Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National park is an extension of the great rainforests of central Africa. You will find one of the largest populations of chimpanzees in Africa – about 1500 individuals have been recorded. 

This forest park is surrounded by tea plantations and crater lakes, with a dramatic Rwenzori backdrop. Kibale Forest enjoys a particularly scenic setting. Special lists also impress with 15 primates, including chimpanzee and red colobus. About 325 bird species have been recorded around this forest, including 6 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region. They include; the Black capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird and Red-faced Woodland Warbler.

Wildlife in Kibale Forest National Park.

There are 15 species of primates in Kibale National Park. The park protects several well-studied habituated communities of common chimpanzee, as well as several species of Central African monkey including the Uganda mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae), the Ugandan red colobus (Procolobus tephrosceles) and the L’Hoest’s monkey.

Other primates found in the park include the guereza colobus monkey and the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis), Uganda Red colobus, Redtailed monkey, The park’s population of elephants is commonly sighted along forest trails. Other terrestrial mammals that are found within Kibale National Park include red and blue duikers, bushbucks, sitatungas, bushpigs, giant forest hogs, warthogs, and buffalo. The carnivores that are present include leopards, african golden cats, servals, different mongooses and two species of otter.

Bird Watching in Kibale Forest

Bird life in the park is so prolific, boasting over 375 sited species of birds, including the western green tinker bird, olive long-tailed cuckoo, two species of pittas (African and green-breasted) and the African grey parrot, Imperative to note that the ground thrush (Turdus kibalensis) is endemic to Kibale National Park.

Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale Forest National Park

With around a 90% chance of finding chimpanzees on any particular day, Kibale National Park is undoubtedly the most popular place to track them in Uganda. There’s a morning (8am) and afternoon (2pm) departure, and while there are plenty of hills along the trails, the walking isn’t difficult if you’re in shape. Children aged 12 and under aren’t permitted.

While you’ve a good chance of being issued a chimp permit (US$200) at the park, it occasionally gets booked out during holiday season, so reservations at the UWA office in Kampala are a good idea. Regular trackers get just one hour with the playful primates, but those on the Chimpanzee Habituation Experience can spend the whole day with them.

Note that chimpanzees have been in the process of being habituated in the Sebitoli sector, 12km east of Fort Portal, for some years now, but permits for this group were still not being issued to travellers.

Where To Stay?

Best Time to Visit

The drier months of December to February and June to July are best for chimpanzee trekking. However, you can still go looking for the primates in the wetter months (March to May and August to November), which have the added attraction of low-season prices. The East African sky is also less hazy outside the drier periods.

Activities to do here

Chimps tracking through the depths of the Kibale Forest is a popular activity for tourists. Kibale Forest is inhabited by three large “communities” of chimps, with over 120 individuals. Only one community is allowed to be visited by tourists.

You could choose to go on a primate walk to see different monkeys. Over 15 primate species have been sighted in the Kibale forest and its surroundings. Follow the adjacent community-run Bigodi Swamp boardwalk trail and find wetlands, forest birds and impressive. 

A visit to the Kibale forest is a chance to experience how primates connect with neighbouring communities. Leramn their way of life, get on a coffee tour and learn how communities make baskets and how they make banana/ beer the traditional way.