KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Kibale National Park is a remarkable national park and a primate destination found in the western Uganda along the East African Rift Valley near the Ndali Kasenda Crater, the park is a famous primate destination with 13 primate species including the biggest chimpanzee population in East Africa recorded to be over 5000 individuals.
Kibale national park also referred to as Kibale Forest national park was first established as a forest reserve in 1932 due to its great bio-diversity and in 1990s it was declared a game park. Kibale national park covering an area of 776 square kilometers is dominated by montane and lowland forests including lovoa swynnertonnii, cordia millenii and entandrophragma.
Kibale national park is a primate capital hosting 13 species of primates including chimpanzees, L’Hoest Monkeys, the endangered Red Colobus, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, the Red tailed Monkeys, Bush Baby, Blue Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Black and White Colobus. Kibale national park is also a prime birding site in Uganda and Africa hosting over 375 bird species including 6 species endemic to the Albertine Rift Area, birds in the found in the park include Abyssinian Ground thrust, African Grey Parrot, Black Bee eater, Black capped Apalis, Black eared Ground Thrust, Blue Breasted Kingfisher, Blue headed sunbird, Brown Chested Alethe, Brown Illadopis, Collared Apalis, Crowned Eagle, Dusky Crimsonwing, Little Green Bul, Purple breasted Sunbird, Red Chested Owlet, Red Faced Woodland Warbler, Scaly breasted Illadopsis, the African Pitta, Western Nicator, White naped Pigeon, Yellow Rumped Tinker bird and yellow spotted Nicator among others.
Apart from chimpanzees and birds, the park is a home to 60 mammal species such as bats, bush pig, giant forest hogs, elephants, forest buffaloes, leopards, hippopotamus, bushbuck antelopes, red/blue duikers, sitatungas semi aquatic antelopes, warthogs, African golden cats, mongooses and the occasionally spotted hyenas. Other creatures in the park include over 200 species of butterflies, 27 frog species and 20 species of reptiles.
SAFARI ACTIVITIES TO DO IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Chimpanzee tracking is the main safari activity to do in Kibale national park, this activity offers a close encounter with chimpanzees living in Kibale forests. The park is a home to the largest population of chimpanzees in East Africa region with about 5000 individuals, chimpanzees are endangered species sharing over 95% of their DNA with humans.
Chimpanzee tracking activity starts as early as 06:00 am with briefing at the park’s headquarters where you are enlightened about the dos and don’ts on this activity, then trek into the forests looking for the chimpanzees. Kibale forest national park has habituated chimpanzee groups which are encountered on this activity, finding these chimpanzees is an exciting and memorable experience of staying for one hour in the presence of the chimpanzees.
While on chimpanzee tracking experience in Kibale Forest national park you will other primates living in Kibale forests including L’Hoest Monkeys, the endangered Red Colobus, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, the Red tailed Monkeys, Bush Baby, Blue Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Black and White Colobus.
Kibale national park is one of the best birding destinations in Uganda and Africa as well, the park is a birder’s paradise hosting over 374 bird species which make birding experience in the Kibale forests a remarkable experience.
Birding in Kibale forest national park offers an opportunity to watch a number of birds such as Abyssinian Ground thrust, African Grey Parrot, Black Bee eater, Black capped Apalis, Black eared Ground Thrust, Blue Breasted Kingfisher, Blue headed sunbird, Brown Chested Alethe, Brown Illadopis, Collared Apalis, Crowned Eagle, Dusky Crimsonwing, Little Green Bul, Purple breasted Sunbird, Red Chested Owlet, Red Faced Woodland Warbler, Scaly breasted Illadopsis, the African Pitta, Western Nicator, White naped Pigeon, Yellow Rumped Tinker bird and yellow spotted Nicator among others.
Bigodi swamp walk
Bigodi swamp walk takes you a thrilling nature walk in the Bigodi wetlands and bird sanctuary one of the best places for bird watching and primate viewing in East Africa, the sanctuary is situated along the borders of the park and during a 3 hours’ walk you will encounter many birds such as Crowned Eagle, Dusky Crimsonwing, Little Green Bul, Purple breasted Sunbird, Red Chested Owlet and primates such as chimpanzees, olive baboons among others.
Visiting the local community
Visiting the local community is a memorable experience on which you will experience the local culture and traditions as you visit the Batoro and Bakiga communities, in the Batoro community the proud people you will experience the batoro heritage, culture history and learn more about their king “The Omukama’. The Bakiga are most known as the most hardworking people depending on substance farming of local foods including matoke (bananas), in the Bakiga community you will be entertained by local dances and drama, learn their language if interested, taste their food and listen to interesting ancient stories.
Nature walks and Hikes
Kibale national park is a rewarding destination for nature walks and hikes, the park has a great biodiversity and fascinating surrounding landscapes including the Amabere caves which are discovered on nature walks and hikes. This experience starts from Sebitoli or Kanyanchu which are the starting point and during the walks and hikes you will enjoy the tropical forests, grasslands, swamps and rivers. This experience is also perfect for travelers wishing to experience the local people and their daily life while walking through Nyaibanda, Nyakalongo and Kikoni villages.
Night walks are also offered in Kibale national park and they are best for watching nocturnal animals such as pottos, bush babies and rare birds which are only active at night.
Activities for Children
In Kibale national park, special children activities are offered to ensure children who cannot participate in chimpanzee tracking also enjoy their experience in the park. There are professionally trained rangers, guides and drivers attending to these children, children not allowed to participate in chimpanzee are individuals below the age of 13 years. Children activities include
- Forest walks to see forest animals, birds and various bird species
- Batik making
- Photography and pond dipping
How to get to Kibale National Park
Kibale national park is situated in the western region of Uganda and is accessed on a direct route from Kampala on a drive of about 5-6 hours, from Kampala city you drive through Mubende and Fort Portal. From Southern Uganda you used Kamwenge or Mbarara road to reach the park, air means of transport is another way of getting to Kibale national park using domestic chartered flights from either Kajjansi or Entebbe International airport flying to either Ndali or Fort Portal airstrips.
Best time to visit Kibale National Park
Kibale national park experiences tropical climate and this is due to its location close to the equator, the park is good all year round the best time to visit the park is during the dry season months of December to February. In these months the routes used while exploring the park are less muddy making it easy to walk and drive through the park. the vegetation cover and thick bushes are less allowing easy sightings of animals living in the forests of Kibale.
Note: Because is generally covered by rain and montane forests you should expect rain even in dry season that is why you need to carry a rain jacket and sweater during your Uganda safari experience in Kibale national park.
Accommodation facilities in Kibale National Park
During your Uganda safari in Kibale national park a proper accommodation (a place to stay at) is very paramount, in Kibale national park there is a variety of accommodation facilities to stay at ranging from luxury, midrange and budget. Safari lodges, camps and hotels in Kibale national park include
- Primate lodge
- Chimp’s Nest
- Nyinabulitwa Country Resort
- Kibale Forest Camp among others