Kibale national park is a primate destination that is located near Fort Portal and Kasese districts in western Uganda. Kibale covers an area of 795km and is situated between 1100 and 1600 meters. Kibale national park which is popularly known for chimpanzee trekking is a home of over 70 mammal species with 13 primate species such as Red colobus monkeys, Mangabey, Black and White monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, L-hoest monkeys among others, 351 tree species, grasslands, swamps, 375 bird species among others.
How to get to Kibale National Park
Kibale national park can be accessed by road or air transport means, by road you can use a safari vehicle from Kampala via Mubende and fort portal then to Kanyachu head offices in Kibale national park. You can also go via Ibanda or Mbarara to Kamwenge and the journey takes about 5 to 6 hours on a tarmac road. By Air transport you can use scheduled flights from Entebbe Airport to Kasese Airstrip then connect by road to Fort Portal and Kanyachu, you can also use scheduled flights from Entebbe airport to Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara then connect by road through Kamwenge to Kanyachu. Kibale national park can also be accessed by public means where the busses leave daily from Kampala to Fort Portal.
Attractions in Kibale National Park
- Primates, Kibale is a home of 13 primate species which include Chimpanzees, Vervet monkeys, Black and White monkeys, Olive baboons, Blue monkeys, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Bush babies, Pottos which are seen during the night forest walk.
- Other mammals, Kibale national park is a home of over 70 mammal species such as Elephants, Golden cats, Buffaloes, Bushpigs, Mongoose, Sitatunga which always migrate from Queen Elizabeth National Park, reptiles, amphibians among others.
- Bird species, Kibale national park is a home of over 370 bird species which can be viewed during bird watching activity in the forest of Kibale national park. Birds viewed include African grey parrot, Great Blue Turaco, Hornbills among others and butterfly species.
- Ndali-Kasenda crater lakes, Kibale national park harbours many crater lakes including Lake Nyabikere, Lake Lyantonde, Lake Nyinambuga, Lake Kifuruka among others.
- Flora, Kibale national park is a habitat of over 350 tree species found in the forests, grasslands and swamps.
- Amabere Ga Nyina Mwiru which are physical features (Stalagmites and Stalactites) with a strong cultural and historical background attached with beliefs.
Activities and in Kibale National Park
- Chimpanzee trekking, Kibale national park is a home of over 1500 chimpanzees and chimpanzee trekking is the major and common activity carried out. Chimpanzee trekking is an activity where visitors move in the forest in search of the chimpanzees and once found the visitors will spend one hour in the presence of the chimpanzees in their natural habitat learning about their behaviours, habits, taking photos among others. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park is commonly done in the morning at 8 am and takes about 2 to 3 hours. During chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park visitors have 99% of viewing the chimpanzees hence the best destination for chimpanzee trekking experience and will as well view other primates such as Red colobus monkeys, Olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, L-hoest monkeys, Bush babies among others.
- Chimpanzee habituation, this is a process where chimpanzees are trained by researchers, trackers and guides so as to get used to the human presence. This process is conducted at Kanyachu Educational Centre and takes two years to get the chimpanzees get used to the humans for trekking. Chimpanzee habituation process starts very early in the morning like at 6am and four visitors are given an opportunity to participate in the habituation process for a cost higher than that of chimpanzee trekking. Visitors who participate in chimpanzee habituation process spend four hours with the chimpanzees in their natural habitat since it’s a full day activity compared to chimpanzee trekking where the visitors spend one hour with the gorillas. Visitors will pack lunch and drinking water since the process takes a whole day and they will be able to see chimpanzees breastfeeding, feeding, resting, playing, de-nesting in the morning and nesting in the evening.
- Bird watching, Kibale national park is a home of over 370 bird species hence a great destination for bird lover in that they will be able to view different unique bird species like the breasted pitta. Bird watching activity in Kibale national park starts early in the morning at around 7am at Kanyachu Educational Centre which is located in the middle of the park and birders will be able to view bird species like Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, Black bishop, Papyrus canary, Grey-winged robin chat, Brown-throated wattle eye, Bush shrike, Superb Sunbird, Hairy breasted barbet, Yellow-billed barbet among others.
- Forest walk in Kibale national park, this is an activity where visitors walk within Kibale forest on foot with a trained park ranger who will be guiding and showing you different trails to follow. Forest walks in Kibale national park start early in the morning at 8am at Kanyachu Visitors Centre which is located in the middle of the park and visitors will follow different trails which will take you to the swamplands, grasslands, forests where you will be able to view different tree species, vegetation, wildlife species like primates and other animals like elephants, antelopes, duikers among others hence giving you great experience on your safari in Kibale national park.
- Cultural encounters, this is an activity where visitors visit the local communities around Kibale national park so as to have a great experience about other cultures and traditions, for example, the baking who are immigrants from Kigezi south western Uganda and the Batooro who are natives or indigenous tribe occupying largest areas in Kibale national park. During the cultural encounters, visitors in Kibale will be able to visit the vanilla plantations, tea plantations, Rwenzori Mountains, Crater lakes in Kibale, local people’s farmlands among others. you will be able to visit the community association called KAFRED Kibale Association for Rural and Environment Development which was created to protect Bigodi wetland swamp, trains local people as guides, funds women groups to engage in craft making where they make art and crafts such as sandals, bags, huts, beads, cultural performances where they entertain the visitors through dance, music, poems, drama among others hence giving visitors an unforgettable memories in Uganda.
- Nocturnal forest walk, this is an interesting activity where tourist walk following trails within the park with trained armed ranger guides and spotlights for clear viewing of the nocturnal animals at night in Kibale national park. Nocturnal forest walks in Kibale national park start at 7:30 pm and visitors will be able to view animals which they had missed during the day such as Bush Babies, Pottos, Tree Hyrax, Civet, Serval Cats, Bird species with good night visions such as owls, nightjar among others. Night forest walks in Kibale national park gives you the best experience of the forest at night.
- Bushcraft children activities, Kibale national park is one of the national parks that offer activities to children under the age of 15 who are not allowed to trek the chimpanzees in the forest. Children on a safari in Kibale national park can participate in various activities such as viewing wildlife, plants, birds, and primates like monkeys, baboons which are carried out by a kid friendly guide who interacts with the kids and make them feel comfortable during these bush craft activities.
- Bigodi wetland sanctuary, this is a wetland that is located in Magombe swamp 6km outside Kibale national park and it is run by a community association called KAFRED Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development. Bigodi wetland sanctuary is a home of over 138 bird species, for example, Black and White hornbill, Great Blue Turaco among others, 8 primate species such as Red colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, Butterflies among others. Bigodi wetland offers guided swamp walks which take 2 to 3 hours following trails in the beautiful grasslands with trees, palms, plants and trails to the surrounding communities. during the walk-in Bigodi swamp, you will be able to view different bird species including Black bishop, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, Black-crowned waxbill, Superb Sunbird, Western nicartor, Yellow-billed Barbet, Bocage’s bush shrike and primate species like Blue monkeys, Red colobus monkeys, Baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Black and White monkeys, Grey-cheeked monkeys, L-hoest, Vervet, Otters, Chimpanzees among others hence giving great moments during your safari in Kibale national park.
Best time to visit Kibale
Kibale national park can be visited anytime throughout the year for chimpanzee trekking, bird watching among others however the best time to visit is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February when the trails are dry and good for wildlife viewing due to short grass compared to the wet season which makes wildlife viewing difficult, makes forest trails muddy and slippery. The wet season during the months of March to May, October to November are good months for bird watching in that the birds will have a lot of food to feed on such as fruits.
Kibale national park is the best destination to visit in Uganda in that visitors will gain great experiences with lifetime memories of chimpanzee trekking, chimpanzee habituation, bird watching among others during a safari tour in Uganda.