KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK
This park is also commonly known as the primate capital of the world a home to the chimpanzees, it also has 71 mammals, 13 primates, 372 bird species and 350 plant species. It is situated in western Uganda protecting Kibale rain forest comprising of low land and montane relief and 739km2 in size. The park has a favorable climate with temperature ranging between 14-270C per year, it receives lots of rainfall especially in the rainy season which starts from March- May and October-November
Kibale Forest National Park has varied vegetation ranging from tropical forest to woodland, savannah and swamps this is because of its altitude which stands at 1590m above sea level in the north to 1100m on the Albertine rift valley floor in the southern part of the park.
Kibale Forest National Park has a connection corridor to Queen Elizabeth National park in the south, it extends up to Ishasha Sector and other far areas of the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Attractions found in Kibale Forest National Park
The park has a high concentration primates with a total of 13, the most famous and sought endangered primate species are the Chimpanzees hence the main activity done while here is Chimpanzee Trekking. About 1450 Chimpanzees are recorded in the park the chances of spotting them is 99%. Chimpanzees are closet cousins to human and have almost the same level of I.Q like that of human. The highest number of the endangered red Colobus and I’hoest monkeys in Uganda and East Africa at large. Other primates include: blue monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys, bush babies, grey checked mangabey and pottos.
This is the prime feature of the park, derives its name from this forest hence Kibale Forest National park. This breath taking tropical rain forest is endowed with good climate which favors nature/forest walks activities. There are quite a number of natural attraction which you can see while in the forest for example: birds, primates, plants, forest elephants, duikers, warthogs.
Kibale Forest National Park is one of the prime birding spots in Uganda, consisting of mostly forest birds. About 372 bird species are recorded in this forest 6 of them being endemic to the Albertine Rift valley region. The Rear Green Breasted Pitta can only be spotted in Kibale Forest National Park. Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin, masked apalis. African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Great blue Tuaco, Crowned eagle, Abyssinian ground thrush, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted sunbird. Black bee-eater and Yellow spotted nicator.
Other attractions near the park are:
Bigodi wetland Sanctuary
This wetland is endowed with an interlocking eco-system and commonly known for its unique birds which call it a home. It is a birders heaven with a recorded number 138 species, there are also some primates which can be spotted in this swamp such as: blue monkeys, black and white Colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red-tailed monkeys and other wildlife like bush buck ,mangoose.
This wetland is found near Sebitooli Forest north of Kibale Forest National Park, it is under the management of the local communities. It is also a birders paradise and gives a chance to view the serene vast tea plantations found in the area. While walking through this wetland you can also see some animals such as: black and white Colobus monkeys, red tailed Colobus monkeys, mangoose, otters, brushbacks.
The local communities that leave near the park consist of Batooro people who belong to the Tooro tribe in Uganda with a king as their head known as “OMUKAMA”. The Batooro are known for their hospitable behaviors and the calmest people. Tooro Kingdom has an interesting unique culture and history, they have pet names known as ”Empaako” which are given to children at birth and have interesting meanings, Some of these include: Abwooli, Atwooki, Adyeri, Apuuli, Araali, Atenyi, Abwooki. A tour in the local communities gives you more knowledge about the Batooro and learning their ways of life.
Activities done while at Kibale Forest National Park.
This is the main activity done in this park, only 8 people are allowed to track each chimpanzee troop in the day’s session and must be above 15 years. One requires to book a permit at list 1 month before the trekking date, it costs $250 as of 1 July, 2020. This is a guided trek by a professional ranger guide where you are guaranteed to see the chimps in their natural habitat. It is divided into 2 sessions one starts in the morning as early as 8am and ends towards midday , the afternoon trekking which starts at 2pm -4pm depending. The trek through the forest as u search for the chimpanzees gives you a glimpse of the nature, as you see other animals and birds. On encountering the chimpanzees, you will be allowed to spend 1 hour with them as you watch their behaviors however you are advised to keep a distance of 7m from them.
The habituation is the process of training chimpanzees to familiarize with humans, it is done by trained Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger guides and takes about 2 years. The habituated chimpanzees are easy to trek compared to the wild ones which are dangerous and are always on the move. Habituation experience starts early morning before the chimpanzees leave their nests and ends towards evening as they go back to their nests. It is an entire day activity as you observe the chimpanzees ways of life, it is advisable to carry packed lunch and water.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary Visit
A visit to this wetland gives you a glance at nature, it is endowed with birds which are the main attractions in this wetland, it is a birders paradise. As you walk through, it is a guarantee that you will spot one or two of your favorite birds. Besides the birds, you can also spot some monkeys and mongoose.
Guided days and night nature walks are done in Kibale Forest National park.it has designated trails where these walks are done. As you take day nature walks in Kibale Forest, you will be able to see and hear birds singing, tree species, monkeys, baboons, forest elephants, and warthogs. On a night nature walk you will see nocturnal such as; the pottos, tree hyrax, galagos and bush babies. Nocturnal birds such as: owls and nightjars. Predators; civets and serval cats.
Kibale forest is a home to about 372 birds, it is a birder’s paradise as earlier mentioned. Birders cannot miss to catchup with their favorite birds especially the forest birds which are common in this park. Birding can be done with a guide, it is usually done in the morning as the birds leave their nest at in the evening as thy return. As you walk through the forest their always birds singing as they make the sweet melody sounds.
Visit to the explosion craters.
These craters are near the park, surrounded by beautiful scenic hills which provide good grounds for camping. These craters are famously known as the ndali kasenda craters, nature lovers are bound not to miss this area. Some of the best spots for hiking, nature walks in the villages, biking, birding, boating, and even fishing are found around the craters.
There are quite a number of accommodation facilities in and around the park boarder. They range from Luxury, midrange to Budget. These include: Ndali Lodge, Primates Lodge, Papaya Lake Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Crater Safari Lodge for luxury tourists, Isunga Lodge, Chimps Forest guest house, Chimps nest for mid-range. Rwenzori View Guest house, Nkuruba nature reserve and community camp site, Nyinabulitwa country and safari camp for budget.