Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park “The primate wonder of the world”: Kibale national park is termed as “The primate wonder of the world” due to the fact that it harbors more than 13 primate species which thrill with in its tropical forest making primate viewing the major tourist activity conducted in Kibale national park Uganda. Kibale forest national park is found in the western part of Uganda about 5-6 hours’ drive from Kampala the Capital City of Uganda the pearl of Africa thus travelers usually enjoy an enroute meal in Fortpotal before proceeding to the park. Kibale forest national park covers a land area of about 766 Km2 and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) which is responsible for the protection and conservation of all protected areas in Uganda.
Kibale forest national park was forest gazette as a forest reserve before being declared a National park in the year 1993 to protect its unique fauna and flora species. The park forms a corridor that stretches up to Queen Elizabeth national park that usually see a number of animals crossing to visit Kibale national park from Queen Elizabeth national park.
Fauna and flora of Kibale forest national park
Kibale forest national park is a home to several fauna and flora species that make it one of the best destination to visit while on a Uganda safari at any given period of time. The flora of the park consists of more than 350 plant species that include ferns, shrubs, ever green forest and many more. Kanyanchu is the most stunning and forested part of Kibale forest national park and guess what? It’s where Chimpanzee trekking is conducted. On better day, you can spot a chimpanzee crossing the road on your way to Bigodi though it’s not guaranteed thus the best way to watch chimpanzees closely is by taking on a Chimpanzee trekking safari or Chimpanzee habituation experience.
The fauna of Kibale forest national park as mentioned below consists of mainly 13 primate species which include Chimpanzees, Olive Baboons, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Uganda Mangabey, Uganda Red Colobus monkey, Red-tailed Monkeys, Black and white Colobus monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabey monkeys, Patas Monkey, Pottos and Bush babies. Kibale forest national park as well thrills with several mammals including Elephants, Buffaloes, Antelopes, Leopards, Bush pigs, Duikers and abundant of birdlife, Amphibians, Reptiles, Beautiful butterflies and many more.
What to do in Kibale forest national park
There are several tourist activities conducted in Kibale national park ranging from Chimpanzee trekking, Chimpanzee habituation experience, birding, bigodi swamp walk and many more as explained below;
- Chimpanzee trekking
Chimpanzee trekking is the major tourist activity enjoyed by almost every traveler on a Uganda safari to Kibale national park. In most cases, tourists who visit Kibale national park are interested in trekking Chimpanzees which are the major primates of the park and the second loved primates just after gorillas which are the most tourist attraction in Uganda the pearl of Africa. An encounter with chimpanzees in their natural habitats is one the most fascinating experience that evert travelers needs to experience at least once in a life time. To engage in this adventure, one has to obtain a chimpanzee trekking permit from the Uganda wildlife Authority or through a trusted tour operator like Achieve Global Safaris and recently costs $200 for foreign nonresidents, $150 for foreign residents and Ugandan shillings 150,000 for Ugandans and East African community member states. Only persons aged more than 12years of age are allowed to engage in Chimpanzee trekking adventure in Kibale forest national park. The park offers both morning (AM) chimpanzee trekking that starts as early as 8:00am as well as the afternoon (PM) Chimpanzee trekking that commences at 2pm. Whether you go for morning or afternoon, be sure to encounter with chimpanzees and other forest dwellers.
While in the wilderness with chimpanzees in Kibale national park, remember to follow all the trekking rules and regulations including maintaining a social distance of about 7m apart, avoiding eating, drinking or smoking, avoiding littering the park and many more as will be briefed before embarking on the chimpanzee trekking safari. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park lasts for only 1 hour but the trekking time is usually unpredictable though estimated between 2-5 hours depending on the movement of chimpanzees as well as the trekking speed in favor of the slowest person in the group.
- Chimpanzee habituation experience
For those who wish to spend enough time with the chimpanzees, then chimpanzee habituation experience is the way to go. And in the whole country Uganda, chimpanzee habituation experience is only conducted in Kibale forest national park taking about 4 hours in presence of /chimpanzees after following them up for several hours since they are unhabituated and shy thus keep moving up and down running away from humans thus patience should be observed while on chimpanzee habituation experience. A permit to habituate chimpanzees in Kibale forest national park costs $200.
Kibale is a home to over 350 bird species making it one of the top destination to visit for birding safari in Uganda. Kibale national park harbors endemic bird species, forest birds, migratory birds, savanna birds and may other species that are spotted during birding. The most common birding spot in Kibale national park is near Kanyanchu which is yet the area for chimpanzee trekking thus it is possible to see birds while on a chimpanzee trekking adventure. Another area for birding in within Bigodi wetland sanctuary where birders have a chance of spotting the rare shoebill stork and other water birds that spotted in Bigodi.
- Bigodi guided nature walk
Kibale national park is not only famous for chimpanzee trekking and birding but as well best destination for guided walks. Taking on a guided walk in Bigodi wetland sanctuary is such a fascinating experience enjoyed by several adventurous lovers. While on the walk, look out for different species of fauna and flora including rare shoebill bird species, lots of primates, mammals, and botanical plant species that make an entire walk rewarding. A local guide makes the walk more interesting as they spot out some of the plant species used for medicine to treat different diseases.
- Cultural encounters
Kibale national park is one of the best destination for cultural tours in Uganda where one is in position to encounter with different cultural groups of the Batooro, Bakiga and learn more about their cultural practices. This cultural tour take you on a walk with the communities near Kibale forest national park where you get an opportunity to closely interact with locals and learn about the history of the batooro people. The batooro are the indigenous people of this area while the bakiga are migrants. By the end of the adventure, you can buy some crafts made by different groups of the women like KAFRED which are united together as women to ensure that they work as a team work to generate income to improve their standards of leaving as well as educate their children.
Where to stay
While on a Uganda safari to Kibale national park, know that there are availability of accommodation facilities catering for both budget, midrange and luxury travelers depending on one’s budget. Some of the accommodations are situated inside the park while others are outside the park a few kilometers from the park headquarters. Some lodges are located in Bigodi area, Kanyanchu, Sebitoli as well as in fortpotal. Some of the lodges include; Chimpanzee forest guest house, Ndali crater Lodge, Papaya lodge, Kibale primate safari lodge, Isunga Lodge Kibale, Kibale forest camp, Kyaninga lodge, Mountains of the moon, Rwenzori travelers among others.
A drive from Kampala the capital city of Uganda to Kibale forest national park takes about 5-6 hours by road along Mubende – Mityana – Fortpotal road.
Kibale forest national park can as well be accessed from some other nearby parks like Queen Elizabeth national park which is about 2-3 hours’ drive, from Semliki national park as well as from Rwenzori mountains national park.
Optionally, Kibale national park can as well be accessed by air. You can book a charter flight from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi airfield and land on Kasese airstrip after which you connect on a road drive to the park headquarters in Kanyanchu.
Kibale national park can be visited at any given period of time all year round though dry months are most preferred as the trails are dry and the easily passable. It is very easy to combine a safari to Kibale forest national park with Queen Elizabeth national park, Semliki national park and Rwenzori mountains national park since they are located close to each other.