Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest: The second best chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda is Kalinzu forest which is located in the western part of Uganda. Kalinzu forest has the second highest number of chimpanzees after Kibale forest national park which has the highest number of chimpanzees in the whole world. Kalinzu forest is a habitat to over 320 chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, a few mammal species, and over 378 bird species.
Chimpanzee trekking is the main activity done here and tourists can always combine it with the activities of Queen Elizabeth national park. Kalinzu forest is located a few km from Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth national park along the Mbarara Kasese highway. It’s found in the southeastern part of Queen Elizabeth national park not so far from Maragambo forest.
There are about 320 chimpanzees in Kalinzu forest making it second place with the highest population in Uganda. A group of armed ranger guides together with researchers managed to habituate about 70 chimpanzees and two groups were formed within the forest. These two chimpanzee groups are already used to human presence around them and tourists can visit them at any time of the year.
Encountering chimpanzees of Kalinzu forest
Chimpanzee trekking is the main activity done in Kalinzu forest where the second highest number of chimpanzees does live. Chimpanzee trekking here is done in groups not exceeding 8 people and these are led by armed ranger guides. The activity is done twice a day with the first session at 7 am and the second session at 3 pm.
The process of encountering chimpanzees starts with a briefing at Nkombe station where trekkers are taught about the rules and regulations of the trekking activity before being grouped. After the briefing, they are grouped not exceeding 8 people and each group is led by armed ranger guides who know well the routes to use and find chimpanzees.
The search for chimpanzees takes 30 minutes to 4 hours and during this time, tourists are able to meet different wild animals, birds, butterflies, water sources, and plants among others. The moment the habituated chimpanzees are found, tourists are given 1 hour to be around them and this helps on learning about their behaviors, taking photos, and watching them do daily activities like nesting, hunting, and coupling among others.
What to pack for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest?
For very chimpanzee trekking safari, tourists need essentials such as waterproof hiking shoes, long cotton stocks, a pair of gaiters, long-sleeved shirts, rain jacket, sweater, gardening gloves, long-sleeved shorts, a sweater, a rain jacket, a hat, a light backpack, a camera, a pair of binoculars, insect repellents, sunscreen, drinking water bottle and energy giving snacks among others.
How much are chimpanzee trekking permits in Kalinzu forest?
Chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest is done by those that have chimpanzee trekking permits issued by Uganda Forest Authority. Each chimpanzee trekking permit costs $50 for foreign non-residents, $40 for foreign residents, and UGX30,000 east African citizens. The chimpanzee trekking permits are sold to people 12 years and above and a local tour operator can always help you with the booking.
To book the chimpanzee trekking permits, you need the dates of the month and year you want to trek and then send them to your local tour operator. They will use this information to contact the Uganda Forest Authority asking for the permits. If the permits are available, then you will send you passport or national identity card details together with money for your permit to be booked.
How many permits are available in Kalinzu forest?
With over 320 chimpanzee species, 70 have been habituated and 2 groups are found within the forest ready for trekking activities. Each of the groups is trekked by a maximum of 8 people and this is twice a day. There is the morning shift in the morning at 7 and the afternoon session at 3 pm. There are 32 chimpanzee trekking permits in Kalinzu forest every day.
When to go chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest?
Tourists can go for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest at any time of the year however there are months that are better than the rest. The dry months from June to September and December to February are the best for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu reason being they have little or no rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, vegetation is short and thin with good views of the wildlife while the roads leading to Kalinzu forest are in good condition.
Travelers can have chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu forest during the rainy season because the area will be open. The rainy season is from March to May and October to November and it’s characterized by too much rainfall that makes the trekking trails muddy and slippery, vegetation is tall and thick with good views of the wildlife and the roads leading to the park are impassable.
Accessing Kalinzu forest
Accessing Kalinzu forest by air: Clients can opt to use chattered flights from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe to Queen Elizabeth national park or Bwindi impenetrable forest national park within a single day.
Accessing Kalinzu forest by road: The forest is located on a highway from Mbarara to Kasese and tourists from Kampala/Entebbe can access the forest by driving through Masaka, Mbarara, and Bushenyi where it’s found.