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Chimpanzee Tracking in Kalinzu Forest: When to book, Where to stay, Chimp Permit and Birding

When you mention chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, few visitors will mention or even think of Kalinzu Forest, because it is not as popular as other trekking destinations. Kalinzu Forest is the budget and more affordable option for trekking chimpanzees close to Queen Elizabeth National Park. In terms of Chimpanzee population and authentic experiences, this Forest is considered the second-best chimpanzee trekking destination in the country after Kibale Forest National Park.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kalinzu ForestThere are over 350 chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest but only 70 of them have been habituated by Japanese Researchers into two communities/troops and open for trekking. Interestingly, there are more chances of encountering these Great Apes in Kalinzu Forest than it is in Kyambura Gorge of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Budongo Forest (at the north-western edge of Murchison falls National Park.


Kalinzu Forest is situated within the western side of Uganda, in Bushenyi district and is interestingly near Maramagambo Forest as well as the popular Queen Elizabeth National Park also in western Uganda. This Forest is home to over 400 unique tree species, about 6 primate species (of course including chimpanzees), about 200 butterfly species and over 350 species of birds although chimpanzees are the highlight of most visits to the Forest Reserve.

Talking of chimpanzees, these Great Apes are 98.7% related to humans and the chances of finding them at Kalinzu Forest are between 50-75%.

How chimpanzee treks are conducted in Kalinzu Forest

Chimpanzee treks in Kalinzu Forest are conducted in two sessions-Morning and afternoon. Each of these sessions begins with briefing at the Headquarters and headed by Forest Rangers who take visitors through the guidelines of trekking as well as expectations from searching for these Great Apes in one of their natural habitats. Afterwards, embark for the trek under the lead of Forest Ranger guides to search for chimps alongside other primates such as olive baboons, L’Hoests monkeys, blue monkeys and bird species among others.

The Forest Ranger guides will lead you through the forest for 30 minutes to several hours before the chimpanzees are found. You will be amazed by how fellow trekkers are optimistic while rangers enthusiastic but most especially the joy of finally meeting face to face with the Chimpanzees. The search for chimpanzees is definitely a rush of adrenaline and the minutes or even hours you spend searching for these endangered creatures is absolutely incredible and worthwhile. Unlike mountain gorillas that are calmer and found on the ground, chimpanzees are mainly found on tall tree branches and move around most of the time. You will spend one hour in the presence of these Great Apes before disembarking from the forest to continue with other booked activities.

Guidelines of trekking chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest

Some of the guidelines to be followed while trekking chimpanzee within Kalinzu Forest include;

Visitors have to be 12 years and above to be able to trek chimpanzees within Kalinzu Forest

A maximum of 6 persons are allowed to trek each of the habituated chimpanzee troops in Kalinzu Forest.

Always keep voices to the minimal to avoid scaring chimpanzees.

Do not eat, smoke or drink in the presence of these Great Apes.

Maintain a minimum distance of 8 meters away from these creatures to avoid any possibility of transmitting communicable diseases.

Only one hour is allotted for observing and photographing chimpanzees.

Things to wear and carry for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest

For you to trek chimpanzees within Kalinzu Forest, it is recommended to wear safari pants of neutral colors and khaki fabric. This is to protect your legs from the uncomfortable vegetation and morning dew on grass.

Make sure that you have comfortable hiking boots with good grip

Wear gardening gloves to protect your hands from getting hurt as you pull up over the ends of tree branches to and from the forest.

Carry a good pair of binoculars to spot other residents of Kalinzu Forest especially the birds, butterflies and primates.

Besides Chimpanzee trekking, Kalinzu Forest is popular for other phenomenal safari activities that include bird watching, butterfly watching, guided forest walks and Camping among others.

Permits for chimpanzee trekking in Kalinzu Forest

Permits for trekking chimpanzees in Kalinzu Forest cost only $50 hence making it more affordable than Kibale Forest National Park.

Best Time for Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu Forest

Chimpanzee tracking in Kalinzu Forest is conducted all year round although majority of the treks are done in the dry season-June to August and December to February when trekking conditions such as forest floor and vegetation are more conducive.

Places to stay near Kalinzu Forest

There are currently no established accommodation facilities within Kalinzu Forest Reserve but Camping grounds with basic facilities (solar-powered showers and pit latrines) are available for visitors interested in spending overnight/s within the Forest. Visitors have to organize for firewood and water from the nearby Trading Center. Therefore, organized accommodation is available in Homeland Hotel near Ishaka, Mweya Safari Lodge, Mweya Hostels, Katara Lodge, Park View Safari Lodge and Jacana Hotel among others within/or near Mweya sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

How to access Kalinzu Forest

Located at approximately 375 kilometers from the Capital and along the Mbarara-Kasese highway, Kalinzu Forest is easily accessed via the popular Mweya sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park because it takes 30-45 minutes to connect to the Forest Reserve. All in all, this magnificent tourist site is about 5 hours’ drive from Kampala and is mainly accessed through road transport.

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