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 park is home to a total of 70 mammal species, most famously 13 species of primate including the chimpanzee.
It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180km-long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Sebitoli in the north of Kibale National Park.
The Kibale-Fort Portal area is one of Uganda’s most rewarding destinations to explore. The park lies close to the tranquil Ndali-Kasenda crater area and within half a day’s drive of the Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks, as well as the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Quick Facts About the Park
Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip, which stands 1,590m above sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south.
351 tree species have been recorded in the park, some rise to over 55m and are over 200 years old.
Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor.
Kibale is one of Africa’s foremost research sites. While many researchers focus on the chimpanzees and other primates found in the park, others are investigating Kibale’s ecosystems, wild pigs and fish species, among other topics.
Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale Forest
The park is open for chimpanzee trekking throughout the year. However, the best time to visit is in the dry seasons of June, July, August, September and December to February.
Chimpanzee trekking is quite challenging in wet season of March, April, May and September to November. It should be noted however, that the chances of seeing chimpanzees in Kibale forest in 99% throughout the year. In dry period, the trails are drier and chimpanzee trekking is easier) – the dry seasons are the Peak seasons; June, July, August and September.
Low season is March, April, May, and November – that is the low season. Best weather conditions: June, July and December to February (there is less rainfall during this time.) Worst Weather conditions: March to May and September to November (there is heavy rainfall and trails become hard to travel)
In dry season, there is less dense under growth in the forest, making it easy for trekkers to meet Chimpanzees. There is a lot of sunshine during this season, and very little rain. There are very few or no mosquitoes at all so chances of contracting malaria are very minimal. Because it is peak season, there are a number of tourists, so it is common to encounter other people while chimpanzee trekking but the park and forest never gets really crowded. Wet seasons always attract migratory birds in Kibale National Park. This is because forest looks green and bear flowers in this period making it the best time to go bird watching.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It is home to a large number of endangered chimpanzees, as well as the red colobus monkey and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. Kibale National park is also home to over 325 species of birds, 4 wild fellids, 13 species of primates, a total of at least 70 other species of mammals, and over 250 tree species.
The predominant ecosystem in Kibale is moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest. Much of the forest was logged during its time as a Forest Reserve, and some exotic species of trees were planted in plantations (pines and eucalyptus). Since the national park was gazetted many of these introduced trees have been removed and logging has ended. Kibale is highest at the park’s northern tip, which stands 1,590m above sea level. The lowest point is 1,100m on the floor of the Albertine Rift Valley to the south.
Kibale’s most popular activity is chimpanzee trekking. Thirteen species of primates can be traced but the dominant one is chimpanzees. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest started in 1993 up to today.