Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best safari destinations in Africa for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda. Kibale’s 795km2 National Park contains one of the most beautiful and with the most varying tracts of tropical forest in the whole of Uganda. This is the place for several forest wildlife, most especially 13 species of primate coupled with chimpanzees. The Forest covering predominates in the central and northern part of the park on the raised Fort Portal plateau. At the park’s northern tip, Kibale is highest and stands 1590m above sea level.
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda is one of the best safari destinations in Africa for chimpanzee tracking. See advice, sample Uganda safari packages, how to get a chimpanzee tracking permit and so much more information on Uganda tours.
It’s a 12km hike and is usually done in the dry seasons. The months are mid-November-February, June and September. Hiking helps discover the park’s assorted habitats such as river line forest, swamp, grassland and tropical rainforest.
Visit Bigodi a top birders spot. It’s famous for wildlife such as chimpanzees, red colobus, black and white colobus, red-tailed monkey, bushbuck, and mongoose. It has about 138 bird species seen on nature walks within.
The nature walk begins from Kanyanchu or Sebitoli and it takes about 2-6 days. The route will help discover the forest and late rest in the community-run campsites close to the villages of Kikoni, Nyakalongo and Nyaibanda.
Additionally, the wettest area is Northern Kibale, receiving an average annual rainfall of equal to 1700mm, mainly during March-May and September-November. The climate is usually pleasant with an average annual temperature range of 14 to 27oC. Temperatures are at maximum (& rainfall lower) in the south where the terrain drops onto the blistering rift valley floor and forest provides a way to open grassland.
Southern Kibale borders Queen Elizabeth National Park and collectively these preserved areas maintain a 180-kilometre long migration corridor for wildlife that stretches from the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park in “Ishasha”, to the north of Kibale in “Sebitoli”. The Kibale-Fort Portal region is one of Uganda’s most pleasing places to explore. The park is located close to the calm Ndali Kasenda crater area & which takes a half day’s drive to Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains & Semuliki National Parks along with the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
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 the signpost for a further 24 km to Kanyanchu Tourist Centre.
Flora and fauna in Kibale Forest national park
Kibale’s varied altitude holds up different varieties of habitat, ranging from the 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.
In the central part of the park, around Kanyanchu, the high forest consists of a mixture of evergreen trees and deciduous with the evergreen species being dominant. Vegetation rises to over 55m and establishes a semi-closed canopy of massive stratified tree crowns. With shade tolerant herbs, a variety of ferns, shrubs and broad-leaved forest grasses, the undergrowth is sparse. 351 tree species have been registered in the park.
The density and diversity of primates in Kibale National Park are the highest in the whole of Africa. The most well known of its 13 species are the chimpanzees, our closest relative. Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzees indicate Uganda’s biggest population of this threatened primate. An Uganda safari can enable you to see all these primates. Additionally, Kibale is home to the uncommon I’Hoest’s monkey as well as East Africa’s biggest population of the endangered red colobus monkey. The black & white colobus, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mangabey, bush baby and potto are among the other primates.
Other mammals are also present, though they are hardly seen. These consist of buffalo, leopard, bush pig elephant, and duiker. A neat viewer could also see amphibians and reptiles and a colourful variety of butterflies.
The park is home to 325 variety of bird species, including 6 that are native to the Albertine Rift destination, that is to say, dusky Crimsonwing, black-capped Apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared Apalis, red-faced woodland warbler and purple-breasted sunbird. Other Kibale specials are the green breasted pitta, African pitta, black bee-eater, Abyssinian ground thrush, yellow spotted nicator, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brown chested leather, yellow-rumped tinker bird, blue-breasted kingfisher, along with the crowned eagle.
The best place to spend the night is in Primate Lodge Kibale. Within a short period, different types of accommodation will be available, including modern bandas, luxury tents and a comfortable Sky Tree House. The lodge is located in the middle of the forest, exactly where you start the chimp tracking from.
Montana Luxury Tented Camp is located in the middle of the forest. Bush type accommodation and quite comfortable.
Ndali Lodge is a luxury accommodation with thatched cottages overlooking a crater lake.
The Rwenzori View Guesthouse in Fort Portal is approximately 30 km from the forest. Comfortable, middle-class rooms with or without private bathrooms are available.
The park offers very affordable chimp tracking. Groups ( limited to 6 people ) leave daily at 8:00 am and 3:00 pm; the walks last about 3 hours. The highly recommended night walks depart from Kanyanchu Visitor Centre at 7:30 pm (book in advance). Bring your torch!
Facilities at Bigodi include; an observation tower and a boardwalk that traverses the papyrus beds. The path and boardwalk may be flooded and muddy after heavy rain and gumboots are recommended. They can be hired at the visitor centre. The walk is about 4 km in length, taking 3-4 hours at a birding pace. With all proceeds from eco-tourism going back into the community, this is a conservation project well worth supporting.
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. 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.
1. Please note that he 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.
2. The maximum number of people in a group is 4 visitors per guided walk
3. The maximum time allowed with the chimps is one hour, however, the time might be shortened under the discretion of the guide to eliminate stressful situations for the chimps
4. When trekking you are advised to remain in a tight group and follow the guide's directions at all times.
5. Please remain at a distance of 8 meters from the chimps or the distance that your guide recommends.
6. Under no circumstance shall you chase while they descend or to or walk on higher ground.
7. You are advised not to enter the forest if you are sick, which can put the animals at serious risk.
8. Please refrain from eating near the chimps and other primates.
.9. Please do not shout in the forest.
10. 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.
11. Children under 15 years are not allowed to view the chimps for safety reasons.
12. If you need to urinate please do so off the trial system.
13. If you need to defecate, please do so off the trail system and bury all waste in a hole.