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Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda, Chimpanzee trekking safari tours in kibale Forest national park, when to visit, where to stay, attractions & Safari activities in kibale Forest National Park Uganda, when to visit, accommodation and history / background of the park.

Kibale National park dubbed the world’s primate Capital is located in the two districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge in western part of Uganda.

The park covers an approximated area of about 795km and it’s acknowledged to have one of Uganda’s most gorgeous tropical forests.

Spanning on 795 square kilometers of land, Kibale National Park was established in 1993 to help protect and conserve the vast area of natural forest that was earlier on managed and protected as a logged Forest Reserve. The park is the only one in east Africa that has both montane and lowland forests.

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

Kibale national park was established to help protect and conserve the extensive area of natural forest that was earlier on managed and protected as a logged Forest Reserve.

The park is the only one Left Park in the whole of east Africa that has both montane and lowland forests. It’s also considered to the only park in Uganda the pearl of Africa that has the loveliest as well most varied tracts of tropical forest in the whole country.

Kibale Forest is covered with vast interspersed of the patches of grassland and the swamps which mainly cover the largest parts of the northern and central parts of the Kibale national park on a raised plateau.

The alluring and exotic natural environment of  Kibale  forest national park houses about  375 birds species, 4 wild felids as well as 13 famous species of primates, a total of at least 70 individual species of mammals and a total of 351 tree species.

The most common species of the 13 primates include the charming endangered Chimpanzees and the most common but precious ecosystem in the park is moist evergreen as well as the semi-deciduous forest which characterize Kibale forests.

The new exotic tree species that were reintroduced to the forest include the eucalyptus and pines species. Due to the park’s being eco-diversified and location of Makerere University Biological Field Station, its research site for all the researchers in the African continent

Kibale forest national park is located in an area inhabited by mainly two tribes identified as the Batooro who occupy the largest area and Bakiga who are the minority.

The two tribes mainly depend on the park to extract some useful resources and among these include timber for construction purposes, some plant life as source of food, local herbs for curing diseases, among other resources and this done with permission from Uganda Wildlife authority the bode responsible for protecting and managing national parks in the country Uganda.

Tourist Attractions in Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale national park plays has a wide range of attractions and these include; over 5000 common chimpanzee species with over 80 habituated chimpanzee communities consisting of about 1000 individuals, 70 mammal species that are found here such as Bush elephants, Bush buffaloes, African golden cats, civets and mongoose.

Kibaale national park plays host to 13 primate species such as the common chimpanzees red colobus monkeys red tailed monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys. Kibaale is also home to over 350 tree species, over 350 bird species, 200 butterflies species

Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

These are close relatives of humans with a 99% matching DNA to that of humans, there are two species of chimpanzees, Common chimpanzee species and the Bonobo species, Kibale national park has the common chimpanzee species with an estimated population of about 5000 chimpanzees of which 80 communities of chimpanzees have been habituated for tourism purposes and this makes Kibaale national forest a sanctuary with the highest number of chimpanzees in the world. An adult Common chimpanzee can weigh between 40-60 kg with a height of 1.6 meters or 5ft3inches while an adult female can weigh between 32-47kg with a height of 1.3 meters or 4feet3inches.

Common chimpanzees have coarse black hair except on their toes, face, fingers, palms of the hands and the soles of their feet.

The chimpanzees have a firm grip because their thumbs and big toes are opposite to each other. These chimpanzees live in communities usually between 10-100 individuals, chimpanzee communities are led by a dominant male called the alpha male.

The alpha male might not be the strongest male chimp in the community but rather the most canning and political.

Besides protecting the community from external invasion and internal bickering among the individuals, the alpha male also spends its time grooming the other young males in the community.

The females on the other hand spend time taking care of the young ones. Chimpanzees reach puberty stage between 10-12 years and an adult female can produce between 4-6 babies throughout their lifetime.

The chimps sleep in a different nest everyday which they build using a tree branches, twigs and leaves. Chimpanzees have a life span of up to 40 years in their natural habitat, this can increase to up to 50 years of age in captivity. The chimps have a gestation period of 8 months.

Black And White Colobus Monkeys

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

These monkeys have a black color with a strip of white color on the side of their body, limbs and around their face and also at their tail ending and these strips are called the mantle, these monkeys live in groups of 5-15 members led by a male, their weight ranges between 4-14 kg, they have a body length of up to 75 cm or 30 inches.

The black and white colobus are herbivores primates and mostly eat young and fresh leaves at the top of tree canopies.

They have a gestation period of 4-6 months giving birth to completely white babies which will turn to resemble its parents when its 3 months old, with a lifespan of about 22 years.

L’Hoest Monkeys

These monkeys have a short, dark brown coat with a chestnut color across its back and a dark under belly.

They have a pale moustache with light grey cheeks. their body length ranges between 32-69 cm, with a long hooked like tail that has a length of 48-99 cm, adult males weigh up to 6 kg while adult females can weigh up to 3.5 kg.

the L’Hoest monkeys live in groups with many females and only one male which stays temporary with the group for mating. They have a gestation period of about 5 months and they maintain an herbivorous diet.

Grey Cheeked Mangabey

The grey cheeked mangabey can also be referred to as the white cheeked mangabey. This monkey is dark due to its thick brown coat that is almost black in its natural habitat the montane forest.

This monkey is small in size and hairy like a baboon. The males usually have an average weight of 4.3kg and length of 1.1m and the females weigh in at2.9kg and body length of 99cm. these monkeys are dark in color with white or grey cheeks.

The mangabeys have a gestation period of about 183 days and can live up to 30 years. they can live both in forests and swamp or primary forests, these monkeys live in groups of 5-30 individuals with no dominant male.

The female mangabeys will always stay in their birth group while the males will live their birth group when they become sexually mature and join other groups.

Blue Monkey

Unlike what its name suggests, the blue monkey isn’t entirely blue but rather it has little hairs on its face with a bluish color and these led to naming this monkey species blue monkey.

The blue monkey in actual sense is mainly grey or olive but its face is dark with a pale or yellowish patch on the forehead.

Its feet, front legs and cap are blackish while its mantle may be brown, olive or grey. The blue monkey as a body length of between 50-65cm with the tail included and an adult male weighs about 8kg while an adult female weighs about 4kg hence exhibiting sexual dimorphism.

these monkeys live in groups of 10-40 individuals and the females will stay in their natal groups throughout their lifetime while males live their parent group when they mature.

The family is usually led by an adult female and its consists of many other females, babies and juveniles and one adult male.

These monkeys practice allomothering with many females monkeys usually juveniles looking after the babies.

Their gestation period is about 5 months wwhile their diet consists of mainly fruits during periods of abundance but they can also feed on flowers twigs and insects, figs and leaves.

Ugandan Red Colobus Monkey

The Ugandan red colobus monkey has a rust red cap a dark grey to black face. The male Ugandan red colobus is larger than its female counterpart weighing in at 10.5kg while female weighs in at 7.5kg. this species of monkeys is purely herbivores with a diet dominated by leaves.

these monkeys live in groups with many males and they consist between 3-85 individuals. The size of the group is majorly determined by the number of males available in it and female Ugandan red colobus will easily leave a group with few males and join another one with many males.

The Ugandan red colobus female monkeys groom all other monkeys in the group. These monkeys have exhibited a strange character of associating with other species of monkeys mainly for protection purpose from predators like the crown eagle and chimpanzees

Flora And Fauna As A Tourist Attraction in Kibale National park

Kibale’s diverse altitude supports distinctive forms of natural habitat, ranging from moist evergreen forest (wet tropical forest) on the Fort Portal plateau, through moist semi deciduous (dry tropical forest) to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor.

In the central part of the park in Kanyanchu area, the high forest contains a combination of evergreen and deciduous trees with the evergreen plant life species occupying the largest area.

Trees rise to over 55m and display a semi-closed canopy of arranged tree crowns. The undergrowth is scarce with shade tolerant shrubs, herbs, a variety of broad leaved forest grasses and ferns, 351 tree species have been recorded in the park.

The diversity and density of primates in Kibale is the highest in Africa. The most famous of its 13 species is the chimpanzee, our closest relative, Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzee represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate.

Kibale is also home to the rare I’Hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey.

Other primates include the black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto.

Other Wildlife As A Tourist Attractions in Kibale National park

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

Though Kibale is famous for its varied primate species, the natural habitat in the park also house an estimated 70 mammal species and these are thriving in the highly endowed perimeters of the park .

The park has the ground-dwelling animals but these are rarely seen in the dense ever green forests of Kibale national park.

Among the other species which can be easily encountered in the park include the approximated number of 500elephants that are reported to be living in the forest park, other mammal species involve the buffalos, bush pigs species, warthogs, leopards, duikers and golden cat .

The rare species that may be only sighted by keen observers include the reptiles, amphibians and also the colorful variety of 250 individual species of butterflies.

The forest Elephants: These are relatively smaller than their cousins the bush elephants. The forest elephants have an average height of 2.5m or 8.2ft with 900kg or 1980Ib as average body weight their tusks are longer and narrower than the those of the bush elephants growing up to 1.5m or 5ft and weighing between 45-100Ib or 23-45 kg. this is because they need these tusks to navigate through the thick undergrowth in the forest jungles where they habituate.

Forest buffalo: The forest buffalo is sometimes referred to as the dwarf buffalo because its smaller than the cape buffalo and also have a different skin color which is reddish brown unlike the cape buffalo skin which is dark.

The forest buffalo weighs in at 250-320kg or 550-750Ib. The forest buffaloes also stay in much smaller herds of between 3-30 buffaloes and almost stay together for the greater part of the year unlike the cape buffaloes who usually herd together during the wet season mostly.

These animals are herbivores and have a gestation period of between 281-334 days with an average life span of 20-25 years.

Giant forest hogs: This belongs to the pig family and is considered the largest of all wild pigs. The forest hogs have extensively black hairs on the surface but the smaller hairs that lie near the skin of the hogs have a deep orange color.

The hairs of the forest hogs tend to become less pronounced as the animals grows to old age. These pig species have tusks protruding out of their mouths but these tusks are smaller than those of warthogs but bigger than those of bush pigs, these tusks have a length of 35.9cm or 14.1in in adult male forest hogs.

When running this animal will lift its tail and direct it towards the direction to which its running to. It has a body length of 1.3-2.1m or 4ft3in -6ft11in and also an average shoulder height of 0.75-1.1m or 2ft6in-3ft7in. the body weight of these hogs can range between 100-275kg or 220-606ib.

female giant forest hogs are usually smaller than their male counter parts.. The giant forest hog live in groups called sounders with one adult male and usually one female and its offsprings.

Lions: Lions are part of the big cate family and are muscular, deep chested with rounded heads. Most of the African lion males can distinguished from their females by the presence of a mane around the necks and heads of male African lions which is clearly absent in females but there quite many cases in Africa where the males also don’t have a mane or have a very short and thin one.

The male lions are usually bigger than the females but their sizes vary according to location. In east Africa, adult female lions have a body length of 160-184cm or 63-72in weighing in at 119.5kg or 263Ib on average while the adult males have a body length of184-208cm or 72-82in weighing in at 174.9kg or 386Ib on average.

Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides. A pride is always led by a dominant male and their highly territorial animals controlling vast expanses that are strategic with a lot of prey and water.

Male dominant lions are responsible for protecting the pride and they will fight off other male invaders, in case the dominant male is defeated by the invading lions, the victor lions will kill off all the cubs that are off springs to the defeated dominant male as a way of ending its blood lineage.

Lions are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain feeding on almost all browsers and grazers within their domain due to their ability to hunt as a pride and carry out well coordinated and planned attacks which enables them to take down prey that can even be between 2-4 times bigger than them such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes.

Lions usually hunt at night because of their well-developed sense of sight especially at night where their vision is almost 6 times better than that of humans due to the presence of white patches around their eyes which enable them to absorb even the smallest amount of light available during the cover of darkness.

Hunting among lions is an affair carried out by female lions mostly and juvenile males and when a kill has been made by the lionesses in a pride, it’s always the dominant male lion who will eat first up to his fill then the rest of the pride will feed on what has remained after the he has finished eating. They have a gestation period of 97 days and a life span of about 10-14 years.

African golden cat: The African golden cat is quite a small animal with a body length of range between 61-101cm or 24-40in.

The tail is 16-46cm long while its shoulder height is 38-55cm or 15-22in and an average body weight of 5.5-16kg or 12-35ib and it exhibits sexual dimorphism as males are larger than females.

The African golden cat resembles the caracal but this golden cat is shorter with untufted and rounded ears, longer tail and shorter in body length.

The fur of the African golden cat is either chestnut, reddish-brown, greyish brown or dark slaty and some of these cats have spots that are of a faded tan color or black.

The underbelly, throat, cheeks, eyes and chin have a light shade of color that’s almost white. This cat can be identified by its whorled ridge of fur in front of the shoulders and in this ridge the direction of fur changes. This cat is almost double the size of the domesticated cat.

Bird Species As A Tourist Attractions in Kibale National park

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

The park boasts of more than 375 birds species and these include the 6 birds species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region, namely black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis, dusky crimson-wing, purple-breasted sunbird, and red-faced woodland warbler.

Other Kibale species include the African pitta, green breasted pitta, black bee-eater, yellow spotted nicator, yellow rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brown-chested alethe, blue-breasted kingfisher, Abyssinian gound-thrush, and the crowned eagle.

Green breasted pitta: The green breasted pitta has a body length of 17-19cm. it has a black head, a broad golden buff supercilium with rare superciliary feathers which are paler and erectile.

Its upperparts are of a dark green color while the tail and rump and also the tail coverts are of a sky blue color.

The green breasted pitta makes a short bell like whistle voice call of 0.25-0.5 seconds that’s repeated several times.

African pitta: The African pitta has a body length of 18-20cmwith males weighing between 79-92g while females weigh about 81-98g hence having reversed sexual dimorphism.

The bird has a black head with its supercilium being broad and buff in color, the African pitta’s coverts are in a deep green and tipped turquoise blue or black and tipped turquoise and royal blue colors, its mantle and back are green while the rump and upper tail coverts are of pale turquoise blue. This bird makes a voice call with a short loud and sharp “ouit or wheet” sound.

Black bee eater: This bird has a body length of 20cm and its weight varies between 25-34g. The male black bee eater has a black head while its fore head and supercilium is blue and it has a blue line below its eyes.

It has dark grey scarlet throat feathers and basal part. This bird is usually silent but it makes a high pitched strident “tsi-ip” voice call sound once in a while.

Crowned eagle: The crown eagle has a body length of 80-99cm making it the fifth longest eagle in the world.

The male crowned eagle weighs in between 2.55-4.12kg or 5.1-9.1ib while females weighs less than males between 3.2-4.7kg or 7.1-10.6ib.

These eagles have a wingspan of over 1.51-1.81m or 4ft 11in-5ft11in. The crowned eagles have long tails that measure between 30-41cm or 12-16in they have a medium sized bill compared to their body size and this bill is 5.5cm.

their feet and legs are thicker and heavier and these give them the ability to carry prey that is can be almost double their body size or even more.

Adult female crowned eagles have a striking plumage. The crown of this eagle is dark or rufous tinged brown and their prominent often raised black tipped double crescent.the grey crowned eagle’s diet consists of small mammals like the rock hyrax, vervet monkeys, duikers.

Yellow spotted nicator: It has a body length of 20-23cm, males weigh between 47-67g while females weigh between 32-51g. this bird can easily be identified from its distinctive shrike like bulbul, it has a relatively heavy hooked bill and its wings have conspicuous yellow spottings on them.

The voice call of the yellow spotted nicator is powerful and melodious with explosive crescendo of clear whistles.

Black eared ground thrush: It has a body length of 16.5-18cm and an average weight of 42-57g. the male species has a distinctive broad dark double bar on a paler face and it quite resembles the small billed version of Z. guyneyi. this bird makes a sound call of a thin high “ssree” which might be a distress call.

Abyssinian ground thrush: The Abyssinian ground thrush is also called kivu ground thrush. It has a body length of 19-20cm and a body weight of 43-65g.

The male species is pale olive brown from cheeks to hind crown and upper parts. This bird has dark wing coverts and double white spotted wind bars. It makes a voice call that has a low concealed perch in deep twilight.

Blue turaco: The blue turaco can be easily spotted give its large size. it has a body length of 70-75cm, the male great blue turaco can weigh between 857g-948g while females weigh between 822g-1.23kg hence exhibiting reversed sexual dimorphism.

The great blue turaco is mainly grey blue or greenish blue and it has a yellow plumage. This bird makes a deep gobbling reasonant trill comprising of drawling “rou-ou” notes.

Trees in Kibale Forest National Park

Kibaale national park is gifted with over 350 tree species, and some being over 200 years old, Kibaale national park spoils any botanist for choice because a lot is offered here and below is the sample of the wide variety of tree species in kibaale park.

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

Codia millenii: This is also called the drum tree in English and in Luganda which is a local dialect in Uganda, this tree species is called mukebu tree.

This tree thrives best in wet tropical forest climate and it can grow to reach heights of over 50meters.

It forms a large canopy with broad leaves and a thick bark. This tree has a somewhat straight trunk making a favorite for loggers because of its big trunk that is of hard wood.

In Buganda kingdom this tree can be used to make musical instruments like drums.

Entandrophragma angolense: This tree species is found in only in tropical Africa and its sometimes labelled as mahogany tree. This tree can grow up to 50m tall with a big trunk of 2m in diameter.

This tree has a big canopy with pinnate leaves that have between 5-9 pairs of leaves with each leaflet ranging between 8-10cm long.

Lovoa swynnertonnii: This tree species is referred to as browm mahogany in Zimbabwe. This is a large evergreen tree that can grow up to the excess of 50m tall with a large trunk of up to 2m in diameter.

This tree has paripinnate leaves and white flowers in large axillary panicles. This tree thrives well in well drained slopes of river banks.

Kanyanchu River Camp as a tourist attraction in Kibale National park

Kanyanchu area is located in the central part of bio-diversified Kibale national park and it’s the main trailhead for the park’s popular interesting forest walks.

The major attraction in this area is the habituated chimpanzees which can be trekked in the dense rainforest.

Chimpanzee populations have been habituated in this area since 1991 and the opportunities of setting eyes to the Chimpanzees in the Kanyanchu area are high almost 95%.

Local people as a tourist attraction in Kibale National park

The people living around the park are mainly Batoro and Bakiga. The Batoro are indigenous to the area while the Bakiga are immigrants from the densily populated southwestern part of Uganda.

The Batoro take pride in the cultural heritage of the Toro Kingdom, a scion of the ancient kingdoms of Africa’s Great Lakes region.

The Omukama (King) and the kingdom embody the traditional and cultural values of the Batoro. The Bakiga immigrants still maintain their tradition and culture as expressed in their folklore, dance, and language.

The park plays an important role in the lives of the local people who enjoy a variety of benefits from the forest. The forest provides them with many traditional forest products such as wild

Sebitoli Forest Camp as a tourist attraction in Kibale National park

This is described as Kibale’s secondary tourism Centre. It’s found in the north of the forest and it offers opportunities for visitors to encounter primate’s species like the red colobus, blue monkeys, white-and-black colobus and vervet monkeys.

It’s the best place to view a variety of aquatic species as well as the forest and savannah birds’ .Above all is the opportunity to enjoy views and sights of the Mpanga River.

Areas of Interest outside the Park

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Bigodi is the only Sanctuary in the park that is diversified with variety of beautiful scenery and of eco-system; the impressive wetland is safe haven for bird loves.

It houses an approximated number of 138 bird species. Situated outside the park in Magombe Swamp, Bidogo wetland is home to around eight individual species of primates and these include the white-and-black colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey ,the red-tailed and East African’s threaten species of the L’Hoest’s and blue monkeys and the olive baboons. Bushbucks and mongooses can also be sighted in the sanctuary.

The sanctuary was gazzatted to help of preserve the threatened environmental features and the wetland resources.

The wetland Sanctuary is managed and preserved with the local community around the park and the revenue generated from tourists is used to fund community development projects.

Being birding destination in Kibale, the wetland has nature guided walks and the viewing platforms that allow bird watchers to enjoy the elusive sights and views of the unique bird species housed in the park.

Kihingami Wetland

This is situated near Sebitoli in the northern part of Kibale and it’s a community-run project that offers the best bird watching point in kibble national park.

The wetland offers visitors chance to visit the local tea estates and the factory. A nature walk that originates from this wetland leads tourists to watch the primates’ species such as the white-and black colobus , the red colobus and red-tailed monkeys.

The other animals which can be spotted in this wet land include the otters, bushbucks and mongooses.

Tourists Activities In Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale national park has various activities to offer to anyone who visits this primate capital of the world and these include the following; chimpanzee tracking, birding, game viewing and nature walks

Primate Walk and Chimpanzee Tracking

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

Kibale Forest is habitat to 13 primate species and a guided forest trek can be taken in search of one of the most popular primate species in the world’s primate Capital.

This highly rewarding activities in Kibale start from the Kanyanchu Visitor Centre at 08.00 and 15.00 and lasts 2-3 hours.

Out of 9 diurnal primates namely L’Hoest’s , vervet, red-tailed, greycheeked manabey, blue monkeys, red colobus, black and white colobus, olive baboon, Chimpanzees are the most sought after by visitors, Although chimp sightings are not guaranteed, the odds are good with the chance of encountering them standing at .

Whilst trekking in the depths of the lush green forest, you will be entertained by the bird song and can expect to see at least 5 or 6 other types of primate, most probably the grey-cheeked managebey and the red-tailed monkey.

Chimpanzee tracking Kibale National Park: With a population of over 1000 chimpanzees, that have been habituated in about 80 communities tracking experience, it’s therefore a no brainer that all primatologists will feel attracted to come here and indulge themselves in their favorite hobby.

Chimpanzee tracking is usually done following the Kanyanchu trail. This trails enables a tourist to get up-close and personal with habituated chimps in their natural habitat.

Tracking begins at 0800hrs, 1100hrs and 1400hrs and it lasts between 2-3 hours. when the habituated community is found, the guide will allow you a maximum of an hour to be in company of these great apes to observe and photograph them while in their natural habitat.

Note should be taken that not more than six individuals can visit the same group of chimps at the same time, tourists should avoid dumping their food wastes while tracking and only individuals aged 16 and above are allowed to go chimp tracking.

Chimpanzee tracking in kibale costs 150$ for foreign nonresidents, 100$ for foreign residents, while east African citizens are charged 100000ugx. These fees for chimpanzee tracking include entrance and nature walk fees in this park.

Chimpanzee Tracking Process

This involves travelling to National Park Headquarters to meet your guides for early morning briefing about the do’s and don’ts when trekking the Chimps.

Experienced guides and trackers will accompany group of eight trekkers on an early morning trek into the forest to trek the wild chimpanzees as well as several other species of primates in their natural habitat.

You be allocated one hour to be with these charming and very social apes, sharing in their daily lives and experiencing their day-to-day activities.

Chimpanzees, our closest cousins, are extremely endangered with only an estimated 5000 remaining in Uganda. After the one hour, trekkers will return to the starting point and hence the end of the activity.

Please note: tracking may be fairly strenuous as the chimpanzees are highly mobile as they search for food throughout the forest.

Also, chimpanzees are wild animals and, as such, sightings cannot be guaranteed. However viewing success rates are over 80%.

Chimpanzee Tracking Regulations

For visitor’s safety and the protection of Kibale’s chimpanzees, Visitors are requested to observe the following points:

Visitor should keep a distance of 8 metres between him or her with the chimps.

Visitors who are sick are requested not to enter the forest because when one is sick and he or she enters the forests, it puts the chimps at risk of contracting disease.

Tourists are not allowed to eat near the chimps.

Children of 12 years and below are not permitted to view the chimps for safety reasons.

Do not enter the forest without a park guide.

If you need to defecate, do so off the trail and bury waste and toilet paper in a hole 30 cm deep.

Do not scare or attempt to provoke the chimps.

Flash photography is strictly forbidden.

Follow the instructions of your guide.

Please remember that Kibale is not a zoo but a natural tropical rainforest. Sightings of chimpanzee and other primates depend on several factors, such as time of the day, fruit availability, weather, and how quiet your group is.

What To Bring

Carry warm clothing and rain gear as the mornings and evenings can be cold and wet, especially during the peak rainy seasons.

Wear enclosed shoes and remember to bring a camera, binoculars, wildlife guidebooks, hat, and mosquito/insect repellent.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience

Chimpanzee Habituation is a life time and almost incredible experience for aspiring researchers and chimp lovers.

The activity involves staying with the chimps all day. Having the time to really connect with the group and learn about their different characters and habits.

This experience offers a real chance to develop fieldwork skills and learn about behavioral research about Chimpanzees.

This gives you an experience like no other as you get to get up close and personal with the chimpanzees that are not very accustomed to visitors in their natural habitat so as to acclimatize them to visitors without changing their natural characters as they carry out their daily routines from waking up from their night nests at about 06:00hrs to feeding, breast feeding, copulating, patrolling their territories and displaying and finally to building their new nests for the night ahead at about 19:00hrs.

This activity is available on full and half day basis hence giving you more than ample time to observe and understand the characteristics of these amazing creatures.

Chimpanzee habituation costs 20$ for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents and 150000ugx for east African citizens

Birding in Kibale forest

Kibale Forest National Park Uganda
Kibale Forest National Park Uganda

Kibale national park is birding destination in Uganda and the park boast of an estimated number of more than 375 Bird species which can be watched in the various parts of the park.

Bird watching tours in the park mainly starts at 7am at Kanyanchu which is located in the Centre of the park but visitors interested in bird watching are requested to book in advance.

The rare species of birds which can be viewed in the park include the Papyrus Gonolek that can be easily found in the wetlands of the park, White-winged Warbler as well as the White-collared Olive back and Papyrus Canary.

One of the recommendable bird watching areas in the park include the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary which is situated just small distance outside the park.

The wetland is home to roughly 138 bird species and these can be easily seen by the visitors participating in guided walks along the trails developed in the wetland and also other visitors can use the viewing plat forms set in the broad walking trails to enjoy the sights and sounds of the various bird species found this area.

The various bird species which bird lovers can have chance to enjoy their sounds and watch their bright shining colours include the White-spotted Fluff tail, Brown-backed Scrub-robin ,Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black Bishop as well as Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet plus the rare White-breasted Negrofinch , unique Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Black-crowned Waxbill, Bocage’s and Bush-shrike among other interesting bird species..

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

This small, but impressive wetland sanctuary protects the Magombe swamp and is an important contribution to Ugandan conservation.

It is run by Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) and all the money raised from tourism is used in community projects in Bigodi.

The trail developed in the Sanctuary offers one of the best guided bird trails in East Africa and gives walkers the attractive prospect of seeing various different primate species in just a few hours.

The swamps are a haven for a huge number of bird and butterfly species and so ornithologists will be in great delight as they trek through the rich swamplands accompanied by the great diversity of sights and sounds of the beaked and tuneful residents. Visitors can also expect to see at least 5 to 6 of the different primate species which reside in Kibale Forest National Park.

Cultural Encounters in Kibale

Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development (KAFRED) is a community-based organization which promotes local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation through ecotourism.

This famous association in Kibale National Park offers visitors unique cultural encounters and this starts in form of nature walks.

During the nature walk, a local guide will takes you along the boardwalk through the Magombe swamp wetlands.

You are likely to see wildlife at close-hand, including several of the 200 species of birds, eight varieties of primates and numerous butterflies, along with unusual swamp vegetation.

The daily life of the Batooro can be discovered during the village walks. The tour stops by the village’s primary school, church, and traditional healer.

You will learn about the role of women in the village and traditional ceremonies, and the history of Bigodi is told through the story of the “Village of Two Tribes”, describing when the indigenous Batooro were joined by migrating Bakiga from southwestern Uganda in the 1950s. Income from this activity is invested in education, health, sanitation and improving the livelihood of local residents.

It is also used to help raise awareness of the value of biodiversity through music, dance, and drama performances at local schools. In 2010, KAFRED they won the prestigious UNDP’s Equator Initiative Award.

Hiking/Nature Walks in Kibale

Nature walks in Kibale National Park. Nature walking can be done in kibaale national park following trails like kanyanchu trail- this trail is famous for primate viewing like chimpanzees, monkeys like the Ugandan magabeys, blue monkeys, red colobus monkeys.

Bigodi wetland trail is famous for the wide range of bird species like the crowned eagle, Abyssinian ground thrush, yellow spotted nicator, the black bee eater. Ndali crater walk- this takes you the top of the world by visiting Ndali crater lake giving you sweeping views of the entire fort portal town, all the other crater lakes in the region.

There is also the night walk which are carried after sunset beginning at around 19:30hrs lasting for about 2 hours. this walk will reveal to you some of the best night walkers in the forest like the bush baby, night jar, civets or serval cat which are spotted occasionally doing their night rounds.

In Kibaale national park, if you have done chimpanzee tracking, you get yourself a free day time walk on any of the trails available but the night walk will cost you 40$ foreign nonresidents, 20$ foreign residents and 15000ugx east African citizens.

When chimpanzees and other forest residents rest up at dusk, a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active.

Night walks though the darkened forest use powerful torches to seek nocturnal creatures such as the potto, bushbaby, nightjar, cricket and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 7.30pm and last between one and a half and two hours.

How To Get to Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 26km south-east of Fort Portal town. Kanyanchu River Camp, the primary centre for tourism activities, can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.

Kampala via Mubende to Fort portal (300km) link to Kanyanchu (36km). The northern approach is shorter and quicker, with a 300km tarmac road running to Fort Portal followed by 36km on murram to Kanyanchu. Sebitoli Forest Camp, a secondary tourism centre, is even easier to reach.

This stands directly on the Kampala road, 16km before Fort Portal. Public transport runs throughout the day between Kampala and Fort Portal (passing Sebitoli) and Fort Portal and Kamwenge (passing Kanyanchu).

Using Road Transport There Are Two Routes

Kampala- Mubende- Fortportal via Kanvanchui park centre. This route is about 312kms from Kampala or 5-hour drive. From kampala to Fortportal the road is fully tarmacked while from Fortportal to kanvancui the tourist will have to bare 22 km of murram road. This route will enable the visitor access the park from the northern side.

Kampala- Mbarara-Kamwenge-Kanvancui through the southern side of the park. This route is about 382 km or about 6-hour drive. Between Kampala and Mbarara the road is fully tarmacked and between Mbarara and Kamwenge is also tarmacked but Kamwenge to Kanvancui the road is gravel.

You can access Kibaale national park using public transport. You can buy a bus ticket for a bus service from Kampala- Fortportal town via Mityana- Mubende from Kisenyi bus terminal and this will cost you between 20000-25000ugx. After arriving in Fortportal town, you can hire a private taxi to take you to the Kanvancui park headquarters via Kanyanchu gate which lies 22km away from fort portal town.

Air Transport.

Although Kibaale national park doesn’t have an airfield of its own, it is tentatively served by two airstrips one is Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara connecting you through Kamwenge to Kanvancui. This involves 98km of ground travel. The other airstrip is Kasese airstrip which is 150 km way from Fortportal. This involves 172 km of ground travel to reach Kanvancui center.

Kibaale national park is served by the following charter companies

Aerolink club. Aerolink club has flights operating from Entebbe international airport to Mbarara airstrip or Kasese airstrip, the flights to Kaese usually depart in the morning but the timing may change depending on the flight routing. Aerolink club uses an 11 seater and 2 flight crew Caravan aircraft equipment that is highly comfortable. The cost of this flight varies from 230-260$ one way per person depending on the seasonal demand.

Fly Uganda. Fly Uganda operates private flight charters around Uganda from Kajjansi airstrip. The minimum number of passengers required is 2 passengers. The flights usually depart from Kajjansi airfield in the morning hours but this is subject to flight routing and demand. The cost for a flight to Kasese town with fly Uganda ranges about 290$ per person one way

Air-Serve Limited and Mission Aviation Africa (MAF) also do private charters to Mbarara airstrip and Kasese airstrip.

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Accommodation in Kibale Forest National Park

Primate Lodge-Luxury

Primate Lodge in Kibale is a fashionable Eco-lodge located within Kibale National park. It’s enclosed by a flourishing tropical forest that is a habitat to many different species of primates for instance the chimpanzees.

It’s secretly sheltered in the rainforest and forms one of the lodges that offer a really dependable jungle familiarity.

Primate lodge Kibale has accommodation for all visitors ranging from luxury, cottages as well as tents.

This lodge gives a chance to take your time in the morning and first have breakfast and later on plan for the day and how you are going to track the chimpanzees without much trouble.

The lodge has about 8 lavish safari tents, wooden platform with a thatched roof that tends to match well with the environment.

The verandahs on each tent offer a beautiful view of the enclosed forest. The inside of the lodge is designed with an African style with beautiful beds.

The bathrooms and toilets have a natural touch of the environment made out of local stones, wall paintings as well as bamboo.

It has about 7 friendly cottages which are secretly located in the forest. The rooms are big with double beds, a sitting room with an African design and standard en suite bathrooms and toilets.

Another exciting adventure is the sky tree house, it has a bedroom with other facilities that can enable you enjoy a night there.

It’s suited at a 10 minutes’ walk from the major lodge and hence making it a perfect viewing point for Elephant especially at night.

The restaurant at the lodge serves both Local and International foods with hospital waitresses. Next to the restaurant is a fully stocked bar with a beautiful scenic view of the forest.

Lounge area at the lounge has well designed chairs; soft cushions along with sofas that will make you enjoy the red-tailed monkeys in the forest.

Cultural dancing is usually enjoyed around the camp fire and late in the night, you will experience the great sounds of the forest as well as the winding forest elephants.

Tourist Activities include chimp tracking, Forest walk, bird watching, Bigodi village walk discovery of the crater Lakes, Cultural heritage, Hike at the slopes of Rwenzori along with the Nature trail. Enjoy a tour To Uganda’s national parks.

Chimps’ Nest –Mid-Range

Chimps’ Nest is located at Kanyanchu one of the best viewing points of Kibale Forest .Its positioned on the way to Bigondi Village, the site of the lodge was carefully chosen, as it commands the view of Kibale National park forest and Rwenzori Mountains, the portal peaks,

It’s located just a 15 minutes’ drive from Kanyanchu the focal point of UWA for chimp tracking as well as other activities in the park.

The accommodation is up to standard with beautiful self-contained cottages, tree house in addition to family cottages.

The restaurants serves local food sourced from the local markets. From the lodge’s cozy restaurant on top of the hill, everybody will have a splendid view of Chimp’s Nest

All the cottages of the lodge are situated on a hill, with a private and splendid view of Kibale Forest and the Rwenzori Mountains.

From your private balcony you can enjoy the wildlife, with the surrounding sounds of birds, monkeys, chimps, and elephants.

The bathroom is outside. It is completely closed off but has an open roof. Your privacy is guaranteed so you can have the ultimate experience of freedom in the middle of nature.

The family cottage is built near the restaurant, on a hill. This place is ideal for people with children or for people who want to be near the restaurant.

Just like all the other cottages, this cottage has a lot of privacy and is in the bush, surrounded by various colourful birds and wildlife.

The cottage holds two bedrooms with flexible beds which can be either twins or doubles. There is space for one extra bed each bedroom. There is a lockable door in between the two rooms.

Tourist Activities which are organized in the lodge include, Chimp tracking, Cultural heritage, Natural trail, Forest walk, Hikes at the slopes of Mount Rwenzori and Bigodi Village walk along with the discovery of the crater Lakes.

Accommodation rates:

Room TypeHigh Season (B$B)Low Season(B/B)
Double cottages$96$77
Twin cottages$96$77
Single cottage$72$58
Double tree house$152$122
Twin tree house$152$122
Single tree house BB$120$96
Family cottage max. 4$172$138
Extra person Bed only$16$13
Budget room Bed only$20$16

Kibale Forest Camp-Mid-Range


Kibale Forest Camp is situated in a patch of indigenous forest, just outside Kibale Forest National Park. It borders Bigodi swamp and is located on a mere 4 km from the starting point of chimpanzee tracking.

The camp is a renowned birding paradise, not only frequented by our human visitors, but also by the black and white colobus, the red colobus, the red tailed monkey, the bleu monkey and the grey cheeked mangabey.

The complex is beautiful wooden with a grass thatched roof which blends perfectly in the forest surroundings. The open construction permits our visitors to fully enjoy the beauty of this magical place.

Due to the remote location of the camp, they work with set menus: delicious 2 course lunches and fine 4 course dinners.

If you have any dietary requirements or allergies, it is wise to inform them at your earliest convenience. The well maintained campsite of Kibale Forest Camp is a little green gem.

Bordering the swamp and set in lush surroundings. It is the place to unwind and come one with Nature. The sanitary facilities consist of 2 hot showers and 2 flushing

Kibale Forest Camp consists of 10 African safari style tents, comfortably furnished with twin or double beds. Each unit has its own private ensuite bathroom with a flush toilet, a dressing room and a hot water shower.

Seated from your own verandah, the red or black and white colobus can often be observed in the dense camp surrounding.

Kibale Forest Camp offers a more budget option in the form of non-self-contained tents. The lazy camping product offered by the lodge consists of a basic camping tent furnished with 2 single beds and a solar lantern.

No need to bring your own linen as all bedding and towels are provided. The tents share a communal ablution blocks with hot showers and flushing toilets.

The campsite bar and restaurant are situated in a beautiful wooden grass-thatched building. The open structure blends perfectly in the surroundings and overlooks a lush colourful garden.

It is in this cozy restaurant that your breakfast, delicious 2 course lunches and 4 course dinners will be served. Due to logistic reasons (quality products are difficult to het in the area and come from Kampala)

Accommodation rates:

Room TypeB&BHBFB
Single(Safari tent)$75$90$100
Double(Safari tent)$95$125$145
Extra Bed$25$40$50
Single (Lazy camping)$25$40$50
Double(Lazy camping)$40$70$90

Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse and campsite-Budget

Located inside Kibale National Park and only 23 Km from Fort Portal town, Chimpanzee Forest Guest house is basic accommodation facility in Kibale.

The Guesthouse sits on 100 acres of manicured lawns, beautiful gardens, tea plantations, pasture and indigenous forest and hence offers the point sit for scenery viwing.

Owned and operated by a Ugandan family, Chimpanzee Forest Guest house was originally established in the 1950s, during Uganda’s colonial period, by the British District Commissioner and has been wonderfully cared for and maintained ever since.

Guests can relax in a comfortably furnished lounge which features an excellent collection of colonial African literature dating back to the 1800’s.

Accommodation outside of the main house is offered in either a large twin bedded self-contained banda over-looking Lake Nyabikere or in a choice of three self-contained cottages with views of Kibale Forest National Park.

You may also camp on flat grassy sites away from the house with shade. The eats served in the lodge ranges from delicious hot meals; cold drinks; freshly baked bread to seasonal home grown fruits and vegetables; pancake breakfasts and percolated coffee.

Accommodation in The Guest House Rates (VAT Exclusive)

Room typeB$BF/B
Cottage doubleUshs260,000/=Ushs360,000/=
Cottage singleUshs160,000/=Ushs220,000/=
additional PersonUshs120,000/=Ushs160,000/=
Children 4 – 8 yUshs 80,000/=Ushs110,000/=
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