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Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is Uganda’s leading primates national park located in the western part of the country. The park covers a land area of 795 square kilometers with an altitude of 1590 meters above sea level.

Kibale forest national park has various landscapes thereby supporting various vegetation types. Kibale national park’s major vegetation is an evergreen tropical rain-forest with both lowland and monotone forests. The tree species here are some of East Africa’s oldest trees aging about 200 years.

Wildlife In Kibale National Park

The park has over 351 tree species many of which rising over 55 meters high making a high canopy layer. These are homes to other wildlife species including over 375 birds, 70 mammals including 13 primate species.

Of the major wildlife in the park, chimpanzees are most famous with over 1500 chimpanzee individuals. Other primates here include Mangabeys, L’hoest monkeys, Red Colobus monkeys, Blue Monkeys, vervet monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys.

Forest Elephants, bush pigs, giant forest hogs, forest buffaloes, duikers, warthogs are among herbivores in the forest though rarely seen. Kibale National park also has predators that include leopards, serval cats, mongoose and lions that are also very rare.

Tourist Activities in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee tracking

Chimpanzee tracking is the leading tourist activity done in Kibale forest national park. The park has several habituated chimpanzees that live in families of up to 30 individuals. Chimpanzees are very mobile primates and often move from one place to another in search for food.

With over 95% DNA similar to humans, chimpanzees are man’s closet primates and tracking them in Kibale offers unforgettable experiences. This experience also enables you to explore other primates in the park often seen while on the trek.

One is expected at the park headquarters by 7:00 am in the morning for a briefing about rules and regulations. Tourists are divided into groups of 8, headed by well trained park rangers to the forest in search for chimpanzees. The trek or search for chimpanzees takes 2 to 3 hours depending on their movement.

On getting to the chimpanzees, tourists are allowed in their presence for 1 hour taking photos and learning about them. Tourists are later brought back to the park headquarters which is usually by at mid day.

Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park Uganda by Lionel Egger
Chimpanzee in Kibale National Park by Lionel Egger
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

The chimpanzee habituation experience in Kibale Forest National park is more exclusive experience giving one more time with the chimps. This enables one to be part of chimpanzee habituation an activity that makes chimpanzees for accustomed to human beings presence.

For the chimpanzee habituation experience, you also start with an early morning briefing and then proceed to the forest. You follow the chimpanzees routine from how they start their day, their feeding behavior and how they end their day.

This experience gives one 4 hours in the presence of chimpanzees and a great insight about their ways of life.

Birding

With over 375 bird species, Kibale national park is among Uganda’s leading birding destinations. Birding in the forest can be done along side chimpanzee tracking as one can easily spot the various bird species.

There is also the Bigodi wetland sanctuary right outside Kibale National park a prime birding habitat. There are over 130 bird species here with commonly seen birds including Yellow-spotted barbets, Black Bishop Superb sun-bird and others.

Birding excursions start early in the morning as its usually the best time for spotting bird.

Ross' Turaco Kibale National Park Uganda
Ross’ Turaco Kibale National Park Uganda. Photo by Jalil
Guided Nature walks

For Jungle lovers, this gives one a chance to explore the national park for sights and sounds of nature. Most recommended nature walks in Kibale are night nature walks as here you get to meet the nocturnal wildlife.

Notable animals seen on night nature walks include the bushbaby, crickets, tree hyrax, and serval cats though these are rare. Night walks gives one a true feel of the jungle without any noise disturbances.

The adventure starts with briefing at 7:30 pm and tourists are later guided into the forest with protection from rangers.

Best time to Visit

Leading Wildlife activities in Kibale are best done in the dry season from June to September and December to March. This time there is minimal rainfall and its often easy to move through the nature trails.

The wet season from April to May and October to November are best times for birding. Here there is high vegetation growth and wildlife is easily spotted as they keep near feeding.

Accommodation

There are various accommodation options in Kibale from budget to high end Luxury options. Luxury Lodges include Kyaninga Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Primate Lodge, Crater Safari Lodge, Papaya Lodge among others.

Deluxe lodges include Turaco Tree tops, Chimpanzee Guesthouse, Kibale Forest Camp that all offer great services.

Kyaninga Lodge Pool. Uganda Safari
Kyaninga Lodge Pool. Photo by Kyaninga Lodge

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