Kibale forest national park is one of the lately created Parks in Uganda having been a Forest Reserve for many years. The park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in the district of Kamwenge about 450 kilometers from the capital city Kampala, the drive can take about 5-6 hours in a clear weather condition . The park covers an area of about 795 square kilometers and it is contiguous to the northern end of Queen Elizabeth National Park just about 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha. The park was first gazetted in 1932 and formally recognized in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. It’s one of the few parks not only in Uganda but also in the east and central Africa to contain both lowland and Montane forest, it also sustain the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest. The territory of this part of western Uganda is covered by terraced hills, tea estates, forests and one of the highest concentrations of volcanic crater lakes in the world. Kibale forest national is one of the most visited national park and one of the best safari destinations in Uganda popularly known for its population of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates many of which found anywhere in East Africa.
Kibale has the highest number of chimpanzees over 1,400 individuals are recorded the largest chimpanzee population in the world, and is one of the five parks that currently have chimpanzee habituation projects operating. Other primates found in the park include several types of columbus monkeys, black and white colobus monkey civet monkey, Guereza Colobus, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Gentle ( Blue) and Red-tailed Monkeys just to mention but a few can all be seen at the park. The park is a home to a variety of bird species counting to about 335 bird species including Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-naped Pigeon, Green-brested Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycather, the list is countless. A list of over 60 mammals can also be found in the forest that can be seen include elephant, Bushbucks, African golden cats, servals, different mongooses waterbucks, duiker and giant forest hog, Bufallo and Hippopotamus are recorded from the park, they are unlikely to be encountered in the Kanyanchu area. Sitatungas are known from Bigodi Swamp but are infrequently seen, over 250 tree species and 144 types of butterfly are also recorded at the park. A good infrastructure and a variety of interesting activities make this forest a worthwhile Uganda safaris destination. Many of the facilities are community based, thus providing the local community with the necessary revenue to keep their interest focused on the long-term protection of the area.
Activities done at the park
Guided forest walks: this activity can arranged either in the morning or evening depending on the visitors interest, during the forest walk the guide will be in position to provide with detailed information about the forest flora and fauna, and you may get chance to came a cross several forest species such as the bush buck, giant forest hogs, several species of primates and birds passing through the trails of the forest is so interesting you may also be able to participate in the habituation of chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee tracking: this is the most done activity at the park; chimp tracking is so rewarding as you will have an opportunity to get cross contact with these man’s close relative which share almost 98% of human of human genetic make-up. Chimpanzee tracking requires less walking than gorilla tracking but equally enjoyable as you watch them socialize on the ground or in fruiting trees. You must poses a chimp permit in order to get allowed to track and a chimp permit is issued on a first come first served basis so contact your tour operator to book a permit for you in advance. Although possession of a permit is a guarantee for tracking, it’s not a guarantee for tracking, however chances of seeing chimpanzee in kibale forest national park is about 98% and ranger guides always know where these species are. Only18 members are allowed to track chips in each session both in the morning and in the evening. Chimpanzees are more active than gorillas and have larger families of 30 and above members. Ounce you get to chimps you strictly allowed to stay with them only one hour while observing there behaviors, taking photos
Bird watching: kibale forest is known as a birder’s paradise with over 335 species of birds which are recorded in the forest four of which are endemic to this park. To mention some of the species which can be seen include the crested guinea fowl, great blue turaco, grey parrot, green-breasted and African pitas, African crowned eagles White-naped Pigeon, Green-brested Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, butterflies can also be seen during the bird watching
Swamp walk activities are also available daily within the park and at the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary just outside the park. Here various species of birds can be seen the sanctuary is operated by the local community and demonstrates the positive effects that can be achieved by community tourism projects. Over 20 families benefit directly from tourism activities in this area. This project is part of the Uganda Community Tourism Association- UCOTA
Community walk; this activity is regarded as breathtaking most especially to those interested in learning about the local Uganda culture; visits can be arranged to the local community. The people can explain to visitors about their locally produced art and craft items, those interested can purchase their items from the park tourist office at Kanyanchu.
Where to stay
Mantana Luxury Tented Camp located in the middle of the forest. Bush type accommodation and quite comfortable.
Ndali Lodge: it’s regarded as a luxury Lodge with fabulous accommodation facilities.
Kyaninga Lodge: This is a beautiful lodge and it’s distinguished with its nice rooms and also regarded as a luxury lodge
Primate Lodge: It is located within the National Park next to Kanyanchu visitor’s center. It provides good accommodation facilities and it enables visitors to experience wonders of the Park from the time of arrival up to the time of departure.
Kibale Forest Lodge:
Kibale Forest Camp:
The Rwenzori View Guesthouse located in Fort Portal approximately 30 kms from the forest. Comfortable, middle class rooms with or without private bathrooms are available