Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park currently known as Kibale National Park is the perfect destination for chimpanzee trekking in has varied tracts of tropical rainforest and a large number of animals located in western Uganda. Kibale National Park is known as the “primate capital of East Africa” with over 13 various primate species. The park is blessed with approximately 1450 chimpanzees. The chimpanzees have since been habituated for over 26 years giving you an opportunity to see and live with the apes in their natural habitats. Children below the age of 15 are advised to see the chimpanzees at Ngamba Island chimpanzee Sanctuary which is found off Lake Victoria in Entebbe. You can sight, feed and learn the chimp’s lifestyle from a raised platform while coming from the forest for your midday snacks and lunch. Kibale National Park has various habitats which include the wet tropical forest, semi-deciduous dry tropical forest, savanna, woodland which attracts different wildlife species in the park.

Location of Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is situated in the western region of Uganda. It is approximately 5 hours’ drive from Kampala and it is 26 kilometers south east of the tourism city Fort Portal. The park is located next to the serene Ndali Kasenda Crater area which is a half drive to Rwenzori Mountains, Semulik National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park plus the Toro-semliki wild reserve. Kibale forest national park borders Queen Elizabeth National Park in the southern region and protects an area of 180 kilometer a long migration corridor for wildlife which stretches from the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth national park in ishasha sector to sebitoli in the northern part of Kibale.

Wildlife in Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park is a home to 13 different species which include over 1450 chimpanzee individuals in Kibale forest national park making it the perfect chimpanzee trekking destination in Uganda and Africa at large. A Uganda road trip helps you to grab a chance and spot all these primates including the uncommon L’Hoest’s monkeys plus the East Africa’s biggest population of the endangered black and white colobus, red colobus, red tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, blue tailed monkeys, olive baboons, bush babies among others. You can also spot other wildlife there in Kibale forest national park though hardly seen like the elephants, buffaloes, leopards, bush pigs, duikers plus some reptiles, amphibians and a diversity of beautiful butterflies.

Kibale Forest National Park has over 375 bird species plus the six being endemic to the Albertine Rift area. It has varied habitat and dense vegetation which provides safe haven and plenty of food to feed on. Birding safari can be best done in the early mornings and late evenings for the nocturnal birds. Bird species to view on your safari include the Red-chested owlet, African grey parrot, blue-breasted kingfisher, little greenbul, white-napped pigeon, yellow-spotted barbet, yellow-throated nicator among the rest.

Activities in Kibale Forest National Park

Chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park

The main attraction is chimpanzee which brings many visitors from different parts of the world to Kibale Forest National Park. This safari activity has been taking place in this park since 1993 up to date. The specific time for chimpanzee trekking can’t be told since chimpanzees move from one area to another in the groups making it easy to locate the group. The tracking is done with the help of a ranger guide but before the trekking is done you have to be first briefed by the ranger then you proceed with the trekking. After briefing you start searching for where the chimps nested the previous night and their location. You have to be ready to trek long distances with long rain jackets because it can rain anytime in tropical rain forest.

Chimpanzee habituation experience

Chimpanzees are habituated for 2 years so that to get used to humans then visitors can start the chimp tracking experience in the jungle. You have to go with a chimp ranger every morning to carry out the process experiencing how the chimps leaving their overnight nests before starting up their daily activities like feeding, copulating, breastfeeding, hunting, patrolling and resting. After all this this family is now ready to be tracked by the visitors. During chimp habituation a maximum of 8 people is allowed including the research staff.

Bird watching

Bird watching is a rewarding experience since the park is was gifted with over 325 different colorful bird species including the 6 which are endemic to the Albertine Rift area. The bird walks begin very early in the morning at exactly 7am after booking the game ranger. The birds in Kibale forest national park include flycatcherGrey-winged Robin, blue shouldered Robin Chat, white-napped pigeon among the rest.

Nature and hiking walks

The walk trail in Kibale Forest National Park 12 kilometers long but the hiking is done during the dry seasons of June to September and November to February. The safari takes 5 to 6 hours. Hiking safari gives you chance to explore and discover Kibale forest national park’s assorted habitats like the woodland, river line forest, swamp grassland, tropical rain forest among the others.

Community walks and cultural experiences

The park is surrounded by several community initiatives like the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which preserve the rich eco system along the wetland. The wetland is a home of beautiful birds with over 138 bird species plus the Magombe swamp which hosts 8 species of primates. All these initiatives are under the management of the community. You can also explore the women’s project which sales handmade crafts to support the woman around there. Visit local schools, prepare and enjoy local meal at Tinka’s place.

Getting to Kibale Forest National Park

You can reach the park through the use of both the road and air transport.  You can drive from Kampala through Fort Portal to Kibale forest national park or via Kampala – Mbarara to Kibale forest via Ibanda and finally from Queen Elizabeth National Park through Kasese – Kasekende craters to Kibale Forest National Park. Alternatively you can fly to the park from Entebbe International Airport for chartered flights to Kasese airstrip which takes only one hour.

Accommodation in Kibale Forest National Park

Accommodation in this park ranges from luxury, mid-range and budget. You can choose the type of lodge you want according to the type of your pocket plus the personal desires and needs. Lodges in Kibale forest include kyaninga lodge, Rwenzori view guest house in fort portal, Ndali lodge, papaya safari lodge in the northern sector and chimpanzee guest house, isunga lodge, turaco treetops in the southern sector.

Best time to visit Kibale Forest National Park           

Kibale Forest National Park can be accessed throughout the year but the best time to visit the park is during the dry season when the trails are dry and accessible. The dry season run from December to February and June to September. The northern part of the park is the wettest since it receives the average annual rainfall of over 1700mm. the climate is only pleasant during the months of March to May and September to November.

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