Kibale Forest National Park – Places to Visit while on your Uganda Safari
Kibale Forest National Park in western Uganda, spanning through the districts of Kibale and Kabarole and it is situated in an area of between 1,100 meters and 1,600 meters as well as 795 square kilometers in size. The National Park was established in 1993, with an aim of protecting one of the moist and lush evergreen rain forests in the country.
Kibale Forest National Park was initially established as a forest Reserve in 1932 and formally established into a National Park in 1993 to protect vast areas of forests that were initially controlled as a logged forest reserve.
This park is characterized by the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest. The forest cover interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau.
Attractions within Kibale forest national park
Giant tropical tree species
There is a variety of tropical species in the park, 351 tree species have been recorded some of which grow up to over 55 meters high and are over 200 years old as well as exhibiting a semi-closed canopy of stratified tree crowns such as Funtu-mia, Entandrophragma, Piptadeniastrum Africana, Ptyregota, Gate trees and the Naked Adam tree.
Kibale Forest National Park has over 372 species of birds including the six that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region such as blue-headed sunbird, collared Apalis, dusky Crimsonwing, black-capped Apalis and Red-faced woodland Warbler.
Other Kibale specials include the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Black Bee-eater, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow-romped tinker bird, little greenbul, black-eared Ground thrush, Brown-chested Alethe, purple-breasted sunbird, Blue-breasted kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground-thrush and the Crowned Eagle.
Kibale boasts the highest diversity and density of primates in Africa. The chimpanzee population in Kibale is 1,450 representing Uganda’s largest of this endangered species. Kibale Forest National Park is also a home to the rare L’Hoest monkey, the black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red colobus monkey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and pottos.
Kibale Forest National Park also offers shelter to the elusive Forest Elephants, Forest Buffalos, Antelopes, Leopards, Hyenas, Hippos, Bush pigs and Duikers, as well as butterflies such as swallow tails and Nymphalidae, Reptiles and Amphibians among others.
Popular Tourist Activities undertaken within Kibale Forest National Park
Chimpanzee tracking and habituation
Kanyanchu primate walk is Kibale’s most fascinating tourist activity whereby over thirteen species of primates can be sought and a good variety of diurnal monkeys invariably encountered as well as the chimpanzees which are the stars of this trail. Chimpanzee trekking is so far the most popular tourist activity in Kibale Forest National Park.
Birding (Bird watching safaris)
Bird watching is also conducted with Kibale Forest National Park and rewards the tourists with the view of rare bird species such as the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Oliveback and Papyrus Canary and this starts at Kanyanchu.
This is also being done at Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, which is located just outside the park and is a home to 138 bird species which may be seen along the board walk trail and viewing platforms.
These 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.
Hiking/ Nature walks
During the broad walk through the Magombe swamp wetlands, you are likely to see wildlife at close-hand as well as several of the numerous species of birds, eight varieties of primates and numerous butterflies, along with unusual swamp vegetation.
This can also be done at night when chimpanzees and other forest residents are resting, which enables the tourists to enjoy viewing some active nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures such as the Potto, bush babies, nightjar, and cricket and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat.
During the village walks, the daily life of the Batooro is discovered. You will be able to learn about the role of women in the village and traditional ceremonies, and the history of the Bigodi which is told through the story of the “village of two tribes”, describing when the indigenous Batooro were joined by migrating Bakiga from south western Uganda in the 1950s.
Where to stay within Kibale Forest National Park: Accommodations
Apart from its lovely attractions, there are several accommodation facilities within the park and these include; Kibale primate lodge which is located in Kanyanchu, Nyinabulitwa country resort, Chimps’ Nest, Kanyanchu River Camp, Kibale forest camp among others.
How to get to Kibale Forest National Park
This park can be accessed by both road and air. For road, this 795 square kilometer National Park can be accessed from Kampala via Kasese (near Queen Elizabeth National Park). It can also be reached from Kampala via Mubende and Fort Portal or through Mbarara and Kamwenge using buses, taxis and other private vehicles such as those rented from Pearl car hire Uganda.
Kibale Forest National Park has access to two Airstrips that is Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara which is about 98kilometers through Kamwenge to Kanyanchu and Kasese Airstrip which is 150kilometers from Fort Portal town.
It can also be reached from the airstrip in Toro-Semliki wildlife Reserve that is only 86kilometers from Kanyanchu.