Kibale National Park hosts one of the most gorgeous tropical forest in Uganda. The park covers an area of about 795sq. km. Kibale forest National park is a home to diverse forest wildlife including the primates most notably the chimpanzees. The northern and central part of the park is covered by forest and to the north of the park is a peak which has an elevation of 1590m above sea level and the lowest point of the park is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine rift valley to the south of the park. Kibale is a very wet area with annual rainfall of about 1700mm especially in the rainy months from March to May and September to November. The temperature of the park ranges between 14-270C and the southern parts of the park have higher temperatures due to the scorching rift valley floor.
Kibale National Park connects with Queen Elizabeth National Park from the south and the combination of these two parks have a relocation corridor for wildlife of about 180km. this corridor extents from Ishasha to the far southern parts of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Sebitoli forest situated in the north of Kibale National park.
Kibale is one of the gratifying attractions to discover a lot of attraction in Uganda, like the nearby tranquil Ndali-Kasenda Ndali Crater which is about 30 minutes drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park, Toro Semliki wildlife Reserve, Semliki National park and Rwenzori.
Kibale Forest National Park is among the finest safari destinations for Chimpanzee tracking in Africa. Kibale park has one of the most fascinating with the finest varying tracts of tropical forests in Uganda. The park is a home to 13 species of primates including the endangered chimpanzees.
Kibale forest national park has up to 351species of trees and its varied altitude is a home to numerous habitats from the wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal Plateau to the savannah and woodland on the floor of the rift valley.
The park is a birder`s paradise with over 375 species of birds and also a home to 70 species of mammals. For researchers focusing of chimpanzees and other primates, Kibale Forest national park is among the foremost research sites in Africa.
Tourist Attractions in Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale has the highest variety and concentration of primates in the whole of Africa, Chimpanzees-human closest relatives are the most famous among the 13 species of primates in Kibale. Kibale National Park inhabits about 1450 number of chimpanzees representing Uganda`s largest population of this human like and globally endangered primates. Kibale Forest inhabits the largest population of the endangered red colobus and I’Hoest’s monkey in the whole of East Africa. Other Primates in Kibale Forest Park include; red-tailed and blue monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, bush baby, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon and potto.
Wildlife in Kibale Forest
Over 70 species of mammals exist in Kibale forest though those animals that dwell on the ground are hard to see since the forest is thick. The number of elephants estimated in this park is said to be in 500, there are also buffalos, leopards, golden cats, duikers, bush pigs, and warthogs. It is also home to over 250 species of colorful butterflies as well as reptiles and amphibians which are hard to spot.
Birds in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda
Kibale national park is one of the best birding forest parks in Africa with over 375 species of birds including bird species that are specials of this area such as the Green-breasted Pitta, African Pitta, Afep Pigeon, Crowned Eagle, White-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Owlet, Western Nicator, Black Bee-eater, Little Greenbul, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Brown-chested Alethe, African Grey Parrot, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Brown Illadopsis, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Black-capped Apalis, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Yellow Spotted Nicator, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Black-eared Ground Thrush, Little Greenbul, and the Abyssinian Ground-thrush.
Kanyanchu River Camp in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda
Kanyanchu is located in the heart of Kibale forest national park and it is the main trailhead for the famous forest walks in this park. This trail is almost used everyday in the park. It is the best track to search for 13 species of primates in the park even for chimpanzee habituation. Guided nocturnal treks, bird watching and nature walks for both children and adults are all available here.
Sebitoli Forest Camp in Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda
Sebitoli is the secondary tourism center of Kibale Park in the north of the forest allowing impressive guided nature walks and opportunities to see various primate species like the black and white colobus, red colobus, blue monkeys and vervet monkeys. A diversity of forest, aquatic and savannah birds are also in plenty here plus the remarkable sightseeing of Mpanga River.
Interesting areas near Kibale Forest
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Bigodi is one of the rich ecosystem wetlands with remarkable sceneries and most known as a birders paradise with up to 138 species of birds that have been recorded in the region. Bigodi line with Kibale park in Magombe Swamp and about eight primate species call Bigodi their haven such as grey-cheeked mangabey, l’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, red-tailed, black-and-white colobus, and olive baboons. Mongooses and bushbucks can also be found here.
Bigodi sanctuary was established to preserve the remarkable wetland with its environmental features and it is under the management f the local community.
Kuhingani Wetland is situated in the north of Kibale Park near Sebitoli forest. This wetland is a conservation project run by the local community and is allows excellent bird watching opportunities as well as visits to the giant tea estates of the local people. Nature walking in this wetland bring you nearer to the black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, red colobus and many other primates as well as other animals in the area such as mongooses, otters and brushbacks.
Tourist Activities in Kibale Forest National Park
Chimpanzee Tracking and Habituation in Kibale
Kanyanchu Forest Walk is the most popular activity in Kibale forest national park. On a good day, visitors can encounter all the 13-primate species in the forest. The premiers of this trail are chimpanzees. Tracking the chimps of Kanyanchu started way back in 1993 and opportunities of locating these chimps are very excellent. Guided nature walks begin at 2pm and takes about 3 hours basing on many factors. Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) for a full day works with the chimpanzee community. Guests have the opportunity to view chimpanzees from morning between 6:00-6:30am when the chimps are leaving their overnight nests as they start their day to day life of hunting, copulating, resting, breastfeeding, displaying and patrolling, up to around 7pm when the chimps build new nests.
Bird Watching in Kibale Forest National park, Uganda
Birding in Kibale starts at Kanyanchu at 7am and the search begins with rare species such as White-winged Warbler, White-collared Olive back, Papyrus Gonolek, and Papyrus Canary. Close to the park is the Bigodi wetland sanctuary, a haven to over 138 bird species and guided nature walks along viewing platforms and boardwalk trail allow high chances of spotting these birds. Among the birds include; Yellow-spotted Barbet, White-spotted Flufftail, Western Nicator, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Yellow-billed Barbet, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Black Bishop, Superb Sunbird, White-breasted Negrofinch Bocage’s Bush-shrike, and Black-crowned Waxbill among others
Nature Walks/Hiking in Kibale Forest National Park
When daytime residents of the forest are nesting at dust, some other residents of the forest are resting up at dusk. Rarely seen creatures become more active at night. Night walks are undertaken using very powerful torches in the darkened forest to look out for nocturnal creatures such as bush babies, Pottos, tree hyrax, nightjar and crickets. Civet or serval cats can also be seen. Night walks begin at 7:30pm for up to two hours.
Cultural Visits in Kibale National Park
Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development (KAFRED) is a community-based organization whose prime goal is to promote livelihoods of local and use of ecotourism to conserve biodiversity. A guided nature walk takes you through the Magombe swamp wetlands as you walk along the boardwalk. You have higher chances of exploring wildlife from a close range and about 200 species of birds, eight species of primates, diversity of butterfly species and fascinating swamp vegetation. Undertake village walks to learn about the way of life of the Batooro tribe- one of the most hospitable and peaceful tribes in Uganda. Visit the primary school that was built by KAFRED, the church and a traditional healer.
Understand the role of women in the local community and the traditional ceremonies including the history of Bigodi which you will be told through the story of the “Village of Two Tribes”, you will learn about the way migrating tribe of Bakiga joined the indigenous Batooro in 1950s. the money generated from these community walk is diverted into sanitation, health, education and improving livelihood of the local people as well as raising awareness to the locals about the importance of biodiversity through traditional songs, dances and other cultural performances.
Getting to Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale national park is in the western direction of Uganda about 26km south east of Fort Portal town. Reach Kanyanchu river camp-the heart of tourism activities in the park and this can be reached from Kampala, the Capital of Uganda, through Mubende town and Fort Portal (Taking the northern direction.
One can also access Kibale through the southern direction from Kampala through Mbarara or Kamwenge road and get to the park. The Kampala-Mubende-Fort Portal route is more shorter and faster with 300km on tarmac road from Kampala to Fort Portal and 36km from Fort Portal to Kanyanchu on murram road.
Travel busses are available on the daily basis running from Kampala to Fort Portal town through Sebitoli then Fort Portal with Kamwenge through Kanyanchu.
Where to stay in Kibale National Park
Kibale park features perfect accommodation with Primate Lodge Kibale located in Kanyanchu among other luxury accommodation, tree houses, budget cottages at Sebitoli.
Each of the Kibale park accommodations has a café serving both international and local cuisines. Budgetary accommodation can also be found at Bigodi, Ndali Crater area and Nkingo. Ndali area in famed for its luxurious accommodation and other budget options like Chimpanzee guesthouse, there is also some high standard accommodation in fort portal town as well as lake Nkuruba.
Primate Lodge Kibale (Up Market/Luxury)
This is a stylish Eco-lodge located inside the park and surrounded by a healthy tropical rain forest which inhabits many species of primates including Chimpanzees. The Lodge is isolated in the middle of the rainforest to offer you a familiar jungle that you can rely on and it is an iconic area for chimpanzee tracking. Primate lodge features luxury cottages and tents that are well furnished to make you more comfortable.
Facilities and services at Primate lodge include;
- 8 Luxury Safari Tents- all en suite
- 7 forest cottages-all en suite and with a sitting room
- Sky Tree House- with perfect view of Elephant lurch
- Restaurant and bar
- Cultural dancing fireplace
Ndali Lodge (Up-Market – Luxury)
This is a luxurious lodge with spectacular rooms, fresh food, great staff, terrific and fascinating views. It is a relaxing lodge with unique and wonderful experience. Read more
Kyaninga Lodge – Fort Portal, Kibale (Luxury)
Kyaninga lodges allows fascinating and outstanding views, strategic location, just a little soulless, Top of the line in Uganda, Paradise on Earth, Stunning Lodge, Caring Staff, Great View, these and many others are more are the words of previous visitors to this lodge. Read More
Kibale Forest Camp Uganda (Budget)
Kibale Forest Camp is located 3.5km off Fort port-Kamwenge, on the line of the park after Bigodi Village. The Camp has about 7safari tents, each featuring double bed and ensuite bathroom. They have spacious Terraces to allow you perfect views of colobus monkeys in the forest. Read more.