Kibale Forest National Park Facts: Uganda Chimpanzee Tracking Safaris
Kibale Forest National park is located in the western Uganda covering a total land area of 795km2. The direct route from Kampala to the “Primates Capital of the World”, Kibale is 300km, which takes about 4 hour drive.
Kibale Forest Safari park is over 200 years old and is mainly reserved for wildlife research. The park lies in the Albertine Rift Valley with the highest tip of the national park being 1,590m above sea level and 1100m being the lowest point.
Kibale national park was gazetted first in 1932 and established in 1993 with the main intention of protecting a wider area of forest that was formerly managed as a logged forest reserve.
Kibale is famously known for its chimp. However, Kibale National park is a habitat for various species of mammals, birds, among others.
How to reach Kibale National Park
It is easy to access Kibale forests national park using the public means. The bus operates daily using northern route to Fort Portal covering a distance of about 300 kilometers on a tarmac road in addition to a distance of 36 kilometers to Kanyanchu on a murram road.
The direct route from Kampala via to Fort portal is about 316 km which makes it easy for tourists on a Uganda Safari or Primates safari to use a public means of transport which is a bus that operates on a daily basis via Kamwenge and lastly to Kanyanchu.
Climate at Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest experiences tropical climate with a pleasant annual temperature range of about 140C -270C. The rainy season starts from October to December and March to May that make the journey to Kibale so inevitable and challenging while using murram roads thus a 4WD vehicle in good mechanical conditions is needed.
Kibale forest Safari park receives rainfall of about 1700mm per year however, the park during dry seasons temperature rise up to 250C especially in January and February thus making most wild animals stay near water bodies for body temperature cooling thus being the best period for the tourists to visit Kibale forest national park Chimp Tracking.
The Batooro and Bakiga are the inhabitants of the area who use the park for food production with the help of UWA to sustainably use the park land however due to the increasing population has strained many of the forest areas outside Kibale forest. Kibale is connected to Queen Elizabeth National Park by the corridor covering a distance of about 180 km long.
Top 5 Attractions at Kibale Forest National Park
Wildlife: Kibale forest National Park is the habitat of over 70 different mammal species and birds. Mammals found in the park include the following; a total population of chimpanzees of about 5000, Vervet monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, Gray cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest’s monkey, red Colobus, olive Baboons, nocturnal mammals which include, Bush babies, Pottos among others.
Forest elephants, warthogs, Giant forest hogs, buffalos, bush pigs, bush bucks, antelopes, golden cats, leopards, red and blue Duikers among other mammals can be spotted around Kibale national park.
Chimpanzee: There are over 5000 chimpanzees found in Kibale forest national park that can be tracked and some of the habituated chimpanzees enables clients have more time with chimpanzees thus enjoying the experience and making the clients’ adventure around Kibale forest national park a memorable one.
Birds: There over 375 estimated species of birds that tourists interested in bird watching can be spotted which include; the African pitta, Red chested owlet, black- Bee eater, crowned eagle, western Nicator, blue breasted Kingfisher, African Grey parrot, Brown illadopsis, yellow- rumped tinker bird, blue headed sunbird, scaly- breasted illadopsis, white- naped pigeon, little greenbul, Brown chested Alethe, Black- capped Apalis, Little greenbul, purple- breasted sunbird, collared Apalis, red- faced woodland warbler, Black eared ground thrush, Abyssinian ground- thrush, Dusky crimsonwing among others.
Butterfly: The forest is blessed with over 250 species of butterflies that can be spotted during nature walks including moths.
Bigodi Wetlands: Bigodi wetland is a special swamp full of natural wonders found in Kibale forest national park that include the following; chimpanzees, birds including the large Blue Turacos, the swamp also has incredible palms, plants among others.
Bigodi community project provides guiding experiences to tourists of which the services are paid for thus benefiting the community through a 3-hour walk that birders cannot miss around Bigodi community.
Crater lakes: The guided hiking takes about 3-hours which exposes tourists to 3 crater lakes with their clear background history and also giving the tourists a clear view of the Rwenzori Mountains. The guided hiking includes the tea and vanilla plantations along the way. Half day and full day hikes are also available in Kibale forest safari park.
Activities in Kibale Forest National Park
Activities done in Kibale Forest National Park include the following;
Chimpanzee trekking. Chimpanzee trekking or chimp tracking is the most unique and iconic activity found in the park where about 5000 chimpanzees are found within the forest giving high chances to tourists to view most of the chimpanzees thus enjoying their experience during chimp trekking. Chimp tracking tickets payments are made through UWA booking offices that are located along Kira Road, Kampala. Chimp trekking tickets cost 200 USD. Chimpanzee tracking is done during early morning at 06:00 – 06:30am when it is not yet time for chimpanzees feeding, hunting, patrolling, breast feeding, building new nests among other activities until 07:00 pm however guided nature walks start at 08:00 am and 02:00pm which take an average time of about three hours depending on different factors. Persons below the age of 15 are not allowed to go for chimpanzee tracking and the trekking group is limited to 6 participants. Other mammals that can be spotted in Kibale national park are bushbucks, red and blue duikers, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, common warthog, African buffalo, sitatungas among others. Other primates that are found in Kibale forest national park include the following. Vervet monkeys, red tailed monkeys, gray cheeked monkeys, red Colobus, blue monkey, black and white Colobus, olive baboons, L’hoest monkeys, bush babies, pottos among others.
Chimpanzee tracking rules
- For safety and protection of chimpanzees, you should not enter the forest if you are sick.
- Do not spit where chimpanzees stay.
- If you need to urinate or defecate, do so off the trail, bury your waste in a hole of about 30cm deep along with a toilet paper.
- Keep as quiet as possible in the forest.
- Do not use flash photography.
- Do not hoot during the game drive in national park.
- Smoking, eating and drinks are not allowed when tracking.
- Do not spit where the chimpanzees stay.
- Keep at a distance of about 8 meters all times from the chimpanzee.
- Do not mimic chimpanzees’ vocalization you don’t know what you might be saying
- Do not eat near chimpanzees.
- Do not chase chimpanzees
- Chimpanzee trackers must be fit and in good health conditions.
- Do not surround the chimpanzees.
- You are requested to leave baggage behind as you approach where chimpanzees can be viewed
- Do not make unnecessary movements while trekking chimpanzees.
Park regulations formulated by UWA include the following.
- Do not camp or make campfire except at designated sites.
- Do not disturb wildlife by sounding motor horns.
- Do not drive in the park between 19 30 hours and 06 00 hours
- Do not drive off track
- Do not bring firearms or ammunition into the park.
- Do not exceed the speed limit 40km per hour
- Do not pick flowers or destroy any vegetation.
- Retain all official receipts for inspection.
- Do not bring other pets in the national park for example dogs, cats among others.
- Do not litter
Bird watching.(Birding Safaris)
Kibale national park is a home for over 350 species of birds birders should not miss while on nature walks around Kibale forest national park and Bigodi wetland swamp sanctuary which consists of about 138 species of birds that can be easily spotted by the help of guides through the forest walks.
Birds that can be viewed in Kibale national park include the following; African pitta, Black-capped Apalis, collared Apalis, crowned eagle, Abyssinian ground thrush, purple breasted sunbird, black bee-eater, little greenbul, brown chested Alethe, yellow spotted Nicator, black-eared ground thrush, yellow-rumped tinker bird, blue – breasted king fisher, Dusky crimson wing among others.
Nature walk around Kibale forest national park exposes tourists to different species of mammals, birds, insects such as butterflies, and moths among others.
Nature walks enable tourists to explore varieties of tree species that can be seen along the trail, the Turacos, shoebill are also available in Bigodi swamp located in Kibale forest national park.
Nature walks in the park take a period of about 2 to 6 days which gives tourists more time to learn and explore different categories of nature found in Kibale forest national park including the different community visits that expose different cultural experiences around Kibale.
Nature walks start at 8am starts from Kanyanchu or Sebitoli with the help of a guide or ranger to easily spot different creatures thus enjoying the nature walk experiences on the pearl of Africa, Uganda.
Night forest walks are also available at Kibale that enable tourists to see nocturnal creatures for example; bush -baby, cricket and tree hyrax, nightjar, pottos, among others that can be viewed during the night using powerful torches with high beams. Night walks tart at 7:30 pm and lasts for about two hours or one and a half hours.
Accommodations at Kibale Forest National Park
Accommodation facilities found within Kibale forests national park include the following.
Primate Lodge Kibale
Kanyanchu River camp
Sebitoli camping ground
Accommodation in Bigodi region in the south of the park
Safari Hotel Bigodi
Mantana tented camp
Kibale forest camp
Accommodation in the Northern Region
Crater valley Kibale lakeside resort