Kibale forest National park is known for its captivating primate adventures -chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation experience, Kibale National Park is amazingly a biodiverse primate safari destination in Uganda & Africa. Kibale National Park boasts of its distinct landscape characterized by rainforest where most of its alluring attractions reside.
Kibale National Park is found in Kabarole district, Western Uganda, and in the surrounding, there are also Kamwenge, Kasese, and Kibaale districts. Fort Portal city/town is the nearest city/town to Kibale National Park and from Kampala, it is about 6 hour's drive.
Kibale National Park lies near the scenic Ndali-Kasenda Crater Area. Other surrounding National Parks lying near Kibale include the Semuliki National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kibale National Park’s vegetation is mixed and each shelters distinct wildlife. The vegetation variation at the park ranges from the moist evergreen forest/wet tropical forest, dry tropical/moist semi-deciduous, and woodland plus savanna found especially on the rift valley floor.
In the heart of Kibale (Kanyanchu, there are mainly evergreen trees plus deciduous with evergreen species dominating. The park’s vegetation grows tall about 55m and creates a semi-canopy. Beneath, there are several shrubs, herbs, and broad-leaved forest grasses. In total, over 351 species of trees range in the Kibale National Park.
More than 13 primate species live in Kibale National Park, Uganda. This is the highest primate population in Africa and they include 1500 chimpanzees, blue monkeys, olive baboons, l’hoest monkeys, Uganda red colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, Uganda mangabeys, pottos, bush babies, black and white colobus monkeys, etc. many other mammal species also reside in the park and these include buffaloes, bush pigs, duikers, forest elephants.
Kibale National Park (KNP) is one of the leading birding spots in Uganda, with bird species of about 375. They include black-crowned chakra, yellow spotted nicators, African green-breasted pitta, African pied wagtail, yellow-rumped tinker bird, collared Apalis, Abyssinian ground thrush, Blue-breasted kingfishers, black-billed weavers, Cameroon somber greenbul, African shrike flycatcher, Chubb’s cisticola, white collared olive.
Other bird species include 4 species not existing anywhere else in other Uganda safari parks- the Nahan’s francolins, Cassin’s spine tail, masked Apalis, blue-headed bee-eater; ash flycatchers, black-billed turacos, etc.
Activities in Kibale National Park (KNP), Uganda
The largest chimpanzee population lives in Kibale National Park with about 4 habituated communities, making it a preferred chimpanzee trekking spot in Uganda and entire East Africa. Chimpanzee trek offers a close encounter with habituated chimpanzees in the wild whose DNA is believed to be 98.7% similar to that of human beings.
Tourists on Uganda safari to Kibale can only be allowed to visit chimpanzees if they have valid chimpanzee permits. Each of the Kibale Chimpanzee tracking permits costs USD200 per person and you can book one via your reliable local tour operator- All in Africa Safaris -email us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call directly at +256 (0)751725672/+256 (0) 393208065.
The whole trekking exercises to see chimpanzees takes 2-4 hours whether you embark on the morning or afternoon session. In the morning, tracking chimpanzees begins at 8:00 am after briefing and at 2:00 pm- all beginning at Kanyanchu Tourist Centre.
Also, most popular as CHEX, the habituation experience is slightly distinct from the usual trek to see chimpanzees. With chimpanzee habituation, you have a full day/half day to follow semi-habituated chimpanzee communities with researchers/park trackers. The idea is to make these apes familiar with human presence before they are opened for actual tracking by Uganda safari holidaymakers. During chimpanzee habituation, permits are issued at USD220 per person.
A birding expedition in Kibale National Park is a great chance to identify/observe the variety of bird species in this pristine forest. They include the green-breasted pitta, papyrus gonoleks, blue-headed sun-eaters, pin-tailed whydahs, yellow-rumped tinker bird, browned crowned chakra, yellow spotted nicator, brown-backed scrub-robin, black bee-eaters, black-capped Apalis, grey winged robin chat, red-faced woodland warblers, African grey parrot, masked Apalis, Rwenzori Apalis, white-spotted fluff tail, dusky crimson wing, red chested owlet, superb sunbird, among others.
Kibale National Park offers amazing forest walk/hiking experiences. Tourists can enjoy a 12kms long hike through Kibale Forest perfectly explored during the dry season -June, July, August to September, or November, January to February. A forest hike takes about 2-4 hours and you immerse yourself into the Kibale National Park habitats rich in distinct wildlife, butterfly species, birds, etc.
Go cultural tour with an experienced guide in the adjacent communities to Kibale National Park. The local communities to interact with on cultural safari in Kibale include the Bakiga immigrants from Southwestern Uganda and Batooro. In these communities, you will explore more about the unique traditions, cultures, dances, and norms, among others. The key area of interest for cultural encounters on Uganda safaris in Kibale is KAFRED- Kibale Association For Rural Environment Development.
The Crater Lakes safari
Plenty of magnificent Crater Lakes is spread in the area where Kibale National Park is located. Over 50 scenic Crater Lakes exist in this area or go bushcraft making, perfect for children as their parents go for chimpanzee tracking.
Best time of the year to travel to Kibale
Kibale National Park is open for visitor exploration all year round, but regardless of this fact, the dry season is the best to hit the trails for hiking or chimpanzee tracking. This is during any of the two phases- from June to September/December to February.
Where to stay
A range of accommodations makes Kibale National Park safaris complete- budget, midrange, and luxury. They include Chimps Nest, Primate Lodge, Kibale Forest Camp, Chimpanzee Forest Guesthouse, Papaya Lake Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Kanyanchu River Camp, Kyaninga Lodge, and others.
Getting to Kibale National Park-KNP
By road: Use a rental car in Uganda and your journey can start from Entebbe/Kampala via Mityana-Mubende to Fort Portal (6 hours’ drive) or Entebbe/Kampala via Masaka-Mbarara-Kasese/Kamwenge (the longest route).
By air: There are 2 access airstrips to fly to from Entebbe Airport/Kajjansi airfield which is Kasese airstrip/Nyakisharara airstrip. From any of these airstrips, drive to Fort Portal or connect via the Ndali route to Kibale National Park, a 1-2 hours drive.