Kibale National Park is situated in western Uganda a land blessed with a strong cultural heritage. The Park is located nearest to Fort portal town the biggest town in kabarole district. It covers an area of 766km2. Despite being the moist evergreen rainforest, it also contains a various landscape and is one of the last remaining expanses that contain both lowland and montane forests. Kibale National Park was gazzetted in 1993 from kibale forest reserve, also known for its large population of habituated chimpanzees and other 12 primate species.
Wildlife in Kibale National Park.
Kibale forest national park contains of 13 primate species and 70 mammal species including chimpanzees, baboons, Elephants, Buffaloes, Black and white colobus monkeys, Lhotse’s, blue monkeys, red-tailed, Vervet, Uganda mangabey, bushbuck, duiker, sitatunga, giant forest hogs, duiker, bush pigs, leopards, African golden cat, Mongooses, warthogs, among others.
Kibale forest national park is a home to over 325 bird species including Red-chested owlet, white-napped pigeon, Western bronze-napped pigeon, Nathan’s Francolin, Yellow-throated Nicator, Crowned Eagle, Green breasted pitta, purple breasted sunbird, African Grey parrot, Blue breasted kingfisher, little greenbul, Black beef eater, White-headed wood-hoopoe, Red Headed malimbe, Dusky-blue Flycatcher, Yellow-spotted barbet among others.
Attractions and activities in kibble forest national park.
For the best chimpanzee tracking, Kibale forest national park gives great views of these endangered primates. Kibale forest is the best destination in East Africa where tourists can easily find the wild chimpanzees. Before doing chimpanzee tracking in the forest, you are advised to first go for briefing at the park headquarters before the tracking starts to hear and learn about the expectations while in the forest. Trackers go before you to search where chimpanzees are located and give this information to your ranger guide to lead you towards their location.
Chimpanzee tracking involves walking through the jungles of the rain forest in search of them about 4-5 hours depending on their location. Once they are found visitors are given one hour with them in their habitants. Be ready to walk a long distance and carry along rain poncho because in a tropical forest it can rain any time. Others to carry include long sleeved shirt and pants, binoculars, cameras, insect repellant, waterproof boots. Chimpanzee tracking is done twice a day that is to say morning at 8am and 2pm in the afternoon. Therefore, you have an opportunity to choose which time is good for you but morning is always highly recommended.
Chimpanzee habituation is the process undertaken chimpanzees to get used to human’s presence before visiting them. It is a daily activity done for hours in a day and takes over a period of 2 years to fully habituate the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation experience takes place every morning, visitors go with their rangers and research staff to watch chimpanzees leaving their overnight nests before they start their daily activities, feeding, breastfeeding, hunting, patrolling and resting. Once the process is over repeated, the chimpanzees get used to humans.
Bird watching in kibale forest national park.
Kibale forest national park is also the best place for birding experience, birding walks start exactly 7am in the morning. The Park is a home to various birds including the Albertine rift endemics. In kibale forest national park the morning focus for any birder is to look for the Green breasted pitta. Other species include; the Grey-throated flycatcher, crested flycatcher, yellow-spotted Barbet, black-billed turaco, white napped pigeon, red-chested fluff tail, white-collared olive –back, white-billed, grey-winged Robin and many more.
Bigodi swamp walk:
Bigodi swamp is the most visited area when visitors visit the park. The swamp offers a lot of things including the mammals, birds and other rare primate species. This a walking safari experience that every visitor who has visited the park should not miss out. Bigodi wetland sanctuary is located 6 km from park head office. This jungle swamp is commonly known as the birder’s paradise. This walk is usually done after chimpanzee tracking and takes about 2-3 hours walking through the wetland a chance to spot about 5 different primate species and variety of bird species.
Crater lake tour:
In fort portal there is an area called kasenda a home to more than 50 different crater lakes that are surrounded by the steep volcanic slopes. The crater lake tour is very interesting; visitors shouldn’t miss out on their trip.
Amabere Ga nyina mwiru:
These are rocks that are situated in a cave near nyakasura school in fort portal. Here you are welcomed by the fascinating waterfalls. The rocks have got very strong cultural attachment to the batoro people who have a myth about them. It is located about 5km from fort portal town. The walk to the caves is a bit short but slippery you are advised to carry comfortable hiking shoes.
On reaching the caves, you are welcomed by the site manager to guide you through the historical myth of the caves as well as the Batooro culture and the kingdom. Head to the jungle trail leading you to the caves and the interesting waterfalls. You can also hike the hills close to the caves with great views of various crater lakes.
When to visit Kibale forest national park:
Kibale national park is visited through the year. The best time to visit the park is during the dry season when the trails are dry and passable. This is December to February and June to September. These are the dry months perfect for wildlife viewing.
Access to Kibale forest national park.
Kibale forest national park can be reached by Air or Road. There two routes from Kampala to the park. one can choose to drive from Kampala via fort portal to kibale forest national park or Kampala to fort portal via Mbarara- kasese – kasenda craters- kibale forest national park.
One can take a chartered flight from kajjansi or Entebbe international Airport and land at kasese airstrip which is 1-hour drive to kibale forest national park.
Accommodation in Kibale National Park.
Kibale forest national park offers both luxury, midrange and budget facilities. There are few accommodation facilities within the park. Most of the facilities are outside the park in Fort portal. The facilities include; kyaninga Lodge, Mountains of the moon hotel, The Dutchess, Turaco Treetops, Kibale forest camp, Isunga lodge, Chimpanzee guest house, Primate lodge, Papaya safari lodge, Rwenzori View Guest house and many more.