Kalinzu Forest Reserve Uganda
Kalinzu Forest Reserve Uganda : is a fascinating natural forest located in the western part of Uganda in Bushenyi district around the confines of Queen Elizabeth National Park and also expands to the Maramagambo forest. It has a biodiverse ecosystem consisting of the dense vegetation of the tropic rain forest and wildlife found in the reserve. The forest reserve is famously known for chimpanzee trekking and it’s the second-best spot for chimpanzee tracking after Kibale Forest National Park. The forest reserve is a very interesting destination in a unique way; the scenic guided walks along the ridges will make you relax. Nature walks through the valleys will expose your mind to a whole new world of the forest life. While on these walks, you can see Mountain Rwenzori, Lake George and the beauty of Kazinga channel. It covers a geographical area of about 147 square kilometers of its land at an average altitude of 1400 meters above sea level. The forest is under the management of the National Forestry Authority (NFA). Kalinzu Forest reserve consists of over 400 tree species, not forgetting shrubs such as the prunus African and the parinaric.
Apart from the tree species, the forest is known for harboring a number of primates including the chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkey, baboons, vervet monkey, red tailed monkey and L’Hoest monkey. Over 380 bird species in Kalinzu forest reserve make it a great spot for birding. Some of these bird species are the black and white casket hornbill, the great blue turaco, sunbirds cuckoos plus many more. The reserve also harbors approximately over 100 moths, over 270 butterflies, flowers of nature and a few reptiles. Its also a home to wildlife species that reside in Savannah grassland like the lions, leopards, wild pigs, giant forest hogs, waterbucks, buffalos, duikers, elephants, among others. They visit this area because of the thick forest with a variety of fruits and food and also because it borders Queen Elizabeth National Park. The reserve is famous and mostly known for the chimpanzee trekking activity; in 2001 a total number of about 200 chimpanzees were counted in this forest and per now the number has increased to over 300 chimpanzees and over 40 are habituated by the Japanese researchers group two years back. Chimpanzee trekking permits in Kalinzu is much affordable compared to that of Kibale Forest National Park. The trekking permit in Kalinzu forest costs 50 dollars per person while in Kibale Forest National Park chimpanzee trekking costs 150 dollars per person. A visit to this forest takes you through its distinct trails each of which rewards you with unique experiences. They include;
The palm trail
This is a 5 kilometer’s trail which takes you approximately 2 hours depending on your hiking speed. You will pass through its woodland trees and get to see unique tree species while crossing through a comparatively flat terrain in this reserve. While on this trail, tourists are rewarded with wonderful tree species found along the path, the popular and interesting one being the Flame tree also known for its vast, red tulip-like flames which are believed to increase Libido in women, the magnificent dragon tree and the Raphia palm tree commonly used to making mats, ropes, baskets and many more.
The valley trail
This trail takes about 4 hours and offers spectacular views of the magnificent steep slopes of the right valley with the green forest canopy and during this trail, you can encounter various wildlife on the way.
The waterfall trail
It is 11 kilometers and takes approximately 5 hours and while here, you will have magical views over stunning Kilyantama waterfall. The trail involves tourists trans versing through some hilly areas and wet terrains and also allows tourists to see the breathtaking Kilyantama waterfall that will welcome the visitors with its roaring sounds and serene environment.
The river trail
The river trail covers approximately 3 kilometers and takes about 1 hour depending on your hiking speed. Chimpanzees and other primates are mostly seen in this trail and tourists will also come along River Kajojo also known as “Elephant River” because elephants were known to bath from here.
What to do at Kalinzu forest reserve
This is the main activity done in the reserve and can be done in trails of the forest and the guide is the one to lead you to these trails which inhabit these primates. Chimpanzee trekking takes approximately 4 hours when you’re exploring these beautiful primates. You can also come across other primates such as black and white colobus monkey, baboons, vervet monkey, red tailed monkey and many more.
This activity takes all day long. After your breakfast, have your packet lunch which you will enjoy in the midst of the forest. You will meet a ranger who will first brief you shortly and after he will lead you to where the chimpanzees are located. While you’re in the wildness with these apes, you will have a rewarding view of their lifestyles. Book for your permits in advance with any tour company to avoid inconveniences.
Kalinzu forest is home to over 378 bird species and its one of the best birding destinations in Uganda to all bird lovers. While doing the activity, you will have an insight to experience the different calling of different bird species such as the great blue turaco, sunbirds, black and white casket, cuckoo birds to mention a few. Tourists will also get an opportunity to view other wildlife animals like the giant forest hogs, elephants, warthogs, baboons and many more that will make your safari an incredible on in the forest.
The forest reserve is close to Queen Elizabeth National Park and the great Maramagambo forest. Some of the park animals like the antelopes, leopards, elephants, warthogs, wild pigs giant forest hogs, waterbucks, buffalos, duikers and more cross to feed in the forest. An arrangement can be made to go to the area of the forest joining Queen Elizabeth National Park for a chance to see some of the large mammals and big cats.
The forest also offers the perfect site for camping activities; in the middle of the forest, a camping site has been set up for tourists to sleep next to nature and enjoy the beautiful African night while listening to amazing night animal sounds.
Guided nature walks
The guided nature walk in Kalinzu forest is an interesting activity that will offer a tourist an opportunity to explore the forest beauty and wonders with the help of the ranger. The forest has four walking trails; the river trail, valley trail, waterfall trail and the palm trail and they will give you different experience in the jungle. While on the walk, expect to see a number of different plant species since the forest is home to over 414 plant species, different primate species, a lot of bird species, the amazing waterfall, vegetation and plantations as well as the wildlife that come from Queen Elizabeth National Park such as bush-pigs, elephants, leopards to mention a few.
Best time to visit the forest
The best time to visit Kalinzu forest reserve is in the dry season from months of July to August and December to February when the forest trails are not slippery but the forest can be visited all year round.
How to get there
Kalinzu Forest Reserve is located in the western Uganda approximately 375 kilometers which is about 6 hours’ drive from Kampala. You will drive through Masaka-Mbarara-Bushenyi. Visitors can board a bus to Butare and get a special hire to the forest. The offices are found in the area connecting Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kalinzu Forest Reserve.