Kalinzu Forest

The major activity that attracts people to Kalinzu forest is chimp trekking. The Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is home to one of Uganda’s largest chimp colonies.

Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is a natural forest in Uganda’s Bushenyi area, between Queen Elizabeth National Park and Maramagambo Forest. Kalinzu forest is located at an elevation of approximately 1400m above sea level and is home to 414 tree species found in bushes and shrubs, 97 moths, 262 butterflies, reptiles, and flowers, 379 bird species, and 6 primate species including Baboons, Chimpanzees, Black and White colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys, L’hoest and Blue monkeys. Because of its proximity to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kalinzu Forest provides sanctuary to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, waterbucks, wild pigs, buffaloes, gigantic forest hogs, and duikers.

Chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest

Chimpanzees are the main draw of Kalinzu Forest. Chimpanzees are now only present in 21 African nations down from 25. Chimpanzees may go extinct in ten more nations over the next decade, according to researchers and conservationists. Although there are about 5,000 chimpanzees in Uganda, 90% of the chimpanzee population has been destroyed in the previous 80 years.

Chimpanzees are fascinating because they appear and act like humans. In fact, they share at least 98% of our DNA. Chimps give birth every 5 years and raise their offspring until they are around 12 years old. They live in huge communities, each with its own distinct culture. Chimpanzees are extremely clever and have been observed using a range of tools and techniques to hunt insects, smaller primates, and antelopes. Chimpanzee groups, unlike gorilla families, are constantly developing, with female adolescents, in particular, leaving the group to join others.

The greatest threat to chimps in Africa is habitat loss due to deforestation. Chimpanzees are frequently poached for their flesh by Congolese tribes and sold as pets to illegal animal collectors. Thousands of chimpanzees have died in Uganda over the last century as a result of snares and other traps set up for other species such as antelopes. The government has acted and proclaimed chimpanzee killing illegal, collaborating with animal conservation organizations like as the Chimpanzee Sanctuary on Ngamba Island to safeguard the chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kalinzu Forest

The major activity that attracts people to Kalinzu woodland is chimp trekking. The Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve is home to one of Uganda’s largest chimp colonies. After Kibale Forest in Uganda, it is possibly the finest area to monitor chimpanzees. Nearly 50 of the forest reserve’s 320 chimps are habituated (available for tourism). Despite the fact that Queen Elizabeth National Park has its own chimp population near Kyambura Gorge, most tourists from the park prefer tracking chimpanzees in Kalinzu woodland. The Mweya area of Queen Elizabeth National Park provides easy access to Kalinzu woodland. The trip takes only around 40 minutes.

Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is not as strenuous as gorilla tracking, but you must be physically fit to travel for 3 to 4 hours across occasionally challenging terrain. The journey may take you across steep slopes and muddy woodland areas. Though chimpanzees normally live in lower terrain than mountain gorillas, they are incredibly mobile and must be followed at great speed, which may be exhausting.

Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park begins in the morning and is guided by an armed ranger. The chimpanzee groups in Kalinzu forest are familiar with the rangers and Guides since they were engaged in their habituation process. Chimpanzees may not be friendly to complete strangers, which is why the activity must be conducted by an authorized park ranger/guide.

There are two shifts: morning and afternoon. The morning shift begins at 8:00 a.m., followed by the afternoon shift at 3:00 p.m. Each shift provides a distinct experience. The chimps are quite busy in the morning as they go out to eat and defend their area. The chimpanzees are full in the afternoon and prefer to rest and avoid the sun’s heat. The tracking of chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park begins with a briefing from the Guide and rangers. Visitors are separated into three groups during the briefing based on their general fitness and speed. Following the briefing, you will proceed to the forest in search of the chimpanzees. Some tackers would have departed considerably earlier to pinpoint the chimpanzees’ exact location at this point. While hiking to find the chimps, you may come to see various forest critters, birds, and primates such as baboons, blue monkeys, L’hoest monkeys, and red-tailed monkeys.

The head trackers interact with the Guide by phone, informing him or her of the chimps’ activities and whereabouts. Chimpanzees are extremely mobile and spend a significant amount of time on top of trees. Finding them and photographing them involves some expertise and effort. After about an hour or two of pursuing the chimpanzees through the dense jungle, steep terrain, and is covered in tree branches, insects, and bushes, your attention is suddenly called to the monkeys’ distant sounds. You would have discovered their position in no time.

Observe their behavior and social dynamics as they swing from tree to tree for one hour. Some may be relaxing, while others may be mating or grooming one another. Individual chimpanzees may approach you, but the majority will keep their distance. You’ll note that they use different noises to convey various emotions. You figure out what each hoot means by seeing how other chimpanzees react to it. Chimpanzee sightings in Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park are 95% successful. A chimpanzee permits in the Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park costs $50. This is far cheaper than the $200 fee levied by Kibale National Park. Chimpanzee permits can be obtained at the reserve’s reception center or, more efficiently, through a tour operator. Though chimp permits in Kalinzu forest can be obtained on the day of tracking, it is best to book them ahead of time to be on the safe side.

Other Activities in Kalinzu Forest

Guided Nature Walks

Nature treks with a guide in the Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park are very unforgettable. You become immersed in an entirely another world of deep woods, breathtaking vistas, waterfalls, singing birds, and monkey sounds.  The forest, as well as the Rwenzori mountain ranges and Queen Elizabeth National Park, may be seen from the top of Kishunja Hill Viewpoint. Outside the forest, you might be guided to see lovely plantations. Your Guide will tell you all about the forest, its old tales, and its inhabitants.

The valley route, waterfall trails, river trail, and Palm path are the four primary nature trails in the forest. The valley trail in Kalinzu Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park leads you through beautiful valleys and forest canopies. This route takes 4 hours to complete, and by then, you will have seen many of the forest’s critters and primates. The waterfall hike takes between 4 and 6 hours to complete.

The Kilyantama waterfall is the main draw here. The walk traverses through high-elevation places with magnificent views of the forest. For those interested in chimps, the River path is the greatest option. Visitors will also come to the River Kajojo, where elephants used to take their baths. The river trail takes roughly an hour to complete. The palm trail, on the other hand, is a two-hour hike across flat terrain with possibilities to observe unusual tree species such as the flame tree, whose leaves are thought to increase female sex drive, the Dragon tree, and the Raphia Palms, which are used to make traditional mats.

4 Day Uganda wildlife and primate safari

Wildlife Viewing

The Kalinzu forest is near Queen Elizabeth National Park and the magnificent Maramagambo woodland. Some park species, including as leopards, wild pigs, and antelopes, cross into the forest to forage. It is possible to make arrangements to visit the region of the forest bordering Queen Elizabeth National Park in order to witness some of the huge creatures and even big cats.

Bird watching

The Kalinzu Forest is a birdwatcher’s heaven. It is one of the top birding spots in Uganda. The Black and White Casket, Cuckoos, Great Blue Turaco, and Sunbirds are among the species. Expect to see other forest species, primates, flora, and breathtaking landscapes as you look out for the birds in Kalinzu Forest. Birdwatching is best done early in the morning.

Birding in Kalinzu forest

Butterfly Identification

With the assistance of a guide, you may walk out to the forest in the morning or evening and identify over 200 different types of butterflies.


In the center of the forest, a camping site has been established where tourists may live close to nature and enjoy the lovely African night while listening to the fascinating noises of nocturnal creatures.

Kalinzu Forest

When is the best time to visit Kalinzu Forest?

The Kalinzu forest is open all year, but the ideal time to come is during the dry season, which runs from June to August and December to February. Because the forest receives little or no rainfall during the dry season, the pathways for chimp trekking and forest nature hikes will be passable. The rainy season in Kalinzu Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park occurs from March to May and October to November, when the park receives substantial rainfall, making the routes muddy and hazardous. The rainy season, on the other hand, is ideal for bird viewing since the forest provides an abundance of fruits and food for bird species.

Accommodation in Kalinzu Forest

There are currently no standard/formal lodging options inside Kalinzu Forest. Those who choose to camp may do so, but must provide their own bedding, food, and tents. The major camping area is near the forest offices (Nkombe forest station), however, it only offers minimal amenities such as solar-powered showers and pit latrines. Water and firewood may be arranged at the station or purchased at the local commercial center on the Kasese-Mbarara route.

The lodges in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park include Mweya Safari Lodge, Parkview Safari Lodge, Katara Lodge, Engiri Game Lodge, Enganzi Game Lodge, and Kingfisher Lodge, among others, where visitors can sleep and then transfer to Kalinzu Forest for any of the activities. The lodges will give tourists with comfortable beds, refreshments, local and foreign cuisine, free Wi-Fi, and beautiful views of the lake and animals, making your stay more delightful and unforgettable.

Rules and Regulations for Chimpanzee Trekking in Kalinzu Forest

The Forestry Authority of Uganda manages the Kalinzu Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Before and throughout the chimpanzee tracking activity, guests must be aware of and obey certain guidelines. These guidelines are intended to protect both tourists and forest creatures. As an example: –

  • Only six persons can track a single chimp colony per session. This is done to minimize overpopulation and annoyance of the chimpanzees.
  • To monitor chimpanzees in Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth national park, you must be at least 12 years old.
  • Visitors are only permitted to spend one hour with the chimpanzees. This is done to reduce illness spread while also avoiding agitating or alerting them.
  • Keep your voice quiet while among the chimpanzees.
  • Consume no food while around the chimpanzees.
  • Try not to provoke the chimpanzees.
  • Do not stray from your group or from the main track. Even while going to ease yourself, always have company.
  • Always heed the Guides’ recommendations and avoid getting too near to chimps. They are more aggressive than gorillas, and despite their tiny size, they are stronger than most people.
  • While tracking the chimpanzees, do not leave litter in the forest.
  • When heading out to monitor the chimpanzees, it is critical to have food and drinking water with you.
  • Bring sturdy hiking boots, long socks, a hat, and long pants and shirts. Remember to bring a trekking stick and a rain jacket, especially during the wet season.
  • Chimpanzees spend a lot of time on the tops of trees, so a good pair of binoculars will enhance your experience.

How to get to Kalinzu Forest

The Kalinzu forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park is around 375 kilometers from Kampala. It is ideally positioned along the Mbarara-Kasese Highway, in the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park. In reality, its headquarters have been established in a location where people could go to and from Queen Elizabeth National Park

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