Located in the western part of the country atop of the Southern margins of the Albertine rift valley, Kibale forest is one of the ten popular national parks in Uganda. It is mainly dominated by the tropical rainforests on its flatlands, savannah and woodlands in the areas near the rift valley. It is one of the oldest forests in Africa with some of its tree species dating back over 200 years. The forest has one of the tallest tree species, towering at 55 metres off the ground.
Kibale national park is a naturally endowed ecosystem with over 70 types of mammals and 375 bird species. The most standout wildlife species in Kibale are the chimpanzees and the various monkey species which make it, one of the most visited tourism destinations in the country.
The different tour activities and attractions in Kibale national park
Chimpanzee and other primate species Tracking: Popularly known as the capital of primates, kibale national park is the best spot to hang out with chimpanzees. Other than the chimpanzees, kibale national park has 13 different small species of primates. This eco forest is considered to be with the highest concentration of small primates in Africa. Other small primates found in the park include the red tailed monkeys, pottas monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus, grey cheeked mangabey, l’hoest monkeys, red colobus, bush babies and many more. Though, there are a mammoth of primates to watch, the visitors are mostly fascinated by the chimpanzees. The chimpanzees are intriguing and a spectacle to watch in the wild. These small apes are very intelligent and animated creatures. They do things that defy their animalistic nature and one might thing they are human beings. For example, the ability to use tools around their surrounding environment like stones and tree branches to get food. They manifest compassion for one another and this always leaves the onlookers enthralled and touched.
Bird watching: Birding is one of the most carried out activities in this Kibale forest. The park has over 375 species of birds roaming around its tropical rainforests and other ecosystems. A guided birding expedition around the forests avails trekkers birds like African grey parrot, great blue turaco, black capped apalis, Abyssinian ground thrust, black bee eater, yellow spotted nicator, red chested owlet, crowned eagle, sunbirds and many more others.
Wildlife viewing: Kibale national park is not renowned place for game viewing but on a nature walk or primate tracking quest, there is a handful of big mammals encountered for example forest hogs, leopards, elephants, duikers, sitatungas, forest buffaloes, servals. Golden forest cats, etcetera.
Mingling with the local people: one of the main pillars of eco tourism is supporting the local communities around the national parks. There are lots of traditional societies around Kibale forest national park but the most notable one is the Batoro. Visiting these jolly and hospitable people is enthralling. Buying the crafts especially from the women groups is always a regarded a noble gesture as it is one of supporting the local communities.
Nature walks and Treks: one of the best way to enjoy and tour Kibale forest national park is by taking a nature walk or trek. The nature walk enables the visitors to randomly encounter the different wildlife species with in the forests of kibale. Kibale forest is a habitat with 70 mammal types, over 370 species of birds and 13 different kinds of primates, a nature walk around it is really exciting and explorative. The nature walks trails of kikoni,Nyaibanda and Nyakalongo enable the tourists enjoy the views of the large farmlands of the local communities. Most of the farmlands comprise of tea plantains. A Hike at Amabere caves is noteworthy, though this is somehow distant from the park about 30 kilometres away.
Visit the Bigodi wetland sanctuary: apart from Kibale forest, this is the second most visited place around the park. It is such a great eco arena with a wealth of birds and migratory primates that come from the forest. An evening trek around the wetland facilitates the tourists to see some of the aforementioned wildlife species. There are also craft making women groups, supporting and buying some of their curios is great for community development and livelihood.
Children adventures: children are not allowed to take place in the popular tour activity in Kibale forest national park, the primate tracking activity but that does not necessarily mean they are not welcome to the park. There are other tour activities, children can enjoy around kibale forest national park. For instance, they are allowed to take tours around the farmlands, go birding in Bigodi wetland sanctuary, nature guided walks within Kibale forests. All these activities mentioned must be guided by a skilled and trained guide to ensure the safety of the children.
How to access Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale national park is located about 348kms west away of Kampala, 26 km southeast of the tourism city of Fort Portal. From Kampala, a traveller drives through Mityana, Mubende to Fort Portal and get to Kibale and the journey is about 6 hours on the road. The good news is that the road from Kampala to Kibale is asphalt. The journey is very scenic due to the stunning and green towering landscapes running along the road.
There is also air means, charter flight from either Entebbe airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Fort Portal. The flight is about 2 hours. From Fort Portal, the traveller uses road means to KIbale forest area.
The best time to visit Kibale National Park
There are two climatic conditions experienced around Kibale national park and these are the wet season and dry season. The two climatic seasons greatly affect the tourism around the area. There are always split opinions about the best time to visit the primate park. The large portion of travellers to Kibale forest national park say that the best time to visit is the dry season where the roads are in good conditions and also the forest trails are dry. The dry season makes primate tracking very exciting and a perfect experience because the days are bright, the trackers are able to clearly watch and observe the primates in the forest. The dry months at Kibale forests are January-mid Mach, June-mid October and December.
One man’s meat can be another’s poison, not all travellers prefer the dry months to travel to Kibale forest national park. There are travellers who wish to visit the park in the wet season. And their argument is that in the wet season, the park seems to be secluded and less crowded with people since most people prefer to visit it in the dry months. Therefore, they fully encounter and enjoy the park and its tour activities without rubbing shoulders with other people. The park ranger also has enough time to full guide, show and explain to them the various wildlife species. In the wet season also the tourism auxiliary services are reduced in prices due to the low demand and henceforth, the travellers always get cheap safari packages to Kibale forest national park.
From the tour and travel experts’ point of view, they advise the travellers or clients to visit Kibale forest national park in the dry season because it is the best time to engage in chimpanzee trekking which is the main tour activity at the destination.