Kibale Forest National Park


Kibale National Park is a stunning natural wonder, a modern-day Garden of Eden. Kibale National Park, Uganda’s best chimp tracking site, preserves 766km2 of mostly wooded habitat that stretches more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) south from the major Fort Portal-Kampala Road to the northeast boundary of Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Kibale forest, which was first designated as a forest reserve in 1932, was subsequently raised to national park status and extended southward to form a continuous block with the Queen Elizabeth National Park in 1993. This link generates a stunning 180-kilometer animal migration route. It connects the cities of Ishasha to the south with Sebitoli to the north. This large parkland allows you to see a wide variety of wild creatures.

The Kanyanchu Visitors’ Centre, located 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Fort Portal town on a freshly asphalt paved road that continues south to Kamwenge and Ibanda, is the trailhead for chimp tracking and the major center for visitor activities within the park.


Kibale National Park is dominated by rainforest, but there are also patches of grassland and wetland. Kibale, which ranges in elevation from 1,100 to 1,590 meters, has a floral composition that transitions between typical eastern Afromontane and western lowland forest, with over 200 tree species reported in total.

Unlike the Budongo Forest to the north, Kibale was not commercially harvested until the 1950s, when it became an important timber supply for the Kilembe Copper Mine near Kasese. Logging was halted during the civil war. As a result, mature forest regions are still abundant in large-buttressed mahoganies, tall fruiting figs, and other hardwood trees with canopy heights of up to 60 meters above the ground.

The forest has a dense tangle of lianas and epiphytes, and the dense undergrowth contains wild Robusta coffee.


Kibale National Park has the highest number of primates in Africa, including the largest population of Eastern chimps – about 1,500. The last surviving population of the Ugandan red colobus and the magnificent L’Hoest’s monkey may also be found in this pristine jungle.

Kibale National Park, one of nature’s great beauties, warrants national park designation and protection for these three species alone. However, some primate species, such as the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey, blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, vervet, patas, and two species of bushbabies, place far higher importance on the forest.

Aside from primates, the park is home to at least 60 animal species. There are an estimated 500 elephants here, as well as buffalos, golden cats, five antelope species, three kinds of wild pigs, and a plethora of other critters.

Every inch of this forest teems with life, with 250 butterfly species, 70 reptiles and amphibians, and a conservative estimate of 335 bird species.

It has the last substantial section of pre-montane forest on the African continent, with over 351 tree species, inside roughly 300 square kilometers. Nonetheless, 23% of this park, famous for its woods, is open grassland, where lions and other plains creatures may be found. The Kibale Conservation Area is completed by two sister parks to the west, Semliki-Tooro Reserve & Semuliki National Park, and one to the east, Katonga Reserve.

Birding in Kibale Forest

Kibale National Park has around 370 bird species, many of which are forest specialties, such as the sought-after African pitta. Four of them are indigenous to this area: Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin, and Masked Apalis.

During guided treks through the forest, birding visitors can observe these magnificent birds. A stroll through Kibale’s woodland may reveal the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Crowned eagle, Abyssinian ground thrush, Collared Apalis, and Dusky Crimsonwing. Birds such as the Yellow-spotted Nicator, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Brown-chested alethe, Black-eared groundthrush, and Black bee-eater can also be seen.

These beautiful birds are frequently seen on guided tours of the boardwalk walkway, particularly in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. Experienced guides lead you on a four-hour path as part of this community endeavor.

Kibale’s birdlife is excellent all year, but especially so from March to May and September to November. The primary fruiting season lasts from June to September, so food is plentiful, and many birds are in breeding plumage. Migratory birds can be seen here from November to April, albeit they are not a prominent factor in the woodlands.

Activities in Kibale Forest

Trekking with Chimpanzees

Chimpanzee trekking is a fantastic pastime that many visitors to Kibale National Park enjoy. The Kanyanchu Visitors’ Centre, located 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Fort Portal town on a freshly asphalt paved road that continues south to Kamwenge and Ibanda, is the trailhead for chimp tracking and the major center for visitor activities within the park.

Kibale’s primates are most notable for a chimp population of up to 1,500 individuals separated into at least a dozen distinct communities, four of which are acclimated to people. Since 1993, the Kanyantale Community has been the focus of daily chimp monitoring expeditions out of Kanyanchu. The other three are all for researchers and include Ngogo, the world’s largest chimp community with over 200 members. Another town, Buraiga, whose land borders Kanyanchu, is now being developed for tourism.

UWA rangers and guides lead visitors from Kanyanchu into the tropical bush in search of a habituated chimp family. They must keep up with the foraging band for at least one hour in order to get a US$200 chimpanzees tracking permit or a US$250 Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) permit, which permits them to spend more than six hours with a semi-habituated chimp band.

The low season months of March, April, May, and November are ideal for chimp treks.

The Primate Walk

Another fantastic Africa safari activity available in Kibale National Park is primate walking. The first session of the Primate Walk begins at 8 a.m. at the Kanyanchu Visitor Center, and the second session begins at 3 p.m. Each trek lasts between two and three hours.

During the Primate Walk, you may see Chimpanzees, Black & White Colobus Monkeys, Red-Tailed Monkeys, and Grey-cheeked Mangabeys. Pittas and a vast range of bird species may also be seen. A party of six persons is required for each Primate Walk. During high season, you should book as soon as possible.

Kibale National Park Transportation

The park is located in the country’s western region. It is accessible from the north through Mubende town. This route takes you along a 300-kilometer tarmac road to Fort Portal. From there, take a 36-kilometer Murram route to Kanyanchu River Camp. It is a popular tourist destination in Kibale National Park. It is also accessible from the south through the Kamwenge or Mbarara highways. The northern path, on the other hand, is shorter.