Kibale National Park

Although there are chimpanzees in several national parks in Uganda, Kibale National Park is the center of chimpanzee tracking. Yet Kibale National Park is more than chimpanzees. In addition to the chimpanzee, there are no less than 12 primate species including 4 night monkeys to discover, while other mammals, birds and insects also make the park an important destination for ecotourism and safaris.

Founded in 1932, Kibale National Park gained official status in 1993. It belongs to one of Uganda’s most beautiful tropical rainforests. The rainforest covers in particular the northern and central part of the park and the southern part borders Queen Elizabeth National Park. By connecting both parks, a 180 km long migration corridor for the wild was created. For example, an antelope that starts in Ishasha in the south of Queen Elizabeth National Park can continue without interruption to the northern tip of Kibale Forest National Park (Sebitoli).

Other national parks near Kibale National Park include Semuliki National Park and Toro/Semliki WR, while the Rwenzori Mountains are also a short distance away.

The landscapes of Kibale National Park

Although most of Kibale consists of rainforest, it still has a great diversity in landscapes. Kibale National Park is one of the last areas in Uganda where both lowland and mountain rain forest occurs. The average height ranges from almost 1,600 meters in the north to about 1,100 meters in the south. This also explains the enormous diversity in flora and fauna. For example, the park alone has about 229 tree species.

Just outside the national park is the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary– a destination also visited by most Habari travellers visiting Kibale National Park. It’s part of the Magom swamp.

Primate area

Those visiting Kibale National Park and the adjacent Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary are guaranteed to ‘score’ six to seven primates. In addition to the chimpanzee that can be seen during a chimpanzee tracking, it is mainly the somewhat smaller primates that are sometimes very easy to see. For some species it is enough to take a short walk near the campsite or lodge. Although you are not allowed to enter Kibale National Park unaccompanied, you can only take a walk along the access road at Kanyanchu, where the visitor center is located.

One of the most common primate species is the olive baboon. In some areas, they form a pest, because they regularly plunder harvests. Another common species you will definitely encounter is the eastern fringe monkey with its beautiful black and white coat. The red-tailed monkey and grey-cheeked mangabey are also regularly seen. Two rarer primate species are the Central African red colobus and the mountain cat. Uganda Mangabey, which was only recently discovered, is also found in Kibale National Park. However, you need a little more luck for that. Night monkeys, which can be seen during evening and night excursions, include potto and Thomas galago. Weather conditions do play a role in this.

Other animals in Kibale National Park

Of course, the rainforest is home to even more mammals. The forest elephant, various diver species, forest buck, forest boar, giant forest boar, warthog and caped buffalo occur there. Of the predators, kibale national park is home to the leopard, the African gold cat, serval, various mongoose species and two otter species. Sometimes lions also visit the park.

Bigodi also includes the swamp antelope. However, it is a very shy animal that is active especially at dusk and at night.

But actually applies to all mammals: you need luck. Since the jungle is densely overgrown, an animal only needs to take a few steps to get out of sight of the Ujambo Boots traveler. Without having much in it, you can walk right past a forest elephant or caped buffalo, which hide in the cover. It is not without reason that you are only allowed to visit the rainforest with armed rangers.

Birds

In addition to a large density of mammals, Kibale National Park is also famous for its bird wealth. No less than 325 species have been observed. A well-known species is the grey redtail, a parrot species that is often kept as a cage bird in the Netherlands. But you can also find a large number of beautifully colored honey sucker species, the African variant of the humming birds. Although hard to find, owls also fly around Kibale: Verreaux eagle owl, African owl and robin dwarf owl. Birds of prey are also there, of course, such as the mighty African hawk and crown eagle. Separate species to watch fly are the hornbills. Looks like a plane happens when these big birds fly over you.

There is a lot to see in the field of birds, but as with the mammals, it is not always easy to get the birds in the spotlight. Although they are often brightly colored, they do not quickly stand out in the foliage. For example, you can search for a noise-making yellow-cone boiler slapper for a long time, a jungle bird with a big mouth. ‘Patience’ ‘pay attention’ and ‘listen’ are the keywords for chances of beautiful observations.

The marshland of Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is also a place where bird watching is good. Seeing birds is often a bit easier here than in the rainforest. Swamp species such as the papyrus fiskaal can be heard faster than you see them. However, for a more common bird like the yellow-beaked malle, a cuckoo species, you sometimes have to make some effort. That’s despite the loud noise this bird produces.

Insects

If you like butterflies, Kibale National Park is also the place to be. As many as 250 butterfly species have been seen there, including the Papilio antimachus, a butterfly with a wingspan of 180 to 230 mm. The English name for this butterfly is Giant African Swallowtail.