Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest Reserve
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest Reserve: Kalinzu forest reserve is a one of the best chimpanzee trekking destinations in Uganda. Kalinzu forest is located in the Bushenyi district in the southwestern part of Uganda and it covers an area of 147 square kilometres. The forest is situated in Queen Elizabeth national park and closer to Maramagambo forest. While other forest reserves and the 10 Uganda national parks managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Kalinzu forest reserve is managed National Forestry Authority (NFA) which is the steward of more than 500 central forest reserves in Uganda including the Kalinzu central forest reserve. The Kalinzu forest reserve is an essential ecological forest containing over 400 species of trees, more than 350 species of birds, over 200 butterflies and 6 different primates species such as the Chimpanzees, Colobus monkeys, Olive baboons, and Red-tailed monkeys. The Chimpanzees are the most famously visited attraction by visitors in the park and forest for chimpanzee trekking.
In terms of the best park to see chimpanzees, Kibale Forest National Park is at the top of the list with 99 percentage chances to see the wild chimpanzees compared to any other chimpanzee trekking destination including Kalinzu forest at 50% – 70% of spending time with the chimpanzees. Kalinzu forests reserve is the second best chimpanzee trekking destination after Kibale forest national park which is the best in the whole of East Africa. Chimpanzees are found in about 21 African countries and are regarded to be the close relative to human beings because of sharing 98% of their DNA with human beings just the mountain gorillas.
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest reserve
For nature lovers, Kalinzu forest reserve is one of the most interesting tourist destinations in Uganda based on the variety of wildlife and primates species recorded. Chimpanzee trekking is the done activity in the forest. The reserve has about 300 chimpanzees and about 40 of them have been habituated by Japanese researchers for visitors to trek. Visitors stand higher chances of seeing these Chimpanzees in large numbers especially when the weather is conducive and depending on availability of fruiting trees. In comparison, to other places that do chimpanzee trekking like Kibale national park, the Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park and the Budongo forest in Murchison falls national park. This forest reserve offers the cheapest chimpanzee tracking permits and the experience is reportedly more successful too.
The Kalinzu forest reserve 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 400 chimpanzees and 40 habituated chimpanzee that have been open to tourists for chimpanzee trekking. Many tourists visiting Queen Elizabeth national park have always preferred to take part in chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest reserve. Although there is a highest concentration of chimpanzee in Kyambura gorge also situated in queen Elizabeth national park, Kalinzu forest reserve gives visitors a higher chance to see the chimpanzees in the wild.
Chimpanzee trekking usually starts in the morning with the briefing at the parks headquarters by the park officials who will brief you about the expectations while trekking chimpanzees. Thereafter set off to the forest under the lead of the ranger guides in search of the chimpanzees and other primates. This activity is a bit tiresome as the chimpanzees can be difficult spot so you need to be physically fit to walk through the stiff terrain. Sometimes, the grounds are muddy in the forest which sometimes makes it difficult to trek through the forest, the trek normally lasts about 2 to 4 hours depending on the location of the chimpanzees before you locate them. The chimpanzees usually move a lot so they need to be followed closely until they are located. There is a team of trackers who follow the movement of chimpanzees so that when visitors go, it is much easier to find them. One finding the chimpanzees, visitors are allocated about 1 hour in the presence of the chimpanzees before you leave the forest.
Kalinzu forest reserve is best accessed through the Mweya sector of Queen Elizabeth national park, the route is a bit shorter and it covers approximately 40 minutes’ drive to get to Kalinzu forest. Given the closeness of the Kalinzu forest to both Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, the reserve is recommended to trek chimpanzees especially for visitors who want to fit chimpanzee trekking experience in a 4 Days primate’s safari in Uganda visiting Chimpanzees in Kalinzu and Gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park. Kalinzu forest reserve is about 150 kilometres from Bwindi National Park compared to Kibale National Park, which is about 6-7 hours’ drive from Bwindi impenetrable national park. One can also trek chimpanzees at Kalinzu forest in the morning and drive to Kampala or Entebbe immediately after the chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest. It is equally possible to go from Kalinzu forest around midday and arrive in Kigali, Rwanda, in the evening.
Other activities to do Kalinzu forest reserve
Birdwatching experience – Kalinzu Forest is a sanctuary of birds and it falls on the list of one of Uganda’s best birding destinations. Some of the bird species found in Kalinzu forest include the Black and White Casket, Cuckoos, Turaco Great Blue, and Sunbirds to mention a few. The best time for birdwatching experience in Kalinzu forest is in the morning hours. You will also find and see a lot of butterflies in the forest for Kalinzu forest has about 200 species of butterflies. Thus you will have a great chance to view this beautiful creature in their natural habitat.
Wildlife viewing: Queen Elizabeth national park and Maramagambo reserve are situated very close to Kalinzu forest reserve. Queen Elizabeth national park has a variety of wildlife species that facilitate game viewing and game drives. Some of the animal species include the big four game like Leopards, Lions, Elephants and Buffaloes and other animals like the warthogs, antelopes. The park also offers great opportunities 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.
Accommodation around Kalinzu forest reserve
Kalinzu forest reserve itself does not have accommodation available for visitors thus there are no standard accommodation facilities put in place. However, those interested in camping, there are chances to camp and also engage in camping activities. However, they need to come with their own bedding, food supplies and tents. The key camping site is nearer to Nkombe forest offices which provide 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.
However, there are several accommodations to choose from to stay in around Queen Elizabeth national park. Some of the luxury lodges to stay at include; Mweya Safari Lodge, Kyambura Gorge Lodge, Elephant Plains Lodge to mention a few. Mid-range option includes Elephant Hub Lodge, Simba Safari Lodge, Parkview safari lodge, Enganzi lodge just to mention a few. Budget options include Pumba Safari Cottages, Engiri Game Lodge, Mweya Bandas, Kisenyi Game lodge.