Kibale National Park.
Kibale National Park is found in Western Uganda sharing the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, approximately 320 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Fort Portal in Kabarole District is the nearest large city to the national park. It covers an area of about 795Sq.km and it one of the last surviving tropical forests in Uganda with over 351 tree species some of which are 200 years old and over 55m tall, 70 mammal species, 13 primate species including chimpanzee and over 375 species of birds. The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park creating a 180 km wildlife corridor. It is a significant eco-tourism and safari destination, well known for its populace of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It also acts as the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS). The park is surrounded by two major tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga who rely on the park for food, fuel, and other resources with the assistance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
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 a globally threatened species and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. The park protects several well-studied habituated communities of Common Chimpanzee, as well as several species of Central African monkey including the Uganda Mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae), the Ugandan Red Colobus (Procolobus tephrosceles) and the L’Hoest’s Monkey. Other primates that are found in the park include the black colobus (Colobus satanas) and the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis). The park’s elephants always connect between the park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Kibale also has other terrestrial mammals including red and blue duikers, bush pigs, warthogs, and buffalo. The carnivores that are present include leopards, bush pigs, three species of duiker and two species of otter. In addition, lions visit the park on occasion. Kibale is also a re-known hot spot for birds providing a rewarding experience for a birder on this Ugandan tour. 375 species of birds have been recorded, including the olive long-tailed cuckoo, Western Green tinker bird, two species of pittas (African and Green-breasted) and the African Grey Parrot. The ground thrush (Turdus kibalensis) is endemic to Kibale National Park.
Birds. With over 375species of birds, Kibale can be regarded as a birders haven during your Uganda birding safari. The adjoining Bigodi wetland also adds spice to this tourist experience with 138 species of birds. Four species endemic to the park- Nahans francolin, Cassin spine tail, blue-headed blue eater and masked apalis. Other bird species include; Red Winged Francolin, White-naped Pigeon, Green- brested Pitta, Crested fly catcher, Red- chested fluff tail, Joyful Greenbul, Grey winged Robbin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, White-spotted Flufftail, Yellow-spotted Barbet, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Western Nicator, Grey-winged Robin-chat, White-tailed Ant-thrush, Brown-backed Scrub-robin, Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Superb Sunbird, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Bocage’s Bush-shrike, Black Bishop, White-breasted Negrofinch and Black-crowned Waxbill among other birds.
Kibale National Forest has one of the highest diversity and concentration of primates in Africa. It boasts of over 13 species of primates including the common chimpanzee. Apart from chimpanzees there are 12 other primate species, including red Colobus monkeys, black-and-white Colobus monkeys, l’Hoestes monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, vervet and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, olive baboons, and four species of nocturnal primates (pottos and bush babies).
Kibale National park also has a variety of game including; Elephant, Bush Pig and Buffalo, Bushbuck, Blue, Harvey’s and Peter’s Duickers. It also has over 60 mammal species including; Ichneumon, Banded and Marsh Mongooses, Alexander’s Cusimanse, Swamp Otter, Ratel (Honey Badger) and African Palm Civet. Although Golden Cat, Serval, Lion, Leopard, Warthog, Giant Hog and Hippopotamus are recorded from the park, they are unlikely to be seen in the Kanyanchu area. Sitatungas can be traced in Bigodi Swamp though not always seen.
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. Kibale is a home to over 351 species of trees providing a strong forest ecological study base suitable for educational and research travelers. Various shrubs, figs, epiphytes can be seen in Kibale forest. Tree species like Iron wood, Balanitis Wilsonania among others present a memorable relaxing experience to a visitor on this Ugandan safari while talking a walk through the forest.
Ndali – Kasenda crater lakes.
These series of volcanic lakes are adjacent to the park and thus add spice to the forest encounter. According to the local legend, these lakes were created by Ndahura, the first Chwezi king when he retired to the area after abdicating in favor of his son wamala. Geologically, the crater lakes are vivid remnants of the immense volcanic and geologic forces that have shaped the western Uganda landscape, from the Albertine rift to the Ruwenzori and Virunga mountains. The lakes are conventionally divided into four main groups; the Fort portal cluster immediately northwest of the town, the Kasenda cluster to the west of Kibale national park, Katwe cluster and Bunyaruguru cluster.
How to get there.
Kibale is located in western Uganda 26 km south east of Fort portal town. Kanyanchu tourism center can be reached from Kampala via different directions; north via Mubende and Fort portal or south via Mbarara and Kamwengye. The northern approach is shorter and quicker with 300km of tarmac road and to Fort Portal followed by 36km on murram to Kanyanchu. Sebitoli Forest Camp, a secondary tourism Centre, is even easier to reach. This stands directly on the Kampala road, 16km before Fort Portal. Public transport operates throughout the day between Kampala and Fort Portal (passing Sebitoli) and Fort Portal and Kamwenge (passing Kanyanchu).
- Chimpanzee tracking and Habituation experience.
Kanyanchu Primate Walk is the Kibale’s most popular activity. Since 1993 chimpanzee trekking activity has been active thus chances of locating these mighty primates are high. Along the way, other primate species can be encountered. Guided walks start at 8am and 2pm and last an average of three hours other factors held constant. The guides can help you spot sun birds, pittas, and other bird species and be prepared to be amazed by how almost every plant species in the forest is of relevance to the local people in terms of medicine and others. Chimpanzee trekking takes 6 (six) people per group and the maximum of 18 (Eighteen) a day in both morning and afternoon shifts. It is advisable to book in advance during peak seasons. The full-day Chimpanzee Habituation Experience (CHEX) works with a chimp community which is undergoing habituation. Early visitors can watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7pm. The habituation Experience runs during tourist low season months (March, April, May and November).
- Birding. The activity starts at 7am at Kanyanchu to have a memorable tour of the birds in the tense tropical forest. Extension to Bigodi wetland just outside the park boarders presents an opportunity to view over 138 species including the famous Rwenzori Turaco. Some of the bird species in Kibale a visitor can encounter on this tour include; Red Winged Francolin, White-naped Pigeon, Green- brested Pitta, Crested fly catcher, Red- chested fluff tail, Joyful Greenbul, Grey winged Robbin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, among others. The birdlife in Kibale is good year-round, but at its best from March to May and from September to November. June to September is the main fruiting season, so food is abundant and many birds are in breeding season. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
- Cultural encounters. While on this tour, also encounter the culture of the Batooro and the Bakiga people by taking a village walk, visiting the village primary school, church and visiting the traditional healer. You will learn about the role of women in the village and traditional ceremonies, and the history of Bigodi is told through the story of the “Village of Two Tribes”, describing when the indigenous Batooro were joined by migrating Bakiga from southwestern Uganda in the 1950s.
- Nature walks. Visitors willing to have a glance of the famous tropical trees very tall and mature can take a forest walk on the designated trails to encounter various tree species including Elephant tree (Balanitis Wilsonania) that makes them drunk after taking its fruits. Night walks are also interesting since they provide an opportunity to a visitor on this tour to view various nocturnal creatures that are rarely seen during day with the help of powerful torches. These creatures include; Pottos, bush babies, nightjar, cricket and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat. Night walks leave the camp at 7.30pm and last between one and a half and two hours.
- Primate Lodge.
Primate Lodge in Kibale is an exclusive eco-lodge situated in the heart of Kibale Forest National Park. It is surrounded by a lush tropical forest that is home to 13 different species of primates, including the chimpanzees. Privately secluded in the rainforest, this safari lodge offers you a truly authentic jungle experience and is the perfect gateway for tracking the primates in Uganda. Whether you wish a high level of luxury and comfort, rather stay in a midrange cottage or want to bring your own tent, Primate Lodge Kibale is the ideal place for you! Free internet in the public areas!
Luxury Safari Tents
Luxury Safari Tent. The eight luxury safari tents are raised on a wooden platform and covered by a grass-thatched roof, perfectly blending with the natural environment. Each has a private veranda with a splendid view of the surrounding forest. The interior is tastefully decorated in African style, with comfortable queen-sized beds, brightly colored bedspreads and large windows to take in the forest. En suite bathrooms are finished with a natural touch of local stone, bamboo and wall paintings.
Forest Cottages. The rooms feature their own veranda and are equipped with large twin beds and a sitting area, nicely decorated with traditional African art. En suite is a fully equipped bathroom with shower and flushing toilet.
Sky Tree House. This Tree House comprises of a simple bedroom and basic washing facilities at the foot of the tree. It is located at a 10 minutes’ walk from the main lodge, overlooking the scenic elephant wallow. Not surprisingly, it is often visited by the forest elephants at night!
Campsite. A well-maintained campsite with shared washing facilities is available for guests who wish to bring their own tent.
- Kanyanchu river camp.
It has four bandas each with two beds and beddings. Also it has one elevated banda providing self-catering services. The place also has two more general campsites. There is a canteen at which serves food on order operating from 7:30 am up to mid-night. The canteen offers meals, snacks, and drinks. It is advisable to book cooked meals in advance. At least an hour before. The camp also has a sky tree house accommodating two people and it takes 10 minutes to approach it from the camp.
- Sebitoli Camping Ground.
This is located in the northern part of the park. It offers accommodation with the maximum capacity of eleven beds. It has no electricity yet but comfortable twin rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The shower has cold water but hot water would be available on request. Food is available at the campsite and includes a fair range of really tasty food.
Bigodi region (south of the park).
- Kibale Safari Lodge
The lodge is located in Kanyanchu on the way to Bigondi Village,the site of the lodge was carefully chosen, it commands the view of Kibale National park forest and Ruwenzori Mountains, the portal peaks. The Lodge presently offers 2 rooms on the main building and 5 luxury cottages with private toilets and hot showers. All cottages are very well furnished to ensure comfort for all. It offers excellent standards of cuisine. There is a spacious dining and a well-stocked bar in an elevated position above the plateau.
- Chimps’ Nest.
The lodge is situated near Nyabubale, a small village between Nkingo and Bigodi. It’s only a 15-minute drive from Kanyanchu, the starting point of UWA chimp-tracking and other activities in Kibale Forest. Chimps’ Nest also borders the Bigodi Swamps.
People staying at Chimps’ Nest can choose to use:
Self-contained tree houses inside the forest. The tree houses have a large balcony, outside shower and inside toilet on the second floor and a large bedroom on the first floor. One tree house can accommodate up to 3 persons in one large bedroom. They are two in number and can take a 15 minute walk from the restaurant. A minimum of 100 liters of warm water and 250 liters of cold water are given per day while the minimum age to sleep there is 15 years.
Self-contained cottages. Our cottages are situated on a hill, all with a private and splendid view of Kibale Forest and the Rwenzori Mountains. From the balcony you can enjoy the wildlife, with the surrounding sounds of birds, monkeys, chimps, and elephants. The cottages are self-contained with a luxurious and nicely finished shower.
Family Cottage inside the forest. This is next to river Dura and is built near the restaurant, on a hill. This place is ideal for people with children or for people who want to be near the restaurant. It also has provision for privacy and is surrounded by nature. The cottage holds two bedrooms with flexible beds which can be either twins or doubles. There is space for one extra bed in each bedroom. There is a lockable door in between the two rooms. This cottage also has a large balcony in the front and two complete bathrooms with hot showers and flushing toilets. Therefore the family cottage can also be used as 2 separate cottages. For example for friends who want to have their privacy, but also want to be near each other. It takes about 2 minutes to walk from the restaurant and the parking to the cottage. It can accommodate up to 6 persons in two bedrooms.
- Kibale Forest Camp
Kibale Forest Camp is located off Fort portal – Kamwenge, adjacent to the park’s edge. Kibale Forest Camp consists of 10 African safari style tents, comfortably furnished with twin or double beds. Each unit has its own private en-suite bathroom with an eco-friendly toilet, a dressing room and a bush shower. It also has
Lazy camping. Away from the main accommodation, Kibale Forest offers a more budget option in the form of non-self-contained tents. This consists of a basic camping tent furnished with 2 single beds and a solar lantern. No need to bring your own linen as all bedding and towels are provided. The tents share a communal ablution blocks with hot showers and flushing toilets
Camping. The well maintained campsite of Kibale Forest Camp is a little green gem. Bordering the swamp and set in lush surroundings. The sanitary facilities consist of 2 hot showers and 2 flushing toilets.
- Mantana Tented Camp
Mantana Tented Camp is 2kms past the Kanyanchu National Park office before Bigodi Village. It has seven fully furnished tents with enough space, verandah twin bedroom, dressing area, En-suite shower and toilet.
- Safari Hotel Bigodi
This is a haven for Campers and Backpackers. Situated in lush green countryside on the Bigodi – Kamwenge Road. It has single, double rooms, a large camping area and 4 bandas. Overnighting guests healthy simple meals. Lunches and evening meals are a blend of flavors of western and African cuisine. Tasty vegetarian dishes are also prepared.
Northern region (crater lakes):
- Nyinabulitwa Resort and Safari Camp.
The resort is situated approximately 20 km’s outside Fort Portal in the western part of Uganda. In addition to accommodation in luxury cottages, the resort offers quality camping for over landers and individuals at Nyinabulitwa Safari Camp. The campsite offers modern ablution facilities, solar power installations, as well as barbeque and dining facilities with spectacular views over the crater lake, the ‘Top of the World’ and the forest. The kitchen serves a variety of delicious African dishes based on fresh raw materials from the resorts own garden. Guests can also prepare their own meat on the barbeque if they so wish.
- Crater Valley Kibale (CVK) Lakeside Resort
Located 21 km from Fort Portal town and 10 km from the Kanyanchu visitors center in the Kibale Forest National Park. The lodge is set on the shores of Crater Lake Nyabikere (meaning lake of frogs), facing Rwenzori mountains who’s snows are visible on a clear day. All the single, twin, double rooms and Guest House are self-contained with hot showers and modern sitting flush toilets. The eco-cottages and campsite access hot showers and modern sitting flush toilet facilities from within a 10 meter distance. All accommodation is on a bed and breakfast arrangement. However, this does not apply to camping.
It is located 18 km from Fort Portal town on the Rwaihamba Road. It has areas for to pitch your own tent or, if you prefer a little more luxury, can opt to stay in one of the purpose built thatched roofed bandas. Every banda has solar powered lighting and sleeps between 2 and 5 people. Bedding, pillows and mosquito nets are all provided. The campsite is extremely safe and is under 24 hour surveillance. There is a hut with typical pit toilet facilities. There is a large dining/ chill out area to sample the guacamole and chapatti or a cold beer, charge phones and plan the day ahead.
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