With lush tropical rain forest and a fascinating diversity of animals, Kibale National Park is one of the most beautiful and stunning forests in Uganda.
Kibale Forest National park is situated in Western Uganda and covers an area of 795 square kilometers. Kibale because a Forest Reserve in 1932 and was gazzeted into a National park in 1993 and since then, it has offered shelter to over 13 primate species. However, the stars of the show are the Chimpanzees-our closest relatives that share at least 98.7% of their DNA with us which makes them closer to us than the gorillas.
The two major tribes living around the park are the Batooro and Bakiga. Traditionally, both tribes utilize the forest for food, fuel building materials and medicines. The park authorities allow the local people to have controlled and sustainable access to selected forest resources.
Things to See in Kibale Forest
The forest has one of the highest diversity and density of primates in Africa totaling 13 species including over 1500 chimpanzees, the rare L’ Hoest monkey, the threatened red colobus monkey, the black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, bush babies and pottos. Kibale’s major attraction, however are the chimps.
These delightful apes, more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. Visitors have a unique chance to take part in the chimpanzee habituation experience, which entails following up the chimps to get them used to human presence without necessarily altering their natural behavior.
Much as there are several places in Uganda where Chimpanzees can be tracked such as the Kyambura gorge, Budongo Forest, Kalinzu Forest reserve and Semliki Forest, Kibale Forest National Park offers more than 90% chances of sighting these exceptional primates. The probability of sighting and success rate of seeing chimps is very high because of the high population and concentration of Chimpanzees in this Forest National park than it is in other places. Then estimated number of these Primates in Kibale Forest National Park is 1500 chimpanzees which represent 10% of Uganda’s Chimpanzee population (that stands at 15,000 chimpanzees).
Besides the chimpanzees that are the stars of the show in Kibale Forest National Park, tourists to this park can also encounter Grey-Cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, Black and white Colobus monkeys, Blue monkeys, olive baboons, Pottos, mammals such as Leopards, Forest elephants, Golden cats, buffaloes, Sitatungas, blue and red duikers, giant forest hogs and over 375 bird species with the popular ones being the Grey-throated Flycatcher Abyssinian Ground-thrush, papyrus gonolek, Purple-headed Starling, Green-breasted Pitta, Purple-headed Starling and Yellow- ramped Tinker bird among others.
A network of shady forest trails provides much to delight botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species recorded including the endemic Prirogrine’s ground thrush.
The elusive forest elephant, smaller and hairier than its savannah counterpart, moves seasonally into the developed part of the park, while other terrestrial mammals include buffalo, giant forest hog and a half dozen antelope species.
Things to Do
Chimpanzee tracking and other guided forest walks, even night walks. Birders shouldn’t miss Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, a superb community development fringing the park. A field of beautiful crater lakes lies between Fort Portal and Kibale Forest.
This therefore implies that the popular activity within Kibale Forest National Park is the “Kanyanchu Primate walk”. With over thirteen primate species in this Park, what more would a primate lover look for? The chimpanzees of this park have been tracked from 1993 and the chances of sighting them gets better and interesting each day.
On offer are educational walks that last 1-2 hours followed by creative activities. This especially caters for children under 12 years of age that are not allowed to view the chimps. This enables clients to enjoy their chimpanzee experience or nature walk whilst their children are supervised, educated and entertained by experienced guides.
The children access the forest and learn about the ecosystem and its habitants through interesting walks, games and creative activities such as pond-dipping, paper making, cyanotype, photography and batik making.
Guided Nature Walks
Guided nature walks at Kanyanchu Visitor Center begin at 8am for the morning session and 2pm for the afternoon session and take an average of three (3) hours. (Depending on factors such as location of the chimpanzees, the weather and the season). Just like Mountain gorilla trekking, only 8 persons are allowed to visit a particular troop per session hence 32 persons are allowed into the park for chimpanzee tracking each particular day. This is done to reduce the risk of spreading human diseases like flue and cough to the Chimpanzees.
In conclusion, Kibale Forest National park is a primate capital of the world with over 13 primate species and the popular ones being over 1500 Chimpanzees (10% of Uganda’s total Chimpanzee population). This destination is the best for a chimpanzee safari because it offers over 90% chances of sighting these creatures like no other place in Uganda.