The 795km2 Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda. This is home to a host of forest wildlife, most famously 13 species of primate including chimpanzee. Forest cover predominates in the northern and central parts of the park on the elevated Fort Portal plateau. Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip which stands 1590m above sea level. Northern Kibale is also the wettest area, receiving a mean annual rainfall of up to 1700mm, mostly during March-May and September-November. The climate is generally pleasant with a mean annual temperature range of 14-27oC. Temperatures are highest (and rainfall lower) in the south where the terrain drops down onto the hot rift valley floor and forest gives way to open grassland.
Southern Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park and together these protected areas maintain a 180km-long migration corridor for wildlife which extends from Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth NP, to the Sebitoli forest in the north of Kibale.
The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding areas to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within a half day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks and the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
|How to get there|
Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 26km south-east of Fort Portal town. Kanyanchu River Camp, the primary centre for tourism activities, can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge. The northern approach is shorter and quicker, with a 300km tarmac road running to Fort Portal followed by 36km on murram to Kanyanchu. Sebitoli Forest Camp, a secondary tourism centre, is even easier to reach. This stands directly on the Kampala road, 16km before Fort Portal. Public transport runs throughout the day between Kampala and Fort Portal (passing Sebitoli) and Fort Portal and Kamwenge (passing Kanyanchu).
Kibale Primate Lodge provides a choice of accommodation at Kanyanchu including stone cottages, tree houses and an upmarket tented camp. Simple cottages are found at Sebitoli. Both sites provide campsites and canteens that provide basic meals to order.
Basic and mid range accommodation is available in the nearby villages of Bigodi and Nkingo while a wider choice is to be found in the Ndali Crater Area. This ranges from the upmarket Ndali Lodge to good budget options at Chimpanzee Guesthouse and Lake Nkuruba. Accommodation can also be found in Fort Portal town
|Flora and fauna|
Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest (moist evergreen forest) on the Fort Portal plateau, through dry tropical forest (moist semi deciduous), to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor. Around Kanyanchu, in the central part of the park, the high forest contains a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees with the evergreen species dominant. Trees rise to over 55m and exhibit a semi-closed canopy of stratified tree crowns. The undergrowth is sparse with shade tolerant herbs, shrubs, a variety of ferns and broad leaved forest grasses. 351 tree species have been recorded in the park.
The diversity and density of primates in Kibale is the highest in Africa. The most famous of its 13 species is the chimpanzee, our closest relative. Kibale’s 1450 chimpanzee represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. Kibale is also home to the rare I’Hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey. Other primates include the black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto. Other mammals are present, though rarely seen. These include forest elephant, buffalo, leopard, bush pig and duiker. A keen observer may also spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colourful variety of butterflies.
Around the park
Kanyanchu River Camp
Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
Primate walk (Chimpanzee tracking)
Sebitoli Forest Camp
Cultural Heritage and Nature Trail
(Former Long Distance Walk)
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary
Guided walks, similar to those at Magombe, are conducted in the Kihingani Wetland, just outside the national park near Sebitoli.nducted in the Kihingani Wetland, just outside the national park near Sebitoli.
Chimpanzee tracking regulations
For your safety and the protection of Kibale’s chimpanzees, please observe the following points:
• Keep a distance of 8 metres between you and the chimps.
• Do not enter the forest if you are sick. This puts the chimps at risk of contracting disease.
• Do not eat near the chimps.
• Children of 12 years and below are not permitted to view the chimps for safety reasons.
• Do not enter the forest without a park guide.
• If you need to defecate, do so off the trail and bury waste and toilet paper in a hole 30cm deep.
• Do not scare or attempt to provoke the chimps.
• Flash photography is strictly forbidden.
• Follow the instructions of your guide.
Please remember that Kibale is not a zoo but a natural tropical rainforest. Sightings of chimpanzee and other primates depend on several factors, such as time of the day, fruit availability, weather, and how quiet your group is.
What to bring
Carry warm clothing and rain gear as the mornings and evenings can be cold and wet, especially during the peak rainy seasons. Wear enclosed shoes and remember to bring a camera, binoculars, wildlife guidebooks, hat, and mosquito/insect repellant.
For information on fees for park entrance and activities, please refer to the UWA tariff sheet.
20% of all park entry fees are shared with communities living in park boundary parishes in order to spread the benefits of ecotourism and generate local support for conservation.