Kibale National Park

About Kibale National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is one of Uganda’s most mind blowing tropical rain forests and a memorable chimpanzee destination to explore.

Kibale forest has 13 species of primates including the localized red colobus, l’hoest’s monkeys and the endemic Uganda mangabay.

Chimpanzees can be seen swinging in tree branches on a walk through the forest trails.

Over 300 bird’s species are also hosted by this forest besides a variety of mammals like the forest elephants, buffalos, giant forest hogs and half dozen antelope species. Kibale forest is ideally in the heart of the Toro Kingdom in western Uganda near Fort portal town.

The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-kasenda crater area and is within a 3 hour drive to Queen Elizabeth, Ruwenzori Mountain and Semuliki National parks.

Accessibility to Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, covering an area of approximately 795 square kilometers. It is renowned for its diverse wildlife and is particularly famous for being one of the best places in the world to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat. When it comes to accessibility, there are several ways to reach Kibale National Park, including by air, road, and public transportation.

By Air:
The closest major airport to Kibale National Park is Entebbe International Airport, which is located near the capital city of Kampala. From Entebbe, visitors can take a domestic flight to either Kasese Airstrip or Fort Portal Airstrip. Both airstrips are within a reasonable distance from the park, with Kasese Airstrip being the closest. Several domestic airlines operate flights between Entebbe and these airstrips, offering convenient options for travelers.

By Road:
Traveling by road is another common way to access Kibale National Park. From Kampala, the journey takes approximately 4-5 hours depending on traffic conditions and the chosen route. The most direct route is via Mityana-Mubende-Fort Portal Road, which offers a relatively good road condition. Alternatively, travelers can take the Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kasese-Fort Portal Road, which is longer but provides an opportunity to explore other attractions along the way.

Public Transportation:
For those looking for a more budget-friendly option, public transportation is available to reach Kibale National Park. From Kampala, there are regular buses and taxis that travel to Fort Portal, which serves as the gateway town to the park. The journey by public transportation can take longer compared to private vehicles due to multiple stops along the way. Once in Fort Portal, visitors can hire a taxi or boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) to reach the park entrance.

Within the Park:
Once inside Kibale National Park, there are designated trails and paths for visitors to explore. Guided walks and hikes are available, allowing visitors to experience the park's diverse flora and fauna. The main attraction in the park is chimpanzee tracking, where trained guides lead small groups of visitors to observe and learn about these fascinating primates. It is important to note that permits are required for chimpanzee tracking and should be obtained in advance.

Activities in the Park

1. Chimpanzee habituation experience

This activity allows you to accompany Kibale’s researchers and habituators as they follow chimpanzees in the forest throughout the day.

Habituation is aimed at getting the chimpanzees to human presence without altering their natural behavior. The activity starts off early morning to witness the chimps de-nesting. Throughout the day follow the chimps to watch them feeding, copulating, hunting, breast feeding, resting, patrolling and displaying different swinging styles. Depart the forest after they build new nests and retire for the night usually at bout 7pm. Chimpanzee habituation should be booked in advance and is not available during the peak season.

2. Chimpanzee Tracking: Kibale National Park is renowned for its population of wild chimpanzees, making it one of the best places in Africa to observe these fascinating primates in their natural habitat. Visitors have the opportunity to join guided chimpanzee tracking excursions led by experienced park rangers. During these treks, visitors can witness the chimps' behavior up close, observe their social interactions, and learn about their conservation status and ongoing research efforts.

3. Primate Walks: Apart from chimpanzees, Kibale National Park is home to 12 other primate species, including red colobus monkeys, L'Hoest's monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, and olive baboons. Guided primate walks allow visitors to explore the forest trails while encountering these diverse primate species. The knowledgeable guides provide insights into their behavior, ecology, and conservation.

4. Bird Watching: With over 375 recorded bird species, Kibale National Park is a haven for birdwatchers. The varied habitats within the park support a wide range of avian life, including colorful turacos, hornbills, sunbirds, and numerous forest-dwelling species. Birdwatching enthusiasts can embark on guided walks or hikes with experienced bird guides who can identify and provide information about the different species encountered.

5. Nature Walks: Kibale National Park offers several nature trails that allow visitors to explore the forest at a leisurely pace. These guided walks provide an opportunity to immerse oneself in the sights and sounds of the rainforest while learning about the park's unique flora and fauna. Visitors can discover medicinal plants, learn about traditional uses of forest resources, and gain a deeper understanding of the park's ecological importance.

6. Nocturnal Walks: For those seeking a unique experience, nocturnal walks are available in Kibale National Park. Led by experienced guides equipped with spotlights, these walks offer a chance to encounter the park's nocturnal inhabitants, such as bushbabies, pottos, nightjars, and various insect species. The guides provide insights into the fascinating adaptations and behaviors of these creatures that are active after dark.

7. Cultural Encounters: Kibale National Park is surrounded by several local communities that have a rich cultural heritage. Visitors can engage in cultural encounters and interact with the local people to learn about their traditions, customs, and ways of life. This may include visiting traditional homesteads, participating in traditional dances or music performances, or even trying out local cuisine.

8. Hiking and Nature Photography: The diverse landscapes of Kibale National Park offer excellent opportunities for hiking and nature photography. Visitors can explore the park's trails on foot, capturing stunning views of rolling hills, dense forests, and picturesque water bodies. The park's abundant wildlife and scenic beauty make it a paradise for photographers looking to capture memorable moments in nature.

9. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary: Adjacent to Kibale National Park lies the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, which is managed by the local community. This sanctuary offers guided walks through a swampy wetland habitat teeming with birdlife, primates, butterflies, and other wildlife. It provides an alternative experience to the forest trails within the national park.

In conclusion, Kibale National Park offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy, ranging from primate tracking and birdwatching to nature walks and cultural encounters. The park's diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.