Kalinzu forest is located in Bushenyi district West of Uganda along mbarara –kasese highway near Queen Elizabeth National Park and Maramagambo forest. It lies on altitude of 1400meters above the sea level and it’s a 5 hour drive 375km from the main city of Uganda Kampala by bus, reaching Batare you will get off then walk a shorter distance to Kalinzu forest.
Kalinzu forest is very essential since it contains over 400 species of trees, over 300 species of birds and 6 different primates such as Chimpanzees, baboons, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and also large mammals such as lions, antelopes, leopards, wild pigs, buffaloes, elephants, warthogs, 97 moths, 262 butterfly species which looks attractive with their different colors in the surroundings.
Despite the various species found in the Kalinzu forest, chimpanzee trekking is the most activity done thus being the second best chimpanzee trekking destination and it’s also a home for habituated chimpanzee families in Uganda.
During a safari for chimpanzee trekking, you can add on bird watching, nature walk, Game drive, camping, research conservation education, butterfly identification, night tracking of primates, mammal viewing, enjoying the sound of the jungle which is so interesting and memorable.
It’s one of the most popular activity which allows you to step into the world of chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking involves walking into the ecological forest to look out for chimpanzee families.
Trekking is done in two phrases in morning hours at 8:00am and in the afternoon hours at 3:00pm. This activity starts in the morning with a briefing about the rules and regulations and a group of 8 members are allocated to each habituated chimpanzee family with a guide who lead and share information about them.
Trekking can take about 30 minutes up to 4 hours depending to where they are allocated since they move from one place to another in search for food and on finding them, visitors are limited to only one hour in the presence of these threatening primates as to learn more about their formation as a family, lifestyles, habitants as well as taking pictures and recording videos with them.
Chimpanzees live in large extended families of between 10-50 members that look out for and take care of each other. Just like humans, chimpanzees also use different facial expressions such as body languages, gestures and sounds to communicate emotions to each other.
Chimpanzee trekking is managed by Uganda Ministry of Forestry and permit costs $35 in Kalinzu forest and minimum age of trekking is 12 years.
It has various species of birds which include Black-winged Stilt, Black Headed weaves, Common Moorhens, Common Greenshank, Crowned Hornbill, Comrants, Common Waxbill, Fan-tailed widowbird, Shinning blue kingfisher, Slender-billed Waver, Red-Chested cuckoo, Speckled mousebird, White-throated bee eater and many more.
Since Kalinzu forest is close to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Maramagambo forest, a visitor can make a full package and get a chance to see large mammals and the big five such as hippopotamus, lions, antelopes, leopards, wild pigs, buffaloes, elephants, warthogs. It gives a memorable and an amazing experience which also helps to know more about them while with an experienced guide.
It can be done through walking or a game drive.
Accommodations are still informal with only a camping site and visitors are advised to carry their own tents, food supplies, own bedding. This help visitors to enjoy beautiful African jungle night while also listening to sound of the night. Firewood and water can be got to nearby trading centers.
To those interested in more comfortable facility can book in Queen Elizabeth National Park like Mweya Safari Lodge, Jacana Safari Lodge, Simba, Katara lodge, Ishasha Jungle Lodge, Enganzi Lodge and many more. These lodges offer budget, mid-range and Luxury.
The following are the things to carry on Chimpanzee Tracking Safari in Kalinzu Forest
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Hiking shoes during forest trails
- Insect repellent in order to be secure
- Binoculars in order to see variety of species which are far or near
- Rain jackets in case it rains
- Carry cameras with enough batteries to take photos and record videos for remembrance
- Carry enough drinks and snacks to help out through a full day hike
In order to track Chimpanzee in Kalinzu forest, trackers should follow some rules and regulations which are made to protect chimpanzees and trackers as well;
- A minimum age of 12 years is allowed to track chimpanzees
- 7-8 meters should be kept between visitors and chimpanzees
- Trackers should follow rules given to them by rangers
- Smoking is not allowed
- Sick travelers are not allowed to track chimpanzees
- Flash disc cameras are not allowed to take photos because they scare them away
- Rangers and guides are the only way to access forest trails
- Voices are kept at a low level so that you can see more chimpanzees interacting with one another
- A minimum number of 8 people are allowed to track a habituated family
- Tracking experience can last 2 to 8 hours depending on their location
- Trackers are given on hour while with those endangered creatures.