Kibale Forest National Park
If you are looking for the best place to go chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, then Kibale National Park is the place. With its diverse range of habits – tropical rainforest, savannah and wetland – the park is inhabited by 13 different species of primate, including chimpanzee. This makes it the most diverse population in Uganda. Kibale also boasts over 370 species of birds, which is sure to make any birdwatching enthusiasts giddy with happiness.
Best Time To Go
Average Safari Cost
$300-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $390
Chimpanzee trekking, 13 species of primates, rainforest, birdwatching paradise, guided nature walks
Why Visit Kibale Forest National Park?
Kibale is the park to go to if you want to see the most diverse range of primate species in Uganda. While chimpanzee tracking is the most popular pastime in the park, there are 12 other primate species, which can be encountered on the guided nature walks.
With over 370 species present, birdwatching is amazing in Kibale The best place to spot them is in the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, which can be visited by guided walking tours that are offered by the Bigodi Community.
Pros And Cons
- Night walks and chimpanzee habituation experience
- Fairly unspoiled rainforest
- Great forest and wetland birdwatching
- The Bigodi Community offers wonderful guided nature walks and other village activities
- Great chimpanzee trekking
- Fees are somewhat expensive, but the money goes towards conservation
- Roads and trails can be inaccessible after heavy rains
Best Time To Go
- Dry season: June to July and December to February
- Wet season: March to May and August to November
It is always easier to spot wildlife when the weather is dry and pleasant. And chimpanzee tracking is no different. Although the park is open throughout the year, permitting chimpanzee tracking during the wet months, heavy rain can make trails slick and difficult to walk – although the low-season rates can hold some appeal.
In Kibale, birdlife is good throughout the year, but it surprisingly better in the wetter months (March to May and September to November). This is because the main fruit season takes place from June to September, offering plenty of bird food. This also happens to be breeding season, ensuring an excellent birdwatching spectacle of spectacular mating rituals. If you would enjoy seeing migratory birds instead, the best months would be from November until April.
For more details about when to visit broken down by months and seasons see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Start your African Adventure
7 Days Most Popular Uganda Safari
Visit Uganda best tourist sites in 7 days to these locations Kibale National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and finish the safari with Lake Mburo National Park.
Primate Safari Experience
Uganda is a land of contrasts. In half a day you can drive from mist-shrouded volcanic mountains to hot hazy savannah, dappled with wildlife. Serene undulating hills of tea plantations, lush but ordered, give way to tangled jungle and rainforest with the musical accompaniment of chaotic, cacophonous birdlife. Uganda is alive with these contrasts: The tiniest sunbirds, iridescent in the morning light, the massive lumbering yet silent elephant, disappearing like a vapor behind the trees, the chimpanzees crashing about the forest canopy, the lugubrious gorilla, chewing thoughtfully in the bamboo thicket. There’s the Nile, twisting its way north like a shimmering ribbon, through arid semi-desert scattered about with rocky kopjes. Snow-capped peaks, tropical, sandy, freshwater beaches, and smiling faces everywhere. It’s all here, a feast for all the senses.
Wildlife And Birds
With 13 species of primate, Kibale has the most diverse primate population in Uganda. While tracking chimpanzees is the most common activity in the park, visitors can expect to see many active species during the day – including the largest population of l’Hoest monkey in east Africa, as well as the red coloubus monkey (endangered). Other primates: grey-cheeked mangabey, blue monkey, black-and-white colobus, olive baboon, vervet. There are also several nocturnal species of primate worth a night drive.
While there are many mammals in Kibale, unlike the primates, they are rarely spotted. These mammals include leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, warthog, giant forest hog, Peter’s duiker and bushbuck. In the marshy areas, you can find the very unique sitatunga antelope.
- Hippo; lion; leopard; bushbaby (nocturnal); potto (nocturnal); Demidov’s dwarf galago (nocturnal); sitatunga antelope
Frequently Seen Animals
- Chimpanzee; buffalo (occasional); elephant (occasional); vervet; red-tailed monkey; l’Hoest monkey; blue monkey; black-and-white colobus; olive baboon; red colobus (endangered); grey-cheeked mangabey
With more than 370 species of birds, Kibale is sure to delight birdwatchers. You can find the coveted African pitta alongside four species that have not been recorded anywhere else in Uganda: Cassin’s spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater, Nahan’s francolin and Masked apalis. The Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is the best spot for birdwatching. If you were interested in Migratory birds, November to April would be the only time to encouter them.
- For a complete list of endangered birds in Uganda please see our Uganda Safari – Complete Travel Guide
Endemic and Near-Endemic Birds
- Abyssinian ground thrush; Afep pigeon; African pitta; Black bee-eater; Black-capped apalis; Black-eared ground thrush; Blue-breasted kingfisher; Blue-headed bee-eater; Blue-headed sunbird; Brown illadopsis; Brown-chested alethe; Cassin's spinetail; Crowned eagle; Dusky crimsonwing; Green-breasted pitta; Grey parrot; Little greenbul; Masked apalis; Nahan's francolin;Purple-breasted sunbird; Red-chested owlet; Red-faced woodland warbler; Ruwenzori apalis; Scaly-breasted illadopsis; Western nicator; White-naped pigeon; Yellow-rumped tinkerbird.
Getting There And Safety
You will arrive in the country at Entebbe International Airport (EBB), 46km (29miles) from Kampala. Your tour operator should arrange for all transportations from this point onwards.
Kibale is located 360km (224miles) from Kampala (and 22km/14mi from Fort Portal), and is rarely a main destination point – many who visit Kibale, do so as part of a tour of multiple parks, rather than visiting it alone.
Visitors from most countries are required to have a visa. You can choose between a tourist visa for Uganda only, or one that is for East Africa, and covers Keyna, Rwanda and Uganda.
For more details about visas see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Having a valid yellow fever certificate is particularly important. It would be best if you spoke to your doctor or travel clinic concerning which vaccinations will be necessary.
For more details about vaccinations see our Uganda Safari - Complete Travel Guide.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Uganda. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.
If you plan to visit during the rainy season from March to May or August to November, pack wet-weather gear. Unlike in Bwindi National Park, you probably won’t need wet-weather gear in the drier months of December to February and June to July – although long sleeve clothes would work best for the forests, especially, if you are going chimpanzee trekking.
For more details about what to take with you on a safari see our Safari Packing List.