Kibale National Park

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 twice-daily show are chimpanzees.

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 perennially popular primate walk provides the chance to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Kanyanchu’s groups are accustomed to human presence – some have been observed for over 25 years – and the chance of locating them is over 90%. Walks leave Kanyanchu Visitor Centre at 08.00, 11.00 and 14.00 and last between 2-5 hours. 

Early arrival to allow for registration and briefing is recommended. Contact time with chimpanzees is limited to one hour; group size is limited to six visitors; participants must be aged 16 or over. Advance booking is essential.

This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 370 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.The Nahan’s francolin, cassin’s spinetail, blue headed bee-eater and low-land masked apalis.

Most prominent among Kibale’s primates  is the chimpanzee population surge of about 1,500 individuals, divided into atleast a dozen different communities, four of which are habituated to humans.The Kanyantale community has been subject to daily tourist tracking since 1993.

Frequently Asked Questions

Kibale National park is in East Africa in the western part of Uganda. Kibale is a most divine tropical forest and habitat to one of the biggest numbers of Primates in Uganda. Most parts of the park is forest cover, especially in the North and central parts close to Fort Portal plateau.

The park lies at an altitude of 1590 m above sea level. The varied altitude of the Kibale forest provided comfortable habitats for different wild animals like primates, forest elephants, duikers, giant forest hogs, a rich bird life, and warthogs to mention but a few. The forest is made up of wet tropical forest on Fort portal plateau to dry tropical forest to woodland and savannah close to the rift valley floor.

Kibale National Park receives varying rain fall especially the northern sector with about 1700mm. The park’s wettest months are March to May and November. Kibale National Park lies in the view goldmine of Ndali to Kasenda. Some of the outstanding views include Kyaninga Lake view.

Chimpanzee trekking

Chimpanzee trekking is the main activity in Kibale National Park. Two shifts are available that is morning and afternoon chimpanzees trekking shifts. You follow the chimpanzees with the ranger guide but the chimpanzees may get to see you before you find them. They operate a spy network that warns the rest of the group of your presence.

 The Chimpanzee habituation is also available where you follow the partially wild chimpanzees in the forest and familiarize them to human presence. This is done especially in the shoulder seasons that is March to May or November when there less tourist visits. With researchers, you rise up early morning ( 0500 hrs to 0630 hrs) to watch the chimpanzees de-nesting. Follow them till nesting time in late evening.

A number of other primates also spend the day in the forest like red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, bush babies, L’Hoest’s, and others. A visit to Bigodi swamp gives you chance to enjoy more of these incredible primates

Other Activities To Do In Kibale National park

Birding in Kibale National park

This tropical rainforest is home to a rich birdlife including some Albertine endemics. It rich habitats like the swampy vegetation give safe haven to water birds like the shoe bill.  The best forest birding is along the main road from Kanyanchu Visitor Center to the bridge.

Some of the birds you may identify in Kibale National Park include, Scaly Francolin, Grey-headed olive-back, Black-crowned Waxbills, Black, and White Mannikin

Community Walks

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary walk

This is a community-based walk situated on the outskirts of the park in Magombe Swamp. During this walk, you have higher chance to identify primates like black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, and others

A number of other forest wild animals also enjoy this swamp like bush bucks, otters, mongoose and sitatunga.

An awesome number of birds about 138 species spend the day in the forest. These can be seen at the view platform and the boardwalk trail.

Kihingani Wetland Walk

You go through the Kihingani wetland on the fringes of the Kibale National Park Sebitoli sector. You get to identify a number of birds that linger the Swamp all day.

Children’s Activities in Kibale National Park

Traveling with family including children below 12 years yields a lot of questions about whether they will be included in the forest experiences. Although the age limit for chimpanzee trekking is 12 years and above, children below this have activities to do while in the park too.

With their special ranger guide, the children take an educational walk for about 1 hour to 2 hours learning about birds, plants, small creatures that are less harmful, and monkeys. They get a personal insight into the ecosystem and its inhabitants.

They do some engaging games like pond dipping, cyanotype, photography, and batik making. As you go chimpanzee trekking, your rest assured that the children are catered for.

What Accommodation To Book In Kibale National Park

Overnight in Kibale National Park or outside Kibale National park is amazing as you feel the effect of the forest cool breeze. A number of accommodation facilities ranging from Luxury to Moderate to Modest are available.

Some accommodations in Kibale National Park Include

Primates Lodge, Ndali Lodge, Kibale Safari Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, chimps Nest, Chimps guest house, Mountains of the moon hotel, Virika guest house

Most of these facilities offer full board services and those that do not run restaurant services too.

By road

Two routes can be used to access Kibale National Park from Kampala city.

Kampala to Mubende to Fort Portal

This is the northern route to Kibale National Park. It takes about 4 hours to drive on 300km of tarmac Fort Portal town then drive through 36m of murram to arrive Kanyanchu. You may opt to overnight in Fort Portal and trek chimpanzees in Kibale National Park.

Kampala to Mbarara to Kamwenge

This route goes passed Queen Elizabeth National Park then to Sebitori forest camp the other tourist center for Kibale National Park.

By Air

Daily domestic schedules flights depart from Entebbe or Kajjansi Airstrip to Kasese airstrip then one needs a transfer vehicle to Kibale National Park. These operate morning and afternoon daily flights.

Charter flight arrangements are available upon request.

A pair of binoculars to give you a clearer picture of the chimpanzees especially during the severe rainy season when they feed from up the trees.

Energy treats to keep you moving while searching to locate the chimpanzees

A camera with a good lens captures moments with the chimpanzees and forest inhabitants that come into view.

Long trousers and sleeved shirt with a dirt-friendly color like khaki, and army camouflage is forbidden to wear in Uganda so try not to pack them.

Insect repellant is comfortable on your skin that will protect you from insect bites. The jungle has stinging insects that roam the park all day long.

Tracking boots are comfortable enough to take you through the jungle without slipping or getting pricked by sharp objects.

Rainproof gadgets as this is a tropical rain forest that may receive rain even out of season.

Kibale National park being a chimpanzee tracking destination is best visited in the drier months that is June to September and December because the chimpanzees feed closer to the ground. Even in the wet month’s March to May or November, one can do chimpanzee trekking but expect some rain showers while searching.

Each Chimpanzees trekking permits cost foreign Non-residents $200 per person per trek, Foreign residents $150 and east African Residents Ugsh 100,000 in Kibale National park. These permits are issued by Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Each day two chimpanzee trekking shifts are conducted in Kibale National Park which is morning and afternoon shifts.

Only 6 people are allowed per group and depending on the conditions in the forest, chimpanzee trekking may take between 3 hours to 5 hours in the forest. You follow the trail where the chimpanzees were seen the previous day.

When you locate them, just one hour is allowed with the chimpanzees so that they can be left to continue feeding. They need to feed without any interference.

Kibale National Park being a forest park raises questions about its safety. Kibale is safe for all activities like chimpanzee trekking, birding nature walks, and more.

Before proceeding with any activities, tourists gather at the visitor center (Kanyanchu or Sebitori) for a briefing. This is to equip each body with information about the forest and its inhabitants like chimpanzees, forest elephants, duikers and so much more. Never enter the forest without a ranger.

It would be best if you stayed close to the rest of the group so that you are not lost in the forest. The ranger guide follows the pace of the slowest trekker but do not drag the entire crew.

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