Located in western Uganda, Kalinzu Forest Reserve is remarkably that one most spectacular forest reserve that any nature lover shouldn’t miss to explore. If you have plans to spend your next holiday in Queen Elizabeth National Park count it a must in your bucket list. Kalinzu forest is one of a few natural forests that still thrive in Uganda and it is set around Bushenyi district just near Queen Elizabeth National Park and Maramagambo forest. It is about 382 kilometers drive from Kampala and it straddles at elevation of 1400 meters. It extends up to 147 square kilometers and its establishment was mainly to offer refuge to its diverse wildlife.
What to see in Kalinzu Forest Reserve
Kalinzu Forest Reserve is popular for its over 414 tree species including shrubs; primates like 220 chimpanzees, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, more than 380 bird species thus making it a true birder’s paradise (includes the black and white casket, Great blue turaco and many others); over 100 moths and 270 butterflies, reptiles. The key wildlife species to catch a glimpse while you are on Uganda safari at this nature reserve include elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, leopards, wild pigs, lions and many others which can be spotted along the savanna grassland side of this nature reserve.
Nevertheless, most tourists who visit Kalinzu Forest Reserve participate in the Chimpanzee tracking experience that allows trackers to spend at least one hour with primates that are 98.7% related to mankind. Kalinzu is one of the best places for primate watching safaris in Uganda. Out of the 220 chimpanzees in this Forest reserve, 70 of them were habituated by Japanese Researchers to make them used to the presence of humans, hence are open for tracking. Just like chimpanzee tracking in other places, tourists need to carry packed lunch, enough drinking water (of at least 2 liters), wear long sleeved shirts, have to be at least 12 years to be allowed to track these primates, have to wear long trousers, sturdy hiking boots, light rain jacket and a hat.
Tourists travelling to Kalinzu Forest Reserve have to note that there are no lodging facilities in the Reserve, but camping will offer the most interesting wilderness accommodation. However, tourists who are not comfortable with camping can drive to Queen Elizabeth National park (is about 3-4 hours drive).
A visit to this forest takes you through its distinct trails each of which rewards you with unique experiences. They include;
The River trail
River trails is a short trail and a hike through it takes you about 1 hour. It takes you through River Kajojo or elephant waterway. While here, you have a chance to come across several primate species. This is the shortest of all the trails in Kalinzu Forest Reserve and takes only one hour to complete but is very rewarding. The main attraction along this short trail is River Kajojo-locally translated as the Elephant River, because the elephants used to bathe in the River hence the name “Kajojo”. This interesting trail also introduces tourists to some of the species of “Parinari excelsa” that is the Climax tree within Kalinzu Forest reserve and a giant strangler figure. You will also see several primate species such as the chimpanzees, the black and white Colobus monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys and the L’Hoest’s monkeys along this trail.
The Palm trail
This is a 5 kilometers’ trail which takes you about 2 hours depending on your hiking speed. You will wind through its woodland trees and get to fire tree a unique tree species in this reserve. This 5 kilometer round trip lasts between one and a half hours to 2 hours and crosses through a comparatively flat terrain. While on this trail, tourists are rewarded with wonderful tree species found along the path, the popular and interesting one being the Flame tree 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 among others
The waterfall trail is 11 kilometers and takes you about 5 hours and while here, you will have magical views over stunning Kilyantama waterfall.
This trail is an 11 Kilometer round trip that takes between 4 and 5 hours and involves tourists transversing through some hilly areas and wet terrains. This hiking trail allows tourists to see the breathtaking Kilyantama waterfall that will welcome the visitors with its roaring sounds and serene environment.
The Valley trail
This trail takes you about 2 hours to hike through it. This spectacular trail is a three and a half circular loop and rewards tourists with the fascinating views of the steep deep valley, hence the name Valley trail. This trail involves hiking along the ridge and transverse several interesting tree species such as the renowned “Mutragyne rubrostipuleta”-commonly known as the Viagra tree that boosts sexual performance in men.
What to do in Kalizu forest reserve
While on Uganda safari, the notable safari activities to take part in this forest reserve include chimpanzee tracking, bird watching, forest walks, butterfly identification and many others.
Where to stay in Kalinzu forest reserve
The accommodation options in this nature reserve take you camping at forest station at Nkombe. This means, you have to have your own tents. But the nearby accommodation options include Queen Elizabeth Bush Lodge, Mweya Safari Lodge, Kichuwamba/Katara Lodge, Kyambura Game Lodge and many others.
How to get to Kalinzu Forest
This forest reserve is set in western Uganda about 5 hours’ drive from Kampala. You can drive from Kampala through Masaka-Mbarara and then to Bushenyi.
A visit to Kalinzu forest can be combined with wildlife safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park which gets you the best of thrilling African experiences.
In conclusion, besides other familiar places that offer nature walks/hiking safaris, the exceptional Kalinzu Forest reserve allows tourists to explore some of the primate species, forest birds, butterflies, tree species and natural features such as waterfalls.