Kibale forest National Park is located in western Uganda about 5-6 hours drive from Entebbe International airport. This low land tropical rain forest is considered to be one of the few pristine rain forest remaining on continent Africa. Kibale National Park has the largest chimpanzee population standing at approximatelt 1500 individuals and is the best place to trek habituated wild chimpanzees in the whole of Africa.
Kibale forest covers an area of 795 square kilometers and is home to wild chimpanzees and other twelve popular primates making it one of best national parks to visit while on your Uganda Safari. There are a total of 13 species to be found here which, aside from our close relatives the chimpanzees, includes the grey cheeked mangabey, endangered red colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkey, olive baboon, potto, bush baby, red-tailed monkey and the, rarely seen, Hoest’s monkey. The fascinating chimps tend to be heard before they are seen and their screams pant hoots and barks are used by our local tracking experts to bring you even closer to them. Once you locate the animals you can usually spend up to one hour with them before the forest walk continues in search of other primates. For kin birder, Kibale National Park boosts of several forest birds some of which are endemic to this forest. It has several other animals like elephants, leopards that are rarely spotted.
ACCESSING KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Kibale National Park can be accessed from Kampala via Mubende on a very good road and the drive time is approximately 5-6 hours. Kibale is closer to Queen Elizabeth National Park and from Kibale to Queen Elizabeth is just 2 hours drive. While in Kibale, you will enjoy the great views of Rwenzori Mountains. Those interested in flying can charter from Entebbe Airport or Kajansi to Fort Portal or Ndali.
POPULAR ACTIVITIES IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
You can enjoy a half day chimpanzee trekking either in the morning or the afternoon or decide to do a whole day chimpanzee habituation experience. Kibale has three habituated communities that can be trekked but in order to reduce on food competition, these communities that are composed of 50-150 individuals tend to break up into smaller parties of 10-20 individuals. They will only rejoin in the evening to make their nest. For those interested in birding, Kibale is one of the few places where you can spot over 350 birds. In the nearby bigodi village, there is a swamp walk that can supplement on your chimpanzee trekking and all proceeds from this walk goes to community development projects. You can as well visit the crater lakes region as this area was affecte by volcanicity.
Located just outside the park itself, the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a highlight of the area, a community-run reserve that provides a great example of how tourism and local communities can work hand-in-hand to benefit the environment. The sanctuary has over 335 bird species and at least five primate species.
LODGES IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Accommodation in Kibale include Primate Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Chimpanzee Forest Guest House, Chimp nest, Kibale Forest Camp, Rwenzori View Guest House, Kibale Safari Lodge among others.
Chimpanzee Tracking – Kibale National Park
This involves travelling to National Park Headquarters to meet your guides for the day and begin your chimpanzee tracking experience. Experienced guides and trackers will accompany your party on an early morning trek into the forest to view wild chimpanzees as well as several other species of primates in their natural habitat. You will have an opportunity to be within metres of these amusing and very social apes, sharing in their daily lives and experiencing their day-to-day activities. Chimpanzees, our closest cousins, are extremely endangered with only an estimated 5000 remaining in Uganda. Please note: tracking may be fairly strenuous as the chimpanzees are highly mobile as they search for food throughout the forest. Also, chimpanzees are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed. However viewing success rates are over 70%.
Chimpanzee Habituation – Kibale National Park
Following an early morning breakfast at the lodge, travel to Kibale National Park to join your team and begin your chimpanzee habituation experience. You will assist Kibale’s trackers in their daily habituation research and activities including “de-nesting” the chimps, following them through the forest, and recording their behaviors and movements throughout the day. Finish the day off at sundown when the chimpanzees retire to their new nests for the night. This lifetime experience will allow you within metres of these amusing and very social apes, sharing in their daily lives and experiencing their day-to-day activities. Chimpanzees, our closest cousins, are extremely endangered with only an estimated 5000 remaining in Uganda. You will also have the opportunity to observe the many other animal species living in Kibale’s diverse habitat including black and white colobus monkeys, baboons and hundreds of native bird species.
Following the day’s habituation activities, return to camp for dinner and to reflect on your experiences with the chimps. Please note: tracking chimpanzees may be fairly strenuous as the chimpanzees are highly mobile during the day. Also, chimpanzees are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed.
Half Day Nature Walk – Kibale Forest National Parks
Embark on a half day walk through tropical rainforest with experienced wildlife guides. Enjoy scenic views, the sights and sounds of the rain forest, ample opportunities for bird watching and glimpses of the many monkey species living in the park as they move through the forest canopy.
Night Forest Walk – Kibale National Park
At nightfall, set out on foot into the park with your guides as the nocturnal world of the forest comes to life. Using spot lights allowing visitors to see the many creatures who move about the forest at night, your guide will help you spot pottos, owls, bushbabys, genets, and on, rare occasions, small jungle cats.
Swamp Walk- Bigodi, Kibale National Park
Depart for Bigodi Swamp, considered one of Uganda’s best bird watching locations. Bigodi’s rich ecosystem makes it a spectacular venue for viewing numerous primate and bird species in their natural habitats. This two to three hour walk can be tailored to your individual schedule and interests. All proceeds from this walk goes to developing community projects in the area ad that’s how the community is benefiting from the presence of Kibale National Park.