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Kalinzu Forest Reserve is found in south-western Uganda, within Bushenyi district, near Queen Elizabeth national Park, making it an add-on destination for tourists visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park.  Between this Reserve and Kyambura gorge, the former is the best destination for chimpanzee tracking and extends for only 147 square kilometers.

Where is It Located?

Kalinzu Forest is located in Bushenyi district in the Southwestern part of Uganda. This Tropical rainforest is managed by the National Forestry Authority (NFA). Flanking the Kasese – Mbarara Road southeast of Queen Elizabeth National Park, the 137sq km forest is essentially an extension of  the Maramagambo forest. It is approximately 375 kilometers which is just about 6 hours’ drive up to the reserve headquarters. The forest lies on an average altitude of about 1400m above sea level. Though the forest reserve is most famous for chimpanzee tracking, the park has in incredible diversity of wildlife.

During the past 5 years, Kalinzu has become a hotspot for tourists taking safaris in Uganda most especially the visitors to Queen Elizabeth National Park. While in Queen Elizabeth National Park, you can take excursions to the Kalinzu Forest.

Things to See

The park hosts 414 species of trees and shrubs including prunes African Ficus and Parinari among others.

The park is home to over 6 species of primates (like the Chimpanzees, olive baboons, blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and L’Hoest’s monkeys).

There are lots of birds to see in the forest. There are 378 species of birds recorded in the park including sunbirds, great blue turacos and cuckoos, 260 butterfly species and more than 90 species of moths. Some of the birds not to miss in the forest include sun birds, black and white casket, cuckoos and the Great Blue Turaco, it host also 97 moths, 262 butterflies ,flowers and reptiles

Activities done in Kalinzu forest

Chimpanzee tracking

The forest is home to six different species of primates including the blue Monkeys and chimpanzees.Begin your chimpanzee tracking following advance guides. There are hundreds of chimps in the reserve along with so much more to see in this unspoilt wilderness.Once located your guides will tell you all about the chimpanzee family you have found and help you follow them during your trip.

Forest walk

Kalinzu forest offers visitors a choice of scenic guided walks along the ridges and valleys of the Rift Valley escarpment.

Birding; The Forest is a home of 378 species of Birds such as the Great blue Turaco, Black and White Casqued hornbill, Cuckoos and Sun birds.

Butterfly identification

This activity is also regarded interesting as you’re going to identify different species of butterflies that lives in the forest.

Small mammal viewing

Since the reserve is adjacent to Queen Elizabeth national part it provide a refuge to a number of wildlife such as giant forest hogs, water buck, elephants, wild pig and Duiker among others can be watched.

The breathtaking nature of Kalinzu Forest Reserve with beautiful bird species, trees and plants, animals, butterflies, moths and others can be well explored by undertaking a nature walk through four of the legendary, well-maintained and marked forest hiking trails that transverse different areas of the Reserve including hilly terrains. These hiking trails include:

The Palm trail

This circular trail is about 5 kilometers and usually lasts between 90 and 120 minutes transversing through a relatively flat areas and tourists get the opportunity to discover outstanding forest trees such as the “Flame tree” with his huge red tulip-like flames that reportedly increase libido in women. Also, the Raphia Palms used for making local mats as well as the Dragon tree can be spotted along this trail.

The River trail

The River trail is a circular trail of two and a half kilometers lasting only one hour with unique features encountered being River Kajojo (also the elephant river) because herds of elephants are also spotted bathing in the river. This trail transverses through some wonderful species of Parinari excelsa-the climax tree within Kalinzu Forest and a giant strangler figure. Additionally, tourists who use this trail get the chance to see some of the 9 species of primates including chimpanzees that nest high in the tree tops.

The waterfall Trail

This 11 kilometers loop trail is the longest and most interesting lasting from four to five hours but passes between some hilly and wet areas offering sights of the spectacular Kilyantama waterfall (locally translated as the “sheep eater”). Tourists who use this trail normally see the “tree that baboons cannot climb” as well as bark cloth figs that are used in the craft industry to make the nice curtains, table cloths, handbags and ceremonial clothes you are likely to see during your safari in Uganda.

The Valley Trail

The Valley trail is about three and a half kilometers and takes tourists only 2 hours to compete while rewarding participants with the breathtaking views of the deep valley. It passes along and past several tree species such as the Viagra tree (Mutragyne rubrostipuleta).

Getting There & Away

At only 40 kilometers from Queen Elizabeth National Park, this small Forest can be accessed from Ishasha sector via the Mbarara-Kasese highway and is only 10 kilometers off the main highway. There is a booking office at Nkombe Forest station abou 20km north of Ishaka. The park is adjacent to the Mbarara-Kasese. The reserve can be accessed by public transport and organised travel.

Where to Stay

The park has a budget campsite at the Nkombe. The campers need to be self-sufficient and visitors wishing to stay can get basic supplies like water, firewood at the site. For those who prefer hotels, the Homeland Hotel in Ishaka is a great choice.