Kibale national park is located in the western part of Uganda, covering a huge some of the moist evergreen rain forest of about 795lm2 in area. This largely forested park is situated East of the mountain Rwenzori with volcanic crater lakes dotted on its land scape and populated with tropical forests and tea plantations.
In the northern and central part of Kibale national park, lies on the magnificent Fort Portal plateau at an altitude of about 1590m above sea level and the the great albertine riftvalley escarpemnet in the south with bushy vegetation before dropping down to the grasslands of the rift valley floor at an altitude of about 500m.
HOW TO ACCESS KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
This largly forested national park can be accessed by either road or air transport. By using road transport from kampala, kibale can be accessed using either the kampala- Mbarara –Kasese near Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kampala- Mubende- Fort Portal or from kampala- Mbarara- Kamwenge.
By air, Kibale National park has access to two air strips Nyakisharara in Mbarara about 98km or Kasese airstrip, 75km from Fort Portal town.
BIO DIVERSITY IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Kibale national park’s varied altitude levels favor a wide varieties of habitat, ranging from moist evergreen tree species that make the dense forest which is the wet tropical forest that dominate the central part if the park around kanyanchu with the mixture of some deciduous trees along the Fort Portal plateau, then through the dry tropical forest constituting the moist semi deciduous, and then to the woodland and savanna along the rift valley floor. This vegetation cover rises upto over 55m and establish a semi closed canopy of massive stratified tree crowns. With shade tolerant herbs, a variety of ferns, shrubs and broad leaved forest grasses, the undergrowth is sparse. 351 tree species have been registered in the park.
This great vegetation cover favors growth and existence of a wide variety of wild game. Kibale national park is best known for the wide variety of primates since its inhabits an estimated 1450 chimpanzees; the largest population of chimpanzees in Uganda and Kibale boasts of 13 species of primates including the localized nocturnal bushbaby and potto, East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey, L’Hoest’s monkeys and Uganda’s only endemic monkey, the Uganda mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae) long mistaken for the common grey-cheeked mangabey (L. albigena), this unique inhabitant of Kibale was identified as a distinct species in 2007,
Its also home to over 350 tree species, 71 species of mammal that live in the 180km long migration corridor for mammals like the elusive forest Elephants, buffaloes, giant forest hogs, Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Peter’s Duickers and half dozen antelope species. The guided night walks are also rewarding: Potto, Spectacled Demidoff’s and Thomas’s Galagos, Lord Derby’s Anomalure, African Civet and Common Genet are all possible. Thereby making it one of the most stunning parks in Uganda
Kibale national park also boasts of over 370 bird species with six endemic to the albertine rift valley region and they are; black-capped apalis, dusky crimsonwing , red-faced woodland warbler, collared apalis, purple-breasted sunbird and blue-headed sunbird. Other bird species include Red-winged Francolin, black bee eater, Red-chested Flufftail, Eastern nicator, White-naped Pigeon, Green-brested Pitta, yellow rumped tinkerbird, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher, , Brown-breasted alethe, White-bellied Crested Flycather, blue breasted kingfisher, Masked and Black-capped Apalises, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling, Abyssinian ground-thrush and the crowned eagle, Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Grey-headed Olive-back.
Established as a forest reserve in the 1940s, Kibale forest was upgraded to national park status in recognition of a biodiversity. Kibale is one of Africa’s foremost research sites for tropical forest biology.
ACTIVITIES TO DO ON KABALE NATIONAL PARK SAFARI IN UGANDA
PRIMATE WALK (CHIMPANZEE TRACKING)
This is a six group guided experience that gives you an opportunity to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitats. The kanyanchu chimpanzee groups are the most accustomed to human presence and some of the have been observed for over 25 years so they are more hospitable and the chance of locating them is over 90%. This Primate walk / Chimpanzee Tracking starts at around 8:00am, 10:00am and 2:00pm and lasts up to 2-3 hours. Advance booking is essential and park roles and regulations must be followed strictly to avoid any unfavorable incidences since primates are wild animals.
CHIMPANZEE HABITUATION EXPERIENCE
Chimpanzee habituation experience is a whole day activity that enables visitors to have an in-depth understanding of chimpanzees. Chimpanzee habituation enables visitors to accompany habituators and researchers into the forest. These chimpanzees are less familiar to human presence than those visited on the primate walks so viewing and following them is exciting and adventurous. This spectacular experience gives visitors an opportunity to see chimps de-nest, feeding, copulating, hunting, breast feeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until they build new nests and retire for night at around 7:00pm, thereby getting used to human presence without altering their natural behavior. The CHEX sessions are available on a full or half day basis starting at 0630 and Advance booking for this activity is required
A Nature Walk is a 2-3 hours opportunity to enjoy one of Africa’s most beautiful and varied forests without pressure to locate chimpanzees or tick off a dozen ‘Kibale specials’ on the birdlist. The walks begin at 08.00, 10.00 and 14.00 at the Kanyanchu tourist Centre and is also an ideal activity for young visitors unable to accompany relatives on the Primate Walk. Remind your guide to show you the naked Adam tree and Eve tree one of Kibale’s unique wonders.
NIGHT WALKS IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
These are some of the most fascinating experiences to have at kibale national park, The night nature walk gives visitors the opportunity to track the unique nocturnal creatures such as galagos, pottos and bushbabies, view the rear species of birds, animals and insects such as Bat, Owl, Pottos, bush babies, Civets, genet cats and Eastern needle nailed; that are most active at night. Night walks are conducted from 19.30-22.00 daily.
BIRDING IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
Kibale national park boasts of 372 forest, grassland and forest bird species of which most are local endemics and Central Africa ‘specials’ making Kibale national park a popular birders haven. Bird watchers can spot various species of these birds as they enjoy the various activities in the park. Forest birds can be viewed with the help of our experienced tour guides, on the forest trails at Kanyanchu and Sebitoli tourism sites. This experience should be combined with a visit to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary to add forest edge and swamp specials to the list. This popular, community-run attraction lies just outside the park, 5km south of Kanyanchu.
CULTURAL HERITAGE AND AROUND THE PARK
Cultural Heritage and Nature trails through the tropical forest and meet local people and gain insights into their cultures, and rest at the community – run campsites near the villages of Kinoni, Nyaibanda and Nyakalongo. Porters can be hired to carry the equipment. The walk is most exciting in groups of 6 people.
Kibale is surrounded by a wealth of additional attractions. Visitors should take time to explore the scenic crater lakes along the western margin of the park, tour a tea factory, drive down onto the rift valley floor to the hot springs in Semuliki NP, hike on the Rwenzori mountain, and view big game on the grasslands of Queen Elizabeth NP.
ACCOMMODATION IN KIBALE NATIONAL PARK
There are so many accommodation facilities located in and around the park ranging from the budget facilities to the midrange facilities to the most luxury facilities. All these facilities offer almost the same services. However choice and class will make the variation on what to use. These facilities offer different types of accommodation including modern bandas, luxury tents and a comfortable Sky Tree House. A charming restaurant, bar and fire place will make sure you will spend the evenings pleasantly.