Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park: When it comes to primate tracking safaris in Uganda, Kibale national park is the place to be. The national park is the number one destination for chimpanzee trekking safaris in the country. It has over 1500 chimpanzees and 13 different primate species including the Black and White colobus monkeys, Red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, Red colobus monkeys and L’Hoest monkeys to mention but a few.

Kibale National Park

The national park is situated in Fort Portal district in the western region of Uganda. It covers approximately 795 square kilometers and is elevated at an altitude between1100-1600 meters. Kibale national park is also home to 375 bird species and about 351 tree species. It is one of the top birding destinations for birding safaris in Uganda.

How to get to Kibale National Park

The national park can be accessed by road or air transport means, by road you can use a safari vehicle from Kampala via Mubende and fort portal then to Kanyachu where the park’s headquarters are situated. You can also go via Ibanda or Mbarara to Kamwenge and the journey takes about 5 to 6 hours on a tarmac road. By Air transport you can use scheduled flights from Entebbe International Airport to Kasese Airstrip then connect by road to Fort Portal and Kanyachu.  Visitors can also book scheduled flights from Entebbe airport to Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara then connect by road through Kamwenge and then to the park.

Attractions in Kibale National Park

  • Primates, Kibale is a home of 13 primate species which include Chimpanzees, Vervet monkeys, Black and White monkeys, Olive baboons, Blue monkeys, Grey cheeked Mangabey, Bush babies, Potto which are seen during the night forest walk.
  • Other mammals, Kibale national park is a home of over 70 mammal species such as Elephants, Golden cats, Buffaloes, Bush pigs, Mongoose, Sitatunga, reptiles, amphibians among others.
  • Bird species; The national park is a home of over 370 bird species which can be viewed during bird watching activity in the forest of Kibale national park. Birds viewed include African grey parrot, Great Blue Turaco, Hornbills among others and butterfly species.
  • Ndali-Kasenda crater lakes; The park has many crater lakes including Lake Nyabikere, Lake Lyantonde, Lake Nyinambuga, Lake Kifuruka among others. Visitors can always explore any of these crater lakes on foot during a guided nature walk in Kibale national park.
  • Flora; The national park is hosts of over 350 tree species found in the forests, grasslands and swamps. 

Activities and in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee trekking; The park is a home of over 1500 chimpanzees and chimpanzee trekking is the major and common activity carried out. Chimpanzee trekking is an activity where visitors move in the forest in search of the chimpanzees and once found the visitors will spend one hour in the presence of the chimpanzees in their natural habitat learning about their behaviours, habits, taking photos among others. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest is commonly done in the morning at 8am and takes about 2 to 3 hours. Visitors doing chimpanzee trekking in Kibale national park have 99% chance of viewing the chimpanzees hence the best destination for chimpanzee trekking experience and will as well view other primates such as Red colobus monkeys, Olive baboons, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, L-Hoest monkeys, Bush babies among others. A chimpanzee trekking permit in Kibale national park costs USD 200 for Foreign Non-Residents, USD 150 for Foreign Residents and UGX 150,000 for East African Citizens.

Chimpanzee habituation; Chimpanzee habituation is a process where chimpanzees are trained by researchers, trackers and guides so as to get used to the human presence. This process is conducted at Kanyachu Visitors’ Centre and takes two years to get the chimpanzees get used to the humans for trekking. Chimpanzee habituation in the park starts very early in the morning at 6 am and is conducted in small groups of a maximum four people. It is an entire day’s experience and costs USD 250 per person for both Foreign Residents and Non-Residents alike. Visitors will to pack lunch and drinking water since the process takes a whole day and they will be able to see chimpanzees breast feeding, feeding, resting, playing, de-nesting in the morning and nesting in the evening.  

Bird watching; Kibale national park is an ideal destination for bird watching safaris in Uganda. Bird watching activities in the park start early in the morning at around 7am at Kanyachu Educational Centre which is located in the middle of the park and birders will be able to view bird species like Papyrus Gonolek, White winged warbler, Black bishop, Papyrus canary, Grey winged robin chat, Brown throated wattle eye, Bush shrike, Superb sunbird, Hairy breasted barbet, Yellow billed barbet among others. 


Nature walks in Kibale national park; This is an activity that involves visitors walking within Kibale forest on foot accompanied by a trained park ranger who will be guiding and showing you different trails to follow. Nature walks in Kibale national park start early in the morning at 8am at Kanyachu Visitors Centre which is located in the middle of the park and visitors will follow different trails which will take you to the swamplands, grasslands, forests where you will be able to view different tree species, vegetation, wildlife species like primates and other animals like elephants, antelopes, duikers among others hence giving you great experience on your safari in the park.

Cultural encounters: This is an activity where visitors get an opportunity to visit the local communities near the park so as to have a great experience about other cultures and traditions for example the baking who are immigrants from Kigezi south western Uganda and the Batooro who are natives or indigenous tribe occupying largest areas in the national park. During the cultural encounters visitors in Kibale will be able to visit the vanilla plantations, tea plantations, Rwenzori Mountains, Crater lakes in Kibale, local people’s farmlands among others. you will be able to visit the community association called KAFRED Kibale Association for Rural and Environment Development which was created to protect Bigodi wetland swamp, trains local people as guides, funds women groups to engage in craft making where they make art and crafts such as sandals, bags, huts, beads, cultural performances where they entertain the visitors through dance, music, poems, drama among others hence giving visitors a unforgettable memories in Uganda.

Bush craft children activities; Kibale national park offers activities to children under the age of 15 who are not allowed to trek the chimpanzees in the forest. Children on a safari in the park can participate in various activities such as viewing wildlife, plants, birds, and primates like monkeys, baboons which are carried out by a kid friendly guide who interacts with the kids and make them feel comfortable during these bush craft activities.

Bigodi wetland sanctuary; This is a wetland that is located in Magombe swamp 6km outside the national park and it is run by a community association called KAFRED Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development. Bigodi wetland sanctuary is a home of over 138 bird species for example Black and White hornbill, Great Blue Turaco among others, 8 primate species such as Red colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Blue monkeys, Butterflies among others. Bigodi wetland offers guided swamp walks which take 2 to 3 hours following trails in the beautiful grasslands with trees, palms, plants and trails to the surrounding communities. during the walk in Bigodi swamp, you will be able to view different bird species including Black bishop, Papyrus Gonolek, White winged warbler, Black crowned waxbill, Superb sunbird, Western nicartor, Yellow billed barbet, Bocage’s bush shrike and primate species like Blue monkeys, Red colobus monkeys, Baboons, Red tailed monkeys, Black and White monkeys, Grey cheeked monkeys, L-hoest, Vervet, Otters, Chimpanzees among others hence giving great moments during your safari in the park. 

Best time to visit Kibale National Park

Kibale national park in western Uganda can be visited throughout the year for chimpanzee trekking, bird watching among others; however the best time to visit is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January and February when the trails are dry and good for wildlife viewing due to short grass compared to the wet season which makes wildlife viewing difficult, makes forest trails muddy and slippery. The wet season during the months of March to May, October to November are good months for bird watching in that the birds will have a lot of food to feed on such as fruits.

Visitors can also combine a visit to Kibale national park with other activities such as gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Game drive or boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth national park or a guided nature walk in Semuliki national park.     

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