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Activities In Kibale National Park, Things To Do In Kibale Forest

They are a variety of activities in Kibale National Park depending on your wish, budget, and how much time you have.

A list of  Top Kibale National Park Activities/Things to do

  1. Chimpanzee Trekking
  2. Chimpanzee Habituation Experience
  3. Bird Watching
  4. Nature Walks
  5. Cultural Visits

1. Chimpanzee Tracking In Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee tracking is one the best activities in Kibale National Park and coming face-to-face with a wild chimpanzee while on your Uganda safari tour in Kibale Forest is breathlessly exhilarating.

Although there are around 299,700 chimpanzees left in the equatorial forests of Africa, observing them in their natural habitat is indeed a rare treat. One of the best places to do so is Kibale Forest as chimpanzees here can be encountered within easy walking distance.

Trackers in Kibale visit the Kanyantale Community, which comprises 90 individuals, and is very well-habituated.

How Is Chimpanzee Tracking Done?

The adventure leaves two times a day from Kanyanchu Visitor Centre, at 8:00 am and 2:00 pm. You should arrive at Kanyanchu very early for registration and briefing.

While at Kanyanchu, you will be briefed about the great apes you are about to see, as well as be given some dos and don’ts such as avoiding getting too close to chimpanzees.

After the briefing, trackers leave in a group of 6 people, each accompanied by a guide, who is armed in case of emergencies. And then it’s time to head into the forest.

Chimpanzee sighting chances on these walks are 95%.

As you move through the tangled undergrowth, ducking under low branches and watching your step for twisted roots, you will hike in the direction of where the apes were last seen, all the time listening for their cries in the trees above. During your chimpanzee trekking, you will encounter other primates such as;

  • Black-and-white colobus monkeys
  • Olive baboons
  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Uganda red colobus

You will also see some of the 375 bird species in the park and a variety of plant species and colorful butterflies.

2. Chimpanzee Habituation Experience In Kibale National Park

Chimpanzee Habituation is one of the latest activities in Kibale National Park for visitors on Uganda safaris who want to spend more than 1 hour with the chimpanzees or avoid potential crowding. It is a good alternative to the chimpanzee tracking experience in Uganda.

The habituation experience takes a full day following the chimpanzee communities currently undergoing the two-year habituation process. You’ll need to be prepared for a fair bit of brisk walking – chimps can move fast – but it will be worth it for the rewards of a more intimate encounter.

During this activity, the visitors accompany researchers into the forest. While on their chimpanzee habituation experience, visitors on a primate tour of Uganda will learn about chimpanzee behaviors for the whole day.

Advance booking for this activity is also required.   Early visitors can watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30 am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling, and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7 pm.

3. Bird Watching In Kibale Forest National Park

A bird list of 375 forests, grassland, and swamp species, including local endemics and Central Africa ‘specials’ makes Kibale National Park one of the top destination birding safaris in Uganda.

Forest birds of Uganda in Kibale can be sought, with the help of experienced UWA guides, on the forest trails at Kanyanchu and Sebitoli tourism sites.

This experience should be combined with a visit to Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary to add forest edge and swamp specials to the list. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is home to over 200 bird species which may be seen during guided walks along the boardwalk trail and viewing platforms.

Birding tours in Uganda’s Kibale National Park usually start at around 7 am and you are advised to book in advance. Key bird species in Kibale Forest National Park include;

  • Great blue turaco
  • African pitta
  • Green-breasted pitta,
  • Afep Pigeon
  • White-naped Pigeon
  • Crowned Eagle
  • Red-chested Owlet
  • Black Bee-eater
  • Western Nicator
  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, and
  • Dusky Crimsonwing

4. Nature Walks In Kibale National Park

Kibale National Park offers both day and night nature walks/hikes to visitors on Uganda wildlife tours.  Unguided nature walks are no longer permitted in Kibale National Park, except within the immediate vicinity of Kanyanchu Visitor’s Center, where dedicated birders should look out for the localized red-chested paradise flycatcher, a stunning bird that can easily be located by a call; and several robin chats, greenbuls, and weavers.

Day Nature Walks In Kibale Forest National Park

Day-night walks are available out of Kanyanchu Visitor Center. This is a great opportunity to deeply explore this east Africa’s most beautiful and diverse forest without pressure to spot various monkeys such as black and white colobus, Uganda red colobus, red-tailed monkeys, olive baboons, blue monkeys, and  L’Hoest’s monkeys or tick off a dozen ‘Kibale specials’ on the bird list.  You’ll be very lucky to see chimps on a nature walk.

Visitors on a day nature walk in Kibale will also see a variety of colorful butterflies and other insects as well as different plant species within the park. Hikers are accompanied by a UWA guide who is knowledgeable about every attraction in the park

This is also an ideal activity for young visitors unable to accompany relatives on the primate tour.  The walks take 2 hours and begin at 08.00, 10.00, and 14.00.

Night Walks In Kibale Forest National Park

The night walks in Kibale National Park also offer an opportunity to explore other secrets of the forest when chimpanzees and other residents rest up and a nighttime shift of rarely seen creatures becomes active.

Night walks through the darkened forest use powerful torches to seek nocturnal creatures such as the Potto, bushbaby, nightjar, cricket, and tree hyrax, with its chilling shriek, as well as the occasional civet or serval cat.

Night walks leave the camp at 7.30 pm and last between one and a half and two hours.

5. Guided Nature Walk In Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is located outside Kibale National Park about 5 kilometers from the park’s Kanyanchu Visitor Centre.

Offering some of the finest birding and primate watching in Uganda, the swamp walk through Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is an admirable example of conservation and tourism having a direct mutual benefit at the grassroots level.

This award-winning is run by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED), and all profits are used to support education-related projects in Bigodi Trading Centre. Particularly as the guides at Bigodi know the terrain intimately and can usually identify the most troublesome species by sight or call.

The wetland hosts more than 200 bird species. A spectacular bird strongly associated with the swamp is the Great blue turaco, which is seen by most visitors. A more elusive specialty is the papyrus gonolek, which is occasionally seen from the wooden walkway about halfway along the trail. Other regularly seen birds include;

  • Black and white casqued hornbills
  • Afep Pigeons
  • African Pitta
  • Crowned Eagles
  • White-naped Pigeons
  • Red-chested Owlets
  • Great blue turacos
  • Black Bee-eaters
  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds
  • Brown-chested Alethe
  • Western Nicator
  • Abyssinian Ground-thrush, etc.

The most commonly seen monkey species on a Swamp walk in Bigodi include Black and White Colobus, Red Colobus, Red Tailed Monkey, Uganda mangabey, Olive Baboon, L’Hoest’s Monkey, Vervet Monkey, and Blue Monkey.

Extremely fortunate visitors might see chimpanzees who sometimes visit the swamp to forage for fruits or a shy sitatunga antelope.

The swamp walk follows a 4.5 km trail that starts from the Bigodi trading center at the Bigodi swamp walk office, where serious birders can mention their special interests.

Walks start at around 07.30 am and 3.00 pm and generally take around 3 hours. For general monkey viewing, it doesn’t matter greatly whether you go in the morning or afternoon but birders should definitely for a morning walk.

6. Community Cultural Tours Around Kibale Forest National Park

For visitors on safaris in Uganda, Kibale National is surrounded by Batoro and Bakiga people with unique and diverse cultural practices which form the ground for cultural encounters.

The Batoro people take pride in the cultural heritage of their Toro kingdom, a scion of the ancient kingdoms of Africa’s Great Lakes region.

The Omukama (the Toro king) and the kingdom embodies the traditional and cultural values of Batoro while the Bakiga immigrants still preserve their tradition and culture through folklore, dance, and language.

You visit the King’s Palace in Fort Portal city to learn about the history of the Toro Kingdom and the culture of Batooro.

KAFRED offers guided 3-4 hours community tours in the village of Bigodi to visitors accompanied by one of our professional English-speaking guides.

These include visits to a traditional healer who will happily share his knowledge about spirits, herbs, plants, and local medicines.

Visitors will visit the homes of elderly men and women who tell interesting stories about birth, marriage, ceremonies, clans, and their traditional life. You will learn more about the history and issues that they face as a developing community in rural Uganda.

Along the way, you will also be given the chance to experience the Ugandan school system, and visit a local church and Bigodi’s trading Centre, a hub of rural life and activity.

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Want to visit Kibale Forest National Park, Uganda's best chimpanzee trekking destination?