highlights and main attractions of kibale forest national park

Comprised of, what are widely considered to be Uganda’s most pristine tropical rainforests, Kibale Forest National Park covers an area of 795 kilometres over varied altitudes. Its unique location, at the crossroads between the dry terrains of East Africa and the wetter forests of the West, means it can support a variety of exciting flora and fauna. The park is home to the largest of Uganda’s chimpanzee populations which stands at around 1,450, so this combined with the ease of access to makes it a perfect place to spot this loveable, endangered primate and it is popular for this alone, despite its many other attractions. 

Kibale is in Western Uganda, just a 30 minute drive from Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki National Park and the Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve. 

Kibale can be easily reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort portal, or from Mbarara and Kamwenge in the south.

where is kibale forest national park?

primates

The park has the greatest density of primates in East Africa, so makes a wonderful addition to any wildlife itinerary, especially if you are visiting the mountain gorillas too. There are a total of 13 species to be found here which, aside from our close relatives the chimpanzees, includes the grey cheeked mangabey, endangered red colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkey, olive baboon, potto, bush baby, red-tailed monkey and the, rarely seen, Hoest’s monkey. The fascinating chimps tend to be heard before they are seen and their screams pant hoots and barks are used by our local tracking experts to bring you even closer to them. Once you locate the animals you can usually spend up to one hour with them before the forest walk continues in search of other primates.

Whilst other mammals do exist within the park, including some larger species such as lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard, sightings can be difficult due to the thickness of the foliage. You will however see a huge variety of birdlife, as there are in excess of 300 species that live within the forests, such as the endemic Kibale Forest thrush, great blue turacos and African grey parrot. 

Located just outside the park itself, the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a highlight of the area, a community-run reserve that provides a great example of how tourism and local communities can work hand-in-hand to benefit the environment. The sanctuary has over 335 bird species and at least five primate species.

Some good accommodation options in the Kibale area include Ndali Lodge and Mantana Tented Camp. Ndali Lodge is reminiscent of colonial Africa, perched on the edge of an extinct volcanic crater, with lakes below and the outline of the Rwenzori Mountains on the horizon. The setting of Mantana Tented Camp is equally stunning within a secondary forest area outside the park itself but with the sights and sounds of the jungle around you.

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