If you are a primate enthusiast and you are planning your next safari to Uganda, then Kibale Forest National Park is one of the 10 (ten) most outstanding protected areas that you should consider in your travel plan. The park covers an area of about 795 square kilometers and it largely features the most distinct tropical rainforest.
Kibale Forest National Park was designated as a national park in 1993 mainly to offer refuge to a number of its unique tourist attractions. About 13 varied primate species call this spectacular protected area their home and chimpanzees feature as the main tourist attraction in the park.
And it is of no doubt that chimpanzee tracking stands as the most sought after primate adventure in the park and it is always conducted in the morning at 8:00 am and 2:00pm in the afternoon. Out of 5000 chimpanzees that thrive in Uganda, about 1500 of them are found within Kibale Forest National Park making it the most visited protected area.
The tracking permits for this lifetime experience cost $150 per visitor. Besides the usual treks, there is also chimpanzee habituation experience where visitors spend the entire day with chimpanzees while exploring their behavior. The other primates in this protected area include the rare L’Hoests monkeys, red colobus monkeys, olive baboons, grey-cheeked mangabey monkeys, bushbabies, potto, black and white colobus monkeys and many more.
For bird lovers, the park also offers refuge to over 350 birds that are worth exploring while on a birding safari in Uganda. The notable birds within Kibale forest include the green breasted pitta, Uganda woodland warbler, Abyssinian ground thrush, masked and black capped Apalises, chest nut winged starling, grey headed olive back, orange tufted and tiny sunbirds, Turacos, red-winged francolin, joyful greenbul, Prigogine's ground thrush, orange tufted sunbirds, woodland warbler, white-bellied crested flycatcher and many more. There are several wetland species that can be spotted together with forest species. The park also refuges about 250 butterflies and features numerous mammal species like elephants, bushbuck, duiker, buffaloes, bush pigs and many others.
The forest predominately covers the northern and the central area of the protected area on the elevated Fort Portal plateau. Kibale National Park straddles at altitude 1590 meters above sea in the northern side and it is the wettest part of the park. It experiences about 1700 mm per year especially from March to May and September to November.
The temperatures range from 14 to 27 degrees Celsius and the highest temperatures are experienced in the south. The southern side of the park connects up to Queen Elizabeth National Park and they all maintain a 180 kilometer long migration corridor for wildlife that move from Ishasha, the remotest southern area of Queen Elizabeth National Park to the Sebitoli forest in the northern side of Kibale protected area. The Kibale-Fort Portal sector is one of the most amazing places that are worth discovering.
Kibale Forest National Park is situated along the Ndali Crater Sector and about half day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park as well as the Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. Over 77 percent of the park lies within the medium elevation, moist evergreen forest in the north and a medium elevation moist semi-deciduous forest at a lower elevation in the south. The 23 percent, however, comprises of the savanna grassland, wetlands and some bits of plantations plus exotic coniferous trees. The park is surrounded by Batooro and Bakiga.
How to access Kibale Forest National Park?
Situated in western side of Uganda, Kibale Forest National Park lies about 26 kilometers southeast of Fort Portal. Kanyanchu River Camp (visitor center) is the main site where most the park’s tourist activities are conducted. The park is accessible from Kampala-from the north through Mubende and Fort Portal or alternatively the south via Mbarara and Kamwenge.
The northern route is shorter and helps visitors to reach the park faster. It covers a distance of about 300 kilometers to Fort Portal and 36 kilometers to the Kanyanchu visitor center or Sebitoli forest camp that features as the second tourism center just next to Kampala road and covers 16 kilometers prior reaching Fort Portal. You will need a 4wheel drive car to help you navigate up to the park. There are public buses that connect from Kampala to Fort Portal every day.
For visitor stay over at the park, the notable accommodation and safari lodges include the Primate Lodge, Crater Safari Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Papaya Lake Lodge, Turaco Tree Tops Lodge, and Ndali Lodge (luxury), Chimp Nest, Kibale Forest Camp, Chimpanzee Guesthouse (budget).
In conclusion, Kibale Forest National Park is exceptionally one of Uganda’s most stunning protected areas that are worth visiting not only for primate adventures but also for birding safaris. The park features variety of primate species that offer the most thrilling experiences of lifetime. If you are a primate enthusiast, this is one of the most excellent destinations that you need to include in your travel plan.