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Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park is a national park in Western Uganda, protecting moist evergreen rain forest. It is 766 square kilometres in size and is located between 1,100 metres to 1,600 metres in elevation.

Despite encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest, it contains a diverse array of landscapes. Kibale National Park is the best place for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda.

Thirteen species of primates have been recorded, which is the highest number for any Ugandan park, and several monkey species can usually be seen on forest walks. Birds and butterflies are abundant.

Kibale supports a range of habitats over different altitude zones. The tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau changes to savannah in the Albertine Valley floor in the south.

The forest has suffered less from logging in the past compared to some other forests in the country and is therefore still relatively pristine and home to some very big mahoganies, figs and other hardwoods.

Expect to see five or six species in addition to chimpanzee. Species active during the day include vervet, red-tailed, l’Hoest’s and blue monkey, black-and-white colobus, olive baboon, Ugandan red colobus and Uganda mangabey. Other mammals including lion, elephant and buffalo are present but rarely seen.

The drier months of December to February and June to July are best for chimpanzee trekking. However, you can still go looking for the primates in the wetter months (March to May and August to November), which have the added attraction of low-season prices and lower tourist volumes.

What to Do in Kibale

Chimpanzee tracking

Kibale National park is home to Chimpanzees among other primate species. Chimpanzees are in the family of Hominidae with gorillas, orangutans and humans although they separated from humans about 6 million years ago.

They share 98.8% DNA with man making them man’s closest cousins being members of the Homini along with extinct species of the sub tribe Hominina. Male chimps are bigger than female chimps. They can stand up to 5.6 ft high and weighs about 150lbs.

Chimpanzees also live 40 years in the wild and about 60 years in captivity. Chimpanzee’s arms are longer than the legs and they can walk with knuckles, or walk on all the legs and arms.

You only spend one hour with the chimps for the normal chimpanzee trek. The chimpanzee tracking starts at 8am from the park headquarters where visitors are briefed first and later led by 2 rangers.

Chimpanzee habituation.

With habituation, you spend the whole day with chimpanzees and this can prepare you for your gorilla trek safari.  The full day chimpanzee habituation is worth the money and the effort; you will feel like your life is never the same. The chimpanzee habitation process at $220 per person.

Apart from chimpanzees, there are about other 13 primate species which include the black and white colobus monkeys, red colobus monkeys, red tailed monkey, and L’Hoest’s monkeys among others.  Colobus is a Greek word which means ‘missing’. The colobus monkeys miss the 5th finger.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.

Bigodi Wetland swamp sanctuary is about 6 km south of Kibale National park and is run by the community surrounding the park.

200 bird species that include the great blue turaco, about eight different primates that include the grey checked mangabey, the blue monkey, the red tailed, the black and white colobus monkey among others, beautiful butterflies call this swamp home.

The guided swamp walk takes about 2 to 3 hours walking through beautiful grasslands and communities with children waving at you warmly.

Bird watching.

About 370 bird species have been recorded in Kibale National park and surrounding area. What more can a bird watcher ask for? The breasted pitta is one of the highly thought after birds, and our bird watching itinerary includes birding in Kibale national park.

Bird watching in Kibale National park can be done thought the year. The other best bird spot is the Bigodi wetland sanctuary that is home to the great blue turaco, black and white cascade hornbill among others.

Crater lakes walk.

With over 70 crater lakes found are the area, a visitor can go for a 2 to 3 hour crater walk or more and hike to the top of the world for stunning views. Some of the crater lakes that are due to volcanic activities and explosions ages ago are Lake Nyabikyere, Ndali and Kyaninga.

Cultural home stays.

It is also possible to visitors to do a home stay at one of the homes in the communities and experience first-hand how the local people go by their lives. You will also participate in going to the farms with them, preparing and enjoying traditional Ugandan food.

Night nature walk.

If booked early through the national park, one can go for a guided night walk to look out for bush babies, golden cats and pottos. Before the night walk, forest elephants that call Kibale Forest National park have to be monitored first for peaceful night nature walks.

Where to Stay in Kibale

Kyaninga Lodge

This is a luxury stunning lodge located less than an hour from Kibale National park in Uganda. Below are the 2019 rates. Kyaninga Lodge is also convenient for exploring Queen Elizabeth National park, Mountain Rwenzori and Semliki National park. The lodge was built by locals using local materials from around Fort Portal and thatched by grass from Semliki.

Kyaninga lodge has exclusive private eight cottages and the main building perched on a rock overlooking Lake Kyaninga crater perfect for unwinding after chimpanzee tracking, chimpanzee habituation or bird watching. At the lodge, guests have beautiful views of the distant mountain of the moon.

Ndali Lodge.

Consisting of a main lodge and 8 sleeping cottages, it is situated on the rim of an extinct volcano. The main lodge includes a reception, lounge, dining area, bar and veranda.

Marked by polished floors, white walls, exposed beams, lightweight seating, well-chosen local artefacts, and lit at night by candles or hurricane lamps, the main lodge’s interiors are welcoming, intimate and relaxing.

With accommodation for up to 16, the 8 cottages are spacious, airy stone and thatch builds, which, if need be, are large enough to accommodate families. Each en-suite room possesses a double or twin bed, plenty of changing room, a seating area and private veranda.

Papaya Lake Lodge

The exclusive and peaceful Papaya Lake Lodge offers sweeping views of Lyantonde and Kifuruka Lakes within Uganda’s Great Crater Lakes region. With high-beam ceilings, warm wooden decor and unique local crafts, this lodge offers cottages for guests to unwind and enjoy the remarkable beauty of the extinct volcano lakes.

Ideally located close to the Kibale National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, venture out from the lodge to enjoy drives and sights of Uganda’s diverse ecosystems and flora and fauna species.

The highlights are sightings of chimpanzee, red colobus monkeys and bushbuck species. In the afternoons, you can dip into the lodge’s pool and relish the panoramic views of rolling hills and lakes.

Overlooking the waters of Lyantonde Lake and hidden by trees, nine exclusive cottages offer tranquil and luxurious spaces with warm wooden floors and bespoke decor.

Eight cottages have a king and a single bed, en-suite bathrooms and an inviting verandah. One cottage boasts two storeys, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and spacious terrace.

Primate Lodge Kibale

Situated in Kibale Forest National Park and is the perfect gateway for tracking the primates of Uganda. The lodge is committed to the conservation of nature and culture and is constructed using local materials and makes use of solar power electricity in order to minimize the impact on the environment.

Primate Lodge features 8 luxury cottages and 8 mid-range cottages. All the rooms are privately situated within the forest, making it an ideal place to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you.

The luxury tents have been broken down and in their stead royal luxury cottages have been constructed from the ground up with large windows to allow in the forest’s light and fresh air.

The rooms are fitted with regal decor, well-polished furniture, a steady supply of hot water for post-trekking showers and unique designs for the entire room outlay.

Crater Safari Lodge

Situated in a prime location on a hill overlooking the second largest Crater Lake in Uganda. The views from the lodge are breathtaking, and the 21 rooms (deluxe chalets or standard cabanas) either have a full or partial view of the Crater Lake.

Close to the lodge is the famous Kibale National Park, home of the chimp trekking safari. The national park protects the lush and dense evergreen rain forest, which is the natural habitat to chimpanzee. Chimp trekking, outdoor activities and numerous cultural activities in the immediate area can be booked during your stay.

Kibale Forest camp

Kibale Forest Camp offers a variety of comfortable accommodation to suit your budget. Be it the classic canvas experience of our 12 African ensuite safari style tents tucked away in a lush forest or our thatched non self-contained tents (lazy camping option),a great value for money is guaranteed.

Our elegant tented camp is located in a patch of evergreen forest, just outside the southern part of Kibale Forest National Park.

It borders the Magombe swamp, known for the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary and is a mere 10 min drive to Kanyanchu Visitor Center, the place from where your chimp track will start.

Kibale Guest Cottages

Situated in Fort Portal, Kibale Guest Cottages offers free Wi-Fi access, a children’s playground and has a garden. All rooms in the accommodation are fitted with a safe, wardrobe and ironing facilities. Guests can enjoy garden views from each room.