Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is where the West African Jungle meets East Africa containing one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. The forest cover is interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp dominating the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore as it also lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of Queen Elizabeth, the Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks.
The Park is the most magnificent of Uganda’s tropical rainforests boasting over 13 species of primates inclusive of the delightful chimpanzee which can be seen swinging in tree branches as one trek through the forest trails. This stunning park is situated in the heart of the Tooro Kingdom in Western Uganda, near Fort portal offering its lush tropical rainforest and fascinating diversity of animals.
Kibale Forest at the park’s northern tip is highest and stands 1590 m above sea level with landscapes ranging from savannah to lush forests the animal count is high presenting a true adventure into the heart of Africa rendering it the best place in the world to track chimpanzees stomping the ground and swinging over the tree. Full of real-life experiences, dramatic landscapes and a diverse array of wildlife sightings in the African bush, this Uganda expedition in the private capital of the world.
As you journey into Uganda’s remote jungle with an exquisite intimacy, you will discover the park’s assorted habitats blessed with several beautiful sceneries and landscapes that can be encountered during the safari experiences. The unapparelled encounters chimpanzees walking upright presents intense and evocative scenes with the jungle’s remote inhabitants.
Southern Kibale borders Queen Elizabeth National Park maintaining a 180-kilometer long migration corridor for wildlife that stretches from the remote Ishasha sector and to the north of Kibale in “Sebitoli”. The Kibale-Fort Portal region is one of Uganda’s most pleasing places to explore alongside the calm Ndali Kasenda crater area.
Wildlife & Birdlife
Kibale Forest National Park has a density and diversity of primates ranked the highest in the whole of Africa. The most well known of its 13 species are the chimpanzees, with 1450 chimpanzees alongside other primates like 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 and other mammals like Elephant, Bush Pig and Buffalo along the trails, whilst Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Peter’s Duikers are other shy inhabitants of the forest interior.
The guided night walks present rewarding opportunities of Potto, Spectacled Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos, Lord Derby’s Anomalure, African Civet and Common Genet.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 with Sitatungas are known from Bigodi Swamp but are infrequently seen.
Kibale Forest National Park boasts of 372 bird species of which 60 percent are recorded Uganda’s Forest Birds. Bird watchers can spot various species of these birds as they enjoy the various activities in the park. In this park, the most bird of attraction is “The Rear Green Breasted Pitta” as it is only found here. alongside the great blue turaco. Four bird species have not been recorded in any other National park of Uganda: Cassin’s Spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin and Masked Apalis. Other bird species include Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-naped Pigeon, Green-breasted Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycatcher, Masked and Black-capped Apalises, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling, Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Grey-headed Oliveback.
Kibale Forest National Park has a differing diversity of vegetation that supports a number of habitats, ranging from the moist evergreen tropical forest on the Fort-Portal Plateau, the dry (semi-deciduous) tropical forest, to the woodland plus savannah on the floor of the rift valley.
Close to Kanyanchu, the high forest has a combination of deciduous plus evergreen trees and the evergreen species being dominant. The trees rise to more than 55 meters and display a semi-closed shelter of stratified tree rows with the underbrush thin with shade herbs, shrubs, plus a diversity of ferns plus broad leaved grasses. 351 species of trees have been recorded within this park. Kibale’s varied altitude holds up different varieties of habitat, ranging from a 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.
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 Batoro carry pride in the ethical heritage of the Kingdom of Toro, a scion of the ancient kingdoms, the Omukama and the kingdom personify the traditional along with cultural values of the Batoro while the immigrants (Bakiga) still hold their culture and tradition as expressed in their dance, folklore, as well as language.
Kibale Forest National Park is mostly known for Chimpanzee Trekking, there is however much more to it than just chimpanzees of Kibale Rainforest, Kibale is one of the most diverse parks in Uganda is one of the highlights of any Ugandan Safari after Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
Chimpanzee tracking: Being a home to over 13 primate species, Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best places in Africa to encounter the primates. During the Chimpanzee Trekking experience, there are higher chances of meeting many other different primate species that are found in the Kibale forest.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience: Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is an all-day experience with the chimpanzees in Kibale Forest and it begins early in the morning in the company of a guide, researchers, trackers in the presence of chimpanzees being habituated. The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is different from normal chimpanzee Trekking in that you are actively participating in the habituation process.
Birding: Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda where one can encounter over 350 endemic and migrant bird species as you also encounter several primate species such as the black and white colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys and many more.
Nature walks and hiking: Kibale Forest National Park is one of the very beautiful places in Uganda Ideal for hiking and guided nature walks. The famous crater lakes walk in Kibale takes you through the beautiful crater lakes with excellent views especially when you hike to the “top of the world” with clear views of the crater lakes and the Rwenzori Mountain ranges.
Bushcraft Children Activities: Children under the age of 15 cannot track chimpanzees but there are plenty of Kid-Friendly, the children will enjoy the other wonders of the forest like wildlife, plants, trees, birds, and monkeys.
Nocturnal Forest Walk: The night forest walk takes place after dinner in Kibale Forest with rangers equipped with spotlights to see the forest come alive at night. You can see the creatures of the night such as Bush Babies, Pottos, at times Tree Pangolins and other nocturnal animals, including the birds that rule the night in the forest.
Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary: Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary is a swamp in the tropical jungle, filled with natural wonders t – including chimpanzees in the afternoon, birds including the large Blue Turaco, incredible plants, trees, palms.
Crater Lakes Top of the World Hike: There are many crater lakes near Kibale Forest, which you will find as you drive near the Park.
The top of the World Hike is a popular activity near Kibale Forest and is a three-hour or longer guided walk covering three crater lakes, villages, tea-plantations and a view from the top of the 3 crater lakes and the Rwenzori Mountains with the landscape below.
The Amabere Caves: Visit this amazing cave for its beauty, natural wonder and cultural legends and lasts about two-three hours in length and is conducted with a local guide.
The Nakayima Witch’s Tree: This is a cultural and traditional worship site that you can visit on the way to Kibale is on top of a hill with great views, it is used by Ugandans who come and appeal to the spirits in the case of illness, infertility, diseases, relationships.
Kibale Forest National Park is one of the most frequented parks in Uganda thus it has various establishments for lodging ranging from Luxury to mid-range to budget facilities to suit every client’s preference.
- Primate Lodge Kibale
- Ndali Lodge
- Kyaninga Lodge
- Mantana Luxury Tented Camp
- Chimps’ Nest
- Chimpanzee Forest Guest House
- Kibale Forest Camp
When To Visit?
Kibale Forest National park is open for Chimpanzee viewing all year round but the best time to visit is in the dry seasons from June to September and December to February. March to May and September to November are the wet season with slippery and muddy trials making it challenging for game viewing though it is the best time for bird watching.
The climate is Kibale is usually pleasant with an average annual temperature range of 14 to 27oC, with the south of the park at high temperatures and lower and the wettest area being Northern Kibale receiving an average annual rainfall of equal to 1700mm, mainly during March-May and September-November.
How To Get There?
Kibale Forest National Park is located in the western part of Uganda, 26km southeast of Fort Port to Kanyanchu river camp which is the heart of tourism activities.
By Road: The park can be accessed from Kampala via;
- Kasese near Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Kampala via Mubende and Fort Portal or through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
Travelers consider the northern route shorter and faster and has a distance is about 300 km with a tarmac road going to Fort Portal and also a distance of 36km on murram to Kanyanchu.
By Air: The park can be accessed through three Airstrips;
- Nyakisharara Arstrip in Mbarara about 98 km through kamwenge to Kanyanchu
- Kasese air strip about 75 km from Fort Portal town.
- Tooro/ Semliki Wildlife Reserve about 86 km from Kanyanchu.