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Kalinzu Forest – Chimpanzee Tracking – Birding – Nature Walks

Posted by on April 22, 2021

Kalinzu Forest – Chimpanzee Tracking – Hiking Trails, Birding

Chimpanzee Trekking in  Kalinzu Forest – 2nd Best for Chimpanzee Trekking Success –


The Kalinzu Forest Reserve is one of the best off-of-the-beaten tourist track Chimpanzee Tracking locations in all of Uganda. Here you find a tropical rainforest teeming with an incredible array of primates, birds, butterflies, and wildlife.

Chimpanzee enthusiasts typically bypass Kalinzu Forest in favor of the better-known Kibale Forest. Never realizing that they are missing one of the natural wonders found in Uganda, Kalinzu Forest Reserve. 

Kalinzu Forest offers a wide range of tourist activities, all without the crowds found elsewhere. Chimpanzee Tracking is the primary reason that visitors come here. Birding enthusiasts can easily spend a few days roaming through the forest, amazed by the multitude of species they discover.

Hikers find Kalinzu Forest Trails a surprising challenge with its ridges and valleys. Hitting the trails here is rewarding as you encounter hooting chimpanzees, various monkeys, colorful birds, butterflies, and flowers. 

Kalinzu Rainforest is your ideal butterfly watching location. If you’re aiming to see diversity, this is one of the better spots in all of Uganda. It does not get any better. A rainforest near the equator is traditionally where Butterfly Watchers see the highest species count.


What awaits you in Kalinzu Forest:

The Kalinzu Forest Reserve is a most biodiverse tropical rainforest that is an extension of the vast Maramagambo Forest that is part ofKalinzu Forest -Chimpanzee Queen Elizabeth Park. The 137 square-kilometer forest ranges in altitude between 1,000 and 1,500 meters above sea level.
The Forest is similar in makeup to the neighboring Queen Elizabeth Park Maramagambo Forest.
Here you find 400 species of trees and shrubs, various flowering plants. It is home to 378-species of birds, 262 Butterflies, and 97 moth species.

When it comes to wildlife, the Forest is a refuge for the rare pygmy antelope. You will also see other species of antelopes, giant forest hogs, and bushpigs. Due to its proximity to Queen Elizabeth Park Forest Buffaloes, Forest Elephants, even Leopards, and at rare times, Lions may wander into the rainforest.

Six Diurnal primates are common in this rainforest. Diurnal primates are active during daylight hours. While here, you can see Chimpanzees, Blue Monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, the rare L’Hoest Monkeys, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, and Olive Baboons. Besides, there are Nocturnal primates such as pottos, bushbabies, and two species of galagos.

There are at least three hundred plus Chimpanzees found here. Japanese researchers have habituated two troops. One troop is open for tourists, the other for the ongoing research that has been going on for over 25 years.

         Without a doubt, there is a lot of life in this 137 square-kilometer forest. It is no wonder that the word has gotten out abou/t the natural wonders that are Kalinzu Forest.


Things to do and see in the Kalinzu Forest Reserve 

Chimpanzee Trekking:

Chimpanzees are the reason that tourists are drawn to Kalinzu Forest. The possibility to spend one hour with our closest relative in the animal kingdom is the main attraction here. 

, Chimpanzees share about 98.6% of our DNA. We share more of our DNA with chimpanzees than with monkeys or other groups, or even with other great apes! We both play, have complex emotions and intelligence, and a very similar physical makeup.

All reasons that Chimpanzee Tracking is such a sought-after activity for tourists visiting Uganda.

The Kalinzu Forest Chimpanzee Tracking Advantages:

  • The Forest has become the second-best chimpanzee trekking location in all of Uganda. Kibale Forest being deemed the Number One.
  • Kalinzu Forest Chimpanzee Tracking can easily be combined with Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable. It is the closest chimpanzee tracking site to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
  • It is easily combined with a time spent in nearby Queen Elizabeth Park.
  • The important reason to track chimpanzees here is the Kalinzu Forest Price Advantage over any other location. Fifty US Dollars is a fraction of the price that it would cost you in Kibale Forest. Additionally, there are no daily Park Fees since Kalinzu Forest is not under the jurisdiction of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
  • The success rate of sighting Chimpanzees is about 90% of the time, extremely high and the second-best in Uganda.
  • Normally permits are readily available even during peak season months. Something that is not the case in Kibale Forest.

The only Disadvantage to tracking Chimpanzees here is that you have a more challenging terrain than you do in Kibale Forest. However, tracking chimpanzees is a breeze compared to Mountain Gorilla tracking, which usually is more difficult than chimpanzee tracking.  


What to wear and bring for your Chimpanzee Trek:

Kalinzu Forest -Chimpanzee Trekking Gear and Wear: You should have the right gear and clothing for your Chimpanzee Trek. The same suggestions apply to hiking, birding, or butterfly watching in the forest.

Here is what we recommend that you have, a waterproof Daypack with a packed lunch from your lodge and two liters of bottled water.

You will need well worn-in boots with thick socks. Wear Long trousers which are best tucked into the socks. You will also need a long-sleeved shirt and a light rain jacket or poncho, which you can put into your daypack.

We also suggest wearing a hat, use sunblock and insect repellent. All this is to protect you from nettles, thorns, underbrush, and insects.

COVid-19 Protocols for Chimpanzee Trekking require you to have two surgical face Masks, plus hand sanitizer.

Binoculars will give you a better experience in the rainforest no matter what activity that you participate in. Additionally, we suggest that you protect your camera equipment with Ziploc bags or a shower cap.


Hitting the Trails in Kalinzu Forest:

Chimpanzee Trekking Briefing and Orientation:

Your Chimpanzee Trek begins with a Briefing and Orientation at the trailhead where your Trek begins and ends. Besides wearing the right clothing, masks are required. Handwashing Stations are there, and you are required to wash your hands or sanitize them upon arrival. Please the distancing rule of two meters or six feet.

  • The maximum number of Trekkers is six – and the Minimum Age is 12: Only six trekkers are allowed, and the minimum age is fifteen.
  • Temperature Screening: The mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the critical tourism
  • The Trekking Briefing: The Ranger that will lead on the Trek is the one that will brief before heading out. You will be given instructions on conducting yourself on and trek and during the actual Chimpanzee Encounter.
  • If you are ill:  Tourists, and staff, during the briefing, are observed to be sick shall not be allowed to track the Chimpanzee. These include anyone with signs of flu and those who report having diarrhea, stomach upsets, and malaria, among others.
  • Surgical Face Masks must be worn: Tourists, Ranger, must wear fresh masks on the trek. Two masks are required for the trek.
  • Before heading out on the Trail: Wash or sanitize your hands once more.

During the Trek in and out:

  • Follow the instructions of the Rangers: The rangers know what is best in the wild. They also want you to have a memorable experience. Follow the leading along tracking trails and stick to the group for both your safety, but even so that you can listen to him explain the attractions seen along the way to the Chimpanzees.
  • Keep your Voice low:  You are requested to keep your voices at a low volume as you head to track the mountain Chimpanzees and even be quieter when you finally meet them. It is so that you do not disrupt their peace and allow you to enjoy other wildlife species along the trail, especially the birds, golden monkeys, and butterflies.
  • Keep a two-meter distance from others on the Trail:  This is one of those enforced rules. Please a distance of two meters or six feet from others.
  • Breaks on the Trail: Wearing a mask on a longer hike can be exhausting for some. Fresh it will be taken on the way in and out of the forest. Social distancing will be enforced during breaks on the trail.
  • Do not pick flowers, plants:  Leave everything as you find it. Do not pick flowers, plants, roots. Only leave your footprints behind. The only to take with you are pictures.
  • Final Instructions before the Chimpanzee Encounter:  Just before you come near the Chimpanzees, you will be given some last-minute instructions. You will be asked to sanitize your hands once more.
  • Medical Issues: If a tourist or accompanying team members experience a health-related problem, UWA staff shall apply the established evacuation and first aid guidelines to move the affected individual from the field.
  • Medical Emergency: If a Trekker or accompanying team member experiences a health-related problem, UWA staff shall apply the established evacuation and first aid guidelines to move the affected individual from the field to the nearest hospital clinic.
  • DO NOT LITTER! Pack it in and pack it out: Like in any national park or protected area, you are advised to keep any form of garbage with you. If you have a backpack, please put all trash into it, and you can always empty it at a designated disposal point when you return to the briefing area.
  • Using the Toilet on the trail: Should you need to use the toilet, please speak to a ranger to advise you accordingly on how to do it ecologically.

When you are with the Chimpanzees

  • Keep a ten-meter Distance: You are required to keep a distance of ten meters from where the Chimpanzee family is. This distance is maintained to reduce the chance of transmission of diseases such as COVID-19. Infections can spread to the Chimpanzees or from Chimpanzees to humans.
  • No Provoking of our closest cousins: No taunting the chimpanzees.
  • No Eating or Smoking: Eating or smoking while in the presence of mountain Chimpanzees is prohibited.
  • No Flash Photography: Flash photography is also prohibited while with Chimpanzees. It frightens them unnecessarily.
  • Time with the Chimpanzees: You will be allowed a total of 60 minutes with the Chimpanzees to watch them foraging, playing, and going about their usual business of the day, after which you will be returning to the trailhead.

Hitting the Trails – Hiking in Kalinzu Forest

The Forest Trails: There are four forest trails that you can hike. A moderate level of fitness is advised since this is hilly terrain. The length of the trails varies, and there is one right for you.

The River Trail: This short 2 ½ km circular trail takes approximately 1 hour. The primary feature along this walk is the River Kajojo or ‘elephant river’ so-called because elephants used to bathe here.

The trail goes past some fine specimens of “Parinari excelsa,” the climax tree in the Forest, and a colossal strangler figure. Visitors will see some primates along this trail, including Chimpanzees. 

The Palm Trail: Here is a 5 km circular trail. The trail is between 1 ½ – 2 hours long and is over relatively flat terrain. Visitors will discover some fascinating forest trees along this trail, including the ‘Flame tree.” The tree has large, red, tulip-like flames, which supposedly activates sexual desire in women. The “Raphia Palms,” which are used for making local mats, and the somewhat spectacular “Dragon tree.” 

The Valley Trail: This 3 ½ km circular trail takes approximately 2 hours and offers spectacular views over the valley. Visitors will trek along a ridge and past several exciting forest features. A forest favorite is the ‘Mutragyne rubrostipuleta’ or ‘viagra’ tree. 

The Waterfall Trail: It is an 11 km loop trail taking that will take 4 and 5 hours over some hilly and, in parts, wet terrain. This trail leads to a magnificent waterfall, “kilyantama,” locally known as ‘the sheep eater.’ Visitors will discover the tree that “baboons cannot climb.” and barkcloth figs used in the craft industry to make beautifully decorated table cloths, curtains, handbags, and ceremonial clothes.

You can hike up the Kishunja Hill Viewpoint: From there, you can see the entire Forest Canopy, parts of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, and the Rwenzori Mountains. Kalinzu Forest is close to Queen Elizabeth National Park, and wildlife from that park comes over to Kalinzu Forest Reserve. At times you can see Leopards, antelopes, elephants, buffaloes, and wild pigs. 

Most come for Kalinzu Forest – Chimpanzee Tracking, which is a 4–5-hour experience here. Rangers guide all treks and hikes in the park.

Kalinzu Forest can be an all-day outing that includes Chimpanzee Trekking, Hiking, Birding, and Butterfly viewing. Have a picnic lunch in the forest and return to your lodge in nearby Queen Elizabeth Park in the Late Afternoon.

Where to Stay: Any lodge in the northern area of Queen Elizabeth Park will be fine. From there, it is a short drive to the Forest.


If you are interested in adding  Kalinzu Forest – Chimpanzee Tracking to your safari itinerary with us-please let us know.

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