Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale forest National Park is situated in western Uganda, in the districts of Kamwenge and Kabarole about 5-6 hours’ drive from Entebbe International airport. This lowland tropical rain forest is considered to be one of the few pristine rain forests remaining on the African continent. Kibale National Park has the largest chimpanzee population standing at approximately 1500 individuals and is the best place to trek habituated wild chimpanzees in the whole of Africa.
Kibale forest covers an area of 795 square kilometers and is home to wild chimpanzees and other twelve popular primates making it one of best national parks to visit while on your Uganda Safari. There are a total of 13 species to be found here which, aside from our close relatives the chimpanzees, includes the grey cheeked mangabey, endangered red colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkey, olive baboon, potto, bush baby, red-tailed monkey and the, rarely seen, Hoest’s monkey. The fascinating chimps tend to be heard before they are seen and their screams pant hoots and barks are used by our local tracking experts to bring you even closer to them. Once you locate the animals you can usually spend up to one hour with them before the forest walk continues in search of other primates. For a kin birder, Kibale National Park boosts of several forest birds some of which are endemic to this forest. It has several other animals like elephants, leopards that are rarely spotted.
Kibale National Park can be reached from Kampala passing through Mubende on extremely nice road and the drive time is approximately 5-6 hours. Kibale is in a closer perimeter to Queen Elizabeth National Park and taking 2 hours’ drive. While in Kibale, you will enjoy the great views of Rwenzori Mountains. The park can also be accessed by domestic flight from Entebbe international Airport or Kajansi to Fort Portal or Ndali.
You can enjoy a half day chimpanzee trekking either in the morning or the afternoon or decide to do a whole day chimpanzee habituation experience. Kibale has three habituated communities that can be trekked but in order to reduce on food competition, these communities that are composed of 50-150 individuals tend to break up into smaller parties of 10-20 individuals. They will only rejoin in the evening to make their nest. For those interested in birding, Kibale is one of the few places where you can spot over 350 birds. In the nearby Bigodi village, there is a swamp walk that can supplement on your chimpanzee trekking and all proceeds from this walk goes to community development projects. You can as well visit the crater lakes region as this area was affected by volcanic action.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is located outside the park and the sanctuary is the highlight of the area, a community-run reserve that provides a great example of how tourism and local communities can work hand-in-hand to benefit the environment. The sanctuary has over 335 bird species and at least five primate species.