Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park also known as The Primate Capital of East Africa is one of the best primate destinations in East Africa and Uganda as well as it is a home to the largest population of chimpanzees in East Africa recorded to be more than 1,450 chimpanzees, the park is also a home to other 12 different species of primates.
Kibale National park is the best place to see chimpanzees in East Africa, the park protects varied tracts of tropical rain forest providing a habitat to primates and birds.
Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda stretching through Kabarole, Kamwege, Kyenjojo and Kasese districts, the park is just 26 kilometers Southeast of Fort Portal City. Joining Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park is Kibale Game Reserve – a wildlife corridor for animals to move between the two parks.
Plant and Vegetation in Kibale National Park
The park’s half (about 45,000 ha) protects medium – altitude moist evergreen forest in the north and medium – altitude moist semi-deciduous forest at lower altitudes in the south. The other half of the park is dominated by grassland and swamps.
In the extreme southwestern corner of the park, there is Lake George a Ramsar Site which cuts across south of the Rwimi river.
The forest varied altitude supports different habitats that are woodland, savanah, wet tropical forest and semi-deciduous dry tropical forest.
Wildlife in Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park hosts a variety of wildlife species including 70 mammal species, 13 primate species and 325 bird species. Notable wildlife in the park are the 13 primate species namely himpanzee, baboon, red colobus, black and white colobus, L’Hoest’s, red-tailed, vervet, and blue monkeys, and the Uganda mangabey.
Other wildlife found in park include forest elephant, duiker, bushbuck, sitatunga, bushpigs, giant forest hogs, common warthogs, and African buffalo. The Kibale predator list includes leopard, serval, African golden cat, mongooses, otter, and occasionally visiting lion.
Seeing large mammals such as elephants and buffaloes in Kibale National park is quite challenging due to the thick forest cover.
Birds in Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park hosts a rich birdlife with 335 recorded species including rare species and regional endemics, four of these are Cassin’s spinetail, green-breasted pitta, masked apalis, and blue-headed bee-eater that have not been recorded elsewhere in Uganda.
Birds in Kibale National Park include White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, White-breasted Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill among others.
Amphibians and Butterflies in Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park hosts over 25o species of butterflies, several reptiles and Amphibians.
Safaris and activities to do in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee trekking is one of the main Uganda safari activities to do in Kibale forest national park and this has been happening since 1993, this experience is done twice a day that is early morning at 8 am and afternoon 2 pm offering you a chance to meet chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
This amazing activity begins with briefing at the park’s headquarters where you are taken through rules and regulation to follow while in the forest and in group of 8 people, you head into the forests looking for chimpanzees. The trek takes approximately 2-6 hours depending on the movement of the chimpanzees, you will spot chimpanzees as they play on tree branches, pick leaves and fruits watch them build nests and groom each other and take amazing pictures.
After one hour, you will head back to the park’s headquarters where you will be rewarded with chimpanzee trekking certificates. For a more mind-blowing experience remember to carry long sleeved shirt and pants, comfortable waterproof boots, binoculars, camera, insect repellant.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Kibale National Park
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is another remarkable activity in Kibale National Park, this experience is similar to chimpanzee trekking but it offers more time of staying in the presence of chimpanzees.
Chimpanzees are habituated for over 2 years as a way of getting them used to humans, on chimpanzee habituation experience visitors accompany researchers and researchers every morning and head into the forest to see chimpanzees that is before they leave their overnight nests and before they start their daily activities including activities, feeding, hunting, copulating, breastfeeding, patrolling and resting.
When this process is repeated over time, the chimpanzees get used to humans and that group is included among those to be tracked.
Kibale National park offers some of most rewarding birding experience in Uganda, the park hosts over 335 bird species including Albertine Rift Endemics. Some of the beautiful bird species to lookout for include the Green breasted pitta. Other species includeGrey-throated FlycatcherGrey-winged Robin, Crested Flycatcher,Blue shouldered Robin Chat, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, White-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Fluff tail, White-collared Olive-backWhite-bellied, Masked Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, Tiny Sunbird, and many more.
Nature and Hiking walks
Kibale Forest offers amazing nature and hiking walks on which visitors get to explore this verdant rainforest, there is a 12 kilometers hike through the forest. On this hike you will be able to spot a variety of birds and some forest animals such as bush pigs, duikers and elephants.
There is also nocturnal walks on which rangers use powerful torches to seek nocturnal animals such as bush baby, hyrax, pottos and occasionally serval cat and civet. These walks normally last 2.5 hours and leave at 7 pm.
The best time for natural walks and hiking in Kibale National Park is during the dry season (December – February and June – September) when trails are less slippery.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
Along the borders of Kibale National Park, there are several community initiatives and cultural experiences to engage during your visit in Kibale and these include Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is managed by the community. There is also a Women’s project where you can purchase handmade crafts to support them, during the visit you will a traditional meal at Tinka’s place, visit local schools and market center, be entertained by local dances and drama.
Getting to Kibale National Park
Kibale National Park can be accessed by road and air means of transport.
By air – there are scheduled/charter flights from Entebbe International airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kasese Airstrip on an hour’s flight then connect to the park by road.
By road – From Kampala, the park is accessed via Fortportal to Kibale Forest, Kampala – Mbarara – Kibale Forest Via Ibanda or Queen Elizabeth National Park – Kasese – Kasekende Craters – Kibale National Park.
Where to stay in Kibale National Park
There are a variety of accommodation options in Kibale National Park ranging from budget, midrange to luxury namely
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