Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park also called “the Primate capital of the world” is located in the Western part of Uganda about a 5 to 6 hours drive from Kampala. The park is a home of over 13 species of primates with the highest population of Chimpanzees in Africa totaling over 1500. Kibale forest national park is the best chimpanzee trekking destination in Africa with the largest habituated chimpanzee groups. This is the evergreen rainforests that are still remaining in the country. The park is 766 square kilometers by size and it was established in 1993 though it was gazetted in 1932. Kibale forest national park is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Kibale is one of the most visited Uganda National Park.

Kibale Forest National Park

Besides the wildlife, the park was gazetted to protect over 351 tree species that have been recorded at the park. The Kibale forest is a home of over 375 bird species, the park adjoins the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park in the South that creates a long 180-kilometer corridor for wildlife and sebitoli in the North of the park.

The location of the park in the Fort Portal area is one of the finest tourist parts of Uganda. Exploring the crater area famous with over 2 crater lakes in the region along Ndali-Kasenda crater. The park is bordered by other great national parks like Mt Rwenzori, Semuliki and Queen Elizabeth national parks not forgetting the Toro-Semlik Wildlife Reserve.

How to get to there

Kibale forest national park is located in the Western part of Uganda covering an area of about 26 kilometers away from the town of Fort Portal. The park is easily accessed from Uganda capital Kampala with a good tarmac road through Mubende and Fort portal. One can also use the southern route which passes through Mbarara or Kamwenge via Queen Elizabeth national park Kasese to the park. According to the distance, the Northern route is shorter with about 300 kilometers from Kampala to Fort portal and 36 kilometers to the park headquarters Kanyanchu. 

The guests can also use public transport with daily departure buses from Kampala to Fort portal then get special hire or Boda Boda which will take you to the park. It is easy to get special hire in Fort portal which can bring you up to the park. If one wants to use a flight the nearest airstrip is Kasese airstrip, then you will connect to the fort portal and to the park.

Attractions in Kibale forest National Park

Kibale forest national park the primate capital of the world is famous for Chimpanzee trekking. The fact is the park is reached with wildlife with 12 primate species, over 375 bird species, more than 351 plant species, butterflies, dragons and many more reptiles. Other wildlife includes forest Elephants though rare, of recent there were rumours of leopards though not fully confirmed. The renown attraction at the park is Kibale forest but there are other vegetation types around the park which includes Savannah grassland and swamp vegetation. 

Chimpanzees and other Primates: Kibale forest national park is a home of over 1500 chimpanzees and it’s the most known primate area in Africa. It has been on record that Kibale forest national park has the highest habituated chimpanzees in the entire world. Other primates at the park include Bush babies, Olive Baboons, Blue Monkey, L’Hoest’s Monkey, Red tailed Monkey, Vervet Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey monkey, Pottos and many more.

Kibale forest is the most diversified and complete park not only in Uganda but in entire Africa. The different vegetation types have added a good advantage to inhabit a wide range of wildlife in which other wildlife include Forest Elephants, Forest Buffalo, Giant Forest Hogs, Golden cats and many more.

Kibale forest: Kibale forest is one of the tropical forests that are still remaining in East Africa. A visit to this forest leaves you with a wonderful memory. This evergreen forest is a home of over 351 tree species some of them are medicinal while others are indigenous tree species. The nature walks to the Kibale forest allows you to discover the great secrete of true African world beyond open savannahs and arid plains. The juggle of lush vegetation of the rain forest is great must visit with a fresh cold breeze. 

Birds: Kibale forest national park is a birding paradise in Uganda with over 375 bird species recorded. The vegetation cover at the forest and nearby swamps which inhabit more rare species of birds. Birders can spend days killing two birds using one stone I mean trekking Gorillas and birding at the same time. The list of birds includes African Pitta, Crowned Eagle, Red-Chested Owlet, White-napped Pigeon, Western Nicator, Bleu-breasted Kingfisher, African Grey Parrot, Great blue turaco, Little Greenbul, among others. Butterfly lovers will also enjoy over 250 butterfly species found in the forest.

Bigodi Wetlands sanctuary: The privately owned by the local Community-women is a rich wetland with many bird species and more primates. The swamp has become one of the key attractions in Kibale forest national park. More primates have been attracted here due to good and easy access to food, less competition of the territories like in the forest and above all escape route from the predators. Most of the different monkey species are viewed here with 1 to 2 hours walk along the swamp. Other available good things for tourists at the swamp are different tree species, birds, craft shops and many which all contribute to the uniqueness of the Bigodi swamp.  This gives a direct contribution to the community living around Kibale forest national park 

Other attractions around Kibale forest national park

Crater lakes: Next to the park is wonderful crater lakes that guests can enjoy with boat rides or Canoe. There are around three crater lakes around Kibale forest national park area. Guests can take a guided nature walk to these lakes and enjoy the scenic view of the lakes. Besides the crater lakes hike, there is also more like the tea plantation and Vanilla plantation in the same area.

Amabere Caves: Like historical sites, Amabere caves also called Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru cave which literary means the breast of Nyinamwiru. They are wonderful cultural caves where the legends of Tooro left in decades. This has been highlighted as one of the great tourism attraction around the Fort portal just a few kilometers away from Kibale forest national park. You will enjoy viewing the milky substance dropping at the cave where the locals believed Nyinamwiru died from and her breast are still pouring milk.

Activities in Kibale National Park

There are several activities that one can do while on your trip to Kibale forest national park. However much the park is famous for the chimpanzees but it has beyond Chimpanzee trekking. Below are some of the activities that can be done in Kibale forest national park.

Chimpanzee trekking: Most guests know Kibale forest national park for Chimpanzee, Chimpanzee trekking is the highlights at the park. Most or almost all the guests who go to Kibale forest national park go for Chimpanzee trekking. The park is one of the best parks in Africa where Chimpanzee trekking is done. This is a unique experience spending time viewing these fast-moving primates swim on the tree branches and play on the ground. One is allowed to spend a maximum of 1 hour with the chimpanzee for conservation purposes and to give them also time to look for food and do other activities. While in the forest the guests also enjoy other primates with a total of 12 other primate species found in the forests beside the Chimpanzees.

Chimpanzee habituation: Kibale forest national park is the best destination not only in Uganda but entire Africa where chimpanzee habituation experience is best done. The habituation experience is different from Chimpanzee trekking is that in habituation you spend a whole day with the chimpanzees while chimpanzee trekking one is allowed to take only one hour with chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation is mostly for researchers and film-makers.

Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park

Bigodi swamp walk: Bigodi swamp walk is 2 to 3 hours walk along the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary. A home of the tropical jungle which is filled with more than a dozen of natural wonders that excites you during your safari in Uganda. The swamp is home to primates that come for sunbathing outside the tropical forest. The most sighted primates include Red-tailed monkey, vervet colobus monkey, Baboons, and others. Some times during late afternoon the chimpanzees can also be changed to be seen.  There are also great number of bird species at the swamp including the great blue turaco.

Bushcraft Children Activities: There are several activities that children below 15 years who are not allowed to do Chimpanzee trekking. Children can enjoy other activities while the parents are doing Chimpanzee trekking. Rangers lead the children to forest children-friendly activities like showing them butterflies, birds, trees, monkeys and others. Kibale Forest national park is one of the few national parks where Bushcraft classes are offered that makes children too to enjoy the safari together with the parents.

Nocturnal Forest walk: Nocturnal Forest walk is also done in Kibale Forest national park, this gives you high chances of seeing the complete list of primates in Kibale forest national park. You will have chances to see even leopards alongside other primates like Bush babies, Pottos, tree pangolins and many more.

Looking for the excellent Chimpanzee experience in their true wilderness, Kibale forest national park is the answer. The safari to this capital of primates in the world can be combined with other nearby parks like Queen Elizabeth national park, Semuliki, and Bwindi.

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