Kibale Forest National Park
PARK AT A GLANCE
Kibale Forest National Park is the most magniﬁcent of Uganda’s tropical rain forests and one of the most rewarding areas to explore. Established at the end of the 18th Century, Kibale boasts of 13 species of primates including the localized Red Colobus and L’Hoest monkeys.
Kibale’s major attraction is the chimpanzee, the delightful ape most closely related to humans than to any other living creature. While you enjoy your tour in this sunny side of nature, you have a life opportunity to sight over 300 bird species including the endemic Prigogine’s ground thrush (Zoothera kibalensis). It is also habits mammals like the elusive forest elephant, buﬀalo, giant forest hog and half a dozen antelope species; thereby making it one of the most stunning parks in Uganda.
Situated ideally in the heart of the Tooro Kingdom in western Uganda, near Fort portal, the park lies close to the tranquil Ndali- Kasenda crater area and is within a half days’ drive of Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks. The park became a government Forest Reserve in the early 1940s.
THE LOCAL PEOPLE
The people living around the park today are mainly Batooro (the indigenous people) and the Bakiga (immigrants) from the densely-populated southwestern part of Uganda. The Batooro take pride in the cultural heritage of their kingdom, a scion of the ancient kingdoms of Africa’s Great Lakes region. The Omukama (The Tooro King) and the Kingdom, embody the traditional and cultural values of Batooro while the Bakiga immigrants still maintain their tradition and culture as expressed in the folklore, dance and language.
The 795 sq km park can be accessed from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, along a newly surfaced road via Kasese (near Queen Elizabeth National Park). The park can also be reached from Kampala via Mubende and Fort Portal or through Mbarara and Kamwenge. There is daily public transport between Kampala and Fort portal by bus.
Kibale Forrest National Park has access to two Airstrips; Nyakisharara Airstrip in Mbarara (about 98km through Kamwenge to Kanyancu) and Kasese air strip, 75km from Fort Portal town. It can also be reached from the airstrip in Tooro/Semliki Wildlife Reserve, only 86 km from Kanyancu.
The climate is generally pleasant with a mean annual temperature range of 14-27oc. Temperatures are highest in the south where the terrain drops down to the hot rift valley ﬂoor and forest gives way to open grassland. Kibale’s highest altitude is at the Park’s northern tip at 1,590m above sea level. This is also the wettest area, receiving a mean annual rainfall of up to 1,700 mm mostly during March-May and September-November.
WHEN TO VISIT
The park can be visited any time of the year.
The Park provides a choice of accommodation including up-market lodges, stone and wood cottages, elevated bandas, tree house and an up market tented camp at Kanyancu and around the park. There is also UWA budget to moderate accommodation at Sebitoli Accommodation can also be found in Fort-Portal town. See some of the accommodation units in our Kibale Forest accommodation unit section.
There is a variety of tropical tree species in the park, some of which grow up to over 55 meters high and exhibiting a semi-closed canopy of stratiﬁed tree crowns. Three hundred and ﬁfty one tree species have been recorded in the park among which are Ptyregota, Funtumia, Entandrophragma, Piptadeniastrum Africana, Gate trees and the ‘Naked Adam tree’.
Kibale boasts of the highest diversity and density of primates in Africa. The most famous of its 13 species is man’s closest relative – the Chimpanzee. Kibale’s 1,450 chimpanzee populations represent Uganda’s largest of this endangered species. Kibale is also home to the rare L’Hoest monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey, the black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red railed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto.
The park also boasts of over 372 species of birds, including 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 ‘Kibale Specials’ include the African Pitta, Green- breasted Pitta, Black bee –Eater, Yellow- spotted Nicator, Yellow rumped Tinker Bird, Little green Bul, Black –eared Ground Thrush, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue –breasted Kingﬁsher, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush and the Crowned Eagle.
The park inhabits a variety of savanna wild mammals such as the elusive Forest Elephants, Forest Buﬀaloes, Antelopes, Leopards, Hyenas, Hippos, Bush pigs and Duikers. But there’s more; butterﬂies such as Swallow tails, Charaxes and Nymphalidae. Reptiles and Amphibians are also among the many attractions.
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience:
The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) allows you to accompany Kibale’s researchers and habituators as they follow chimpanzees during their daily activity, thereby getting them used to human presence without altering their natural behavior. This is an all day and early visitors may be able to see the spectacular scene of chimps de-nesting, feeding, copulating, hunting, breast feeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until they build new nests and retire for the night around 7.00 pm. (Note: Advance booking is essential)
Primate Walk (Chimpanzee tracking):
Also you can experience and participate in the chimpanzee tracking walks which starts from the Kanyancu Visitor Centre at 08:00 am and 02: 00pm and lasts 2-3 hours. Park guides are readily available to take tourists through this ritual. This walk is for six persons per group and advance booking is essential.
Day Hikes/Nature Walks:
This is an exploration of the park’s diverse habitats providing very close contact with nature. The walks begin at 08:00 am, 10:00 am and 2.00 pm from Kanyancu Tourist Centre and take about 2 – 3 hours. Remind your guide to show you the naked Adam and Eve tree, one of Kibale’s unique wonders.
Bird Watching & Night Nature Walk:
Kibale National Park boasts of 372 bird species of which 60 percent are recorded Uganda’s Forest Birds. Bird watchers can spot various species of these birds as they enjoy the various activities in the park. Also there is night nature walk which allows visitors to track the unique species of birds, animals and insects such as Bat, Owl, Pottos, bush babies, Civets, genet cats and Eastern needle nailed; that are most active at night.
Only children above 15 years are allowed to go into the forest to view the chimps. Kibale has a variety of activities for children less than 15 years including educational forest walks of 1-2 hours followed by creative activities like pond dipping, cyanotype photography and batik- making. Through these educational forest walks, the children can learn about the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Parents can enjoy their forest walk with the knowledge that their children are occupied in worthwhile activity with trained ranger guides.
ACCOMMODATION UNITS IN KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
Primate Lodge is tucked deep in the forest Jungle and right next door to the starting point for Chimpanzee Tracking as well as the incredible Chimpanzee Habituation Experience; – arguably, two of the most genuinely breath-taking wildlife experiences. The weather is cool; the rooms are nice and well furnished in great surroundings of the forest, great lounges and free Wi-fi.
Guest accommodation comprises 16 rooms in different categories i.e. 9 Luxury Cottages and 7 Standard Cottages. Other lodge amenities include a spacious dining terrace, a well-stocked bar, a secluded lounge area with a small library, complimentary room service, an evening camp fire, laundry service (at a small fee) as well as free WiFi in the public areas.
CRATER SAFARI LODGE
Set on the banks of the Nyinabulitwa Crater Lake, Crater Safari Lodge is set on the hill overlooking the Crater Lake and blends perfectly with its surrounding landscape. The views from the lodge are breathtaking, and the 21 rooms (deluxe chalets or standard cabanas) either have a full or partial view of the Crater Lake below. The main area houses the restaurant, intimate bar area and lounge.
The Lodge has 11 thatched stand-alone wooden cabins and 10 standard pool facing cabanas. 5 Deluxe chalets are crater facing (2 twins, 3 doubles – one of which is the honeymoon suite), 6 Deluxe chalets are in the gardens with a partial crater. Family chalet has inter-leading rooms with 2 double beds and 4 single beds in total. Rooms have: mosquito nets, wardrobe, clothes rack, shower, bathrobe, free toiletries, toilet, bathroom, bath or shower, outdoor furniture, outdoor dining area, towels, linen, and bedside tables with lamps, Plug points in rooms (Type G, 3 prong square plugs) and Wake-up service.
Other services at Crater Safari Lodge include: WiFi in main area (slow) , Tea and coffee station in the main area , bar and restaurant, Hairdryer facility in main area, Solar powered, eco-friendly lodge, Laundry service on site, Babysitting services available (extra cost) swimming pool and camp fire.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Kyaninga and the Rwenzori Mountains beyond, Kyaninga Lodge’s nine cottages offer you privacy and tranquility. Each spacious cottage comes with a choice of twin or double beds, an indoor seating area leads out to a private deck where you can enjoy morning tea or coffee with views over the lake and the Rwenzori Mountains. The en-suite bathrooms boast marble countertop basins set atop crafted Elgon olive pedestals, claw footed freestanding baths, and glass-walled showers. With modern solar power, you will always have hot water and electrical charging points.
Ndali Lodge is set along the rim of a crater lake with stunning views. The lodge has large cottages with two queen beds, chairs, storage area and bathroom.
The Lodge franked with 8 cottages can accommodate 16 guests sharing. The cottages have panoramic views and are built of local stone and thatch and are ensuite. There is a main thatched lodge with spacious sitting room, reception area and dining room.
KIBALE FOREST CAMP
Kibale Forest Camp consists of 10 African safari style tents, comfortably furnished with twin or double beds. Each unit has its own private ensuite bathroom with a flush toilet, a dressing room and a hot water shower. Seated from your own verandah, the red or black and white colobus monkeys can often be observed in the dense camp surrounding.
Kibale Forest Camp also offers a budget friendly accommodation in the form of 7 non-self-contained tents. These are furnished with comfortable beds, a bedside table and a power outlet for charging your electrical equipment. All tents are placed under a grass thatched roof. The tents share a communal ablution block with showers and flushing toilets. No need to worry about linen as all bedding and towels are provided
CHIMPANZEE FOREST GUEST HOUSE
Chimpanzee Forest Guest House offers accommodation in beautifully furnished self-contained cottages (Bandas) with a panoramic view of Kibale Forest National Park and the surrounding Tea plantations. The Guest house also offers accommodation in a large ancient colonial house, which was formerly a home to the British commissioner in the 1950’s .It is well furnished with two self-contained rooms in a colonial setting with beautiful views of Kibale Forest National Park, Tea plantation and the crater lake.
Enjoy hot showers in western style bathrooms or camp on a flat grassy site separated away from the main guest house and cottages with shade and seclusion.
CHIMPS NEST LODGE
Chimps nest is located within the environs of Kibale Forest National Park where Chimpanzee tracking takes Place with stunning views of the Rwenzori Mountain.
Accommodation is arranged in Cottages, family cottages and tree house, all located away from the main lodge to ensure privacy. The wooden accommodation is en-suite with hot and cold running water.
KIBALE SAFARI LODGE
Kibale Safari Lodge offers accommodation in 2 rooms on the main building and 5 luxury cottages. Set in Kanyanchu on the way to Bigodi Village, Kibale Forest Lodge has ensuite facilities and meals include Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, tea and Coffee.
LAKE NKURUBA NATURE RESERVE & COMMUNITY CAMPSITE
This is a project that is non profit and supports the community, conserves nature and improves livelihoods of the local community. Camping facilities include shared bathroom facilities with flushing toilets and hot showers. Camping chairs are available and camp fire lit at night.
Other accommodation is in cottages and bandas.