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Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park ‘The primate capital of the world’

Kibale national park is majorly known for its excellent chimpanzee tracking and bird watching and it has the biggest concentration of primates than any other forest in East Africa. The park was gazetted in 1993 covering a wide area of 766km². The dominant vegetation cover in this park is majorly tropical rainforests, with some patches of savannah grasslands and swamps.

These vegetation species are ideal habitats for over 60 mammal species, 13 primate species of which this is the highest record in any other Ugandan National Park. The primates include the vervet monkeys, Black and white colobus, red colobus, baboons and chimpanzees among others.

About 375 bird species have been recorded in Kibale Forest National Park including some species that are rare in any other national park and these include the nahan’s francolin, blue headed bee-eater and the masked appalis can be spotted in this forest. While in Kibale forest national park, the best birding spot is the bigodi swamp where one can spot over 40 bird species.


The park has a tropical type of climate with two rainy periods, March to May and September to November. The annual mean temperature range rises are not so high compared to other areas around Uganda, they range from 14° – 15°C for minimum to 26° – 27°C as the maximum temperatures maximum. The annual rainfall is 1,100 – 1,600mm. There is always a dry season in December to February. Rain falls more in the North than in the South.


Uganda Safari Attractions in Kibale National Park

The chimpanzees as a Uganda Safari Attraction in Kibale National Park

These are man’s closet relative in that research shows that 98.7% of their genes are related to those of a human being.  While in the park you, you will hear the sounds of the chimpanzees even before seeing them.

Unlike other primates, chimpanzees don’t leave in groups but instead form extended communities of up to 100 individuals which move around the forest in socially sub-groups that include close members such as brothers, mothers and daughter. Male chimps spend their entire life within the community they were born in whereas females are likely to move to the communities especially while at an adolescent stage. Chimpanzees are initially in habitats of the western rainforests, though they extend to west of Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Congo which all combined have a combined population of over 7000 chimps.

Birds as a Uganda Safari attraction in Kibale National Park

Kibale National park contains over 375 species of birds of which include the Hairy-breasted Barbet, White-spotted Fluff tail, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Superb Sunbird and Black-crowned Waxbill among others. The famous ones include the Green-breasted Pitta and the Kibale ground Thrush.

Other Wildlife as a Uganda Safari attraction in Kibale National Park

The forest is a home to other 12 primate species apart from Chimpanzees among which include the Black and white colobus monkeys, the Red Colobus, the Olive Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, among others; the Forest duikers, forest elephants among others.

Flora as a Uganda Safari attraction in Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park features a lush tropical forest with over 229 tree species some of which are endangered timber species like the Cordia millenii, Lovoa swynnertonnii and Entandrophragma angolense. The understory of the forest features shade tolerant herbs and shrubs including Pollia condensata and schweinfurthii along with broad leaf grasses and ferns

Mpanga falls as a Uganda Safari attraction in Kibale National Park

Also known as Beaton falls, the Mpanga falls are impressive falls formed by the Mpanga River moving into Lake George. The 50m high waterfall is enclosed by a steep gorge with a lush cover of spray forest. The Mpanga river gorge is one of Africa’s largest gorge.

Bigodi wetlands as a Uganda Safari attraction in Kibale National Park

This is a small sanctuary which protects the magombe swamp which is adjacent to Bigodi trading centre immediately outside the park boundary. Run and controlled by the Kibale association for rural and environmental development known as kafred a community supported project in bigodi. The 4.5km guided walks around the trails through the swamps are one of the best bird spots the also give you an opportunity to spot up to 6 primate species in just a few hours. For bird enthusiasts, one can spot over 40 species in one walk and these are mainly forest specials and swamp specials. Most of the birds associated with this swamp include the great blue turraco, papyrus gonlek, Double-toothed Barbets, grey parrots and the black and white casqued horn bill.

Batooro Community as a Uganda Safari attraction in Kibale National Park

The Batooro people are of Bantu ethnic group living between the Lakes of Albert and Edward; bounded by the Rwenzori Range, Fort Portal district southwestern Uganda. They have a Kingdom, the Toro Kingdom with the King given a title of Omukama which literally means King. They believe in Ruhanga, a rutoro word meaning “God”; and a small god Mambwa. While worshiping Mambwa, they wear animal skins called emikako which are knitted with beads and cowerie shells; a piece of bark cloth with horns (ekisingo) tied on around the head.

Just like the Banyoro of Bunyoro kingdom, the Batooro have pet names called the “Empaako”. The Empaako is a means of identifying a being and also showing respect.

Among the economic activities of the Batooro, there is millet growing which is their staple food, sorghum, peas, bananas and other plantations. They are also cattle keepers. Cattle amongst the Batooro are a sign of wealth. The more cattle one has, the wealthier he is considered in the community.

Marriage among the Batooro is arranged. The parents of the male will approach the females family without the subjects consent. Once talks commence, the family of the male sends a middle-person to the female’s family known as the Kibonabuko. The Kibonabuko is supposed to make sure that the females family grants the marriage. Upon marriage day, the female before living home, she would perform a ritual known as okubukara. She has to sit on her parents lap. The ritual is meant to initiate her into an adult and wish her luck in the marriage. Upon reaching the males home, she sits on the laps of the males parents, a ritual that means she has got new parents. Bride price in form of cows is meant to be paid to the girl’s family. If the girl is found to be a virgin during the okucwa amagita (breaking the water) ceremony, an extra cow is given to the bride’s mother thanking her for raising her child well. Okucwa amagita ceremony is the first sexual intervals between the newlyweds.

Uganda Safari Activities in Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee Trekking as a Uganda Safari Activity in Kibale National Park

These include chimp tracking excursions that set off from Kanyanchu. These excursions are strictly done twice in a day that is at 08:00 and 14:00 daily at $150 during normal season and $100 for the low season months of April, May and November. The Chimpanzee trek tends to last 2 – 5 hours inclusive of one hour of viewing.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience as a Uganda Safari Activity in Kibale National Park

This is mainly for chimp lovers and researchers who love extreme experiences which involve staying with the chimps all day with the habituators and includes taking note on their behaviors. . It runs from 6am to 7pm daily at a cost of $220 per person.   Chimpanzee Habituation offers an opportunity to spend the entire day with Chimpanzees unlike the one hour under the trekking arrangement.

Bird watching as a Uganda Safari Activity in Kibale National Park

There are around 375 species of birds in Kibale national park. The activity can be done at Bigodi wetland sanctuary which is 3km outside the park. Around 138 of the 375 bird species can be seen at the wetland birds. Kibale National park contains over 375 species of birds of which include the Hairy-breasted Barbet, White-spotted Fluff tail, Yellow-billed Barbet, Grey-winged Robin-chat, Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Superb Sunbird and Black-crowned Waxbill among others.

Nature walks as a Uganda Safari Activity in Kibale National Park

The nature walks allow you to explore the lush forest cover of Kibale on foot. The walks depart Kanyanchu tourism center in the company of the armed park ranger guide and can be done at any time of the day though morning, evening and night walks are ideal. The encounters include the beautiful flora, the birds and forest wildlife that may be met along the trails.

How to get to Kibale National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is accessed from Fort Portal town using the Kamwenge district road.  While driving from fort portal town, follow Lugard road in the north of the park and move about 1 km and before the Mpanga river bridge turn right. As you move, you will reach a major junction, where you turn left and move for about 23km to reach Kanyanchu campsite and further 5km to Bigodi. The other alternative route to Kibale Forest National Park runs north from Mbarara via Ibanda and Kamwenge and in a private vehicle it can take about 3 hours.

Uganda Safari Accommodation in Kibale National Park

Primates Lodge Kibale

Primate Lodge Kibale forest is an exclusive eco-lodge located in the heart of Kibale National Park. Privately composed in the rainforest, this Uganda safari lodge offers you a true authentic wild experience and is a perfect gateway to tracking the primates in this forest.


Luxury Safari Tents

Forest Cottage

Sky Tree HouseFacilities at Primate Lodge

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Lounge area
  • Cultural dancing Fire place

Chimps Nest Kibale

Chimps’ Nest is a true birder’s nest, this safari lodge borders Kibale Forest national park with splendid views of Kibale Forest and the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains. The lodge is located in Nyabubare, a small village near Bigodi. The lodge is a 15 minutes’ drive from Kanyanchu, the starting point for chimp-tracking and all other activities in Kibale Forest national park.

Accommodation: Chimps’ Nest offers comfortable original and self-contained cottages, family cottage, luxury cottage, or self-contained tree house.

Nyinabulitwa Country Resort

Situated about 20km outside Fort Portal town, this resort borders Kibale Forest.

Accommodation: This resort offers accommodation in self-contained cottages with both double and single beds as well as rooms with double beds in the main building.

Ndali lodge

Ndali Lodge sits along the rim of a crater and an impressive drive way views to the lodge. The lodge has large safari cottages with two big queen beds and storage areas and a fabulous bathroom.

  • spacious sitting room
  • reception area and dining room

Kyaninga lodge

The lodge is beautifully situated at the rim of a small crater with a crater lake at the bottom. The views from the main building and the individual cottages are stunning. Peeping down at the Crater Lake, the rolling hills surrounding you and the Rwenzori Mountains as the perfect backdrop that place is so beautiful and peaceful. Kyaninga is situated perfectly for exploring the Fort Portal area. If you don’t fancy moving a lot, you can walk around the Crater Lake (beautiful walk!) or climb down the something stairs to the lake.

Kyaninga boasts Uganda’s only lawn tennis court which is set next to a boules court amidst gardens that were designed by a London-based garden architect. The design of the lodge is quite unique with lots of stairs to climb where ever you go – so perhaps not the best choice for people with walking difficulties.

Chimps’ Nest

Chimps’ Nest Lodge gives an opportunity to spend a night in the jungle. Comfortable Cabins overlooking Kibale Forest, with views of the snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains – or stay right in the jungle itself – in a self-contained Tree house  six meters above the ground – spend the night surrounded by the sounds of the jungle itself  Forest Elephants making their way below you, primates in the trees, the sounds of a multitude of birds around you.

Chimps’ Nest is a few minutes from the entrance to Kibale Forest and Bigodi Swamp, but you can also visit local tea plantations, crater lakes, village visits and more while staying at this lovely accommodation facility.

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