Kibale Forest National Park Overview
Kibale Forest National Park is the most magnificent of Uganda’s tropical rainforests and one of the most rewarding areas to explore. Established at the end of the 18th century, Kibale Forest National Park boasts 13 species of primates including the localized Red Columbus and L’Hoest monkeys, Kibale’s major attraction is the chimpanzee the delightful ape most closely related to humans than to any other living creature. These can be seen swinging in tree branches as one trek through the forest trails. While you enjoy your tour in this sunny side of nature you have a life opportunity to sight over 300 birds. It also includes mammals like the elusive forest elephant, buffalo, and giant forest hog and half a dozen antelope species thereby making it one of the most stunning parks in Uganda.
Situated ideally in the heart of the Tooro Kingdom in Western Uganda, near Fort portal, the park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and is within a half days drive of Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks. The park became a government Forest Reserve in the early 1940s.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, located just outside the park, is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms. These could include the 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.
Bird watching tours start at 7am at Kanyanchu; you are advised to book in advance. Rare species include the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Oliveback and Papyrus Canary.
Near Kibale Forest National Park, you will find many crater lakes which you see as we drive near the Park. The top of the World Hike is a popular activity near Kibale Forest National Park – a three-hour or longer guided walk covering three crater lakes, villages, tea-plantations and a view from the top of the world that takes in 3 crater lakes and the Rwenzori Mountains with the landscape below.
This hike is three hours in length and is taken with guides who can explain Village life the legends of the crater lakes, the tea and vanilla plantations all along the way
Kibale Forest National Park is most popular for Chimpanzees and other 13 primate species. Chimpanzees can be tracked via the Kanyanchu Primate Walk. Besides the thirteen species that can be seen, there are a good variety of diurnal monkeys invariably encountered, but the stars of this trail are the chimpanzees. Kanyanchu’s chimps have been tracked since 1993 and the chances of locating them are excellent. Guided walks start at 8am and 2pm and last an average of three hours, depending on various factors.
Chimpanzee tracking actually is a very fascinating experience. Prepare today and set out to Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park all natural jungle today as you spend a number of hours tracking these impressive creatures. You will be allowed to spend some time (at most an hour) with our mesmerizing relatives, as you observe them swing from one tree to another, feed, play about or progress speedily on the ground right in front of you.
With abundant tropical forest and interesting diversity of animals, Kibale National Park is one of the most beautiful and stunning forest in Uganda.
When chimpanzees and other forest residents rest up at dusk, a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active. Night walks though the darkened forest use powerful torches to seek nocturnal creatures such as the potto, bushbaby, nightjar, cricket and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 7.30pm and last between one and a half and two hours.
Kibale Forest National Park is 510km from Kampala; the most commonly used route passes through Kabale and Kisoro. The 434km journey from Kampala to Kabale can be completed in 8 hours on good tarmac. It is then a further 76km to Kisoro town on a mountainous tarmac road with steep ascents and descents.
An attractive, alternative route leaves the main road at Kabale and follows the shoreline of the superbly scenic Lake Bunyonyi to rejoin the Kabale-Kisoro main road at its halfway point at Muko.
Ntebeko, the main entrance to Kibale National Park is 14km from Kisoro at the end of a dirt road with some steep and rocky sections.
Kibale can be reached from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. From Bwindi’s southern gorilla tracking trailheads at Nkuringo and Rushaga, Kisoro lies 28km south and Mgahinga 14km beyond. Mgahinga is almost four hours drive from the main trailhead at Buhoma. Dirt roads from Buhoma pass the Ruhija trailhead to join the Kabale-Kisoro tarmac road (see above).
Kibale can also be reached by air using the daily flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro airfield. Forest
Kibale National park is all year round open for game viewing though the best time to visit is in the dry seasons from June to September and December to February.
March to May and September to November mark the wet season, where wildlife viewing is quite challenging, but it is a good time for bird watching. For someone doing a 2-3 day safari, chances of spotting chimpanzees are very high at any time of the year.
Best time to visit is June to September and December to February (trails are drier and chimpanzee trekking is easier)
Peak season; June to September
Low season is March, April, May, and November (it is the rainy season and some camps and lodges are closed)
Best weather conditions: June, July and December to February (there is less rainfall during this time.)
Worst Weather conditions: March to May and September to November (there is heavy rainfall and trails become hard to travel)
The dry season: June to September, December to February
These are the driest and hottest months but they are the best for chimpanzee tracking. The forest is less dense and the chimpanzees are much easier.
There is a lot of sunshine during this season, and very little rain. There are very few or no mosquitoes at all so chances of contracting malaria are very minimal. Because it is peak season, there are a number of tourists, so it is common to encounter other people while chimpanzee trekking but the park and forest never gets really crowded.
The Wet season: March to May, September to November
Typical of rainforests, the park is beautifully green during this season. There are migratory birds in the park, making this the best time to go bird watching. The chimpanzees are usually harder to track, especially since the trails are slippery and challenging to traverse during this period. It is also quite hot and humid during this time.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the red colobus monkey and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. The park is also home to over 325 species of birds, 4 wild fellids, 13 species of primates, a total of at least 70 other species of mammals, and over 250 tree species. The predominant ecosystem in Kibale is moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest. Much of the forest was logged during its time as a Forest Reserve, and some exotic species of trees were planted in plantations (pines and eucalyptus). Since the national park was gazetted many of these introduced trees have been removed and logging has ended.