Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is largely covered by a tropical rainforest and a moment you set foot into this protected area, you get true sense of natural freshness. The park features variety of plant life and trees that play a significant part in influencing the weather conditions in the area.

Location of Kibale NP in Uganda

Kibale is situated in Western Uganda and it is part of Kabarole district. Within about 26 km drive, there is Fort Portal Tourism City. Kibale National Park was created in 1993 and its boundaries stretch up to 795 sq.km. It is set at an altitudinal range of 1590 meters and other surrounding districts include Kasese and Kamwenge.

The park is also bordered by other protected areas/tourist sites like the Ndali-Kasenda Crater, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park and Rwenzori Mountains NP.

Main Attractions in Kibale

Primates & other wildlife

Kibale NP hosts diversity of animal species, about 70 mammal species which include 13 species of primates, 375 bird species and floral species. The main animal/wildlife that live in Kibale Forest National Park’s diverse habitats include primates such as the red-tailed monkeys, 1500 chimpanzees, blue monkeys, galagos, l’hoest monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, olive baboons, vervet monkeys, red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys. The other animals that survive within Kibale include bushbucks, bush pigs, elephants, sitatungas, giant forest hogs, leopards, African golden cats, otters, mongoose, warthogs, buffaloes and more.

The main tourism center of Kibale where chimpanzee treks start is Kanyanchu Tourist Center while research center is found at Kanyawara. Besides, the park has a mix of an evergreen tree and deciduous vegetation.

Bird species

Kibale is with no doubt a rich birding destination, containing up to 375 bird species, especially the endemic and forest species. 4 of the park’s bird species are unique to only Kibale and include the blue-headed bee-eaters, Cassin’s spine tails, Masked apalis, and Nahan’s francolins. Other birds to identify include black eared ground thrush, African green breasted pittas, yellow spotted nicator, blue breasted kingfishers, red-faced woodland warblers, superb sunbird, western tinker bird, African pied wagtail, tropical boubou,

Papyrus gonoleks, speckled tinker bird, papyrus canary, little greenbul, slender billed weavers, brown illadopsis, purple breasted sunbirds, scaly breasted illadopsis, grey parrot, red chested owlets, and more. Kibale is best to explore on birding expeditions starting from March to May and October to November.

Main tourism activities to do while in Kibale

Chimpanzee tracking

Chimpanzee trekking is the most sought-for primate adventure. Kanyanchu is the main tourism center where chimpanzee treks and habituation experience begin from with briefing by the park official. Tracking chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park takes 2-4 hours and it includes one hour of a close encounter. Visiting Kibale chimps requires valid permits and every chimpanzee tracking permit costs USD 200 per person for foreign non-residents, USD 150 for foreign residents and shs. 150,000 for all East African citizens including Ugandans.

Chimpanzee habituation

Chimpanzee habituation experience is a perfect primate adventure for tourists who desire spending more than with a community of chimpanzees. This primate adventure can be done half-day or full-day. Guests are accompanied by experienced trackers/park guides and you take a long day following the semi-habituated chimpanzee community, observe how they behave and you will have lunch in the forest.

Participating in Kibale chimpanzee habituation requires a valid permit and each permit is issued at USD 250 for foreign and foreign non-residents while East African citizens are charged UGX 250,000 per person.

Nature walks/hiking

Guided nature walks usher tourists into the parks distinct habitats and you will be exploring diversity of primates, birds and butterflies. The available trails to explore include the 12 km trail taking about 5 to 6 hours and leads visitors via the river area in the forest, swamps, lush tropical rainforest and more.

Bird watching

A huge population of birds- endemic and forest species are contained in Kibale National Park. The park’s rich bird species to keep an eye on include purple breasted sunbird, blue-breasted kingfishers, black capped apalis, collared apalis, Abyssinian ground thrush, African green breasted pitta, yellow rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, dusky crimson wings, brown chested alethe, black-necked weavers, red-chested paradise flycatchers, red-capped robins, and more.

Adjacent to Kibale Forest Park, there is Bigodi Wetland also an amazing birding area with a total of 138 bird species. This wetland features special birds such as the great blue turacos; and primates like bush babies, red colobus monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys.

Cultural experience

Kibale National Park is situated in an area most dominated by the Batooro and Bakiga. A visit to any of these tribal group communities is a great opportunity to interact, explore more about their traditions, cultures, practices and so much more.

Bush craft children activities

Bush craft activities are special experiences children can enjoy while adults/parents are in the forest tracking chimpanzees making Kibale an amazing family-friendly destination. The different activities favor children below 15 years and they have opportunity to see floral species, butterflies, primates and birds.

When you should consider visiting the park

Safari activities in Kibale National Park are conducted all year long, however, the dry season is the best time to plan your visit to the park. This can be during the long or short dry months. The long dry months to consider traveling to Kibale are: June, July, August to September while short dry months start from December to February.

Kibale safari lodges to stay in

Kibale National Park has budget, midrange and luxury lodges spread inside and outside it. The main accommodation options to book include Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse, Papaya Lake Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Primate Lodge, Kibale Forest Camp, Isunga Lodge and others.

How you can travel to Kibale

Kibale National Park is one of the most accessible parks in Uganda, requiring you to spend only 5 to 6 hours to drive from Kampala via Mityana to Mubende to Fort Portal. Or drive through the Masaka-Mbarara-Kasese route, about 6-7 hours’ drive and by air, fly from Entebbe airport to Kasese airstrip and connect to Kibale.