Kibale Forest National Park, Chimpanzee trekking
Kibale National Park-the major Chimpanzee trekking safari tours destination in Uganda, is located in Kabarole district of western Uganda near Fort Portal and measures 776 sq km in size. It is elevate between 1110 meters to 1590 meters and has a national park since 1993.
It is the most accessible of Uganda’s major rainforests and home to 13 primate species, remarkable of which are the very localized red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkey. 77% of Kibale National Park is covered by a medium altitude, moist evergreen forest in the north, and a medium altitude moist semi-deciduous forest at lower altitudes in the south. The remaining 23% of the park is composed of savanna grassland, swamps and some plantations with exotic coniferous trees.
The Batooro and Bakiga are the main native traditional tribes lived in this area to date. These tribes utilize the forest for food, fuel, building materials and medicines.
Chimpanzee tracking: The major tourist attraction in Kibale is the opportunity to track habituated chimps. These delightful apes, more closely related to humans than any other living creature, are mesmerizing to watch as they freely squabble and enjoy their play in fruiting trees with in the forest.
Kibale has a highly successful customary Chimpanzee-tracking program. More primates may be found on these guided walks that include Olive baboons, the grey-cheeked Mangabeys, the blue L’Hoest’s gentle ,Guereza colobus, and Red-tailed monkeys usually found in open areas close to the forest. You may also find Elephants, Hogs and Bufalloes along the way. Bush buck, Harvey’s and Peter’s duick-ers are yet other inhabitants of this forest.
Night guided walks are also worth an adventure.Here you are fronted with special animals such as the Lord derby’s anomalure, Potto, Thomas’s Galagos, Spectacled Demidoff’s, Common Genet and African Civet.
Other interesting mammals from the list of over 60 species include Banded and Marsh Mongooses, Ichneumon, , Swamp Otter, Alexander’s Cusimanse, 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 encountered in the Kanyanchu area. Sitatungas are known from Bigodi swamp but are infrequently seen. The spectacular and beautiful Rhinoceros Viper is fairly common here but is, unfortunately, less often found alive than as a road-kill.
With over 60 species, other interesting mammals include the Alexander’s Cusimanse, Banded and Marsh Mongooses, Swamp Otter, Ichneumon, Ratel /Honey Badger and African Palm Civet. On a lucky day, one can see the Lion, Leopard, Golden Cat, Warthog, Serval, Hippopotamus Giant Hog and the rare Sitatungas commonly found in Bigodi.
Kibale National Park offers affordable 3 hour chimp tracking limited to a group of 6 people that leave for their tracking at 8:00 am and 3:00pm daily. The popular night walks depart from Kanyan-chu visitor Centre at 7:30 pm but carrying a personal touch and advance bookings are highly recommended.
Bird watching: Kibale`s network of shady forest trails provides much delight to botanists and butterfly lovers. With 335 species recorded including the endemic Prirogrine’s ground thrush, birders are greatly impressed. Her bird species include; the Grey-winged Robin, White-naped Pigeon, Red-winged Francolin Green-brested Pitta, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Chestnut-winged Starling Red-chested Flufftail, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Grey-throated Flycatcher , African Pitta, Joyful Greenbul, White-bellied Crested Flycather, Uganda Woodland Warbler, Masked and Black-capped Apalises Chestnut-winged Starling, Grey-headed Olive-back ,Orange-tufted and Tiny Sunbirds, Uganda Woodland Warbler and Chestnut-winged Starling.
Dos and don’ts
1. Visitors are advised not to enter the forest if sick as this can put the animals at serious risk
2. The park accommodates a maximum number of 4 people/ visitors per guided walk.
3. Kibale being a tropical rainforest, animals are not in one place and general sightings depend on factors like time of the day, fruit availability, weather and size of the primate group.
4. Once tracked, visitors view the chimps for a maximum of one hour; however, this can be shortened by the guides to eliminate stressful situations for the chimps according to ones discretion
5. Please avoid making noise while in the forest
6. During the trekking you are advised to remain in a tight group and follow the guides directions at all times to avoid danger from wild animals and getting lost.
7. Visitors should remain at a distance recommended by the guide, usually 8 meters from the chimps. Please do not follow the chimps as they descend or ascend on higher ground.
8. Please avoid eating near the chimps and other primates
9. Wearing long boots that cover your toes and long trousers is advisable, because there slippery trails plus red ants along the way. Carrying along water proof clothing in the rainy season is important since it can suddenly rain.
10. Do not carry along Children less than 12 years to view the chimps for safety reasons
11. Urinating and defecating should be done off the trail system and in case of the later, all your waste should be buried up in a hole.