Kibale Forest National Park (KNP)
Kibale Forest National Park is situated in the northern foothills of the Rwenzori Mountain covering an area of 794 sq km extending southwards to form a contiguous block with Queen Elizabeth National Park. It covers Kamwenge, Kasese, Kyenjojo and Kabarole district.
Kibale Forest National Park has the highest number of primates in East Africa totaling to 13 primate species. These include the highest concentration of over 1400 chimpanzees, making it the largest population in the world. the red colobus monkey, the rare L’Hoest’s monkey, black and white colobus, blue monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, bush babies, galagos and pottos. Kibale Forest is a great alternative to Bwindi Impenetrable forest with its impressive chimpanzee tracking tours and habituation experiences where tourists are given a chance to hang with the chimps all day while they’re being habituated for tourism.
Further more, Kibale Forest National Park hosts over 372 species of birds including the great blue turaco, the great white heron, the yellow spotted nicator, the green breasted pitta, African pitta, crowned eagle and the black bee-eater which makes it a bird watching heaven. There are a number of impressive mammals including forest elephants, buffaloes, bush pigs, duikers and bats. A keen observer may see some of the reptiles and amphibians as well as a colorful variety of butterflies. Furthermore, over 250 tree species are recorded in the park. 4kms from the park lies Bigodi wetland sanctuary situated in magombe swamp and one of the best birding spots close to the park.
Kibale Forest is managed and operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Kibale Forest National Park Activities:
Chimpanzee tracking, there are 2 sessions, Morning Session at 8am and Afternoon Session at 2pm.
Chimpanzee tracking is the park’s main tourist attraction although a number of forest walks can be arranged not forgetting the chimpanzee habituation experience. Tourists wishing to track the chimps must first obtain a permit to do so from the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala.
Chimpanzee tracking Safari in Kibale is done in two shifts including the morning and afternoon shift with permits allocated based on that too, and the number of visitors is tightly controlled to prevent degradation of the habitat and risks to the chimpanzee. There are strict rules for tourists to minimize the risk of diseases passing from them to the chimpanzees as well as maintain their habitat.
Chimpanzee habituation varies from 1-3 days, with a researcher, a group will locate a chimpanzee family early in the morning at their nest site and follow them throughout the day until the family chooses a new resting place for the night.
Bird watching over 372 bird species including 6 endemic to the Albertine Rift area are found in Kibale for 3 hour sessions around the Bigodi wetlands with experienced local guides.
Day Hikes / Nature walks with its gentle terrain, making wildlife walks relatively easy to participate on. These walks start at 8:00am , 10.00am and 2:00pm from Kanyanchu Tourist Centre and takes 2-3 hours.
Cultural Heritage led by Kibale Association for Rural Environment Development (KAFRED)
These walks give an insightful cultural heritage of the Batooro and their way of life by experiencing the village walks leading to the primary school , church and traditional healer. The magombe swamp wetlands exposes you to about 200 species of birds, 8 primates and numerous butterflies.
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Best Time to Visit Kibale Forest
|Best time to go:||December to February and June to July (Trails are dry, so it makes tracking chimps less challenging)|
|High Season:||June to September (The park is more busy as it is the most favorable time for gorilla tracking)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October & November (Some camps and lodges are closed)|
|Best Weather:||June to July and December to February (Least rain)|
|Worst Weather:||April, May and September to November (Most rain, forest trails are slick and travel becomes difficult)|
Recommended Kibale Forest Tours
Other Top Experiences in Uganda
For a relatively small country, there’s a lot that’s big about the place. It’s home to the tallest mountain range in Africa (Rwenzori Mountains), the source that feeds the world’s longest river and the continent’s largest lake. And with half the planet’s remaining mountain gorillas residing here, as well as the Big Five to be ticked off, wildlife watching is huge.
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