Kibale National Park
Kibale National park located in western Uganda is one of Uganda’s most popular national parks as it is home to the chimpanzees in Uganda. The park formerly established as a forest reserve between 1926 and 1932 received National Park status in 1993. Today the national park welcomes visitors to indulge in various tourism activities with chimpanzee trekking being the most popular tourist activity in the national park. Kibale forest national park covers an area of 766 square kilometres mainly covered by a moist evergreen and montane forest.
The park hosts a number of primate species and has achieved the international recognized title of being called the “the primate capital of the world.” 13 primate species have been recorded in Kibale forest with some of these species being endangered and listed an important species for protection by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Kibale national park is a diverse park that is worth visiting and truly lives up to its name of being the primate capital of the world!
Wildlife of Kibale Forest National Park
Primates and Mammals
Kibale forest national park is popular for its abundance of primate species however other mammal species live and exist in Kibale forest.
The most sought after primate specie by visitors to the park is the chimpanzee which is best seen while on a chimpanzee trek in Uganda. Kibale national park is one of the best places in the world to see the chimpanzees. The park has habituated chimpanzee communities that are available for visiting. Chimpanzees are active primates so the chimp trek is much more active than the gorilla trekking adventure that happens in Bwindi national park, Uganda.
Other primate species in the national park include the L’Hoest’s monkey, Red colobus monkey, Black-and-white colobus monkey, Blue monkey, Olive baboons, Vervet monkey, Red-tailed monkey, Uganda Mangabey, Demidoff Galago commonly known as bush babies, Potto, White-eyelid mangabey and the Grey-cheeked mangabey. Some of these primate species are rare sightings and it might not be easy to come across them as they move a lot around the forest in search of food but on a lucky day you might see them. The park is also home to other mammal species like forest elephants, African buffalo, golden cats, blue duikers, sitatungas, leopard, servals, warthogs and bush pigs, these are rare sightings as well but as you move in the park you might come across their foot prints especially for the elephant and buffalo.
Birds of Kibale National Park
Kibale is a top birding destination and is part of the Albertine Rift Zone with mid-elevation and lowland forest bird species. The park hosts 375 bird species with Albertine Rift Endemics like the Green-breasted Pitta that is often found perched in the moist evergreen rain forest.
Kibale forest is a bird watcher’s paradise and species to look out for include – Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Double-toothed Barbet, White-Collared Oliveback, Northern masked Weaver, African Grey Parrot, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Great Blue Turaco White-spotted Flufftail, Green throated Sunbird, Speckled tinker bird, Masked apalis.
Activities to do while in Kibale Forest National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park is an adventure that allows one to spend up to one hour with the chimpanzees in Kibale forest. Visitors are allowed to visit Chimpanzee communities that have been habituated with the help of trained park rangers and expert researchers. The chimpanzee trek begins at Kanyanchu Visitor centre inside Kibale national park which is the main visitor’s centre and main ground for all tourist activities in the park. There are 2 sessions available for chimpanzee trekking, the morning session that begins at 7:00am and the afternoon session that begins at 2:00pm. Each session begins with a briefing from your ranger/park guide about the park guidelines, chimpanzees and how to behave while on this fulfilling adventure. For more on chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
The chimpanzee habituation experience is an activity recently introduced by the Uganda Wildlife Authority that allows one to spend more time with the chimpanzees as opposed to one hour spent with them on a chimpanzee trek. The habituation experience is a full day activity that starts very early in the morning, as early as 6:00am. You get to watch the chimpanzee right from when they de-nest and start the day and then follow them throughout the day leaving the forest in the evening time. This gives you a glimpse into what a typical day for the chimpanzee in Kibale forest looks like.
Birding in Kibale Forest
For the expert birder Kibale national park is a perfect site to add to your Uganda birding experience as the park is home to 375 species of birds of which 6 of these are endemic to the Albertine Rift Region. Kibale Forest offers opportunity to look out for birds like the Green Breasted Pitta, Speckle-breasted Woodpecker, Double-toothed Barbet, White-Collared Oliveback, Northern masked Weaver, African Grey Parrot, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Green throated Sunbird, Speckled tinker bird, Masked apalis.Western Nicator, White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-billed barbet and White-tailed ant thrush. Kibale has great forest birding trails and the Bigodi swamp walk trail that hosts the Great Blue Turaco.
Guided Nature Walks
Going on a guided nature walk is also one way to experience Kibale forest national park in Uganda especially on afternoon after the chimp trek. The forest trails offer opportunities to walk through the evergreen forest as you look out for tree species, flowering plant species, birds, forest mammals, and on a lucky day you might spot chimpanzees. The park also offers guided night trails where you search for nocturnal forest inhabitants such as bush babies and potto.
Bigodi wetland Sanctuary/ swamp walk
The Bigodi wetland walk is a local community run initiative located outside the Kibale national park boundary right next to Bigodi trading center. The guided swamp walk is a 3-4 hour trail and less strenuous than the chimpanzee trek. The Bigodi swamp is home to different species of monkeys and bird species like the Great Blue Turaco that is part of the Turaco bird family that is endemic to Africa. The proceeds from this trail are used in community projects in Bigodi trading centre a small town with locals. The Bigodi swamp walk is also one of the best bird watching trails and a must visit for birders.
Home stays and Community tours
The community tours are taken in the communities surrounding the national park for a glimpse in to the way of life of the locals like their culture, beliefs and food preparation. A home stay can be arranged in one of the homes in the community where you can spend a night with the family, cook traditional meals with them, eat with them and even visit their gardens. You can also visit a craft making center to look at some of the colorful craft work of the community and maybe purchase a souvenir.
How to get to Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest national park is accessed by road from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda along the Mubende – Fort Portal highway. The drive from Kampala to Kibale national park is 4-5 hours and is a scenic drive that takes you through the strikingly beautiful landscape of Uganda. While on the road you have views of the local’s gardens, the busy small towns of Uganda and being an agricultural state you will come across some commercial fishing ponds.
If you are staying and connecting from Fort portal town Kibale national park is just a 20 minutes’ drive away.The other mode of travel is by flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip and on arrival transfer by road to the national park.
Kibale Forest National Park Tours – Our Tailored Itineraries