Kibale National Park Uganda

Kibale National Park Uganda

Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. Forest cover, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau.The most accessible of Uganda’s major rain forests, Kibale is home to a remarkable 13 primate species including the much localized red colobus, L’Hoest monkey. Kibale’s major attraction, however, is the opportunity to track the habituated chimpanzees. These delightful apes are more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. A network of shady forest trails provides much to the delight of botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species recorded including the endemic green breasted pitta.

Size of Kibale National Park

The 766km squared Kibale Forest National Park extends southwards from the Fort portal to form a contiguous block with the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp, the dominant vegetation type is rainforest, spanning altitudes of 1,100-1,590m and with a floral composition transitional to typical eastern Afro-montane and western lowland forest.

Location of Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park is a national park in Western Uganda, protecting the most evergreen rain forest. It is 766 square kilometers in size and is located between 1,100 meters to 1,600 meters in elevation. Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes

How to get to Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park can be best reached by road and air. By road, your road trip begins from Kampala via the Mubende-Fort Portal route and you will spend about 5 hours driving. You can as well set off via Kampala-Mbarara-Kamwenge.

By air, take a flight from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi and land in Kasese, and take the 2-hour transfer by road to the heart of Kibale forest national park

Things to do in Kibale National Park

The most popular activity in the national park is the guided chimp-tracking excursion out of Kanyanchu. Almost as popular is the guided walking trail through the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, which is probably better for general monkey viewing and one of the finest birding trails in the country. There is also plenty of potential for unguided exploration in the area, both along the main road through the forest, and around Bigodi Trading Centre and Kanyanchu Camp. If time is limited, it’s advisable to do the activity that most interests you in the morning, this is not only the best time to see chimpanzees, but also when birds are most active.

Chimpanzee trekking

Kibale’s most popular activity is the Kanyanchu Primate Walk. Thirteen species can be sought, and a good variety of diurnal monkeys invariably encountered, but the stars of this trail are the chimpanzees. Kanyanchu’s chimps have been tracked since 1993 and the chances of locating them are excellent. Guided walks start at 8 am and 2 pm and last an average of three hours, depending on various factors.

The perennially popular primate walk provides the chance to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Kanyanchu’s groups are accustomed to human presence – some have been observed for over 25 years – and the chance of locating them is over 90%. Walks leave Kanyanchu Visitor Centre at 08.00, 11.00, and 14.00 and last between 2-5 hours. Early arrival to allow for registration and briefing is recommended. Contact time with chimpanzees is limited to one hour; group size is limited to six visitors; participants must be aged 16 or over. Advance booking is essential.

Chimpanzee habituation

The Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) enables visitors to accompany researchers and habituation into the forest. The chimpanzee groups involved are less accustomed to human presence than those visited on the Primate Walk and following and viewing them is both exciting and challenging.

Early visitors can watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30 am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling, and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7 pm.

  • Guided walks

With developed wood walkways in the forest, clients can take a guided forest walk with a ranger in search of birds, monkeys, and antelopes like the duiker that are often shy but can be seen.

  • Night walks

Night walks are available for booking at the national park office, this will help clients trek for nocturnal primates such as bushbabies, photos, and Galagos which you can see or hard at night

  • Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

This small sanctuary which protects the Magombe Swamp adjacent to Bigodi trading center just outside the national park boundary it’s an admirable example of conservation and tourism having a direct benefit at the grassroots level, Run by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environment Development (KAFRED), all money raised from the trail is used in community projects in Bigodi, it has so far funded the creation of a small local library as well as the construction of a new secondary school in the village.

  • Sebitoli and the Kihingami Wetlands

Sebitoli lies inside the northern part of Kibale forest national park. It is little visited, which is a shame since it is conveniently located just meters off the main Fort portal-Kampala road and is far easier to reach than Kanyanchu. Sebitoli development opened in 2002 to help ease tourist pressure on the Kanyanchu sector of the park. It offers similar activities and facilities to Kanyanchu, with the exception of chimpanzee tracking, and is far more accessible for day-trippers from the Fort portal.

When to visit Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park can be visited at any time of the year. Most significantly, take note of which season you wish to pay a visit because this park experiences 2 seasons. They include the dry and wet season with dry season starts is usually the most preferable and it starts from June to September and December to February. The wet/rainy season on the other hand kick starts from March to May and from October to November. The rainy or wet season is usually characterized by heavy rainfall but incredible for bird watching.

Where to stay in Kibale National Park

The available accommodation options for your overnight stay in this park include Kibale forest camp, primate lodge, Kyaninga lodge, Ndali lodge, Kibale Guest Cottages, Chimps Nest, Turaco treetops, Chimpanzee forest Guesthouse, and papaya lodge.


Chimpanzee tracking experience
Chimpanzee habituation Experience
Guided forest walks
Guided night forest walks
Bigodi wetland sanctuary visit
Sebitoli and kihingami forest walks
Bird watching


How to get to Kibale national park


3 Days Kibale chimpanzee trekking
4 Days Kibale chimpanzee fly-in safari
5 Days Kibale chimp trekking and Birding safari


Best time to visit Kibale national park


Kyaninga Lodge
Ndali lodge
Turaco treetops lodge
Primate Lodge
Kibale forest camp


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