Kibale Forest National Park is Uganda’s number one primate destination popular for chimpanzee tracking, it hosts 13 species of primates living in the protected 766 square kilometers forested area extending 50km south of Fort portal town. It was first gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 but later upgraded to a national park by 1993 covering the largest forest cover in the Kabarole district which presents a closed forest upper, the main attraction and activity in Kibale forest national park is chimpanzee tracking taking place beginning at the Kanyanchu visitor center, it is one of Africa’s best research points on chimpanzee and tree species, the park is rewarding to explore on a Ugandan tour it is close to the NdaliKasender crater placed at an altitude of 1100m-1590m above sea level highest at the northern point of the park, it adjoins queen Elizabeth national park to the south creating the famous Ishasha animal corridor known for tree-climbing lions.
The national park is dominated by rainforest mixed with grasslands and swamps, it boasts a typical east African montane and lowland forest with over 200 tree species that have been recorded todate, the forest canopy rises to 60m above the ground supporting a dense entangle of lianas and a thick undergrowth of wild robusta coffee, 60 mammal species, 13 primate species are present these include chimpanzee, red-tailed monkey, l’hoest monkey, black and white colobus monkey, vervet monkeys, olive baboons, blue monkey, red colobus(popular) and four species of nocturnal kinds. The chimpanzee population is large about 1,500 individuals distributed in different communities four of which have been habituated to humans. The Kanyantale community in Kanyanchu has been present to explore since 1993, the world’s largest chimpanzee community is the Ngogoset aside for research. Large mammals have rarely seen the list including elephants, buffalo, giant forest hogs, bush pigs, bushbuck, red and blue duikers, over 300 species of birds have been recorded four of which are not anywhere in Ugandan parks for example the Nahan’s francolin.
Chimpanzee tracking is the most popular activity in Kibale forest national park begins at the Kanyanchu visitor center done twice a day at 8:00am and 2:00pm chimpanzee seeing in the area is not guaranteed however there is a 95% chance of meeting the primates, the excursion takes 2-3 hours per day up to 36 permits are available for every group, permits should be bought on time from the Uganda Wildlife authority costing 200 USD for foreign non-residents, chimpanzee habituation takes a full day experience enabling visitors to accompany researchers and trackers into the forest, early tourists can have the chance to see chimpanzee leave their nest, feed, hunt and build nests. Unlike other primates, chimpanzees don’t live in troops but rather form communities of up to 100 individuals, within the community one male alpha is recognized to lead.
The Bigodi wetland sanctuary offers the finest birding and monkey viewing around the national park, popular bird species like the papyrus gonolex, yellow spotted barbets, yellow-throated tinker bird. Crater lakes in Kibale national park are a genuine surprise of the whole adventure besides the chimpanzee tracking presenting beautiful environment these are concentrated in the NdaliKasenda crater area dominated by many volcanic depressions the volcanic lakes are believed to have been formed many thousand years ago as a result of volcanicity and the area is raised to a higher level above sea level compared to other parts of the park extending to queen Elizabeth national park, examples include Lake Nyabikere, Lake Nkuruba, Lake Lyantonde, Lake Nyinambuga, Lake Kifuruka. The Kanyanchu visitor center is 40km from fort portal town, it is approximately a 5hours drive from Entebbe passing through beautiful rolling hills, banana and tea plantations.