Kibale national park


Kibale national park is located in western part of Uganda about 348km from the capital city Kampala and about 26km from fort portal city one of the most Uganda’s lovely places to explore. The park is located close to Serene Ndali Kasenda crater area and it takes a half day drive to queen Elizabeth national park, Rwenzori mountains national park and semliki national park and Toro-semliki wildlife reserve.

This largely forested park is 795km squared and is also best known for the number and variety of resident primates. Southern part of kibale borders queen Elizabeth national park. Kibale national park is one of the best safari destinations in Africa for chimpanzee trekking and has high diversity and number of primates in east Africa. Kibale national park is a home 13 species of primates including chimpanzees among others.

Kibale is a popular destination for birders with about 335 bird species, tree species, grassland and swamp species. These can be seen on the forest trails at Kanyanchu and Sebitoli tourism site and in the community-run Bigodi Wetland sanctuary on the edge of the park near Kanyanchu.

In this article, you will find the attractions, activities, when you should visit kibale national park, where can you stay in kibale national park and how can you get to kibale national park

Attractions in kibale national park

Wildlife in kibale national park

Kibale national park is a home 13 different species of primates and is the highest in Africa, the most popular of these are chimpanzees with over 1450 individuals making it the best destination to enjoy chimpanzee tracking tour. Kibale national park is also a home of uncommon L’Hoest’s monkeys, east African biggest population of endangered red colobus monkeys, black and white colobus, red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, olive baboons, grey cheeked mangabeys, bush babies, potto and many more others.

Apart from primates, there is a number of other wildlife in kibale national park however they are hardly seen seen including buffaloes, bush bigs, elephants and duikers if you’re a keen viewer you can also be able to spot some amphibians, reptiles and a variety of colourful butterflies.

Vegetation in kibale national park

Kibale’s varied vegetation offers different varieties of wildlife habitat, ranging from the moist evergreen forest (wet tropical forest), moist semi deciduous (dry tropical forest), woodland and savanna along the rift valley floor. Kibale national park consists of mixture of evergreen trees and deciduous with the evergreen species being dominant in central part of the park around Kanyanchu.

The vegetation establishes a semi-closed canopy of massive stratified tree crowns with shade tolerant herbs, a variety of ferns, shrubs, broad leaved forest grasses, the undergrowth is sparse and 351 tree species.

Birds in kibale national park

Kibale national park is a home of 325 different bird species, including 6 that are native to Albertine rift area like black-caped apalis, collared apalis, blue headed sunbird, dusky crimsonwing, purple-breasted sunbird and red-faced woodland warbler plus other kibale species that are African pitta, black bee eater, little greenbul, crowned eagle, yellow rumped tinker, green breasted pitta, Abyssinian ground thrush, blue-breasted kingfisher, yellow spotted nicator, black eared ground thrush, brown chested Aletha and among others.

The Bigodi nature walk offers the best bird watching opportunity in park as the swamp alone has approximately 138 bird species.

Bigodi wetland sanctuary

Bigodi wetland sanctuary is located in kibale national park 6km south of kanyanchu the main centre of the park opened to win an award from UNESCO, the name bigodi was derived from Rutoro word “kugodya” meaning walking in a sluggish tiredly way which came about when most people that travels this forested area reached the swamp and were seen to be so tired from the long journey.

Bigodi wetland sanctuary is one of the mist popular destinations in Uganda with 200 species of birds which brings a great site of bird watching. Birds like great blue turaco, papyrus Gonolek, kingfishers, cuckoos, weavers, hornbills, waxbills and more others.

Bigodi wetland sanctuary also has a variety of mammal species and primates which include semi-aquatic sitatunga Antelopes, Bush Bucks, bush pigs, mangooses, and otters, primates bigodi sanctuary wetland are red colobus, blue monkeys, black and white colobus, vervet monkeys, baboons, Gray cheeked mangabey, L’Hoest monkeys and sometimes chimpanzees depending on the lack of the day.

Butterflies in kibale national park

Kibale national park has approximately 250 colourful families and species of butterflies such as family papilionidae, family lycaenidae, family pieridae, charaxes species and family hesperidae for example Zenonia zeno, cymothoe lirida, jumonia terea, hypolycaena hatita, papilio rex and many more others.

Mpanga falls trail

The mpanga river forms impressive waterfall as it tumbles over the rim of mount Karubaguma some 15km before emptying into lake George. The waterfall estimated to be about 50m high, enclosed by steep George and supports a lush cover of spray forest. You can easily reach mpanga falls as a day trip from kibale national park as a diversion from the main road between kamwenge and Ibanda.

Sebitoli and kihingami wetlands.

Sebitoli lies inside the northern part of kibale national park in Busoro sub county far much easier to reach the kanyanchu. Sebitoli development opened in 2002 to help tourists pressure on the kanyanchu sector of the park, it offers similar activities and facilities to kanyanchu with the exception of chimpanzee tracking, different plant species. It is also a paradise for bird lovers and provide different bird species along the wetland, offers a guided nature walk.

Many community members have set up craft markets to earn some income because the crafts are carefully hand made with beauty of nature mind, visitors always yearn to with souvenirs.

Kihingami is 15km east of fort portal, just before the sebitoli section of kibale national park, though its small in size has a remarkable 230 bird species including white spotted flufftail and Jameson’s wattle eye and among others.

Ndali-kasenda crater lakes region

The kasenda crater lakes area is located near the most popular national parks in Uganda that is kibale national park and queen Elizabeth national park.

Ndali-kasenda view point is raised area known as the top of the world which are between kibale- kamwenge and Ndali road. It offers a view of George and kichwamba escarpment in the rift valley.

There are some of the beautiful Ndali kasenda crater lakes of kibale including lake Nyabikere, lake Nkuruba, lake kifuruka, lake Nyinambuga and many others.

Culture in kibale national park

Culture in kibale national park is mainly inhabited by majorly two tribes which are batooro and bakinga, the south western side of Uganda you can find the batooro and some bakinga but batooro tribe is one of the cultures in Uganda that still hold their traditions and norms on point forexample, they still name a very newborn baby with a pet name, and other traditions and norms. Batooro and bakinga are two different tribes with unique ways, beliefs and other cultural aspects.

The village walk will offer you an insight into two African way of life, you can also choose to sponsor some of the children that you can afford and may be support a family of helpless old woman for charity.

Activities in kibale national park

Chimpanzee trekking adventure

Chimp sightings are not guaranteed on chimp treks, the chimpanzee community, whose territory centres around kanyanchu is well habituated while in the forest, you can expect to see at least 2 or 3 other types of primates, you will hear plenty of bird song though its challenging to see any bird in the heart of the forest. The guides are knowledgeable and will identify various medicinal plants, bird calls, and animal spoor.

Hiking in kibale national park

Kibale walking trail is 12km and the hikes usually done in the dry season from the month of June to September and mid-November to February, taking 5 to 6 hours. Hiking tours offers opportunity to discover the park’s habitats such as swamps, river line forest, tropical rainforest and grassland.

Birding in kibale national park

The park is a home of 325 bird species like black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis, red-faced woodland warbler, black bee eater, yellow spotted nicator, little greenbul, black eared ground thrush, brown chested alethe, yellow rumped tinker bird, blue breasted kingfisher, crowned eagle, dusky crimsonwing, purple breasted sunbird, green breasted pitta, African pitta. The Bigodi nature walk offers the best bird watching opportunities in the park as the swamp alone has approximately 138 bird species.

Crater lakes tour

The kasenda area found in fort portal is a home of more than 50 different crater lakes which are surrounded by steep sided volcanoes, a visit to this picture will give you the opportunity to appreciate the unique landscape of this area.

Cultural tours

Vistors in kibale national park get a chance to meet the local people such as batooro people and bakiga immigrants who stay around the park, you will also visit traditional village to see traditional lifestyle of batooro, visit the local churches, schools, traditional healers as well as enjoying some energetic traditional dances and songs by bakiga.

Guided nature walks.

The most popular activity in kibale national park is guided chimpanzee tracking out of the kanyanchu visitor centre. The guided walking trail through the bigodi wetland sanctuary which is the better for general monkey viewing and one of the finest trails in the country. Morning time is the best time to see chimpanzees and when birds are most active.

Night guided nature walks

A guided night walk with spotlights, which runs from 19: 30 to 22: 00 Daily and offers a good chance of sighting nocturnal primates such as the bush baby and potto.

When to visit kibale national park

Kibale national park can be visited at any time of the year, though this park has two seasons which include dry and wet season. Dry season starts from June to September and December to February. The rainy or wet season usually characterised by heavy rainfall but incredible for bird watching.

Where can you stay in kibale national park

Kibale national park has a wide range of accommodation facilities both inside and outside the park, these accommodations are so hospitable welcoming all visitors’ status these facilities include primate lodge kibale(luxury), kanyanchu river camp, sebitoli camping ground, crater valley kibale lakeside resort, Nyinabulitwa resort and safari camp, Mantana tented camp, safari hotel bigodi and many more.

How to reach kibale national park

Kibale national park is a very accessible national park situated in western Uganda with numerous routes linking from Kampala the capital city of Uganda.

By road

It takes 5 hours drive to the park covering a distance of approximately 309 km. using road transport you can take Kampala- mubende- fort portal route or Kampala- Mbarara-kamwenge route.

By air

You can use domestic flights which are available at from Entebbe international airport and kajjansi airstrip to kasese airstrip.

According to me, Kibale national park is a very magical national park that is offering the most exciting chimpanzee habituation experience and chimpanzee tracking you can ever get in Uganda; the park is very fine tourist destination and when you visit it you will be amazed with numerous attractions.

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