Kibale National Park
Kibale National park is also known as the capital of primates and is a park in western Uganda in Kibale district which habors the special Chimpanzee species. The park that was established in 1993 in a bid to protect its famous tropical rain forest which is a habitat to some of the world’s endangered primates including the precious chimpanzees.
Kibale National Park covers an area of 795 sq-km and has one of the most varied tropical forests with a variety of trees about 351 tree species, some as old as 200 years that rise up to 55m. This primate’s natural habitat comprises of the wet tropical forest, savannah in the rift valley and woodland vegetation.
The park is called the capital of primates because it has a diversity of primates living in the park especially chimpanzees. It is believed the park has the widest variety of primates in the entire continent of Africa. The park has 13 species of the endangered chimpanzees and other species that include the red colobus monkey, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, I’Hoest’s monkey, black colobus, white colobus, olive baboon, and the red tailed monkey.
The park is also home to other wildlife that includes other mammals’ wild pig, buffalo, leopard, duiker, the bush pig elephants, etc.
It also has over 300 bird species that include the purple-breasted sunbird, black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, red-faced woodland warbler, dusky crimson wing, etc
The park’s south border with Queen Elizabeth national park is a wildlife migration corridor of about 180 km stretching from Sebitoli in Kibale to Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth.
The park is about 5 – 6 hours from Kampala through Fort portal town along the Mpanga river bridge.
Activities in Kibale National Park
Activities in the park include but are not limited to:-
Chimpanzee trekking and habituation: Chimpanzees are the main attractions in the park with tourists trekking daily to see these endangered species and some engaging in the primate habituation activities. Chimpanzee trekking activities are done daily at a cost of 150 USD for a Chimpanzee trekking permit. The permit has to be booked in advance though for one to get a slot in the 8 people group that will be trekking on a particular day.
The Chimpanzee trekking activities take between 4- 6 hours and you spend an hour with the chimpanzees.
Habituation though is on prior arrangements with the park and this gives you an opportunity to follow habitautors and wildlife scholars as they track chimpanzees and acquaint them with humans
Primate trekking: Though tourists mainly go to Kibale for chimpanzee trekking, there are also other primates in the park that can be viewed on different treks. Other primates include red colobus monkey, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, I’Hoest’s monkey, black colobus, white colobus, olive baboon, and the red tailed monkey.
You sight some of these primates on your chimpanzee trekking experience or you can choose to have another trek to see these other primates; this will attract an extra fee.
Wildlife viewing: The park has a couple of wildlife species that can also be viewed of your chimpanzee trekking experience or on an extra wildlife viewing activity which is at an extra fee. The wildlife you expect to see include elephants, leopards, buffalos, duikers, bush pigs, etc.
Forest hiking: Forest hiking in the tropical forest in Kibale is one of the most thrilling activities though hiking is limited to the dry months because the trails are drier and easier to hike. During the wet seasons, the trails are soggy and you can easily get hiking accidents. The hiking activities include a 2 – 6 day trail through the forest to all the flora variety.
Nature Walk and Birding: The park is home to a range of birdlife and you can watch most of these birds on a nature walk in Bigodi wetland sanctuary and Sebitoli Forest Camp. This part of the park has scenic craters and is a habitat to these various bird species; hence giving you a perfect chance to enjoy beautiful sceneries and watch birds.
Amabere ga nyinamwiru: Out of the park just a few kilometers you can visit caves known as Amabere ga nyinamwiru, where you will appreciate the natural wonders of the earth’s crust. The cave viewing is normally optional but if you choose to do it you add a lot of flavor to your safari.
Children activities: The park also offers amazing activities for the children, especially those that are 15 years and cannot go trekking. The activities include exploring the more friendly trails of the forest with a ranger and the children viewing a few monkeys, mammals and butterflies. The children also engage in a bushcraft activity where they get to make different crafts from bush materials.
Kibale National Park is open all year round for any of the above activities though the wet seasons are quite tricky because of soggy trails.