The Chimpanzees’ World
Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is one of the most visited of Uganda National Parks and one of the most rewarding areas to explore. Situated ideally in the heart of the Tooro Kingdom in Western Uganda, near Fort portal, the park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and is a drive away from Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks.
Kibale Forest National Park is the most accessible of Ugandan’s rainforests covering an area of 766km², of which the dominant vegetation is lush and shady rainforest but is interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp. An exploration under the shady, green canopy will brim with discoveries to delight botanists and butterfly lovers alike.
Kibale Forest is home to the chimpanzee the delightful ape most closely related to humans 13, species of primates including the localized Red Columbus and L’Hoest monkeys. These can be seen swinging in tree branches as one trek through the forest trails. The forest boosts over 300 birds and mammals like the elusive forest elephant, buffalo, and giant forest hog and half a dozen antelope species thereby making it one of the most stunning destination in Uganda.
Chimpanzee Trekking is the most alluring and rewarding activity in Kibale Forest that will offer you an opportunity to gain a privileged and unforgettable insight into the daily lives of man’s closet relatives. On a Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in the accompany of researchers and habituators you will follow the chimpanzees throughout their daily activities. A visitor gets a chance to follow thechimpanzees day from about 6am in the morning till 7pm in the evening.
Visitors are recommended to follow the Rules and Guidelines given to them by the guides those that are sick are not allowed to enter the forest to prevent spreading of diseases to the primates. Most of the park is densely covered with forest vegetation so, visitors are recommended to wear trousers plus long-sleeved shirts to avoid being bitten by insects or being pricked by bushes.
Chimpanzee Trekking is not as challenging as Gorilla Trekking as the chimpanzees enjoy spending most of the time in tall trees since they eat fruits.
Wildlife in Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is an enchanting and exotic environment mostly known for Chimpanzees though it is a home for 13 other primates, about 70 species of mammals, it’s a pleasant birding paradise with over 375 recorded species and butterfly enthusiasts it is home to 250 butterfly species.
Kibale Forest has the largest population of Chimpanzees and other primates making it the primate capital with its diverse nature of patches of grassland savanna and swamps it makes it a convenient habitant for the different mammals, primates, birds and butterflies. Primates found in Kibale Forest include Vervet Monkeys, Red Tailed Monkeys, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, gray-cheeked Mangabey Monkeys, Red Colobus, Black and White Colobus, Olive Baboons. With nocturnal primates including Bushbabies and Pottos. The checklist of mammals is quite impressive and it includes about 500 Forest Elephants, Forest Buffaloes, Hippos, Warthogs, Giant Forest Hogs, Bushpigs, Bushbuck Antelopes, Golden Cats, Leopards, Sitatunga Semi-Aquatic Antelopes with webbed hoofs, also red and blue Duikers.
Kibale Forest has amazing varieties of bird species and is one of the best forest in Uganda for a birding adventure as you will enjoy views of birds such as the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Afep Pigeon, White-naped Pigeon, Crowned Eagle, Red-chested Owlet, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Grey Parrot, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis ,Brown Illadopsis, Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Yellow Spotted Nicator, Little Green Bul, Black-eared Ground Thrush and the Abyssinian Ground-thrush.
Activities in Kibale Forest National Park
Most tourists visit Kibale Forest National Park for Chimpanzee Trekking but there is more to Kibale than just Chimpanzees. It is a habitat to many forest wildlife including 13 species of primates. Activities are varied and limitless: from chimpanzee tracking in the forest to birding in the swamps. Explore the beauty of the crater lakes or take a hike through the tea estates. If you are a butterfly enthusiast you will love Kibale Rain forest and its 250 species of Butterflies and a few reptiles and amphibians along the trail.
Most tourist visit Kibale Forest National Park to trek the chimpanzees. While trekking chimpanzees you will spend one hour with a chimpanzee group following them around for an hour and this is an amazing experience.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Some visitors may prefer to spend a whole day with a Chimpanzee Group in what is called a Chimpanzee Habituation Experience. It is an all-day experience from very early to late afternoon as you follow the chimpanzees from nest to nest. While on the trek you will view other primates, birds, butterflies, trees, and mammals.
Bush craft Children Activities
Children under the age of 15years are not allowed to track chimpanzees but there are plenty Kid-Friendly activities while the parents are tracking the chimpanzees like forest tours that showcase the wonders of the forest, show them wildlife, plants, trees, birds, and monkeys.
Hikes and Nature Walks
They are a variety of nature walks and hikes in, near and around Kibale Forest National Park to engage in. Some hikes traverse the length of the park, day-hikes in or near the park, half-day hikes.
Nocturnal Forest Walk
The night forest walk takes place after it gets dark in Kibale Forest with guidance from Uganda Wildlife Rangers equipped with spotlights. You will enjoy views of animals such as Bush Babies, Pottos, tree Pangolins and nocturnal birds.
Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary
This swamp in the tropical jungle is filled with natural wonders that have amazed and delights thousands each year as they trek through this Jungle Swamp with a lot to see including chimpanzees, birds including the large Blue Turaco.
Crater Lakes Top of the World Hike
As you drive to Kibale Forest National Park, you will find many crater lakes .The top of the World Hike is a popular activity which lasts up to 3-4hours.While on this guided walk you will enjoy views of three crater lakes, villages, tea-plantations and a view from the top of the world that takes in 3 crater lakes and the Rwenzori Mountains with the landscape below.
The Amabere Caves
These caves are located near Kibale Forest and a visit to this amazing cave offer views of its beauty, natural wonder and cultural legends as you will hear the stories from the locals.
Nakayima Witch’s Tree
A cultural and traditional worship site that is worth a visit and is set on top of a hill with great views. Most Ugandans come here to appeal to the spirits in the case of illness, infertility, diseases, relationships
Accommodation in Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park has a variety of lodges in and around the park and they range from budget to Midrange to Luxury. They are accommodation facilities to suit every visitor preference and needs according to their estimated budget on a safari. Below are some of the properties in Kibale that you may consider;
Primate Lodge Kibale: This is an up-market establishment located within the the Park next to the Kanyanchu Visitors Center which is the starting and briefing point for Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale.
Ndali Lodge: Is a luxury accommodation with very lovely rooms, breathtaking views of the crater lakes and offers you a unique and wonderful experience.
Kyaninga Lodge: Is an upmarket establishment located in Fort Portal with Stunningly beautiful views of the crater lakes and on a clear day the Rwenzori mountains can be viewed.
Chimpanzee Forest Guest House: Is a budget to midrange accommodation the road from Fort Portal, it has beautiful gardens and is a few minutes away from the Kayanchu visitors centre.
Chimps’ Nest Lodge: Is a Moderate to Up-Market establishment and it is a birder’s ecstasy. It offers stunning views of Kibale Forest along with the snowcapped peaks of Mount Rwenzori with monkeys, chimps and forest elephants as occasional visitors.
Kibale Forest Camp: Is a budget to moderate establishment with charming tented camp located conveniently close to the Bigodi Wetlands and only a short drive from the starting point for chimpanzee trekking.
How to get to Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park is located in the western part of Uganda and is accessible from Kampala from the North through Mubenda, from Fort Portal and from Mbarara or Kamwenge road. The northern route through Mubende is shorter at a distance of about 300km on a tarmac road to Fort Portal and then 36km on a marram road to Kanyanchu.
- The park can be accessed from Kampala via Kasese near Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- The park can also be reached from Kampala via Mubende and Fort Portal or through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
Kibale Forest National Park has access to two Airstrips;
- Nyakisharara Arstrip in Mbarara and after a drive which is about 98km through Kamwenge to Kanvanchu
- Kasese air strip and after a drive which is 150km from Fort Portal town and then connect to Kanyanchu.
Climate and best time to visit Kibale Forest National Park
The climate in Kibale Forest National Park is pleasant and tourists can visit it any time of the year. Though the dry Seasons of December to February and June to September is the best time to visit since the trails are not slippery and are passable.
The wet season of October to December and March to May is when many roads are slippery and impassible making Chimpanzee Trekking challenging though it is the best time for birding watching and migratory birds.
The Peak season is from June to September with a lot of sunshine very little rain with a number of tourists, so it is common to encounter other people while chimpanzee trekking. The low season is March, April, May, and November with less visits and more rainfalls
Western Uganda, Fort Portal District
Best Time to Go:
December to February and June to July
June to September (Peak time for Uganda)
Size: 795km² / 307mi²
Altitude: 928-1,568m / 3,045-5,144ft