Kibale National Park in Uganda

Kibale National Park (Kibale Forest National Park) is the most favorite chimpanzee trekking destination while on your holiday in Uganda, home to 13 species of primates. It is strategically lying in an area with breathtaking landscape, and cool weather making it an ideal primate destination all year round.

Where is Kibale found?

Kibale N/Park sits within the Kabarole district and in the surrounding; there is Kasese and Kamwenge district. It is lying in Western Uganda, a rift valley area and it is close to the renowned Ndali-Kasenda Craters. The bordering Uganda safari parks to Kibale include Semuliki National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Rwenzori Mountains National Park.

The altitude

Kibale N. Park lies within an altitudinal range of 1100 to 1590 meters. Gazetted in 1932 as a Forest Reserve, Kibale was upgraded into a National Park in 1993. Its land area measures about and hosts 13 primate species which makes it the primate capital of the world. This is one of the most charming Uganda safaris parks and is dominated by scenic tropical forests and patches of savanna grassland. The trees in this park grow tall about 55 meters and create a semi-closed canopy. Shrubs, ferns, and broad-leaved plants also grow underneath. Over 351 tree species exist in this protected area alone and attract researchers, scientists, and other field workers.

Primates & other wildlife

Over 70 mammal species have been recorded within Kibale National Park and include more than 13 primate species. These can be encountered on chimpanzee tracking, chimpanzee habituation, nature, or forest walks. The primates of Kibale Forest NP; blue monkeys, bush babies, olive baboons, 1500 chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, red colobus monkeys, pottos, l’hoest monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys. The park also supports forest elephants, golden cats, giant forest hogs, duikers, buffaloes, bushbucks, and others.

Reptiles including 14 snake species, amphibians and 200 butterfly species do reside in the lush Kibale Forest.

Birds to sight on Kibale birding tour

Kibale National Park is bio-diverse protected, protecting more than primates. Over 375 bird species including forest birds and 4 native species are all contained in Kibale Forest Park. The Park’s birds include the yellow-spotted nicator, African green-breasted pitta, blue-headed sunbird, red-chested owlet, Abyssinian ground thrush, black bee-eaters, Nahan’s francolin, masked apalis, cassin’s spinetail, Rwenzori apalis, yellow-spotted barbets, blue-headed kingfishers, superb sunbird, crowned eagle, red-faced woodland warblers, dusky crimson wing, black bishop, little greenbul, yellow-rumped tinker bird, brown illadopsis, scaly breasted illadopsis, black and white casqued hornbill, grey-winged robin chat, brown-backed scrub robin, purple-breasted sunbird and more.

Safari Activities to conduct while in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee trekking

Kibale National Park attracts most primate lovers who come to enjoy its rewarding chimpanzee trekking experiences. This Park holds over 1500 chimpanzees, our closest relatives in the wild sharing 98% DNA with us. Most of the park’s chimps have been fully habituated and open for tourism making it a favorite location to get up close and personal with these alluring creatures in the natural environment.

Chimpanzee trekking permits are a must-have and each is issued at USD200 which you can obtain via a ground tour operator or directly through the reservation team at Uganda Wildlife Authority. During a chimp trek, more of Kibale’s primates will also be sighted and include the grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, plus birds and colorful butterflies. A trek through Kibale to see chimpanzees takes between 2 and 4 hours which includes one hour for a close encounter and photography.

Chimpanzee habituation experiences

The chimpanzee habituation experience is the second most remarkable primate adventure awaiting you on Kibale Forest National Park safari tour. This is done half day or full day and involves following semi-habituated chimp communities to make them get used to human presence before opening for trekking. Habituating chimpanzees takes a process and it is done by trackers, researchers or scientists who spend time observing how these apes behave, naming them, etc. For the chimpanzee community to become fully habituated it takes about 2 years less/more and it all depends on how fast they can adapt.

Bird watching

Kibale National Park boasts of its unique birds and with over 375 bird species, a birding tour here guarantees remarkable sightings. The bird list of Kibale is long but includes the African green-breasted pitta, yellow-spotted nicator, black-capped apalis, blue-breasted kingfishers, scaly-breasted illadopsis, purple-breasted sunbird, dusky crimson wing, African grey parrot, little greenbul, Nahan’s francolins, superb sunbird, blue-headed kingfishers, Cassin’s spinetail, Abyssinian ground thrush, red-faced woodland warblers, yellow-rumped tinker birds and others.

Forest or nature walks

Nature/forest walks are best done with the lead of an experienced guide. Setting off from Kanyanchu tourism center with bird sightings right at the heart of the park, immerse yourself into the lush Kibale Forest and explore diverse floral and faunal species. This is 2-3 hours of exploring Kibale National Park’s habitats.

Nearby the park, guests can also undertake cultural tour or visit Bigodi wetland, engage in bushcraft making, Crater Lake tour, explore Amabere G’Nyina Mwiru and others.

When should you travel to visit Kibale National Park?

Kibale National Park is one of the best Uganda safaris parks that enjoy cool weather conditions all year round. However, the dry season is the best to consider exploring Kibale NP on chimpanzee trekking. There is a long dry spell running from June to September/December to February. Off-season or low/rainy season/months are avoided due to heavy rains but the park gates are open and this is a favorite period for chimpanzee habituation is from March to May or October to November.

Where can I stay in Kibale N/Park?

Budget, midrange, and luxury accommodation facilities are 3 categories of lodging that you can consider for overnight stay in Kibale NP. The main lodges include Papaya Lake Lodge, Ndali, Kyaninga Lodge, Crater Safari Lodge –Luxury, Nyinabulitwa Country Resort, Primate Lodge, Kibale Forest Camp, Chimps Nest –Midrange, Chimpanzee Guesthouse & Isunga Lodge –Budget.

How to travel/reach Kibale National Park

The best way to get to Kibale is by road transportation. It is about a half day drive in a classic 4×4 safari car from Kampala-the Mityana-Mubende-Fort Portal route to Western Uganda. Kibale National Park is set in the Kabarole district and it is also possible to fly from Entebbe to Kasese/Semliki airstrip and then connect by road to the park.