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Bird Watching in Kibale National Park – Birding in Uganda

After Uganda Chimpanzee safaris, bird watching in Kibale National Park is also another amazing activity that shouldn’t miss on every birder’s itinerary.

According to UWA, Kibale holds over 370 bird species. However, researchers have come up with over 602 species of birds in Kibale National Park. Most of these are forest birds of Uganda counting the rare Green Breasted Pitta.

Kibale forest national park boasts over 6 Albertine endemic bird species counting the Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Black-capped Apalis, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Blue-headed, and Purple-breasted Sunbirds.

Also note that Kibale park holds 4 endemic bird species including Nahan’s Francolin, Cassin’s Spinetail, Blue-headed Bee-eater, and Masked Apalis. These birds can’t be found in any national park in Uganda!

While bird watching in Kibale Forest, other birds to look out for include the Great-blue Turaco and the Double-toothed Barbet. The Yellow-spotted Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-faced Barbet, & Pin-tailed Whydah, can be spotted also.

Most of the birding in Kibale National Park is done within the Kanyanchu area starting from Kanyanchu Visitor’s Center at around 7 am.

Normally, Uganda birding tours in Kibale Forest are always combined with the nearby Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. Bigodi wetlands hold over 200 bird species most being papyrus birds of Uganda like Papyrus Gonolek, Kingfishers, Cuckoos, etc.

Note: While birding in Uganda’s Kibale national park, you’ll encounter some of the adorable 13 primate species of the park. Usually, Baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, Vervets, Black-and-white Colobus Monkeys, and Chimps are rarely missed.

Here is a list of the most sought-after birds on a Uganda tour in Kibale National Park

  1. Green-breasted Pitta
  2. African Pitta
  3. Great blue Turaco
  4. Papyrus Gonolek
  5. Dusky Crimsonwing
  6. Black-capped Apalis
  7. Yellow-spotted Nicator
  8. Blue-headed bee-eater
  9. Double-toothed barbet
  10. Black-billed Barbet
  11. Red-fronted Tinkerbird

Bird Watching Spots In Kibale National Park

Birding in Kibale National Park is generally done in 2 main areas and these include:

1. Kanyanchu Area

Most of the bird watching in Kibale National Park is done in the Kanyanchu area, starting at Kanyanchu Visitors Center. Usually, it starts at 7 am and can go on for a half day or a whole day, depending on your interest.

Normally, it starts with a 30 minutes briefing from an experienced birding park ranger who shares with you factual information about the birds in Kibale.

After, together with the ranger, you’ll embark on Kanyanchu Chimpanzee Trail where most Kibale National Park birds are spotted.

Note:  Knowledgeable private birding guides about birds in Kibale Forest can be hired for a memorable birding experience.

Birds Commonly Spotted Within Kanyanchu Area

While birding in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, the following are the birds that are usually spotted in the Kanyanchu area:

1. Green-breasted Pitta

2. Red-rumped Tinkerbird

3. Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird

4. Abyssinian Ground Thrush

5. Broad-Billed Roller

6. Black-Throated Apalis

7. White-collared Oliveback,

8. Red-Rumped Tinkerbird

9. Speckled Tinkerbird

10. Red-Fronted Barbet

11. Red-Faced Barbet

12. Western Nicator

13. African Pitta

14. Red-Chested Sunbird

15. Superb Sunbird

16. African Emerald Cuckoo

17. Ross’s Turaco

18. Tropical Boubou

19. Black Bee-eaters

20. Red-Faced Woodland Warbler

21. Yellow-Billed Barbet

22. African Grey Parrot

23. African green Pigeon

24. Blue-breasted Kingfisher

25. Bar-tailed trogon

26. Narina Trogon

27. Black-And-White-Casqued Hornbill

28. Little Greenbul

29. Blue-headed Sunbirds


2. Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary

For birders undertaking birding tours in Uganda Kibale national park, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary is a paradise a must not miss.

It’s situated about 4km, south of Kibale National Park and it’s rarely missed out while bird watching in Kibale National Park. It’s just nearby Kibale!

Bigodi wetlands boast about 200 bird species including a viable population of Great-blue Turaco. Thus, dubbed the “Home of the Great-blue Turaco”!

Most birds spotted in Bigodi are papyrus-dwelling Uganda birds and some include:

1. Great-blue Turaco

2. Papyrus Gonolek

3. Grey-crowned Cranes

4. Black-headed Gonolek

5. Pin-Tailed Whydah

6. Shinning-blue Kingfisher

7. Yellow Billed Barbet

8. Papyrus Canary

9. White-winged Warbler

10. White-tailed Ant-Thrush

11. Black-crowned Waxbill

12. White-breasted Nigrita

13. Black bishop

14. Hairy-breasted Barbet

15. Black and white Shrike-Flycatcher

16. Brown-crowned Tchagra

17. Brown-throated Wattle-eye

18. White-spotted Flufftail

19. Bocage’s Bushshrike


Note: Bird watching in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary usually commences with a briefing at 7:30 am.

Uganda birding tours in Bigodi wetlands take normally 3 hours. They’re done on a 4.5km scenic boardwalk.

Best Time For Bird Watching In Kibale National Park

Uganda birding safaris in Kibale National park are possible all year round. However, the best time to go birding in Kibale Forest is during the dry months of JuneAugust and DecemberFebruary.

During these months, the birding trails are relatively dry and little rainfall is expected since Kibale is a rainforest.

The months of March-May and September- November are considered rainy months in Uganda.

Therefore, during these months in Kibale Forest, some birding trails tend to get muddy, and challenging to hike. Also, much rainfall is expected most hours of the day. Thus, limiting your bird-watching time.


  • During the rainy season, there’re numerous fruits and food in the forest. Therefore, many birds can easily be spotted! Normally, many are in their breeding plumage. What a great encounter!
  • Migratory birds in Kibale can be spotted from November- April.

Fees For Birding In Kibale National Park

  • Non-Foreign Resident: 30US dollars
  • Foreign Residents: 15 US dollars
  • East African Residents: 10,000 Ug shillings


The fees for birding in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary are different from those of Kibale NP. These include:

  • Non-Residents of Uganda: UGX 50,000 or $20
  • Foreign Residents: UGX 40,000 or $15
  • Ugandans: UGX 10,000 or $5

What To Pack For A Uganda Birding Safari In Kibale National Park

Visitors undertaking a Uganda birding trip in Kibale National Park are encouraged to pack the following for a memorable birding experience in Uganda:

  1. A Camera

While bird watching in Kibale National Park, a camera is so vital as it’s used for photography of each bird you’ll come across.

Along the birding trail, you’ll encounter several beautiful primates, and taking their pictures will be memorable. Your camera MUST have a spare battery and enough memory space.

Some of the best cameras recommended for your Uganda birding tour in Kibale park include:

  • Canon Powershot SX70 HS
  • Nikon Coolpix P1000
  • Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV
  1. Binoculars

On any birding safari in Uganda, binoculars are so crucial! They help you view birds that might be in a far distance and also in high tree canopies.

The best binoculars recommended for bird watching in Kibale National Park include:

  • Nikon Monarch 7 8X42 Nature Binocular
  • Celestron Nature DX 8X42 Birding Binocular
  • ZEISS Conquest HD 8X42 Binoculars
  • Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars and,
  • The ZEISS 8X25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular.
  1. Rain Jacket

Since Kibale is a rainforest, it might rain at any time. Therefore, you should carry a rain jacket while going bird watching in Kibale National Park.

  1. Hiking Shoes

For comfort reasons, you should put on hiking boots. This is because, while bird watching in Kibale Forest, you might come across muddy and slippery trails.

The other reason for this is that Kibale is a jungle that might be prone to Snakes!

Please, you should also have long socks to tuck your pants inside (in case you meet safari ants).

  1. Insect Repellents

On your birding safaris in Uganda Kibale National Park, it’s wise that you move with insect repellents with you.

Due to Kibale’s being a rainforest, it might be prone to Mosquitoes. Therefore, an insect repellent will safeguard you from Mosquito bites.

  1. A Sunhat And Sun Screens

While bird watching in Kibale Forest, sunscreen will help to safeguard you from the strong tropical sun rays of Africa. A sunhat will protect you from the direct scorching sun.

  1. Sun Glasses

Sunglasses are so vital during bird watching, they help to protect your eyes from the strong tropical sun rays. However, on spotting a bird, most birders normally take them off first for incredible sights!

  1. Bottled Drinking Water

In most cases, birding in Kibale National Park goes for over 3-4 hours in the jungle. Therefore, it’s advisable to go with some drinking water along the trail. This will help keep your body hydrated.

  1. Long Sleeved Shirts And Pants

Long-sleeved shirts and pants are the most ideal for visitors undertaking Uganda birding tours in Kibale Forest.

This is because most trails go through the jungle and this outfit protects your skin from scratches, and insect bites.

  1. A Field Guide Book

Visitors undertaking Uganda birding expeditions in Kibale Forest national park are advised to travel with a birding guidebook.

For example, a Field guide to the birds of East Africa by Terry Stevenson is recommended for most Uganda birding trips.

For a memorable experience in Uganda, all birders undertaking Uganda birding safaris are encouraged never to leave out Kibale National Park on their itinerary.

This birder’s haven boasts various forest birds of Uganda counting the rare Green-breasted Pitta. Other birds in Kibale National Park include the Great blue Turaco, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, etc.

While bird watching in Kibale National Park, you’ll get a chance of spotting some Albertine endemic birds. Check out also for Kibale endemics like the Blue-headed bee-eater, Masked Apalis, etc.

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FAQs About Bird Watching In Kibale National Park

1. How To Get To Kibale National Park For A Birding Safari?

Kibale national park is one of the easily accessible national parks of Uganda. The park can only be reached by road. From Kampala, Kibale can be reached via two routes including:

2. Via Kampala- Mubende- Fort Portal Road

This is the shorter route to Kibale National Park. It’s about 315km and takes approximately 5-6 hours drive to reach Fort Portal town.  From here, you’ll drive bout 37km to the park’s headquarters.

3. Via Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kasese-Fort Potal Road

This is the longest route to Kibale park covering about 630km. However, it has got amazing stopovers including at the Equator crossing landmark at Kayabwe. The other stopover is Lake Mburo National Park and Igongo Cultural Centre for a lovely traditional lunch.

4. How Many Bird Species Are In Kibale National Park?

Kibale National Park boasts over 370 bird species, most being forest birds counting the rare Green-breasted Pitta.

Most of the birds in Kibale National Park are spotted within the Kanyanchu area. Some of them include the Great-blue Turaco, Double-toothed barbet, Yellow-rumped tinker bird, Red-Rumped Tinkerbird, Western Nicator, African Green-Pigeon, etc.

5. Why Do Bird Watching In Uganda Kibale National Park?

Kibale National Park ranks among the top birding sites in Uganda a must not miss on every birder’s itinerary! The park holds a diversity of forest birds in Uganda counting the rare Green-breasted Pitta. In Africa, Kibale holds a viable population of this adorable bird species.

Please, note that Kibale forest national park boasts 4 endemic bird species, including the Cassin’s spinetail, Masked Apalis, Nahan’s Francolin, and the Blue-headed bee-eater. These can’t be found in any place in Uganda!

Visitors on Uganda birding tours in Kibale always get a chance of undertaking Chimpanzee safaris in the “Primate Capital of Africa”.

6. Is Birding Watching The Key Safari Activity In Kibale National Park?

Chimpanzee trekking and bird watching are the two main key Uganda safari activities in Kibale National Park. However, Chimpanzee trekking ranks at the top.

Most visitors who visit Kibale are always interested in Chimpanzee trekking. This is so because the park offers the best Chimpanzee safaris in Africa. Bird lovers always supplement chimp trekking with birding as the park holds numerous forest birds of Uganda.

7. What Is The Best Time Of The Day To Go Birding In Kibale National Park?

All day long, bird-watching in Kibale can be done. However, as professional birding guides in Uganda, we recommend morning sessions. During the morning hours, birds are so active, coming out from nests to feed.

In the afternoon, they always rest in tree canopies thus, fewer sights. They get active again in the evening hours.

Therefore, on your Uganda birding safari in Kibale, a morning session is advised for memorable sightings.

8. What To Wear On A Uganda Birding Safari In Kibale National Park?

Visitors undertaking bird-watching trips in Kibale National Park are encouraged to put on environmental-friendly clothes.

You should put on neutral colors that can easily blend into the jungle. Khaki, brown, and grey is commended. White, cream, or any other light should be avoided as they show up easily any dirt and dust.

Black isn’t ideal for keeping you cool. Blue normally attracts Tsetse flies!

9. Is Bird Watching In Kibale National Park Safe?

Though Kibale National Park boats several wild animals counting Leopards, Forest Elephants, Buffaloes, Forest Hogs, and Bush Pigs. etc. These’re hardly found along the birding trails.

Above all, you’re accompanied by an armed UWA ranger who ensures your safety while bird-watching in Kibale National park.

Note: For all the past years, no cases of accidents have been registered in Kibale Forest National Park. Therefore, it’s a safe place for binding safaris in Uganda.

10. What Are The Precautions While Bird Watching In Kibale National Park?

For a remarkable birding experience, visitors undertaking bird watching in Kibale National are encouraged to follow the following guidelines:

  1. Always ensure silence while on a birding trail. However, you are free to ask a question from your guide. Birds fear noise, they’ll just fly in case of any threat.
  2. Leaving the birding trail while bird watching in Kibale is not allowed. This might make you get lost in the jungle.
  3. Always avoid birding in large groups as this might limit good sights after spotting the bird.
  4. While going for a whole day birding experience in Kibale NP, you’re advised to move with a packed lunch with you as there’re no restaurants in the jungle.
  5. On spotting the bird, you’re not supposed to rush. This action might just scare away the bird.
  6. Throwing stones at birds is not allowed. You might end up injuring one. This is against eco-tourism principles

How Is Bird Watching Done In Kibale National Park?

  • Bird watching is an amazing activity specifically done by undertaking nature walks. In most cases, bird watching in Kibale is done in a company of a local professional guide. He aids in spotting these birds either in the canopy or the forest floor.
  • Some birds in Kibale National Park are just spotted by following their voice in the jungle. Some of our guides are incredible!  They can call them out, by mimicking their calls!
  • After spotting it, you’ll observe it using your naked eyes. However, visual boosting devices like binoculars can be used also. Especially, for those in the far distance and high tree canopies.

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