Kibale forest national park is one of the top tourist destinations in Uganda, the park covers an area of 795 kilometers squared made of tropical forests with different tree species and stands on an elevation of 1,590 meters above sea level at its highest point and the lowest at the Albertine rift valley flow is 1,100 meters above sea level. Kibale forest national park was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1932 and later established as a national park in 1993, the park boasts with 351 species of trees with some rising over 55metres and 200 years old and it adjoins the famous queen Elizabeth national in a 180-kilometer wildlife corridor.
Kibale forest is one of Africa’s research sites, its home to 70 species of mammals and 13 species of primates including chimpanzees, 250 butterfly species and 375 species of birds recorded. The park is characterized with tropical rainforests, woodlands, swamps and savannah grasslands at the fort portal plateau. The park is also surrounded by over 30 craters you can explore and fish from. There are a lot of tourist activities to be done while at Kibale forest national park and some of this can be seen below:
Chimpanzees are human’s closest relatives sharing over 98% DNA with humans and the best place for meeting this great apes while in Uganda is none other than Kibale forest national park having the highest concentrations of primates in Africa. It’s said that Kibale forest national park harbors about 1,450 chimpanzees. Tourists who have infections will not be allowed to trek chimpanzees to avoid spreading diseases to the primates, trekking this great ape is easier than gorilla trekking as they can easily be found. Tourists take a period of strictly one hour with chimpanzees after finding them while trekking.
Chimpanzee habituation is the process of making chimpanzees get used to human presence, this involves joining researchers and rangers as they accompany chimpanzees in their daily activities making them get used to human presence so that tourists can often visit the group. The time for chimpanzee habituation is quite long than for trekking and more costly.
Kibale forest national park is home to over 375 species of birds, some of the birds that can be seen at the park are; grey headed olive back, white-bellied crested flycatcher, red-chested flufftail, grey throated flycatcher, abbysinian ground thrush, blue turaco, orange tufted sunbirds, red-winged francolin, joyful green bul, Africa pitta, black capped apalis, green breasted pitta, crowned eagle, blue-breasted kingfisher, yellow spotted nector, blacked eared ground thrush, Uganda woodland warbler, grey winged robin, masked capped apalis and white napped pigeon to mention a few.
The native Batooro and the immigrants Bakiga tribe leave around Kibale forest national park, the Batoroo people have a very fascinating history of their kingdom. You can visit the people and learn about their history and get entertained with local traditional dances and songs.
Nature guided walks
There are quite a number of trails established for nature walks and hiking that can take 2-6 days day in Kibale forest, the nature guided walks give you opportunities of watching wildlife, birds, butterflies, different tree types and so much more.
Chimpanzee trekking is the main activity carried at the park but there also other animals and other primates such as; bush pig, buffalos, bush bucks, duikers, forest elephants, Genets, Galagos, civets and sometimes if you’re lucky you will see elephants, primates like the L’Hoest monkeys, black and white Columbus monkeys, olive baboons, grey cheeked mangabey, vervet monkeys, pattass, bush babies, red tailed monkeys and blue monkeys among the rest.
Kibale forest national park is surrounded with many crater lakes and the most common Crater Lake activity is top of the world hike which takes you on a walk covering 3 crater lakes, tea plantations and villages. This takes about 3-4 hours of walking.
Nakayima witch’s tree
This can be your highlight when visiting Kibale forest national park, the traditional tree is along the way to Kibale national park acting as a worship site to the spirits of Nakayima the first wife of the kabaka Ndahura of the Bachwezi kingdom. The tree is often visited by locals paying homage to the queen with offerings of coins, animals and other items, Nakayima was believed to be a medium through which the king communicated to the community, she blessed barren women with children and was believed to have mystic powers are she was able to cure various diseases like chicken pox.
Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru caves
The name “Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru” is derived from a local word to mean “breasts of Nyina Mwiru” the caves were named so after the former king of Tooro kingdom who was called Bukuku cut off his daughters breasts Nyina Mwiruand threw her breasts inside the caves after being prophesized that his daughter would have a son who would overthrow him. The cave visit will be complete if you continue to hike the three craters around and hike for a picnic lunch on top of the hill.
Bigodi wetland sanctuary and Sebitoli forest camp
If you are traveling with children there’s no need to worry as you trek chimpanzees, there are children’s activities like batik making, pond dipping, and photography. The child-friendly rangers will take children through these activities and they will learn a lot of things in the forest.
Where to sleep
Accommodation at Kibale forest national park ranges from luxury, mid-range and budget. Where to sleep will depend on the visitors choice some of the lodges are; Isunga lodge, Chimpanzee forest guest house, Kibale view cottages, primate lodge, mountains of the moon hotel, Ndali tented camp, Mantana tented camp, crater lake safari lodge, Kibale forest camp and Kyaninga lodge among the rest.
How to get there
Kibale forest national park can be reached from Kampala via Fort portal road or Mubende road, the drive takes about 4 hours drive from Kampala the capital of Uganda.