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Kibale National Park


Are You Planning A Uganda Safari To Kibale? Scroll Down..


Kibale Park Introduction - Location, Wildlife & History

Despite its relatively small size of 795 square kilometers, Kibale National Park is a stunningly beautiful natural reserve that captivates like-minded adventurers on their safari vacation in Uganda. The park received gazetted status as a protected area in 1932 and was formally declared a national reserve in 1993. Its most valued treasure is an incredible diversity of primates – 13 species in all, including the rare Eastern chimpanzee. Kibale stands on the northern boundary of the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park. Along with Semuliki National Park and Semliki-Tooro Reserve in the west, and Katonga Reserve on the east, the entire wilderness forms the Kibale Conservation Area.

As you will discover on your safari vacation, Kibale Park is a 180-kilometer-long corridor that connects these major reserves and allows an unconfined passage of wildlife from distant Ishasha in the south of Queen Elizabeth Park all the way to the northern Sebitoli area. Aside from attracting the interest of tourists and wildlife enthusiasts, the park also forms an important center for study and research on primates. It’s the location of the famous Makerere University Biological Field Station. In addition, the Kibale Chimpanzee Project (KCP), founded in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Richard Wrangham, is focused on studying the behavior, physiology, and favored habitats of the wild chimpanzees of Uganda.

An interesting facet of Kibale National Park (best time to visit) is that it covers a striking range of altitudes, from 1590 meters above sea level in the northernmost section to 1100 meters at the lowest point, where the southern section of the park slopes into the bed of the Albertine Rift Valley. This diversity of altitudes contributes to an amazing range of flora found within the park. Close to 77% of the park has a forest cover. This includes medium-altitude, moist-climate evergreen trees in the north. As you descend to lower altitudes during your travel through the park, you will come across semi-deciduous woodlands. In all, close to 351 species of trees abound here, and it’s not unusual to come upon specimens that are more than 200 years old and up to 55 meters tall.

The remaining 23% of the landscape on Kibale Park’s south side boasts wetlands, sprawling savannah grasslands where lions roam, and acreages of coniferous trees. This park is one of the last remaining regions with both mountainous rainforests and swamplands. The reserve has yet another notable feature: owing to its location in the Albertine Rift Valley, the landscape is dotted with extinct volcanic craters, some of which have transformed over the centuries into gloriously beautiful crater lakes that attract a variety of flora and fauna. The most famous of these lakes is the Ndali-Kasenda crater.

Kibale National Park is fast emerging as a favored destination on the Ugandan safari circuit thanks to the speedy development of an infrastructure that supports cultural tourism. This development is particularly notable because it involves several community projects and is focused on the participation of the local tribes, the Bakiga and Batoro. These people have survived in the forest for centuries, relying on its resources for food, fuel, raw materials for crafts, and medicines. By obtaining employment in the tourism industry, they can now earn a livelihood that was taken away with the setting of the reserve boundaries.

Key Takeaways

  • Received gazetted status in 1932, formally declared a national park in 1993
  • An incredible diversity of primates, home to 13 species in all, including the rare chimpanzees. 351 different species of trees and plants
  • Adjoins the northern boundary of Queen Elizabeth National Park. Park is a 180-kilometer long corridor allowing the unrestricted passage of wildlife between the southern Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth Park to the northern Sebitoli region of Kibale Park
  • Location of the renowned Makerere University Biological Field Station. Kibale Chimpanzee Project (KCP), established in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Richard Wrangham operates in the park
  • 77% of the reserve is covered with moist-climate evergreen trees and semi-deciduous woodlands. 23% of the reserve with wetlands, sprawling savanna grasslands, and mountainous rainforests. Landscape also having scenic craters left behind by extinct volcanoes now converted into lakes

Watch Video On Kibale Safari Experiences

Page Content - Start Here

1. What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Kibale National Park?
What Are The Areas Of Interest In Kibale National Park
2. Chimpanzees & Primates Of Kanyawara, Ngogo, Kanyanchu & Sebitole Areas
3. Viewing Other Wildlife In Kibale’s Conservation Areas & Uncharted Wilderness
4. Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary & The Kanyanchu Birding Area
5. The Cultural Communities Of The Batoro & Bakiga Tribes
6. Viewing the Flora of Kibale
Kibale Park - An Overview

1. What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Kibale National Park?

Key Takeaways

  • Close to 1500 individual chimpanzees known to live here, some of which have been habituated
  • Park is also home to various other types of primates only found here
  • Also has 70 species of mammals, 375 kinds of birds, 250 types of butterflies, and myriad reptiles and amphibians
The spectacular habitats formed by the altitudes and flora together form the perfect setting for a high concentration of primates. One of the main reasons visitors plan trips to this part of Uganda is a large number of wild chimpanzees present in the area – close to 1500, in fact – some of which have been habituated and can be visited. In addition to the chimpanzees, Kibale National Park is home to many other species of primates, of which a few are not found anywhere else in the world. For instance, on your tour, you could spot red colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, spectacled Prince Demidoff's bushbaby, other galagos and many more. Also, look out for some of the 70 species of mammals, an incredible 375 varieties of birds, 250 kinds of butterflies, and a fascinating range of 70 amphibians and reptiles.
What Are The Wildlife Experiences In Kibale National Park

What Are The Areas Of Interest In Kibale National Park?

2. Chimpanzees & Primates Of Kanyawara, Ngogo, Kanyanchu & Sebitole Areas

Key Takeaways

  • 13 species of primates, some of them exceedingly rare
  • Main highlight is the opportunity to view the 1500 individual chimpanzees that thrive in the forests
  • Research programs like the Kibale Chimpanzee Project (KCP) and Makerere University Biological Field Station working to study them
Kibale National Park is famous for its high concentration of primates, particularly the nearly 1500 chimpanzees, some of which you could get a chance to visit on your trekking tour in various areas i.e Kanyawara, Ngogo, Kanyanchu & Sebitole. In addition to these unique creatures, you might spot some of the 12 other species of primates that live here, including the red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red colobus, L’Hoest monkey, vervet monkey, black-and-white colobus, potto, olive baboon, blue monkey, and two kinds of bush babies i.e Prince Demidoff' and Thomas’s galagos. Research programs like the Kibale Chimpanzee Project (KCP) and Makerere University Biological Field Station have been set up in the reserve to study these fabulous creatures.
Chimpanzees & Primates Of Kanyawara, Ngogo, Kanyanchu & Sebitole Areas

3. Viewing Other Wildlife In Kibale’s Conservation Areas & Uncharted Wilderness

Key Takeaways

  • Possibility of sighting 375 avian and 70 terrestrial species of wildlife
  • Close to 500 elephants and a range of herbivores and antelopes including the rare sitatunga
  • Large and small predators, 250 kinds of butterflies, insects, reptiles, and amphibians
While Kibale National Park hosts an incredible variety of primates, other species – including 375 avian and 70 terrestrial types of wildlife – also call it home. On your bushwalking hike deep in the forest, wetlands, and sprawling savannah grasslands, you could spot some of the 500 elephants present in the park, along with other grazers like buffaloes, five kinds of antelopes, warthogs, Peter’s duiker, Harvey’s duiker, bush pigs, bushbuck, Lord Derby's scaly-tailed squirrel (anomalure), and honey badger. Should you travel to the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary, you might catch a glimpse of the extremely shy and elusive sitatunga antelope.

Among the predator group, lions, leopards, golden cats, serval, common genets, and the African palm civet are present primarily in the open south region of the park but rarely spotted. You could also see three kinds of mongoose: Alexander’s cusimanse, the marsh mongoose, and the banded mongoose. Check out the crater lakes of Kibale and you might run into swamp otters and hippos. In addition, your safari vacation in Africa will be made memorable by sighting some of the park’s 250 varieties of butterflies and myriad reptiles, insects, and amphibians.
Viewing Other Wildlife In Kibale’s Conservation Areas & Uncharted Wilderness

4. Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary & The Kanyanchu Birding Area

Key Takeaways

  • Birdwatching expeditions to spot some of the incredible avian life, of which 4 are only seen in Kibale
  • 138 species of birds sighted in the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary
  • Kanyanchu area also known for its incredible diversity of birds
While primate-viewing is no doubt the prime tourist activity in Kibale National Park, the locale is also a complementing birding destination and proudly hosts more than 375 species of birds. Sign up for your Uganda birdwatching safari with AfricanMecca, where you might spot specimens like the green-breasted pitta, white-naped pigeon, red-chested owlet, western nicator, little greenbul, African grey parrot, Scaly-breasted illadopsis, black-capped apalis, collared apalis, yellow spotted nicator, red-faced woodland warbler, brown illadopsis, blue-breasted kingfisher, dusky crimsonwing, purple-breasted sunbird, African pitta, black bee-eater, black-eared ground thrush, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, Abyssinian ground-thrush, Afep pigeon, brown-chested alethe, crowned eagle, and blue-headed sunbird.

As the AfricanMecca expert guide accompanying you will explain, Kibale National Park also hosts four species that are not found in any other location in Uganda. These include the blue-headed bee-eater, Cassin’s spinetail, masked apalis, and Nahan’s francolin. The Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary alone boasts 138 types of avifauna. In this area you could spot the black-crowned waxbill, white-breasted negro finch, black bishop, Bocage’s bush-shrike, brown-crowned tchagra, superb sunbird, brown-throated wattle-eye, black-and-white shrike-flycatcher, brown-backed scrub-robin, white-tailed ant-thrush, grey-winged robin-chat, yellow-billed barbet, white-spotted flufftail, hairy-breasted barbet, and the yellow-spotted barbet.

The Kanyanchu area in Kibale National Park (where to stay) also has a high density of birds, and during your safari holiday you should keep your eyes peeled for the white-winged warbler, papyrus canary, papyrus gonolek, and white-collared oliveback. Other species that abound here include the fine-banded woodpecker, white-bellied crested flycatcher, red-faced crimson-wing, bar-tailed trogon, forest ground thrush, and the white-thighed hornbill.
Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary & The Kanyanchu Birding Area

5. The Cultural Communities Of The Batoro & Bakiga Tribes

Key Takeaways

  • Cultural heritage dating back to the ancient kingdoms thriving in the Great Lakes’ region
  • Communities forced to relocate after the establishment of the reserve in 1993
  • Upliftment of the Bakiga and Batoro people as a result of tourism
Kibale National Park has a rich cultural heritage that goes back to the time of the ancient kingdoms that flourished in Africa’s Great Lakes region. One of these dynasties is the Batoro clan. Under the leadership of the king, or Omukama, they are descendants of the Kingdom of Toro – hence the name Batoro. The second tribe living in the region are regional emigrants, the Bakiga, traveled here from the southwest of Uganda and have a unique culture of their own, including dance and music forms, language, and ancient folklore. You may have the rare chance to participate in some of these arts while on a cultural vacation tour in Africa.

The Bakiga and Batoro have lived in the reserve for many centuries, relying on its resources for food, medicines, fuel, and raw material for making crafts and other essentials. After the mapping of the park boundaries in 1993, these tribes were forced to relocate to places outside the forests and adopt a way of living that is very different from their traditions. As a result, a large proportion of the people struggle for survival. In the past, they were often found trying to hunt in the park, which is both an illegal activity and endangers rare species of animals. Superb non-profit organizations such as The New Nature Foundation are now attempting to assimilate these people into the mainstream economy by offering training programs and providing opportunities for education and employment.
The Cultural Communities Of The Batoro & Bakiga Tribes

6. Viewing the Flora of Kibale

Key Takeaways

  • Altitudes ranging from 1100 to 1590 meters above sea level with conditions ideal for the flourishing of diverse plant life
  • Landscape showcasing tropical forests, moist evergreens, semi-deciduous trees, forests, savannah grasslands, conifers, and wetlands
  • Combines forests on 77% of the land with grasslands and swamps on 23%
Given that Kibale National Park has altitudes ranging from 1100 to 1590 meters above sea level, it hosts a stunning diversity of plant life, including 351 species of trees, bushes, plants, and other vegetation. At the lowest levels, around the Fort Portal plateau, you will encounter moist evergreen or tropical forests. And as you travel on the lower slopes, you will see more moist semi-deciduous trees and then woodlands.

Further, the Kanyanchu region abounds with trees that reach for the skies at up to 55 meters, sheltering shrubs, ferns, and grasses that thrive in the dim sunlight filtering through to the forest floor. Closer to the Albertine Rift Valley floor are more of the grassy savannah fields. As you will observe on your trip, forests cover close to 77% of Kibale National Park. The remaining 23% consists of sprawling grasslands, wetlands, and conifers.
Viewing the Flora of Kibale

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Kibale has varied accommodations, from the luxuries of Kyaninga Lodge to the deluxe option of Ndali Lodge. The value lodge options in Kibale National Park are Crater Safari Lodge and Primate Lodge.

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Experience chimpanzee trekking safaris in Kibale. Other activities including birdwatching, crater lakes hikes, cultural interactions, night forest walks, chimp habituation experience, and canoe excursions.

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Like most locations in Africa, Kibale National Park has two wet rainy seasons and two dry seasons. June to August and end of December, January, and February is the best time to visit Kibale in Uganda.


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When visiting Kibale for your chimpanzee safari tour, we recommend combining it with Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls for your wildlife safari, and alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.

You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.

You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.

Best Safari Planning Ideas & Trip Experiences For Uganda

Below are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.

1. How To Plan Uganda Safari Trips? (Summary)

2. Wildlife Safari Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

3. Private & Tailor-Made Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

4. Honeymoon Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

5. Family Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

6. Luxury Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

7. Photo Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

8. Cultural Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

9. Gorilla, Chimpanzee & Primate Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

10. Hike, Trek & Bush Walk Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

11. Birding Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

12. Wedding Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda



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