Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park takes you on a journey into Uganda’s remote jungle as you discover the park’s assorted habitats blessed with several beautiful sceneries and landscapes. This 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 encounters of chimpanzees walking upright presents an impressive and evocative scenery like no other within the jungle forest cover interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp dominating the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau.The park stands highest at 1590 m above sea level with landscapes ranging from savannah to lush forests presenting a true adventure into the heart of Africa.
This rainforest is situated in the heart of the Tooro Kingdom in Western Uganda, near Fort portal offering a fascinating diversity of animals, views of the the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks.
Flora and Fauna in Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park consists of a high forest with a combination of deciduous evergreen species being the dominant. The trees rise to more than 55 meters displaying 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.
Kibale’s varied altitude holds up different varieties of habitat, ranging from moist evergreen forest along the Fort Portal plateau and through the dry tropical forest and then to the woodland and savanna along the rift valley floor hosting over 351 species of trees.
The amazing vegetation diversity inhabits 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 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, African Palm Civet, Golden Cat, Serval, Lion, Leopard, Warthog, Giant Hog,Hippopotamus and Sitatungas in Bigodi Swamp .
The forest boasts over 372 bird species including Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin and Masked apalis, 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.
Things to do in Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest is one of the most frequented parks in Uganda due to its high primate numbers, diversity of bird species, plant species to enjoy sightings of. Some of the activities to enjoy on your visit include;
Chimpanzees are the prime attraction for many visiting Kibale National Park and one of the main reasons why travelers come to Uganda to catch a glimpse of these amazing impressive creatures in their natural setting.
Birding in Kibale forest is a rewarding experience and is home to a variety of birds including the Albertine rift endemics including Green breasted pitta, Grey-throated Flycatcher, Grey-winged Robin, Crested Flycatcher,Blue shouldered Robin Chat, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, White-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Flufftail, White-collared Oliveback, White-bellied, Masked Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, Tiny Sunbird and many more.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Chimpanzees in Kibale are habituated over a period of 2 years before they get used to humans and then chimpanzee trekking can begin. This is the only place that offers this experience where along with the rangers and research staff, you watch chimpanzees leaving their overnight nests before they start their daily activities, feeding, hunting, copulating, breastfeeding, patrolling and resting until they break off for the night by building new nests at about 7pm.
Nature and Hiking walks
The forest is rich in variety and the chimpanzee trekking may not give you enough time to take in all that the forest offers because you are focused on location the chimpanzees. Here you are able to spot more variety of birds and animals, bush pigs, duikers, and or elephants.
You can opt for night walks to see the nocturnal animals when the other forest inhabitants rest they are on the move searching for food. The rangers use powerful torches to seek nocturnal such as bush baby, hyrax, potto and occasionally serval cat and civet that last 2.5hours beginning at 7 pm.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
This sanctuary is home to around 200 species of birds, as well as butterflies and eight different species of primates, including grey-cheeked mangabey. Two- to three-hour swamp walks will take you through grassland, small communities and some beautiful scenery.
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.
Where to stay in Kibale Forest National Forest
After Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale Forest is one of the most visited parks in Uganda. The park has excellent accommodation including up-market accommodation, mid range accommodation and budget accommodation catering for all the categories of travellers and they include:
- Primate Lodge Kibale
- Nyinabulitwa Country Resort
- Ndali Lodge
- Kyaninga Lodge
- Mantana Luxury Tented Camp
- Chimpanzee Forest Guest House
- Kibale Forest Camp
- Chimps’ Nest
- Kanyanchu River Camp
Climate and Best time to visit Kibale Forest National Park
The best time to visit is during the dry months of January and February when animals will stay near the water since during the rainy season from October through December and March through May, roads are difficult to use with the trials in the park muddy, slippery and impassible.
Though considering the climate in Uganda, the park is open year-round and can be visited anytime of the year.
How to get to Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest is home to the impressive chimpanzees alongside many other primates, mammals and many bird species putting it on the bucket list of many travelers on a Uganda Safari.The Park can either be reached by road or by air.
Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 22 km southeast of Fort Portal town and can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
The Kampala-Mubende-Fort portal route is rather shorter with an approximate distance of 290 km tarmac road followed by 32 km on gravel from fort portal to Kanyanchu
They are scheduled and chartered flights with Aerolink for those who not willing to take long tiresome drives can opt for a flight from Entebbe Airport to Kasese Airstrip and be transfered the rest of the journey by road.