Kibale Forest National is situated in western Part of Uganda; 358 km from Kampala – Uganda’s Capital city and 30km from Fort portal. It covers more than 774 sq.km with ever green lush tropical forest, variety of birds, primates, reptiles and insects. Kibale forest national park was made a forest reserve in 1948 during British colonialism after a period of depending on it for harvesting wild coffee, and tree cutting as well as planting exotic trees. Forward to 1993, the reserve was upgraded to a national park status with the Uganda National parks assuming management as Kibale national park in 1994 until date.
In 1996; the Uganda National parks merged with the game department of Uganda to form Uganda wildlife Authority which manages all national parks in Uganda presently. To date, the park is home to over 13 unique primate species, about 150 bird species and more than 1500 chimpanzees. There are over 4 habituated chimpanzee communities. Ngongo community in the central park area; kanyawara community; sebitole community in the northern area and Kanyanchu community in southern area.
Chimpanzees and other primates are the reason for conserving Kibale forest national park and your visit. The chimps are the dominant primates in the forest, cohabited by other primates like the vervet monkeys, white and black Columbus monkeys, baboons and more. With over 1500 primates in this jungle; the first trekking session is at sunset, the other in the afternoon and evening to watch the chimpanzees nest. Up to a maximum of 8paxs can take a safari to the chimpanzees per session.
Chimpanzee trekking permit costs 200 USD per foreign adults per day. This amount caters for park entrance fee, payment to the ranger guides and conservation fees.
When chimpanzees are trained to familiarize with human presence, your presence is all that they need. Chimpanzee Habituation experience is when a client is allowed to spend a full day with the chimpanzees, studying their characteristics and engaging in photographic moments. It is one of the finest ways of understanding the life a chimpanzees and their close relationship to man.
Kibale forest national park has over 150 bird species to tick off from your bird list. This is the reason why you should go have time identifying them by color, size, habitat and sound. The birding session runs very early in the morning when the birds have just left the nests for approximately 3-5 hours. There are bird specialists to take you through this experience. Some of the birds to lookout for are the Turacos, Regal sunbird, yellow billed barbet, superb sunbird, white shrike-flycatcher, white tailed ant thrush and more.
Taking a walk at Kibale forest national park is an altogether wonderful experience. One walks through the designated trails for hours and gets to identify lots of flora and fauna. You get to stretch your muscles, while spotting the birds, plants and some forest mammals that might come your way. There is a 1-2 hour nocturnal nature walk and day nature walks; both with surprises.
Bigodi swamp is one of the Ramsar sites in Uganda. It is located at the border with the park. The local communities living around the place transformed it to one of the best places to visit. It is often an additional place after a chimpanzee trekking experience. At Bigodi swamp, you get to see variety of birds, primates such as the baboons, and the locals of the place carrying on with their daily chores.
To ensure the environment and the park residents are protected; be aware of these rules; Littering in the park is prohibited, there must be permission to access the park, no feeding animals, drive at 40km/hr, no hooting and shouting, no dogs and other pets allowed in the park, no fire arms allowed, keep a distance from the animals, disturbing or knocking the wild animals isn’t allowed.
The fines for standing offences are; knocking animals – 500 USD, over speeding – 100,000 UGX, hooting and littering – 100,000 UGX, default on US dollar tariffs 150Usd. This is to ensure safety of the environment, animals and other tourists.
Kibale forest national park is open for visitors all year round and activities run from Monday to Sunday from 07:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs. The ranger guides are able to welcome and take you around the park for a safe and memorable adventure. Considering the weather patterns and effects on the activities; June, July, august, December, January, February and March are usually dry months or with low rains thus the most recommendable for a safari to Kibale forest National Park.
Dry enable smooth hike, and uninterrupted activities as there is no fear of abrupt rains, or muddy terrain. However on the other hand, the budget travelers can choose to visit in low season; April, May, September, October and November but have to be ready for rains and the effects of rains. The interesting part of travelling during the low season is one gets to enjoy discounts on accommodation and several activities, less congested park and enough time to engage in activities.
Be guided by the length of stay and other destinations to visit. Here are the basic items to put in your back packer; professional camera, Binoculars, hand gloves, long stockings, a hat, insect repellant, long sleeved shirts, long trousers, jacket, covi19 test form, yellow fever vaccine form, chimpanzee trekking permit, visa, and your passport. Some of the items can be purchased upon reaching Uganda.
Kibale forest national park is one of Africa’s primate capital and a must visit destinations. Taking a safari there is one sure way of getting up close to your cousins the chimps and several other primates, yet not ignoring the different plant species that you get to identify.