Visit KIBALE FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Kibale National Park is an evergreen forest area covering over 774 square kilometers, it is an ecological universe that protects and shelters a variety of wild life but it is mostly known for its large population of chimpanzees. This forest area was protected to conserve the forest areas located in south western Uganda close to the tourism city of Fort Portal.  The park has a population of over 1500 chimpanzees spread amongst the 4 fully habituated communities, chimpanzees live in communities of 60 -100 members unlike gorillas that live in small groups known as families.

Kanyanchu community in the south of the forest, Sebitole in the north, Ngongo with 200 chimps and Kanyawara with 60 chimps are located in the central region of the park are the 4 communities located in the park. Chimpanzees are playful creatures, smart naturally s they communicate with one another using hand gestures and signals. They also share a greater DNA percentage with humans which makes them more alike in character and behavior with man, you can hear them laugh, scream and howl when approaching their territories during chimpanzee trekking. Another distinctive character is them being more aggressive and hence take a longer time being habituated.

Kibale National Park is one of the best parks to enjoy the chimpanzee trekking experience in Africa and its large numbers of chimps is what sells it to tourists. Other animals share the environment with the chimps are primates like monkeys, buffaloes, elephants, lions and leopards and not forgetting the birds that love building their nests in the tall trees.

 

 

Explore Uganda Safaris

The History of Kibale National Park

During the colonial British Era in 1932, the park was placed under the British authority that used it to harvest hardwood and at the same time some parts of the park. Part of the vegetation rowing in the forest was wild coffee that they also harvested, overtime they replanted the cut down trees with exotic breeds however when the Kilembe copper mines was being constructed more wood was demanded hence more trees were cut down and exotic breeds were planted to replace the trees lost. This went on for a while until 1993 when the reserve was changed to national park status and authority was handed over to the Uganda National Parks in 1994 to manage and be responsible for the park and also enforce strong conservation efforts.

Towards 1996, the government body of Uganda National Parks merged with the game department to form the current Uganda Wildlife Authority that manages all the national parks in the country. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has protected the forest and strived to restore it back to its originality

At 300 km away from Kampala city, Uganda’s capital, the park trails in the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, it is 1600 meters above sea level and bordered by other attractions like Queen Elizabeth National Park in the south, Semuliki Wildlife reserve in the North and Mount Rwenzori in the West.

The forest connects through the wildlife corridor measuring 180 kilo meters that connects to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Animals use the corridor to move from the forest to the savanna area of Queen Elizabeth and back to the forest. It is part of the forest ecosystem that comprises of Kalinzu, Kasyoha-Kitomi, Kyambura forests and Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.

The forest is a habitant for other 13 primate species marking it the largest primate village in Africa, these primates are L’hoest’s monkeys, Uganda Mangabeys, Procolobus Tephrosceles, the Ugandan red colobus monkeys, lophocebus ugandae among others. Other animal species besides primates are African golden cats, mongooses, buffaloes, bush backs, elephants, leopards, blue and red duikers, otters, Sitatunga and giant forest hogs among others.

ATTRACTIONS IN KIBALE

This activity offers a chance to meet the chimpanzees up close; you get to see the chimpanzees in their natural habitat. It is the most popular activity in the park and it takes half a day with two shifts in the morning and late afternoon. Trekkers are in the company of game rangers who guide you on where to go in order to meet the chimpanzees, they also explain the different observations you might come across. Just like gorilla trekking you also get to spend an hour studying the chimpanzee communities, the treks are easy to take part in because it occurs in low altitude areas which are easy to navigate, the treks take about 3-4 hours and cost $200 per person.

The best time to go chimpanzee trekking is during the dry season which happens in the months of June to August and December to February since the trails are dry, hence give you a smooth navigation experience.

Similar to chimpanzee trekking but this activity requires one to spend the whole day with the chimpanzees, this is an exclusive experience of chimpanzee trekking as it involves visiting chimps that are still being baked, they are not yet ready to be visited.

You get to meet the primates very early in the morning as they wake up from their nests and you are spending the rest of the day which is 8 hours observing and studying their way of life which involves eating fruits, roots and also meat, playful nature and how they communicate. The habituation experience costs $250 per person.

Birds love trees and Kibale Forest is welcoming to the various bird life species that reside here. This birds haven is a home to more than 375 birds and these can be spotted within the trees or flying over them such as the great blue turaco, and crowned eagle among others. A bird tour guide comes along to spot and describe the different birds you see.

If you feel the urge to explore and get enclosed within the rich vegetation found in the forest, this is the perfect activity. It involves walking through the forest and while on it you are able to come across different plant and tree species including medicinal herbs pointed out by the tour guides.

One is also able to see some small animals such as smaller birds, insects, butterflies and reptiles that crawl. There are already established trails you can follow such as the Elephant trail, Kanyanchu river trail, Sebitoli forest trail and the Bigodi wetland trail that leads you to the wetland sanctuary.

Located within the parks ecosystem, the wetlands are spots for water birds like the grey parrots, olive long tailed cuckoo, the swamps can he hiked to as they border the park.

You can visit the crater twin lakes located in the neighboring areas after the chimpanzee trek, you can also visit the Ndali Kasenda crater region.

A visit to the historical and cultural sites in fort portal are an additional activity you can enjoy, the tourism city borders the park and while here you can visit the Tooro palace and Amabere ga Nyina Mwiru that has an interesting folk tale

HOW TO GET TO KIBALE

You can access the park by road via the Mubende-Fort Portal road which is a 5 hours’ drive or from Mbarara to Fort Portal, you can also fly there from Entebbe to Kasese airstrip and then use a car to connect to the park.

SAFARI ACTIVITIES IN UGANDA

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

After reading about the mountain gorillas, meet them physically and watch the silverback protect its family, mothers nurse and youngsters play. Half of the total population of the mountain Gorillas call Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park home.

Mountain Gorillas are only found in the pearl of Africa, around the vast Virunga chain of mountains which spans through Uganda, Rwanda and the DR Congo. All trekkers must be 15 years and above, with a valid Gorilla trekking permit which can only be used once-the date of the activity.

Gorilla trekking permits are purchased from Uganda wildlife Authority, or through a licensed tour agency and costs 700Usd for foreign non-residents, 250,000ugx for East African residents and 600$ for foreign residents. 

Chimpanzee trekking in Uganda

Chimpanzees trekking is done in Kyambura gorge, Kibale national park, Kalinzu forest and Budongo forest. This is one of the must-do safari activities in Uganda, and thus one of the best for holiday goers. Get to experience the silence of the jungle, know what the forest has, and encounter other forest inhabitants.

The Gorilla trekking experience is done in the morning and afternoon hours, taking about 1-4 hours on foot. It is open for only persons aged 16 years and above in groups of not more than 8 persons. One can combine chimpanzee trekking with other activities like game viewing, boat cruise, hiking, birding and more. At Kibale forest National Park, you will visit Isunga community for the top of world hike and coffee experience.

Game drives and camping safaris

Akagera national park is the only place where game drives are done in Rwanda. The park is located in the eastern part of Rwanda, with a wide range of flora and fauna, cool weather, and classic lodging options.

Game viewing in Akagera National Park is rated as one of the best in the continent, and offers high chances of encountering among others; the African elephants, cape Buffaloes, lions, leopards, Rhinoceros, forest genet, zebras, wild dogs and more. There are birds, plants and more to explore during your stay in the park. Game drive is best in the morning and late evening hours.

Boat cruises

Boat cruise experiences in Murchison falls national park, Lake Victoria, Lake Mburo, Bunyonyi and Kazinga channel are quite unmatched. The best way to explore water, and uncover the aquatic world. Get closer to Nile crocodiles, hippos, kingfisher, water duck, shoebill stock and more, the papyrus swamps, and cool water breeze. This experience takes about 1-3 hours, in either morning or afternoon hours.

Bird watching tours.

Uganda is a host to 10% of total bird species in the world. Birds are found across the country, in the swamps, lake shores, mountains, river shores, and forests. For bird enthusiasts, you get to learn of these birds by name, and character.

Take time to capture numerous photos of the many species notably; Turacos, eagles, Kori bustards, shoe bill stock, cranes, francolins, Albertine owlets, kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori Turacos, regal sunbirds, mountain masked Apalis, Red-billed quale, western nicator eagles, African Jacana, eastern black korhaans, lover birds, guinea fowls and more.

Hiking and Mountaineering activities.

Nature walk and hiking are some of the best safari activities done in your holiday. It is an activity where everything is within your presence, notably; the birds, plants, water and more. It is a much practical way of uncovering Mother Nature and doing physical exercise.

Spend a few nights above the ground, by hiking to the summit of Mount. Rwenzori; one of the tallest mountains in the continent of Africa. Other destinations include; Mountain Elgon which offers a scenic view of the magnificent caldera, coffee plantations and more.

Other activities in Uganda include; City tours, cultural tours, night life, and religious tour.

F.A.Q.

There is no standard price for Uganda, Rwanda or Congo gorilla permit –each country has its rates. In Uganda, the charges vary depending on the visitor category. The foreign non-residents are charged USD 700 to have their gorilla permits booked, USD 600 for foreign residents and Ugandans (East Africa citizens) pay shs. 250,000 per person. To have a gorilla permit secured/booked, you need USD 1500 for Rwanda and this is most ideal for luxury/high-end travelers interested in visiting the endangered mountain gorillas.

When booking a gorilla permit, it is also a good thing to have a destination of your desire in mind. The key places to consider a must-visit on gorilla tour include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park –these are gorilla trekking destinations for tourists on a tour in Uganda. In Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park is where you can locate habituated mountain gorilla families and crossing the D.R. Congo, you can explore Virunga National Park.

It is a good thing to also understand when best to book your gorilla permits to avoid having issues on actual date of gorilla trekking. Considering our experience, we always recommend our clients to have their permits booked early enough at least 2-4 months. This can save you from last minute stress, especially if you plan to travel during the dry season also considered to be the peak season. The peak months of the year fall around June, July, August to September, and December, January to February.

Gorilla permits are among the relevant documents visitors must have to be allowed to track gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Not any gorilla permit should be presented on actual gorilla trekking adventure but a valid one. Booking gorilla permits is part of making the entire gorilla trip complete and should be done early enough before the actual visit to see mountain gorillas or eastern lowland gorillas.

To have your gorilla permit booked, there is a process one should undergo through and is generally tedious. Considering your tight schedule back home, you may wonder how easier you can have your permit booked in advance to avoid last minute stress.

The easiest way to secure your gorilla permit in Uganda or Rwanda is by dealing with a recognized tour operator/company on the ground. This is where our reservation team comes in. As part of your gorilla safari requirement, our team being on ground will ensure that your permit is booked early enough and everything else that is needed for gorilla trekking is put together.

The beauty about dealing with local safari company such as ours is that we have knowledge on the different gorilla groups and surrounding communities plus various accommodation facilities for your night stay. This is in addition to making the entire gorilla permit booking process easier on behalf of our clients.

There is also an option of booking the permit directly through the reservation team of respective park authorities. But the challenge is that you must undergo through the long process to have your permit booked and this may not favor you depending on your schedule. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is an organ in charge not only for conservation of wildlife in the Pearl of Africa but also sets prices for tourism activities in the parks including gorilla permits. In Rwanda, you can contact Rwanda Tourism Board/Rwanda Development Board to have your permit booked.

The East African tourist visa is a joint visa that permits one to travel to specific countries within East Africa, namely Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda only. A joint tourist visa can be used several times for various purposes as long as it’s not overdue. 

Tourists should therefore find it important to always remember that the tourist visa lasts for only 90 days.  Processing the tourist visa takes a maximum period of two working days. It is also important to note that the tourist visa prohibits employment.

The process of applying for a tourist visa has been made easier since it can be done with the help of a tour operator or by the individual themselves online through the Ministry of Internal Affairs immigration portal. Visitors are required to log in to the portal, go ahead and accept the terms and conditions for the tourist visa, select the Visa / permit type, the subcategory and category, complete the application form and upload the required documents. 

A reference number will be generated and sent to you through your email, submit it and proceed to payment. It’s important to note that the payment can be made using Visa cards.  An approval letter will be sent to your email after the above process.

Report at the immigration office or border post for the biometric capture with all the necessary documents, receipt of payment, approval letter and your passport. Visitors should regard it as important to enter through the home country issuing the visa.

The East African tourist visa costs a fee of $100 only, meaning that it can be obtained by all travelers ranging from the budget to luxurious ones.

  • Persons aged 15 years and above are allowed to trek gorillas.
  • Avoid sneezing in the presence of gorillas.
  • Always stay away from gorillas by observing distance
  • Do not try to feed gorillas
  • Do not chew in the presence of gorillas
  • Do not take photos with flash light on.