Kibale Forest national park | “The primate wonder of the world”
Kibale forest national park covers a land area of 776 square kilometers under the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) which is the managing body for all protected parks and reserves in Uganda. Kibale forest national park was established in the year 1993 from being a reserve since 1932 that was meant to protect its beautiful ecosystem that comprises of both fauna species, flora species and other unique attractions like crater lakes, caves and many more that are worth being preserved for tourism purposes. Kibale national park is located near Fort Portal city which is the tourism city in Kabalore district with in western part of Uganda. The park is yet about 5-6 hours’ drive from Kampala the capital city of Uganda or Entebbe international airport. Though it can also be accessed from different national park most especially Queen Elizabeth national park which is the closest of all taking about 2-3 hours’ drive to Kibale national park. In most cases, some of the mammals are seen crossing from Queen Elizabeth national park via a corridor to kibale national park.
Kibale forest national park as mentioned above is termed as the primate wonder of the world due to the fact that it harbors large population of 13 primate species including Chimpanzees, Olive Baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, Blue Monkeys, Uganda Red Colobus monkey, Uganda Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkeys, Patas monkey, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabey monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, Black and white Colobus monkeys, Pottos and Bush babies. These primates are the major reason as to why Kibale national park is a primate wonder of the world though the park thrills with other several attractions that attract lots of tourists all year round. The Flora of Kibale national park thrills with the most unique flora comprising of both grassland and woodland including the evergreen montane forest, swamp and many more which act as the habitat for several primate species, birds, butterflies and some mammals such as elephants that always visit the park from Queen Elizabeth national park, Sitatungas, wild pigs, duikers and many more.
Tourist activities in Kibale forest national park
Primate viewing: Being a primate wonder of the world, primate viewing is always the top most activity done in Kibale national park where travelers get a golden opportunity of spotting several species of primates including chimpanzees as the major primate in the forest. The best way to encounter with several primates is by opting for chimpanzee trekking adventure or chimpanzee habituation experience. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale forest national park is an art of searching for the habituated chimpanzees with the forest and then spending one hour in their vicinity in their habitats. Kibale national park organizes both morning (am) and afternoon (pm) chimpanzee trekking where by morning session starts at 7:00am and after one session starts at 12:00pm all from Kanyanchu at the park headquarters where they start with a pre briefing before penetrating the forest to search for these primates in their natural habitats. Apart from Kibale national park, chimpanzee trekking in Uganda can as well be conducted in Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park and Semliki national reserve. On the other hand, chimpanzee habituation experience involves researchers and habituators as the search for the troop of chimpanzees are still undergoing habituation and spend 4 hours in their habitats training them how to get used to humans and it’s always considered a full day activity starting from morning till evening. It’s in Kibale forest national park where Chimpanzee habituation experience is conducted in the entire Uganda.
Guided nature walks: Apart from Chimpanzee trekking and chimpanzee habituation experience, Kibale forest national park is yet the best destination in uganda for guided natural walks where travelers spend 2-3 hours on a guided walk in bigodi wetland sanctuary while spotting different wildlife species such as primates, mammals, birds, butterflies, amphibians, and all other wildlife that thrill in Bigodi wetland without forgetting that it’s the only destination for botanical lovers where different plant species are botanically identified. Like Chimpanzee trekking and habituation, guided nature walk also starts from Kanyanchu where park headquarters are situated.
Birding: Kibale national park is yet a best destination for birding adventure where 350 species of birds including forest birds, water birds, raptor birds and many more are spotted especially during chimpanzee trekking and nature walk. The best birding spots in Kibale national park include bigodi wetland with in Magombe swamp and in Kanyanchu.
Cultural encounters: Engaging in a cultural encounter opens up doors for tourists to meet and interact with the local Batooro and bakiga who reside near the park. Learn about their daily standards of living and as well having a walk with the local guides to visit traditional healers, religious sites, schools, and many more. You may as well visit the rural development associations like KAFRED and learn about the kibale women.
Children’s activities: Kibale forest national park has some children activities enjoyed by children 12 years of age while their parents head into the forest for chimpanzee trekking. These activities include short guided forest walks, bush craft, bird watching, and many more that help to keep these children busy as they wait for their parents to return from the trek.
By road, tourists who wish to get to Kibale national park may use either private means, public means or opt for a safari van with experienced safari guide. And the journey connects from Kampala – Mubende road and connect to Fort portal the nearest city to the park and finally head to the park headquarters at Kanyanchu tourism Centre where all park activities commence and the entire road drive takes about 5-6 hours thus the most used means of transport to access the park.
By air, those who opt for a flight need to book a charter flight from Kajansi or Entebbe international airport to Kasese airstrip and join by road to Kanyanchu tourism center in Kibale national park.