Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is also known as the primate capital of the world. It is a home to a host of wildlife although mostly famous for it 13 species of primates including chimpanzees. Kibale national Park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and is a half a day’s drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rwenzori mountains, and Semiliki National Park and the Toro-Semiliki national Reserve.

The forest’s varied altitude supports different habitats; woodland, Savannah, wet tropical forest and semi-deciduous dry tropical forest which gives the park opportunity to host different wildlife that reside in the different habitats.

What to do Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzees are the prime attraction for many visiting Kibale national park. Chimpanzee trekking has been happening in Kibale forest since 1993. Chimpanzee trekking is done twice a day i.e. early morning at 8am and afternoon at 2pm, therefore you have an opportunity to choose which time is conducive for you but morning is highly recommended. You will meet for briefing from the ranger guide before the trek starts to hear and learn about the expectations while in the forest and about other wildlife in the park. Trackers go before you and search for where the chimps nested the previous night and where they are located, they then relay this information to your ranger guide to lead you towards their location – remember the Chimps keep moving so they give the rangers information on the go. You need to be ready to walk long distances and carry along rain poncho because in a tropical forest it can rain anytime. Other items include long sleeved shirt and pants, comfortable waterproof boots, binoculars, camera, insect repellent.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzees are habituated over a period of 2 years before they get used to humans and then chimp tracking can begin. The CHEX (Chimpanzee habituation experience) happens every morning, a visitor goes along with the rangers and research staff and watch chimps leaving their overnight nests before they start their daily activities, feeding, hunting, copulating, breastfeeding, patrolling and resting. When this process is repeated over time, the Chimps get used to humans and that family is included on those that can be tracked.

Bird watching in Kibale National Park

Birding in Kibale forest is a rewarding experience, bird walks start at 7am every morning but you need to book early so the rangers are expecting you. The park is home to a variety of birds including the Albertine rift endemics. Morning focus for any birder in Kibale forest is to search for the Green breasted pitta. Other species includeGrey-throated FlycatcherGrey-winged Robin, Crested Flycatcher,Blue shouldered Robin Chat, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Black-billed Turaco, White-naped Pigeon, Red-chested Fluff tail, White-collared Olive-backWhite-bellied, Masked Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, Tiny Sunbird, and many more.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

There are several community initiatives and cultural experiences to engage in once you visit Kibale forest. Bigodi Wetland sanctuary is a community initiative to preserve the rich eco system along the wetland. The wetland is a birders haven with about 138 species. Magombe swamp which hosts eight species of primates. All these are under the management of the community. Visit a women’s project, where you can purchase handmade crafts to support them. Prepare, and or enjoy a traditional meal at Tinka’s place. Visit a local school.

Nature and Hiking walks

The forest is rich in variety and the chimpanzee trekking may not give you enough time to take in all that the forest offers because you are focused on location the chimps. There is an option of a 12km hike through the forest. Here you are able to spot more variety of birds and animals. On a lucky day, you may encounter bush pigs, Duikers, and Elephants. This is available in the dry season (December – February and June – September) because the wet season most of the trail is impassable.

There is also an option of night walks to see the nocturnal when the other forest inhabitants rest. The rangers use powerful torches to seek nocturnal such as bush baby, hyrax, potto and occasionally serval cat and civet. These walks last 2.5 hours and leave at 7pm.

Community walks and Cultural experiences

There are several community initiatives and cultural experiences to engage in once you visit Kibale forest. Bigodi Wetland sanctuary is a community initiative to preserve the rich eco system along the wetland. The wetland is a birders haven with about 138 species. Magombe swamp which hosts eight species of primates. All these are under the management of the community. Visit a women’s project, where you can purchase handmade crafts to support them. Prepare, and or enjoy a traditional meal at Tinka’s place. Visit a local school. 

How to access Kibale National Park

Kibale National park can be accessed  from Entebbe International airport for scheduled/charter flights to Kasese Airstrip which is an hour from Kibale national park or drive from Kampala via Fortportal to Kibale forest ( recommended direct route).

 

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