Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. The park is located at kabarole district just 320 square kilometers on the western part of Uganda. Kibale Forest is interspersed with patches of grassland, swamp and dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau of 1,590mabove sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley in the southern part of the park.
It’s approximately 326 kilometers by road west of Kampala, Uganda‘s capital city. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes Kibale is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests. In East Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest.
Kibale National Park covers an approximated area of 795 square kilometers and the park is one of Africa’s foremost research sites. While many researchers focus on the chimpanzees and other primates found in the park, others are investigating Kibale’s ecosystems, wild pigs and fish species, among other topics. The park is strategic place where Makerere field station for research is located.
Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor. The forest park is proud of 351 tree species that are recorded in the park; some of the trees rise to over 55m and are over 200 years old.
The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park. This adjoining of the parks creates a 180 km (111 mi) wildlife corridor. It is an important eco-tourism and safari destination, popular for its population of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It is also the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS).
The inhabitants of the park are majorly two tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga, inhabit the area around the park. The two tribes use the park as source of food and fuel as well as other natural resources with the help of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. In the last century, the population around the park increased by sevenfold. This was assumed to be so because the park directly brings in revenue for those living around it and the tourism industry creates jobs. In addition, many farmers believe that the soil is better for growing crops year round. This increase in the population has caused the area around the park to be divided and developed or turned into plantations and farmland. This fragmentation of the area outside the park has begun to affect the biodiversity inside the park.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the red colobus monkey (status: Endangered) and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey (Vulnerable). The park is also home to over 325 species of birds, 4 wild fellids, 13 species of primates, a total of at least 60 other species of mammals, and over 250 tree species. The predominant ecosystem in Kibale is moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest. Much of the forest was logged during its time as a Forest Reserve, and some exotic species of trees were planted in plantations (pines and eucalyptus). Since the national park was gazetted many of these introduced trees have been removed and logging has ended.

Tourist’s attractions

chimpanzee trekking

Primates
Kibale National Park Uganda is the only park in Africa with the highest diversity and density of primates. The most famous of its 13 species is the chimpanzee, our closest relative. Kibale’s protected area houses an approximated area of 1450 chimpanzees. This represents Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. The forest is also home to East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. Other primates include the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto.
Other Wildlife
At least 70 mammal species are present in the park though ground-dwelling animals are difficult to see in dense forest. Forest elephants are present, along with buffalos, leopards, warthogs, bush pigs, golden cats and duikers. A keen observer may spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colorful variety of 250 species of butterflies.
Birdlife
The Park boasts more than 375 species of birds. Kibale specials include the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Afep Pigeon, White-naped Pigeon, Crowned Eagle, Red-chested Owlet, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Grey Parrot, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis, Brown Illadopsis, Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Yellow Spotted Nicator, Little Green Bul, and Black-eared Ground Thrush.

Areas of Interest outside the Park

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Rich in biodiversity and beautiful scenery, the wetland is a birder’s paradise with about 138 species. Located outside the park in Magombe Swamp it also hosts eight species of primates including the black-and-white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed, L’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, and olive baboons. Bushbucks and mongooses can also be found here. The sanctuary was set up to preserve the exclusive environmental features along with the wetland and is managed by the local community.

Kihingami Wetland
Located near Sebitoli in northern Kibale, this community-run project offers excellent bird watching and visits to the local tea estates and factory. Nature walks will bring visitors up close to primates such as the black-and-white colobus, red colobus and red-tailed monkeys. Other animals like otters, mongooses and bushbucks can be observed in the wetlands.

Tourists Activities
kibalemulti

Birding in Kibale
Bird watching tours start at 7am at Kanyanchu and visitors are advised to book in advance. Rare species include the Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler, White-collared Oliveback and Papyrus Canary. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, located just outside the park, is home to 138 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms. These could include the White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, White-breasted Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill among others.
Chimpanzee Tracking and Habituation in Kibale
Kibale’s most popular activity is the Kanyanchu Primate Walk. Thirteen species can be sought, and a good variety of diurnal monkeys invariably encountered, but the stars of this trail are the chimpanzees. Kanyanchu’s chimps have been tracked since 1993 and the chances of locating them are excellent. Guided walks start at 8am and 2pm and last an average of three hours, depending on various factors.
The full-day Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) works with a chimp community which is undergoing habituation. Early visitors can watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7pm.

Cultural Encounters in Kibale

Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development (KAFRED)
KAFRED is a community-based organization which promotes local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation through ecotourism. During the nature walk, a local guide will take visitors along the boardwalk through the Magombe swamp wetlands. Tourists are likely to see wildlife at close-hand, including several of the 200 species of birds, eight varieties of primates and numerous butterflies, along with unusual swamp vegetation.
The daily life of the Batooro can be discovered during the village walks. The tour stops by the village’s primary school, church, and traditional healer. During the cultural encounter one can learn about the role of women in the village and traditional ceremonies, and the history of Bigodi is told through the story of the “Village of Two Tribes”, describing when the indigenous Batooro were joined by migrating Bakiga from southwestern Uganda in the 1950s.
Income from this activity is invested in education, health, sanitation and improving the livelihood of local residents. It is also used to help raise awareness of the value of biodiversity through music, dance, and drama performances at local schools. In 2010, KAFRED they won the prestigious UNDP’s Equator Initiative Award and it has also won Silver at the Africa Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 held in South Africa.
Night Nature Walks
When chimpanzees and other forest residents rest up at dusk, a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active. Night walks though the darkened forest use powerful torches to seek nocturnal creatures such as the potto, bushbaby, nightjar, cricket and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 7.30pm and last between one and a half and two hours.

Accommodation at Kibale National Park

Primate Lodge –Luxury
Primate Lodge
Primate Lodge Kibale is a fashionable Eco-lodge located within Kibale National park. It’s enclosed by a flourishing tropical forest that is a habitat to many different species of primates for instance the chimpanzees. It’s secretly sheltered in the rainforest, it’s one of the lodges that give a really dependable jungle familiarity and it’s the most favorable place for tracking the primates in Uganda. Primate lodge Kibale has accommodation for all visitors ranging from luxury, cottages as well as tents. This lodge gives a chance to take your time in the morning and first have breakfast and later on plan for the day and how you are going to track the chimpanzees without much trouble.
The lodge has about 8 lavish safari tents, wooden platform with a thatched roof that tends to match well with the environment. The verandahs on each tent offer a beautiful view of the enclosed forest. The inside of the lodge is designed with an African style with beautiful beds. The bathrooms and toilets have a natural touch of the environment made out of local stones, wall paintings as well as bamboo.
The lodge has about 7 friendly cottages are secretly located in the forest. The rooms are big with double beds, a sitting room with an African design and standard en suite bathrooms and toilets.
Sky Tree House Another exciting adventure is the sky tree house, it has a bedroom with other facilities that can enable you enjoy a nigh there. It’s suited at a 10 minutes’ walk from the major lodge. Giving you a perfect view of the Elephant lurch. At night, all elephants gather at this point.
The restaurant serves both international and local foods with hospital waitresses. Next to the restaurant is a fully stocked bar with a beautiful scenic view of the forest.
The lounge has well designed chairs; soft cushions along with sofas that will make you enjoy the red-tailed monkeys in the forest.
Cultural dancing at the fire place. The evenings are usually enjoyed around the camp fire to give you all the warmth you need. Late in the night, you will experience the great sounds of the forest as well as the winding forest elephants.

Nyinabulitwa Country Resort

The resort is located just about 20 Kilometers off Fort Portal in the western part of Uganda. The resort surrounds Kibale Forest National Park acknowledged to be the most gorgeous tropical rainforest in the country with eye-catching birds and insects. It has different species of primates with about 1400 population of Chimpanzees.
The resort has well designed accommodation with self-contained cottages that put up both double and single beds with high quality services.
The Restaurant serves both international and local cuisines and some of the food is got from the garden and is prepared to the visitors.
The resort has a craft shop with all African items managed by the community women group. Get for yourself something that will always remind you of Uganda as a great country.
The Resort is located in Surroundings of Kibale forest which is habitant to many animals such as buffaloes, bush pigs, elephants, duikers and many reptiles. The resorts have tour guides that will lead visitors through the forest. The tree house will give one a perfect view for seeing birds and monkeys. A forest walk will give you a chance to get closer to some primates and birds. The lake offers many activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing as well as Kayaking. Mountain biking and hiking are also great games.
The resort has a craft shop with all African items managed by the community women group. Get for yourself something that will always remind you of Uganda as a great country.

Kyaninga Lodge

Kyaninga Lodge is located just mere 15 minutes’ drive outside Fort Portal town. Perched on top of a hill overlooking a stunning blue crater lake, the lodge enjoys spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, set against a magnificent backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains in the distance. The lodge accommodates twenty guests in eight raised log cabins.
The rooms have got space more than enough and if that piece of earth is not enough one can spend his or her afternoon with a tennis match on grass ground.
This lodge consists of a series of lofty thatch cottages, each gracefully perched on stilts, marching up a steep hilltop, and culminating in a double-story log structure with Reception, Bar/Sitting Room, and a Dining Hall, complete with a loft for those wanting to dine apart from the crowd. The cottages are interconnected with a glorious Escher-like cascade of suspended wooden stairways and bridges, and overlook a stunning landscape of fields and forests on one side, a spectacular crater-lake and mountains on the other. The interiors are tastefully finished in wood and thatch, with custom-designed wooden furniture. The level of service is exceptional, and the food served at the lodge is excellent. The environmentally-friendly banana-leaf wrappings to packed lunches are an experience. Facilities Swimming Pool, Tennis, Badminton, Croquet, Bar/Lounge, and International Chef
Kibale Forest Camp-
Kibale Forest Camp is situated in a patch of indigenous forest, just outside Kibale Forest National Park. It borders Bigodi swamp and is located on a mere 4 km from the starting point for chimpanzee tracking. The camp is a renowned birding paradise, not only frequented by our human visitors, but also by the black and white colobus, the red colobus, the red tailed monkey, the bleu monkey and the grey cheeked mangabey.
The complex is a beautiful wooden construction with a grass thatched roof which blends perfectly in the forest surroundings. The open construction permits our visitors to fully enjoy the beauty of this magical place.
Due to the remote location of the camp they work with set menus: delicious 2 course lunches and fine 4 course dinners. If you have any dietary requirements or allergies, it is wise to inform them at your earliest convenience.
The camp consists of 7 African safari style tents, which are comfortably furnished with twin or double beds. Each tent has its own private ensuite bathroom with an eco-friendly toilet, a dressing room and a bush shower.
The tents are placed in thick forest, are on raised wooden platforms and have their own verandah from where the forest and all its secrets can be observed.