The 795Km2, Kibale Forest national park boasts the greatest primate range and density in East Africa making it a primatologist dream destination regarded as the “World’s Primate Capital” famous for Chimpanzee tracking safaris. Before becoming a national park, Kibale was first a government Forest Reserve and later it became a national park in 1993. It is a magnificent tropical rainforest and one of the most rewarding areas to explore on a wildlife safari. It is home to 13 primate species including the Chimpanzees as the major attraction and a member of the world's Great Apes.
The park is located in the western part of Uganda, and it is part of the western tourism circuit, situated idyllically in the heart of the Tooro Kingdom. Kibale National Park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasende crater field, and close to it are; Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki national parks.
The Southern part of Kibale Forest joins Queen Elizabeth National Park and together these protected areas uphold over a 180km long wildlife migration corridor. This stretch extends from Ishasha- the remote southern section of Queen Elizabeth known for hosting the tree climbing Lions, to Sebitoli Forest in the northern part of this forest national park. The central and northern part of Kibale forest national park are dominated by tropical Forest vegetation on the raised Fort Portal plateau and savanna in the southern part on the Rift Valley floor.
Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip which stands 1,590m above sea level and the lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south.
Additionally, the wettest area of Kibale forest is the northern part receiving a mean annual rainfall of up to 1,700mm, mainly during March-May and September-November. The climate is generally pleasant with a mean annual temperature range of 14 to 270C. Temperatures are highest in the south where the terrain drops down to the hot rift valley floor and forest provides way to open grassland.
Flora in the park
Kibale national park’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau and semi-deciduous dry tropical forest, to woodland and savanna on the Rift Valley floor. Kibale forest’s biodiversity makes it one of Africa’s notable research sites.
The park has over 350 recorded tree species most of which are tropical rising to 55 meters high and exhibiting a semi-closed canopy of stratified tree crowns. Among that number of tree species recorded in Kibale national park are; Ptyregota, Funtumia, Entandrophragma, Piptadeniastrum Africana, Gate trees and the “Naked Adam tree”.
Fauna in Kibale Forest
Kibale Forest national park is known for its density of Primates with 13 recorded species. It is mostly known for its resident Chimpanzees with a population of more than 1,500 individuals representing the country’s highest density of these endangered creatures. Other primates present in the park include; the rare L’Hoest Monkey, the Red Colobus Monkey; a threatened species with Kibale Forest having East Africa’s largest population, the Black and White Colobus, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkey, Potto, Bush Baby, Vervet Monkey and Olive Baboons among others, this therefore makes it a premier Primate tracking safari site and destination.
The national park shelters variety of birds with over 372 species including the endemic Prigogine’s Ground Thrush and six that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region namely; Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple Breasted Sunbird and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.
Other specials in the park include; the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Black Bee-eater, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow Rumped Tinker Bird, Little Greenbul, Black-eared Ground Thrush, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground-thrush, and the Crowned Eagle. The park is a great birdwatching Uganda safari site especially for seeing the forest species.
Mammals are also represented including the; elusive forest Elephant, Buffalo, Giant Forest Hog, half a dozen Antelopes, Leopards, Hyenas, Hippopotamuses and Duikers among others, with other forest species like butterflies, reptiles and amphibians.
Close to Kibale Forest national park is Bigodi Wetland; a community based project managed by Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development [KAFRED] aimed at conservation of biodiversity and the development of its local community through ecotourism and other environmentally sustainable businesses.
The wetland is a wildlife corridor to the national park, sheltering over 8 species of Primates such as the; L’Hoest, Olive Baboons, Red-tailed Monkey, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, and Blue Monkey among other and over 200 species of birds including the Great Blue and Ross’ Turacos, Kingfishers, Cranes, Parrots and variety of swamp endemics. On its list are the mammals comprising of the Otters, Bushbucks and swamp dwelling Sitatungas.
Accessibility to the park
From Kampala city, Kibale forest national park can be accessed through two main routes by road. The first route to Fort Portal via Mubende is about 5hours to the park and visitors who use this route have chance to tour Fort Portal town (the country’s tourism city). The second and longer route runs through Masaka, Mbarara and Kamwenge to the park, taking about 6 hours; this route rewards visitors with stops at the Equator-00.
Alternatively; the journey to the park can be cut short by use of domestic flight chartered from Kajjansi Airstrip. The park has access to two airstrips; Nyakisharara Airstrip in Mbarara which is about 2hours through Kamwenge to Kanyanchu park headquarters and Kasese airstrips.
Things to do in Kibale Forest National Park
- Chimpanzee tracking
- Day and night nature walks
- Other primate tracking
- Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX)
Safaris to visit Kibale
3 Days Chimpanzee tracking
3 Days Chimpanzee Habituation Safari
8 Days Chimps, Gorillas & Game viewing
9 Days Birding & Primate tracking
11 Days Pearl of Africa Birding Glamour
12 Days Uganda Primates, Game & Adventure