Kibale National park, this fascinating primate capital of the world is 766 sq km and is located near Fort Portal and Kasese towns in Western Uganda. Kibale National park is about 325km and 6 hours from Kampala city. The forest is one of the lush and beautiful forests in Uganda, surrounded by Batoro and Balinga.
The park can easily be accessed from all corners of Uganda and a traveller can combine an extension Uganda safari to Semliki, Mountain Rwenzori, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi impenetrable national parks. This park is popular for chimpanzee tracking safaris although chimpanzee tracking can also be done from Budongo forest, Kyambura gorge in Queen Elizabeth national park, and Kalizu forest which is managed by National Forestry Authority.
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 a long 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. They can also walk on two and hold things in their hands
The park can be visited all year round and is one of the last remaining expanses to contain both lowland and montane forests and forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is a bird watcher’s paradise and the Green-breasted pitta which is one of the highly thought after birds, is here. You can book a bird watching safari with Gorilla Link Tours.
Apart from chimpanzees, there are about other 13 primate species which include the black and white colobus monkeys, red colobus monkeys, red tailed monkey, L’Hoest’s monkeys among others. Colobus is a greek word which means ‘missing’. The colobus monkeys miss the 5th finger. Instead of chimpanzee tracking, a traveller may opt for 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 Jane Goodall. You only spend one hour with the chimps for the normal chimpanzee trek. You can combine the chimpanzee trek with a guided nature walk to Bigodi swamp, a community run activity.
How to get there:
By road: It is about 6 hours from Kampala to Kibale Forest National park and 1 hour from Kasese. We use customised safari vehicles to make your journey a comfortable one.
By air transport: A visitor can fly from Entebbe to Kasese town with our partners, Aerolink.
If you are interested in a chimpanzee tracking safari, contact us and our safari experts will work with you to organize one for you.
Activities to do in Kibale Forest National park
Chimpanzee Tracking: Chimpanzee tracking is one of the highlights that make a Uganda safari unique. What makes Uganda safaris more special is that you can go for chimpanzee and gorilla tracking in the same country. Kibale Forest National Park is with no doubt the best place in Uganda and in the world to see chimpanzees in their wild nature. The chimpanzee tracking starts at 8am from the park head quarters where visitors are briefed first. Then they are led to the forest by 2 ranger guides from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Many chimpanzee families call this forest home but there are also other primates that include the red colobus monkeys, the grey checked mangabey, blue monkey, L’Hoest monkey among others. There are also olive baboons and the nocturnal bush babies and pottos which may be seen on a night walk in the forest.
Chimpanzee Habitation: Chimpanzee habituation in Kibale Forest National park, a tropical forest is now popular and it is an experience like no other. Because chimpanzee trekking is very popular, another group is being habituated and visitors have an opportunity to participate in the chimpanzee habitation process at $220 per person. The price includes park entry fees; ranger guides fees and habituation fees. For a long time now, since the 1960s, a team of scientists have been habituating chimpanzees so visitors are able to go chimpanzee tracking. Chimpanzees are found in 19 African countries but they are endangered since their habitant is being destroyed by man. You will spend a whole day with chimps contributing to the habituation process with rangers and habituation experts from UWA.
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 bout 2 to 3 hours walking through beautiful grasslands and communities with children waving at you warmly. The scenery too is beautiful.
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 walk lakes: 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.
Visit to Palace: On your way to Queen Elizabeth National park, one can decide to visit Toro palace to learn more about Toro kingdom which is one the 5 traditional kingdoms in Uganda and King Omukama Oyo Rukidi IV became the youngest king in the world in 1995 at the age of 3.
Cultural home stays. It is also possible to visitors to do a homestay 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
Differences between chimpanzee tracking and gorilla tracking
One of the differences is that chimpanzees spend more time in trees than on ground. They move from one tree canopy to another. Gorillas however eat and move around on the ground, although sometimes some of them will be in the trees. It is so fascinating watching the acrobat skills for chimpanzees moving from one tree to another. It is thus a bit hard to take photos of the chimpanzees in trees than take photos of the gorillas in the floor
Chimpanzees are more vocal, noisy and pat hoot a lot making the whole experience lively while gorillas are quite.
The chimpanzee tracking is flatter compared to the gorilla trek is more tense in a mountainous lush region making it more strenuous.
Unlike gorilla tracking, because the chimpanzee treks are shorter, one can either go in the morning or in the afternoon for the trek. Any time is great. Gorilla tracking goes for a whole day depending on where the gorillas nested the previous night.
However, both gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking require permits and the total number of permits is limited. So it is always recommended to book the permits in advance since they are on first come first served basis
For both gorilla tracking and chimpanzee tracking, you will need to wear sturdy hiking boot to make the treks easy.
We also recommend gaiters if you have them or tuck your safari pants in your boots to stop safari ants from getting to you.
Gardening gloves are also recommended for both treks to avoid stinging nettles and thorns from hurting you.
Accommodation in Kibale National park
While in and around Kibale National park, there are many great accommodation options to stay. These range from High end to Budget accommodations. There is accommodation for every one
- Kyaninga Lodge
- Ndali Lodge:
- Papaya Lake Lodge
Semi- luxe accommodation
- Primate Lodge Kibale
- Crater Safari Lodge
Mid range accommodation
- Kibale Forest camp
- Kibale Guest Cottages
- Kibale Forest camp- Lazy camping
Other places in Uganda where you can go for chimpanzee tracking
Budongo forest in Murchison Falls National park: In Murchison Falls, one can for chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest. The forest costs about 50 chimp individuals. The forest is rich in biodiversity with 9 primates, 289 butterfly species without forgetting 130 month species, 465 tree and shrub species, and about 359 species of bird.
Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National park: Chimpanzee tracking in Queen Elizabeth National park takes place in Kyambura gorge. There about 20 habituated individuals. Although the chances of seeing the chimpanzees in the gorge are 50/50, the gorge itself is very beautiful. A minimum requirement of fitness is required since the gorge is slippery and a bit steep.
Kalinzu Forest Reserve: This is located in Western Uganda near Queen Elizabeth National park with high chances of seeing the chimpanzees. A visitor can combine a savannah wildlife safari in Queen Elizabeth National park with a chimpanzee tracking adventure in Kalinzu forest
Our Recommended safari packages that include chimpanzee tracking activities
3 Day chimpanzee safari and crater lakes
3 Day the Ultimate chimpanzee Habituation
3 Day chimpanzee tracking Adventure to Kyaninga Lodge
4 Day Kibale National park to Queen Elizabeth National park safari
10 Day Chimps, lions and gorillas