The home to the Chimps & Other Primates
The park Kibale is situated in the western part of Uganda, in Kabarole District, 35km south of Fort portal town and is approximately 320km from Kampala. It has an altitude range of between 1,110metres to 1,590metres above sea level. Kibale National Park occupies an area of 795sq km and has one of the highest ecosystems in Africa. The park is portioned into seven zones for management purposes, that is, natural reserve, civic-cultural, recreation, research, harvest, community and protection. The main emphasis, however, is on preservation, sustainable utilization and non-consumptive use of the forest. The park is a sought after destination by nature lovers for its superb bird watching and chimpanzee tracking and having one of the greatest concentrations of primates in East Africa. Interspersed with portions of grasslands and swamp, the most common vegetation type is rainforest, spanning altitude of 1.100-1,590km and with a floral composition, transitional to typical eastern afro-Montane and western lowland forest.
About 60 mammal species are present in Kibale forest. It is especially rich in primates, with 13 species recorded, the highest number in any Ugandan national park. The nine diurnal primates spot at Kibale are vervet, red tailed, L`Hoest`s and blue monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys, red colobus, black and white colobus, olive baboon and chimpanzee. The Kibale forest area is the last Ugandan stronghold of the red colobus, even if there in small numbers still that are surviving in Semliki National park Visitors who do both the forest and swamp walk are usually expected to see a round five or six primate species.
Kibale forest provides a superlative primate viewing, but it is not otherwise an easy place to view the large mammals – this despite an impressive checklist which includes lions, leopards, hippo, warthog, giant forest hog, buffalo, sitatunga, bushbuck, bush pig, elephants, peter`s, blue and red duikers. The elephants seen in Kibale forest are classified as belonging to the forest race which is smaller and hairier as compared to the more familiar savanna elephant. Elephants often move into the kanyanchu area during the wet season.
What to see and activities in Kibale Forest National Park
The main purpose for visiting the to Kibale National Park is chimpanzee tracking. The excursion starts from Kanyanchu Tourist Centre and includes a walk through the forest accompanied by a ranger guide in look for the chimps. You will hear them before you see them: from somewhere a maximum of 32 visitors per day is permitted by the park management to visit the habituated group of 45 chimpanzees. Excursions starting in the morning for a maximum of sixteen people in four groups and likewise in the afternoon. Usually the chimps are quickly seen in the morning because the guides normally know where they spent there overnight. Detailed information on primates, forests, flora and fauna is normally given by the park ranger guide en-route to the chimps. Chimp sightings are not guaranteed on these walks but the chances of viewing them stands at 90%. While in the forest, expect to view other types of primates like red-tailed monkeys and grey-cheeked mangabey.
Kibale Forest National Park has over 335 bird species registered. A network of forest trails from the Kanyanchu Visitor Centre permits you to look for a number of species from the vicinity of the main road like nahan’s francolin, African pitas.
There is a large block of rain forest that give you some exceptional forest birding. The best forest birding is on the main road from the Kanyanchu centre. Species like scaly francolin, marsh tchagara, the scarce grey-headed olive-back and a host of seed eaters like fawn breasted black crowned wax-bills and green-backed twin spot, among others, can with ease be seen.
As you are in the forest watch out for flocks of the rare and localized white-naped pigeon in flight over head or sunning themselves on the tree tops in the early morning. Fruiting trees draw birds for example narina trogon, pied hornbill, yellow-spotted, hairy-breasted and yellow-billed barbets.
Kibale is also an excellent sight for joyful greenbul reasonably common and conspicuous here but inexplicably scarce else where in Uganda.
The secondary forest and thicket near Kanyanchu is also a useful birding area for the African goshawk, the magnificent ground eagle and masked apalis. Large, noisy flocks of grey parrots fly over the campsite to their place to stay in the evening.
The park has the observation tower which overlooks like a small forest in the park providing you with an opportunity to see the red-chested fluff tailed and a huge number of forest elephants.
The Bigodi wetland sanctuary in Kibale National Park is also an exceptional place to view some of the special birds common to this habitat like papyrus gonolek, white-winged warbler and papyrus canary among others.
Tourists who are who are fascinated by learning more concerning the chimpanzees or researchers looking for field experience on chimps, the chimpanzee habituation experience includes staying with the chimps the entire day, taking notes on their behavior. The activity usually takes six consecutive days
Guided nature walks can be organized from Kanyanchu. On this nature walk get ready to see a great number of trees, a range of species of birds and butterflies in addition to other types of primates for example grey-cheeked mangabey and red-tailed monkey. The guides will also be able to identify the different medicinal plants and animal spore. The 4.5km guided walk at Bigodi wetland sanctuary is one of the greatest guided bird trails in East Africa and also provides great changes to see other bird and primate species like the black and white colobus monkeys among others.
Visit to the Crater Lakes
The Park is a site to one of the world’s densest concentrations of volcanic crater lakes. The lakes are partitioned into four main groups; the Kasenda cluster to the west of Kibale Forest National Park, the Katwe cluster in the part of the Rift Valley conserved within the Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Bunyaruguru cluster within the rift escarpment, south east of Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Fort Portal cluster, North West of Fort Portal town.
The most renowned is the Kasenda cluster which came into existence 10years ago and is made up of 60 lakes which is about 20-30km south of Fort Portal. The local myth is that the lakes were formed by the first Bachwezi King Ndahura who stayed in the area. The erection of the community campsite and the Ndali Lodge has led to high huge influx visitors to the crater lakes of recent.
The most frequently see tree species are wild rubber trees, polita figs and wild palms. Plus there water lilies, ferns and flowers like those of the ipomea species, wetland grasses, sedges and reeds.
The park is open all year around but cool nights are expected all through the rainy seasons of April to May and October to November. You may not see the mammals easily despite its checklist of 60 mammal species including lions, elephants, hippos and leopards. The tourist attractions have been developed in Bigodi, Sebitoli and Kanyanchu. To the west of the Park, there are 30 crater lakes.
Accessibility to the Park
As you come from Kampala you may get to the park using Kampala-Mityana Fort portal road. From Fort portal town, it is you may reach there using the Kamwenge road. Coming from Fort Portal town centre, using the Lugard Road, northwards for more than 1km and immediately prior to reaching the Mpanga River, turn right and move 12km till you arrive at the major junction that takes you to Lake Nkuruba and Ndali lodge on the right and on the left, the road takes you straight to another 12km to Kanyanchu tourist centre which is also the centre of the tourist activities.
Where to spend your night / nights
Primate Lodge Kanyachu
Mountains of the Moon Hotel