Kibale forest national park is a national park in western Uganda, one of the last expanses of land in Uganda to contain both lowland and montane forest and with the highest diversity and concentration of primates in the entire continent. The forest has 229 species of trees found within the moist tropical forests of the park, 1450 wild chimpanzees, the park is linked to the queen Elizabeth national park by a wildlife corridor where large herds of African elephants roam freely between both sanctuaries with a tropical rain forest and an evergreen rain forest in Uganda.
The park was gazette in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of the forest previously managed as a logged forest reserve. Kibale forest national park covers an area of 795 kilometers over varied altitudes covering the central and the northern part of fort portal plateau which therefore stands the highest with an elevation of 1110 – 1590m above sea level.
Kibale forest national park has some of the highest abundance of primates in the area. There are 13 primate species with the highest number of them being the human’s closest relative, the chimpanzee, and a very delightful ape. Primates like; Uganda mangabey, Ugandan red colobus, l’hoest’s monkey, black and white colobus, blue monkey among others. The park also has different mammals like red and blue duikers, bushbucks, sitatungas, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, common warthogs, African buffalo, and elephants. The carnivores that are present include leopards, African golden cats, serval, mongooses, two otter species and lions which visit occasionally. The park also boasts of 325 species of birds like the olive long-tailed cuckoo, western tinker bird, two species of pittas (African and green-breasted) and the grey parrot. The ground thrust is endemic to Kibale national park.
When to visit the park?
The park can be visited anytime throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the park is during the dry season of the year when the ark is accessible, easy to hike the chimp trails and dry and hence the vegetation will be thin which gives you an opportunity to see the chimps clearly. The peak/ dry seasons of the year are in the months of June to September and December to February. The park can also be visited during the wet season in the months of March to May and November to early December. This time of the year is when the birders will be able to see majority of bird species since they are usually escaping from the harsh winters in Europe.
Activities to do in Kibale forest national park.
• Cultural encounters in Kibale.
Walk through a wetland located in Magombe swamp with a guide, a swamp which is a home for different primate species and various attractions like white and black colobus monkey, mangabey, among others and some mammals like chimpanzees, bush pigs, and mongooses among others. The wetland is also a home for 8 varieties of primates, 200 bird species like fire-crested and brown chested alethe, forest robin, red-winged francolin, black-billed turaco among others. You will be able for encounter different communities like the Batooro whose daily life will be learnt here, get to visit their village primary schools, church and traditional healers. During your walk, get entertained by the local dance and music and hear different stories of those communities. The income from this activity is invested in education, health, improving the livelihood of local residents and sanitation.
• Nature walks in Kibale.
These walks are most interesting in the late evenings and at night when the rarely seen nocturnal creatures become active such as the potto, bush baby, nightjar, tree hyrax and cricket. Through the forest, you can spot different bird and tree species in the forest. You will also have a chance to come into contact with different primates in the forest. These nature walks are usually day or night walks through Kibale Park.
• Chimpanzee tracking and habituation experience in the forest.
The most famous activity in Kibale forest national park is Kanyanchu primate walk where you will be able to encounter different species but especially the chimpanzees. Kanyanchu groups are accustomed to human presence, and shockingly you have a 90% chance to locate them. A visitor has a full hour when you see the chimpanzees and for chimpanzee habituation experience, you have half or a full day to observe the chimps. There are about 5000 chimpanzees remaining in Uganda that is why they are considered extremely endangered. You will have an opportunity to enjoy the chimpanzees as well as other different primates in their natural habitat.
For the interested birders, Bigodi wetland sanctuary and Kanyanchu are the best places to go bird watching. The park has a registered total number of 350 bird species with some albertine rift endemic species. Interestingly, you will be able to spot at least 200 bird species when you visit the area. Some of the bird species include; cape wagtail, crowned eagle, mountain wagtail, yellow-fronted canary, archer’s robin-chat, African pitta, Abyssinian ground thrush, dusky twin spot, brown capped weaver, blue spotted wood dove, black bee- eater, brown chested alethe, tambourine dove, handsome francolin, blue breasted kingfisher, helmeted guinea fowl, yellow spotted nicator, African pygmy-kingfisher and many others. Bird watching tours at Kanyanchu start at 7am and you are advised to book for them in advance.
How to get to Kibale national park.
Kibale forest national park can be accessed easily through the road and air. The park is located in the west of Uganda therefore, through Kampala – Mubende road or Mbarara – Kamwenge road to the park headquarters which will take you 5-6 hour’s drive. The northern route to Kibale through fort portal is the shortest route. You can also access Kibale from Kasese from Entebbe using aero link and then hire a special taxi to Kanyanchu in Kibale but if you book your tour with Pamoja tours and Travel Company, your driver will be on standby to the airstrip to transport you to the park.
Pamoja tours and Travel Company to arrange for you a package, book permits and your accommodation. We will advise you accordingly and book everything, you don’t have to even lift a finger. We can help you book accommodation, secure your trekking permits, arrange different activities that can be done after trekking and transport you to your destination.