Kibale National Park, one of the most visited national parks in Uganda, known as home to Chimpanzee, and has been named as the primate capital. It is 766 square kilometres (296 sq mi) in size and is located between 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) to 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) in elevation. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes. The Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. In Eastern Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest.
Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip, which stands 1,590m above sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south. 351 tree species have been recorded in the park, some rise to over 55m and are over 200 years old. The park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees (over 1250 chimpanzees do exist within this park), as well as the red colobus monkey (status: Endangered) and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey (Vulnerable). The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged forest reserve.
Superb birds and primates combined with easy access, a good infrastructure and a variety of interesting activities make this forest a worthwhile Uganda safaris destination as you have choices of where to stay and what to do in this area, within easy way of accessibility.
Kibale’s major attraction, however, is the opportunity to track habituated chimps, these delightful apes, more closely related to man than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. A network of shady forest trails provides much to delight botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species which include the endemic Prirogrine’s.
Activities at Kibale National Park
Kibale’s most popular activity is the Kanyanchu Primate Walk. Thirteen species can be sought, and a good variety of diurnal monkeys invariably encountered, but the stars of this twice-daily show are chimpanzees. There are two shift for the chimpanzee trekking, thus morning trekking which starts at 0800 with briefing and afternoon trekking which starts at 1400. The trekking last for 2 to 5 hours, depending on the chimpanzee feeding movement. You will be given only an hour on finding the chimpanzees.
You can as well decide to do full day chimpanzee habituation which take a full day activity start at 0600 in the morning with de-nesting the chimpanzee, staying with them the whole day, up to nesting them at 1800. Other primates that may be found on these guided walks include Guereza Colobus, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Gentle ( Blue) and Red-tailed Monkeys is more likely to be found in open areas adjacent to the forest.
You may find evidence of Elephant, Bush Pig and Buffalo along the trails, whilst Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Other interesting mammals from the list of over 60 species include Ichneumon, Banded and Marsh Mongooses, Alexander’s Cusimanse, Swamp Otter, Ratel ( Honey Badger ) and African Palm Civet. Although Golden Cat, Serval, Lion, Leopard, Warthog, Giant Hog and Hippopotamus are recorded from the park, they are unlikely to be encountered in the Kanyanchu area.
Sitatungas are known from Bigodi Swamp but are infrequently seen. The spectacular and beautiful Rhinoceros Viper is fairly common here but is, unfortunately, less often found alive than as a road-kill. Peter’s Duiker are other shy inhabitants of the forest interior, always spotted in the forest during the tracking.
The guided night walks are also rewarding: Potto, Spectacled Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos, Lord Derby’s Anomalure, African Civet and Common Genet are all possible to be sighted during your night walk. The night walk always starts at 8pm near the park briefing center.
Bird watching tours start at 7am at Kanyanchu, you will head in the forest in search for number of birds with over with 335 species which include the endemic Prirogrine’s. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, located just outside the park, is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms. At Kibale, the breasted Peter is one of the birds that can only be sighted at Kibale.
You can decide to talk a nature in the trail of this forest with a guide, which is worth it. You will have chances to spot some of the 13 primates; and you can as well land on the chimpanzees on the same trails in the forest, since you’re in their territory. Number of birds and butterfly species, can as well be spotted.
Cultural Encounter at Kibale
The people living around Kibale National Park are mostly Batoro and Bakiga. The Batoro are native to the region while the Bakiga are just immigrants from the thickly populated southwestern part of the country, from Kisoro, Kabale and Rukungiri. The Batoro carry pride in the ethnic heritage of the Kingdom of Toro, a scion of the ancient kingdoms of the Great Lakes region in Africa. The king (Omukama) and the kingdom personify the traditional along with cultural values of the Batoro. The immigrants (Bakiga) still hold their culture and tradition as expressed in their dance, folklore, as well as language.
However, with increased unity among the two tribes, there has been high rate of intermarriages among them, which has made them to interchange many cultural norms and today they live alike. With the influx of tourism in the region, the tribes can perform traditional dances before the visitor’s at their lodges during the evening hours. Home stay tourism is as well increasing, with visitors visiting the homes for the locals so as to know their social, cultural and traditional ways of life.
- Please note that his is not a Zoo so it is a tropical rainforest and sightings depend on factors such as time of the day fruit availability, weather and how quiet the primate group is.
- The maximum number of people in a group is 8 visitors per guided walk
- The maximum time allowed with the chimps is one hour, however, the time might be shortened under the guides discretion to eliminate stressful situations for the chimps
- When trekking you are advised to remain in a tight group and follow the guides directions at all times.
- Please remain at a distance of 8 meters from the chimps or the distance that your guide recommends
- Under no circumstance shall you chase while they descend or to or walk on higher ground.
- You are advised not to enter the forest if you are sick as this can put the animals at serious risk
- Please refrain from eating near the chimps and other primates, you may attract their attention to you, and destruct their natural behaviors.
- Please do not shout in the forest. Speak at a low tone so as not to temper with the chimps behavior, and peace of other trekkers who wants the chimpanzee attention.
- It’s advisable to wear long boots that cover your toes and long trousers as there are red ants and slippery trails, also carry along waterproof clothing in the rainy season.
- Children under 15 years are not allowed to view the chimps for safety reasons.
- If you need to urinate please do so off the trail system with the guide guidance.
- If you need to defecate, please do so off the trail system and bury all in a hole, all waste. Ask the guide for direction, on where to go.
Number of accommodation do exist in this park for you to spend a night ranging from budget lodges, guest houses, to mid-range lodges, up to luxury lodging. Some of the lodges includes, primate lodge, which is a mid-range and luxury lodge, Crater safari lodge, Isunga lodge, Ndali lodge, Kyaninga lodge which are all luxury lodges. Rweteera safari park, which is both a budget and mid-range lodge, Kibale Chimpanzee Guest House, which is a mid-range lodge, Kibale forest lodge, mid-range lodge. You can as well have an overnight in Fort Portal and drive to the park early morning for briefing and trekking, in case you’re in for morning trekking session.
Kibale National Park can be accessed by two routes, thus Kampala via Mubende to Fort portal which is the shortest direct route or Kampala via Mbarara and Kasese to Fort Portal. On reaching Fort Portal, take the road from Fort Portal to Kamwenge, which commences near the bridge over the Mpanga River in Fort Portal and is well signposted. Turn left at the junction 12 km from Fort Portal and follow signpost for a further 24 km to Kanyanchu Tourist Centre.
From Kigali -Rwanda
When you are having a transfer from Rwanda, the drive is roughly 6 hours via Gatuna border or Kagitumba, which is a border between Uganda and Rwanda, then through Ntungamo, Kasese and Fort Portal. For more information about Kibale National Park or safari bookings, kindly contact our office by email: [email protected], you can as well make a phone call: +250788439357