Kibale National Park is a national park in southern Uganda, protecting moist evergreen rain forest. It is 766 square kilometres (296 sq mi) in size and is located between 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) to 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) in elevation. 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 eastern Africa, it sustains the last significant expanse of pre-montane forest.
Kibale is an extensive National Park, protecting a large block of rainforest that offers some excellent forest for bird watching. It harbours the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa. Superb birds and primates combined with easy access, a good infrastructure and a variety of interesting activities make this forest a worthwhile Uganda safaris destination. Many of the facilities are community based, thus providing the local community with the necessary revenue to keep their interest focused on the long-term protection of the area.
The area is mainly occupied by two tribes ie Batooro and Bakiga traditionally both tribes utilised the forest for food, fuel, building materials and medicines.
Key Species of Birds
Red-winged Francolin, Red-chested Flufftail, White-naped Pigeon, Green-brested Pitta, African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, Grey-winged Robin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher, White-bellied Crested Flycather, Masked and Black-capped Apalises, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling, Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Grey-headed Olive-back.
kibale has a well-established Chimpanzee-tracking program with a high success rate. Other primates that may be found on these guided walks include Guereza Colobus, Olive Baboon, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Gentle ( Blue) and Red-tailed Monkeys is more likely to be found in open areas adjacent to the forest. You may find evidence of Elephant, Bush Pig and Bufallo along the trails, whilst Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Peter’s Duickers are other shy inhabitants of the forest interior. 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.Other interesting mammals from the list of over 60 species include Ichneumon, Banded and Marsh Mongooses, Alexander’s Cusimanse, Swamp Otter, Ratel ( Honey Badger ) and African Palm Civet. Although Golden Cat, Serval, Lion, Leopard, Warthog, Giant Hog and Hippopotamus are recorded from the park, they are unlikely to be encountered in the Kanyanchu area. Sitatungas are known from Bigodi Swamp but are infrequently seen. The spectacular and beautiful Rhinoceros Viper is fairly common here but is, unfortunately, less often found alive than as a road-kill.
outdoor recreational activities that tourists engage in at the park.
- Hiking and nature walks.
Hiking and nature walks are some of the most rewarding activities done within and in places close to Kibale Forest National Park. You can take a hike following a trail that goes across the length of Kibale Park. There are various places you can go to for a day time-hike, it may be within the park or just close to the park but whichever you choose, you will have the best time.Hiking may be a half day activity especially during the hot seasons when the ground is not that slippery therefore hiking is easy. Hiking gives you the opportunity to see diverse habitats as you walk through the forest, you will find rivers, go through swamps and grassland. The most popular swampy area near Kibale is the Bigodi swamp.
- Explore bigodi wetlands sanctuary.
This is a must visit swamp located in tropical jungle and it is one place where you will find hundreds of beautiful natural wonders including primates like chimpanzees as they often wonder off from the forest to the swamp. Bigodi swamp is also identified as one of the best birding spots in this region because it has got lots of bird species including the famous large Blue Turaco. It is also one of the few places where you can find the Sitatunga which is a rare antelope.
There are also incredible plants and tree species for those that are interested in studying the vegetation. Bigodi wetland is one of the must visit places close to Kibale national park and this is because of its really amazing features and the fact it’s natural state. The wetland has remained uninterrupted by human activities because of the existing bigodi Community Project which benefits the surrounding communities therefore understand the value of conservation.
The bigodi swamp walk lasts about 3 hours and if you are interested in watching birds, this place is one spot you should not miss visiting because it has got a huge number of species. You might even be lucky and see the shoebill stork too.
- Visit the amabeere ganyina’mwiru caves.
These are really amazing caves which have a lot of natural wonder as well as cultural legends attached to them. There are quite close to Kibale Forest and it is one of the best additional activity to a trip to Kibale. The Amabeere caves are located just a short distance from the park and once you get there, you will learn all about the different of this cave but you will also get the scientific explanation of the existence of the milk-like substance oozing out of the rocks.
- Visiting the crater lakes.There are beautiful crater lakes near Kibale Forest for example, one right behind Kyaninga lodge. A hike to the crater lakes is often referred to a top of the World Hike, it lasts just about 3 hours but sometimes may take a little bit longer but it will be an amazing journey since it will be a guided walk and may be able to visit like crater lakes, you will go through villages, walk past tea-plantations and you will enjoy the beautiful view once you get to the top.
The guide will always be there to offer you all the explanation you will need for example might tell you about the different village life stories, tell you legends of those different crater lakes and all the information you may need to know about the tea as well as the vanilla plantations.
Sometimes however, crater lakes hikes may require not only a few hours like 3 but about half and sometimes a full-day.
- chimpanzee trekking.
Primate watching in Kibale is the most selling and mainly done activity done in Kibale national park thus the reason Chimpanzee trekking is one activity that no one can afford to miss during the visit to Kibale Forest. Chimpanzee trekking is done every day in groups of 8 people per group in the morning and in the evening which means, only 16 people get to tracking chimpanzees every day. You will be given an hour to sit in the jungle with these chimpanzees once you meet them and this is the time you have to watch them closely for example see how they relate with each other, care for their little ones, play around and also feed tracking.
There are some who wish to have more experience with these chimpanzees and an experience that lusts more than an hour is what we called the chimpanzee habituation experience. Here, you are required to be in the jungle before dusk so that you can watch the chimpanzees wake and walk along with them all through the day. This is your chance to participate in the process of chimpanzee habituation which means helping them get used to human presence.
This adventure ends in the evening right after they walk back to their hiding places to sleep. Kibale Forest is Eat Africa’s primate Capital therefore the best place for anyone to do Chimpanzees tracking and habituation from. There are however other places that chimpanzee trekking and habituation is done like in Budongo forest in Murchison falls national park.
You can expect more than the chimpanzees as there are other primates, so many birds, lots of butterflies, different trees and a huge population of mammals.
- Nocturnal forest walk.
The night forest walk takes place after dinner in Kibale Forest. You are guided by Uganda Wildlife Rangers equipped with spotlights to see the forest come alive at night.
You can see the creatures of the night such as Bush Babies, Pottos, at times Tree Pangolins and other nocturnal animals, including the birds that rule the night in the forest.
The walk is about 1 1/2 hours in length. The walk is optional in Safaris that take in Kibale Forest and is best taken during the night that you arrive in Kibale Forest.