With lush tropical rain forest and a fascinating diversity of animals, Kibale National Park is one of the most beautiful and stunning forests in Uganda. The forest has one of the highest diversity and density of primates in Africa totaling 13 species including over 1500 chimpanzees, the rare L’ Hoest monkey, the threatened red colobus monkey, the black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, bush babies and pottos. Kibale’s major attraction, however are the chimps.
These delightful apes, more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. Visitors have a unique chance to take part in the chimpanzee habituation experience, which entails following up the chimps to get them used to human presence without necessarily altering their natural behavior.
A network of shady forest trails provides much to delight botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species recorded including the endemic Prirogrine’s ground thrush.
The elusive forest elephant, smaller and hairier than its savannah counterpart, moves seasonally into the developed part of the park, while other terrestrial mammals include buffalo, giant forest hog and a half dozen antelope species.
Chimpanzee tracking and other guided forest walks, even night walks. Birders shouldn’t miss Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, a superb community development fringing the park. A field of beautiful crater lakes lies between Fort Portal and Kibale Forest.
On offer are educational walks that last 1-2 hours followed by creative activities. This especially caters for children under 12 years of age that are not allowed to view the chimps. This enables clients to enjoy their chimpanzee safari experience or nature walk whilst their children are supervised, educated and entertained by experienced guides.
The children access the forest and learn about the ecosystem and its habitants through interesting walks, games and creative activities such as pond-dipping, paper making, cyanotype, photography and batik making.
Besides being an exciting holiday destination for primate safaris in Uganda, Kibale forest is an important site for conservation and research. The Uganda Wildlife Authority with assistance from the Jane Goodall Institute started the Kibale Primate Habituation Project which focuses on habituating the chimpanzees to human presence. This has increased the chances of viewing chimpanzees to over 90%, allowing visitors the fantastic opportunity to view these great apes in their natural environment.
For the adventurous visitor who wants to enjoy the forest more may take a 64km guided walk which starts from either Kanyanchu or Sebitoli and ends at either site, passing through different habitats and local communities over a period of 2-6 days, camping at the community camp grounds. Community campsites offer traditional local dishes, traditional dances, story telling and also walks to the shambas. Porters can be hired to carry the bags.
The two major tribes living around the park are the Batooro and Bakiga. Traditionally, both tribes utilize the forest for food, fuel building materials and medicines. The park authorities allow the local people to have controlled and sustainable access to selected forest resources.