A jungle of wonders that many have never heard about is Kalinzu forest. The natural richness in this forest is not comparable to any other in Uganda. you will find the impressive varieties of natural plants and fruits that make perfect food for the forest wildlife. Easy to arrange treks, affordable activities including chimp tracking, easy accessibility and a variety of activities to participate in, make Kalinzu a must visit destination for everyone who comes to western Uganda. As part of the larger queen Elizabeth ecosystem, the forest is an expanse of 147 km sq. whose main part lies at an average of 1400m above sea level. Located on the eastern boundary of the park in Rubirizi and Bushenyi districts, the forest boasts of six species of primates Including chimps, 378 bird species, over 90 months, 262 butter flies reptiles and a rich plant life. It is one of the popular natural forest with one of the oldest forest canopies in the area. The forest has several beautiful waterfalls and sometimes wildlife crossing from Queen Elizabeth national park, like the wild pigs, baboons, antelopes, leopards and many more. The forest is located besides the tea estates, 45km from Katunguru Bridge to the east, on Katunguru Mbarara road. In up to four established trails you can choose to explore a show case of the beauty and heritage of this forest during your visit. These trails include; the river trail, palm trail, water falls trail and the valley trail. The activities one can do at Kalinzu forest, on the four trails, include; birding, butterfly identification, forest nature walks, chimp tracking and viewing other small mammals. The forest offer conservation education and research opportunities.
Chimp tracking in Kalinzu forest is a catch, every visitor going to western Uganda must take. No extra fees such as forest entrance fees are required, making it the most affordable chimp tracking option. The activity blends in well with Queen Elizabeth national park wildlife safari. The activity is fascinating where you will spend a number of hours in the jungle tracking these wild beings (98.7% humans). Chimp trackers will be allowed to spend up to 1 hour with the chimps as they observe their behavior to compare how they relate to man and prove their relation with us. You will observe them swing over the vines from the branches. Some will be running just in front of you as you have always seen it in the nature films. You will have an opportunity to hear all their sounds, some of which are deafening while others are soothing. With support of the experienced guide you can almost guess what every tone means from observing the response of the group members. During the tracking, on a lucky day, trackers may be exposed to groups as large as 30 chimps at once.
Activities in Kalinzu forest are very easy to arrange on arrival. They can be organised for the time before or after the safari in Queen Elizabeth national park. If you plan to visit, know that your accommodation, guide or even you will easily sort it out if you have the information, some of which is included in here. Chimp tracking in kalinzu is done two times a day, one at 8:00am and the other at 3:00pm. The price for tracking chimps, as of now, is as low as 40$ per person preferred in Uganda shillings. guests are expected to arrive at least 30 minutes before the tracking starts to allow for the briefing and orientation. Since it is a remote area, you have to travel with cash, food and water because you will not find an ATM machine or supermarket in the neighborhood. The advantage with tracking chimps in Kalinzu is that, you don’t need to book or pay the ticket in advance. You just arrive there and pay the ticket at the reception, where tracking starts, on the same day. This makes it more affordable since there is no middle agent between the guest and the forest management.
For those planning to visit chimps here, the following are the rules and guidelines;
- Children below 12 years are not allowed to go for chimpanzee tacking.
- No guest is allowed to track chimps without the forest guide authorized by the forest management.
- People with communicable diseases such as cough, flu etc. are not allowed to visit the chimps as they may spread the disease to them.
- When you meet the chimps, allow a distance of about 8 meters between the chimpanzees and the tourists
- Taking pictures of chimps and or in the forest with flashing cameras is not allowed.
If you’re interested in spending a night in Kalinzu before or after chimpanzee tracking, Please be aware that visitors are expected to come with their own tent, all their food supplies and camping equipment to be able to do self-catering. The forest doesn’t have formal lodging facilities yet, other than an open campground. Day guests are encouraged to carry packed lunch and drinking water. Most guest find affordable lodges to stay in, around Bushenyi or other lodges near Queen Elizabeth national park. Many guests who spend a night at the elephant home and other community lodges we support have visited the forest during their stay, without a problem. If you want to do this activity or to book your accommodation, please let us know. Since prices for chimp tracking and other activities in Kalinzu can change without prior notice, we encourage you to contact us to find out what the price is during your travel time.