and follow before and during the chimpanzee tracking event. These rules are designed with the safety of visitors and forest animals in mind. For instance: –

  1. Only 6 people per session can follow a specific chimpanzee community. This is to avoid overcrowding and to stimulate the chimpanzees.
  2. You must be at least 12 years old to track chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest.
  3. Visitors are only allowed one hour with the chimpanzees. This is to limit the spread of the disease and also to avoid anxiety or panic.
  4. Keep your voice low when you’re with the chimpanzees.
  5. Don’t eat while you’re around the chimpanzees.
  6. Do not try to provoke the chimpanzee.
  7. Don’t be suspicious of staying away from your team or the main line. Even if you want to relax, you should always be there.
  8. Visitors may not track chimpanzees individually without an authorized guide. This is because chimpanzees can become aggressive when they see unfamiliar faces.

How to get to Kalinzu Forest?

Kalinzu Forest is located about 375 kilometers from Kampala city. It is located on the Mbarara-Kasese highway, very close to the Ishaha area of ​​the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Its offices were built in an area that allows visitors to travel to and from Queen Elizabeth National Park. To get to Kalinzu Forest from Kampala, take a bus from the main bus park to Butare. The journey from Kampala to the forest reserve takes 5 hours and costs about 4 USD. Your first stop in Butare and then hire a taxi or Boda Boda (moto-taxi) to the tourist reception.

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