Kibale Forest National Park
Kibale Forest National Park, is among the easy to access conservation areas in Uganda, it is well blessed with a wonderful scenery and a remarkable variety of activities and the dominant being primate watching with key to the chimps. The park is high ranking among naturalists of all walks mostly focusing on chimpanzee tracking and bird watching, not to mention the greatest variety and concentration of primates of any forest in Africa. The park was gazetted in 1993 and covers an area close to 766sq kilometers, Kibale is more of a contiguous block with the queen Elizabeth national park. Interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, the dominant vegetation type is a tropical rain forest lying between an altitude of 1,100-1,590 meters above sea level.
The park has a recorded number of 50 mammal species with a blessing of primates totaling to 13 species, nine of which are diurnal primates and to mention they are are L’Hoest’s, vervet, red-tailed, and blue monkeys, olive baboon, grey-cheeked mongabey, red colobus, black and white colobus,and chimpanzee. The Kibale forest area is the last Ugandan stronghold of the red colobus, although small numbers still survive in Semuliki national park. Visitors who do both the forest and swamp walks can typically expect to see at least five or six primate species.
Kibale Forest offers superlative primate viewing, but it is not otherwise an easy place to see large mammals – despite an impressive checklist which includes lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, hippo, warthog, giant forest hog, bushpig, bushbuck, sitatunga, and peter’s, red and blue duikers. The elephants found in Kibale forest are classified as belonging to the forest race, which is smaller and hairier than the more familiar savanna elephant. Elephants frequently move into the Kanyanchu area during the wet season, but they are not often seen by tourists.
Roughly 335 bird species have been recorded in Kibale forest, including four species not recorded in any other national park: Nahan’s francolin, Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, and masked apalis. Otherwise the checklists for Kibale include a similar range of forest birds to Semliki National Park, with the exclusion of the 40-odd Semliki `specials’ and the inclusion of a greater variety of water and grassland species. A recently first sighting of a green-breasted pitta caused some excitement in Ugandan ornithological circles, while the truly optimistic might want to look out for pregogine’s ground thrush, a presumably endemic species or race collected once in the 1960s and yet to be seen again! The best bird watching spot is the Bigodi wetland sanctuary, where a four-hour trail has been laid out, and experienced guides will be able to show some localized species which you might otherwise overlook.
Kibale is an extensive Biodiversity National Park harboring the greatest variety and concentration of primates found anywhere in East Africa. Situated ideally in the heart of the Toro kingdom in western Uganda, near fort portal the park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-kasenda crater area and is within and is within a half days drive to Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semliki national parks. The park became a government reserve in the early 1940s. It covers an area of 560kmsq and standing on an elevation of between 1110-1590m a.s.l, it has been a national park since October 1993 with 77% of the park covered by medium altitude moist semi-deciduous forest. The remaining 23%consist of grassland, swamps and some plantation with exotic cinfires.
Chimpanzee habituation experience: the chimpanzee habituation experience allows visitors to accompany a Kibale researcher and habituators as they follow the chimpanzees during their daily activities there by getting them used to the human presence without altering their natural behavior. This is an all day activity and early visitors will be able to experience the spectacular scene of the chimpanzees de-nesting, feeding, copulating, hunting, breast feeding, resting, patrolling, and displaying until they build and retire for the night around 7:00pm.
Primates Walk (chimpanzee trekking): alternatively visitors can trek the already habituated chimpanzees which starts at 08:00hrs and 1400hrs at the visitors centre in Kanyancu. The park guides are always available to lead visitors into the experience. The walk takes six people per group.
Nature walks: explore the park’s diverse habitals with a very close contact with nature. The walks begin at 1000hrs and 1400hrs from Kanyancu visitor’s resource centre and take 2-3hours. Remind your guide to show you the naked Adam and Eve tree one of Kibale’s wonders.
Bird watching and night nature walks: this thick rainforest boasts of 372 bird species of which 60 percent are recorded Uganda’s forest birds. Bird watchers can spot various Species of these birds as they enjoy the various species of these birds as they enjoy the various activities in the park. There are also night nature walks which allow visitors to track the unique species of birds, animals and insects such as bats, owls, pottos, bush babies, civets, genets, cats and eastern needle nailed: that are most active at night.
Cultural Heritage and Natural trail: take on a 2-6 days cultural heritage and nature trail through the trail through the tropical forest and meet the local people and gain insights into their culture. The full walk can start or end at either Kanyancu or Sebitoli. Explore the forest during the day, end at a community run campsite near the villages of Kinoni, Nyaibanda, and Nyakalongo. Porters can be hired to carry equipment.
Children activities: only children above 12 years are allowed to view the chimps. Kibale has a variety of activities for children under the age of 12 including educational forest walks of 1-2hrs followed by creative activities like pond dipping, cyanotype photography and batik-making. Though these educational forest walks, the children can learn about the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Parents can enjoy their forest walks with the knowledge that their children are occupied in worthwhile activities by experienced guides.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary a community annex of the park provides a chance for nature walks giving access to view other primate species like the red colobus, blue monkey, black and white colobus monkey, grey cheeked mongabey.
The 795 sqkm Park can be accessed from Uganda capital Kampala along a newly resurfaced road via Kasese near Queen Elizabeth National Park. The park can also be reached from Kampala via Mubende and fort portal or through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
The park can also be accessed by through two airstrips Nyakisarara airstrip in Mbarara about 98 km through Kamwenge from Kanyancu and Kasese airstrip 75 kms from fort portal town it can also be reached from the airstrip in Tooro/Semliki wild reserve only 86 kms from Kanyancu.