Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale Forest National Park is the ‘Primate Capital of the world’ with more than 1,500 chimpanzee protected within its borders of 795 sq km. This makes Kibale one of the best safari destinations in Africa for the chimpanzee trekking experience in Uganda. These chimps share 98.6% of human genetic material. The forest is also home to East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus and the rare I’Hoest’s monkey. There are 13 species of primates in total, with chimpanzees being the main attraction. The primates include bush babies, L’Hoest’s Monkey, Red Colobus Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, Black-and-white Colobus Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Blue Monkey, and Potto. It is by far the best place to observe Chimps as you have over 90% success rate of seeing them in their natural habitat as they play with young ones, groom each other, eat, rest and hunt. The chimpanzees have been habituated for over 16 years giving tourists a chance to see the great apes in their natural environment. Children have to be 15 years and above to able to track the chimpanzees. Chimpanzee Tracking is done twice a day i.e. early morning at 7am and afternoon at 2pm so you can choose what suits you best, but morning tracks are highly recommended. The park provides the best trekking experience in the whole of East Africa. The trek usually lasts between 3-5 hours and varies due to the movement of the Chimpanzees. 3 large communities of Chimpanzees have been habituated for the tracking adventure. Each of these communities was designed for different kinds of visitors; one is for chimpanzee tracking, the other is for research and the last one was designed for the habituation experience. You will witness the social hierachy of the chimp family as well as their altruistic behaviour. To the chimps, social livelihood is just perfect road to living in peace and harmony; portraits of respect for elders by the young, the art of family love with care and provision. For those who are very keen to observe the primates for the whole day, you can also do the Chimpanzee Habituation experience which starts at 6:30 am, a time before which the chimpanzes start moving out of their nests. During this experience, you go about following chimps with researchers and get a chance to see the Chimpanzees waking up, gathering together in large families and as they start to feed through the day. You also witness some rare characters exhibited by chimps during feeding like hunting other animals for food. You also get to observe and witness most of the techniques that are employed during the chimp habitation process. There are also bush craft children activities that provide an opportunity for children who may find it tedious to engage in the usual chimpanzee trekking and habituation activities.

Kibale’s varied altitude supports different habitats that range from the wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau, woodland and savannah on the rift valley floor to the semi-deciduous dry tropical forest. The park is known to comprise of evergreen rain forests that are decorated with a large array of landscapes and remains one of the last remaining expanses containing both lowland and montane forests. In this forested habitat, there happens to be 230 species of trees, as well as a plethora of plant species that vary in form, kind and color. The area beneath the intact tree canopies is associated with cool atmosphere, highly humid. It is this intact nature of the forested perfections that makes it rather hard to differentiate between day and night periods. The possession of the a variation in habitats allows the park to be home to numerous wildlife. Kibale Forest is also a prime birding spot and is home to over 375 bird species including six endemic species to the Albertine Rift area. The bird species to look out for include; Red-chested Owlet, Purple-breasted Sunbird, African Grey Parrot, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Crowned Eagle, Little Greenbul, Black Bee-eater, White-naped Pigeon, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis and the rare Green-breasted Pitta etc.

The mammal species present in Kibale forest are estimated at 60 including leopards, duikers, antelopes, forest elephants, forest buffaloes, golden cats, warthogs, and bush pigs and many more. The mammals in forest setting are rare to see as they are shy and prefer to keep away from humans compared to the ones in savannah that are used to sighting humans. You might see their footprints as you move in the forest and on rare occasion you might even sight them. You can also observe reptiles, amphibians, and colorful butterflies flying through the park, as it is also home to over 250 species of butterflies and several reptiles and amphibians.

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