Kibale Forest National Park is located within the Albertine Rift amidst the rolling hills of western Uganda covering an area of 766 square kilometers. The park is of dire scientific and environmental importance to the country owing to the fact that it remains the largest land expanse comprising of a mixture of pre-montane, lowland and moist ever green forest.
Owing to its unique disposition among some of the best physical plains of East Africa, Kibale Forest National Park was officially set aside as a logged forest gazette in 1993. In fact, there is a healthy variety of tree species with about 351 special tree species recorded within the park. This has attracted many botanists to set up research programs within the park.
Also known as the “primates’ paradise”, Kibale Forest National Park is home to 13 primate species; meaning it is the top place to track primates in Uganda. Additionally, it forms a 180 kilometer wildlife corridor with Sebitoli and Queen Elizabeth National Park; ensuring free movement of animals within this conservation area of Uganda.
How to get there:
Kibale Forest National Park is located near Fort Portal town in western Uganda. You can access it by road via the Kampala – Mbarara highway to Fort Portal over a distance of 300 Kilometers. From Fort portal town, it is about 26 kilometers to the Park and approximately 36 kilometers to Kanyanchu River camp by road.
Ndali- Kasenda crater lakes:
The Ndali Kasenda crater lakes are a series of ancient crater lakes within the wake of the Rwenzori Mountain range. They occur in form of permanent and seasonal lakes within four areas in western Uganda; Kasenda, Rweetera, Rwaihamba and Kabata about 30km south of Fort Portal. Enjoy a drive around these lakes with breathtaking views of Lake George and the Rwenzori Mountains.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary:
This wildlife sanctuary is located outside Kibale National Park in Magombe swamp. The Sanctuary is home to about 138 bird species including highlights like Papyrus gonolek, Great Blue Turaco and Papyrus Canary among others. The swamp is also the perfect go to spot to view primates and swamp animals like the Bush Pig, Sitatunga, Mongoose and Warthogs among others.
What to do (Activities):
A birder’s perfect gate-away is a few hours in the Bigodi wetland sanctuary at Kibale Forest National Park. The park alone has about 375 bird species to choose from and you can expect an assortment of birds from forest, to highland, wood and swamp species. Park your favorite waterproof hiking boots and prepare for a nature walk coupled with a birding safari.
Chimpanzee tracking and habituation:
Kibaale Forest National Park is the top primate location in the country; especially when it comes to Chimpanzee tracking. With a count of 13 primate species, miss not an expedition to track these primates for 2 – 3 hours as you come about 8m in close proximity with them. Chimpanzees are often on the move so it is imperative to stay alert and keep up with them.
Chimpanzee habituation lasts an entire day as you attempt to teach the primates to continue with normal activities even among humans. You will set out in a team comprising of trackers, researchers and rangers who will show you the ropes of how Chimpanzee habituation is done and how you can further be apart of this great experience.
Kibale Forest National Park has quite the wildlife assortment especially when it comes to primates. Expect species like Olive baboons, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Chimpanzees, Ugandan Mangabeys, Blue monkeys, red Colobus monkeys and Black and White Colobus monkeys around the forest areas and the Bigodi wetland sanctuary.
Owing to the 180 kilometer wildlife corridor that connects to Queen Elizabeth National Park through Sebitoli, expect to see animals like Warthogs, duikers, bushbuck, Elephants, golden cats, lions, buffalo, leopards, Servals, Giant forest hogs, otters, Sitatungas, bush pigs and Mongoose among others. Ready your camera and binoculars to fully embrace this experience.
Forest hiking and nature walks:
There is no safari quite like a nature walk within the pre-montane and low land ever green moist fields of the park. Nature walks and hiking adventures are often guided from Kanyanchu following a 12km forest trail. You can choose to embark on a hiking adventure that lasts from 2-6 days where you get to enjoy some wild camping, a birding safari in Bigodi and elusive bush meals.
Spend some great time learning about the Magombe swamp; “a community of two tribes”. This community of Bakiga and Batooro under KAFRED empowers the locals to improve their livelihood and family members’ lives by offering cultural tours of their village to travelers. Special stop-overs include; the local healer’s chambers, the local school, church and community entertainment center.
Where to stay or accommodation options:
When visiting Kibale Forest National Park, there is completely no need to fret about where or when you will be able to get some rest after your safari. With an endless range of accommodation options, you cannot fail to find one that best speaks to you and the nature of your safari. Accommodation options include; Primate lodge Kibaale, Kanyanchu River Camp and Chimps’s Nest among many others.