Kibale Forest National Park

Overview – Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is a total venture, with its open savannah connecting into woodland, tropical forest and evergreen rainforest therefore creating one of the last expanses of land in Uganda boasting both lowland and montane forest.

Every trek into Kibale Forest is a master class as you go land onto a Chimpanzee Trekking adventure in the marvelous forest with the highest diversity and concentration of primates found on the entire continent; ranging from the chimpanzees, L’Hoest’s monkey to the red colobus monkey, and other endangered primates.

It is located at the East of Uganda’s snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, and offers a scenic forest habitat. The area is habitat to 13 species of primates, including chimpanzees, some families of which have been habituated.

There is a large wildlife corridor linking Kibale Forest National park to Queen Elizabeth National Park, with African elephants roaming freely between both sanctuaries. The park is located close to the calm Ndali Kasenda crater area, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks along with the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife in Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park boasts the greatest density and diversity of primates in the whole of Africa with 13 species of primates i.e 1450 chimpanzees, the L’Hoest’s monkey (which is very rare by the way), the endangered red colobus monkey, the black & white colobus, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey cheeked mangabey, bush baby and potto are among the other primates.Other mammals consist of buffalo, leopard, bush pig elephant and duiker alongside amphibians and reptiles and a colorful variety of butterflies.

The park consists of 325 bird species, including 6 Albertine edemics and others including dusky crimsonwing, black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis,red-faced woodland warbler and purple-breasted sunbird. Other marvelous creatures in Kibale forest park are the green breasted pitta, African pitta, black bee-eater,Abyssinian ground thrush, yellow spotted nicator, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brown chested alethe, yellow rumped tinkerbird, blue-breasted kingfisher,  along with the crowned eagle.

Chimpanzee Trekking

This is a very interesting experience where you venture into the natural jungle and spend a number of hours tracking these gorgeous Chimpanzees. When you encounter the primates, you will be allowed an hour with them as you observe them swing from one tree to another, feed, play about or progress speedily on the ground right in front of you.

Vegetation in Kibale Forest National Park

The forest has a varied altitude holding up different varieties of habitat, ranging from moist evergreen forest (wet tropical forest) along the Fort Portal plateau, then through the dry tropical forest (moist semi deciduous), and then to the woodland & savanna along the rift valley floor.

In the central part of the park, the high forest consist of a mixture of evergreen trees and deciduous with the evergreen species being dominant. The vegetation here rise to over 55m and establish a semi closed canopy of massive stratified tree crowns with shades of  tolerant herbs, a variety of ferns, shrubs and broad leaved forest grasses, the undergrowth is sparse.

Local people

The people living around Kibale National Park are mostly Batoro and Bakiga with the Batoro as the natives to the region while the Bakiga are just immigrants from the thickly populated southwestern part of the country. The king and the kingdom personify the traditional along with cultural values of the Batoro with the Bakiga still holding their culture and tradition as expressed in their dance, folklore, as well as language.

Activities in Kibale Forest National Park

After Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale Forest is one of the most frequented parks as it is the primate capital with a lot of wildlife, primates and birds to view.

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzees are the prime attraction for many visiting Kibale national park. You will meet for briefing from the ranger guide way before the trek taking you through the expectations while in the forest and share more about the wildlife in the park.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee are habituated over a period of 2 years before they get used to humans and then chimpanzee trekking can begin. Here along with the rangers and research staff, you watch chimpanzees leaving their overnight nests before they start their daily activities, feeding, hunting, copulating, breastfeeding, patrolling and resting until they break off for the night by building new nests at about 7pm.

Bird watching in Kibale National Park

Birding in Kibale forest is a rewarding experience and is home to a variety of birds including the Albertine rift endemics including Green breasted pitta, Grey-throated Flycatcher, Grey-winged Robin, Crested Flycatcher,Blue shouldered Robin Chat, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, White-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Flufftail, White-collared Oliveback, White-bellied, Masked Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, Tiny Sunbird and many more.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

This sanctuary is home to around 200 species of birds, as well as butterflies and eight different species of primates, including grey-cheeked mangabey. Two- to three-hour swamp walks will take you through grassland, small communities and some beautiful scenery.

Nature and Hiking walks

The forest is rich in variety and the chimpanzee trekking may not give you enough time to take in all that the forest offers because you are focused on location the chimpanzees. Here you are able to spot more variety of birds and animals, bush pigs, duikers, and or elephants.

Nocturnal Walks

You can opt for night walks to see the nocturnal animals when the other forest inhabitants rest they are on the move searching for food. The rangers use powerful torches to seek nocturnal such as bush baby, hyrax, potto and occasionally serval cat and civet that last 2.5hours beginning at 7 pm.

Accommodation in Kibale

The park has excellent accommodation ranging from budget to mid-range to luxurious accommodation and they include:

  • Kyaninga Lodge
  • Mountains of the moon Hotel
  • Rwenzori View Guest house
  • The DutchessIsunga Lodge
  • Papaya Safari Lodge
  • Ndali Lodge
  • Nyinabulitwa
  • Crater Safari Lodge
  • Crater Valley Kibale Lakeside Resort
  • Lake Nkuruba nature reserve
  • Primate Lodge
  • Kanyanchu River Camp
  • Sebitoli Camping Ground Southern sector
  • Chimps nest
  • Chimpanzee Guest house
  • Kibale forest camp
  • Kibale Forest Lodge

Best time to visit

The park is open year-round and can be visited anytime of the year with the best time to visit being during the hot, dry months of January and February when animals will stay near the water.

but during the rainy season, which runs from October through December and March through May, roads are difficult to use with the trials in the park muddy, slippery and impassible

How to get to There

By Road

Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 22 km southeast of Fort Portal town and can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.

The Kampala-Mubende-Fort portal route is rather shorter with an approximate distance of 290 km tarmac road followed by 32 km on gravel from fort portal to Kanyanchu

By Air

Those who not willing to take long tiresome drives can opt for scheduled flights from Entebbe Airport to Kasese Airstrip and be transferred the rest of the journey by road.