Tap to book now

Geography of Kibale National Park | Kibale Forest Park Geography

Find out All about the geography of Kibale National Park/Kibale Forest park Geography covers several aspects. Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda about 26km from Fort Portal town.

Kibale Forest national park is gently sloping and its altitude ranges from 1,160m to about 2,607m above sea level.

Its lowest point is found in the south on the rift valley floor.

The soils of Kibale park consist of Precambrian rock formations while others are metamorphic rocks. Some hills, however, expose layers of hard Laterite soils.

In actuality, 90% of Kibale’s area holds Red Ferralitic soils and the other remaining 10% is fertile Eutrophic soils found on the western edge of the park.

The climate of Kibale Forest National Park experiences a tropical climate which is characterized by warm and wet conditions all year round.

Two wet seasons (March-May and September-November) are experienced. Kibale also experiences a dry season in June-August and December-February.

Normally, the day temperature of Kibale Forest rises to 270C and cools to 150C at night.

Therefore, Kibale national park weather is ideal all times of year for travelers on Uganda safaris in Kibale NP.

Kibale Forests boasts a great biodiversity of flora and fauna.  Kibale’s flora totals over 351 unique tree species including trees that are over 55m tall. And among the endangered species include Cordia millenii and Lovoa swynnertonnii.

This park also boasts over 70 mammal species including Forest Elephants.

Uganda Kibale park holds the highest concentration of primates in Africa counting over 13 primates counting over 1500 Chimpanzees. And among others including Baboons, Red-tailed Monkeys, etc.

And for birders on Uganda tours, Kibale forest national park is a paradise for you!

It’s home to over 370 bird species, most being forest birds in Uganda counting the rare Green-breasted Pitta, Double-toothed Barbets, etc.

Kibale Forest borders are dominated by the native Batooro. Other people include immigrants from southwestern Uganda including:

  • Bakiga
  • Bafumbira and,

These people practice subsistence farming however, their stay around Kibale park edges has greatly affected this park!

If interested in knowing much about the fascinating geography of Kibale National park, here we go!

Location Of Kibale National Park | Kibale National Park Location

Kibale National Park is sited in western Uganda about 309km from Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

This park covers over 766km2 lying within 4 (four) district administrative boundaries including Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge, and Kasese.

Kibale forest national park is 24km east of the Mountain Rwenzori foothills and roughly 26km southeast of Fort Portal town.

Uganda Kibale national park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park. This corridor runs 180km from Ishasha, south of Queen Elizabeth NP to Sebitoli, the northern sector of Kibale Forest.

It allows free movement of wildlife between parks.

The geographical coordinates of Kibale National Park are 0012 to 0040’N and 30020’ to 30035’E.

The Altitude Of Kibale Forest National Park

The altitude of Kibale National Park is gently sloping to the south. It ranges between 1,160m to about 2,607m in the extreme north.

Below is a brief about the altitude of Kibale park:

  • Kibale park’s altitude in the north is over 1500m a.s.l.
  • In the center, it’s between 1200-1500m in elevation.
  • The altitude of Kibale Forest in the southern sector is about 1100-1200m altitude.

Physiography Of Kibale Park

Kibale forest national park has a wide altitudinal range rising from 1,110m in the south to 1,590m in the extreme north.

This beautiful park of Uganda occupies undulating terrain on the main Ugandan plateau draining in a southerly direction.

The geology of Kibale consists of Precambrian rock formations (sedimentary) in origin which are strongly folded and some metamorphosed. Noticeable ridges of Quartzite, Schists, and Phyllites, intruded by Amphibolites, Gneiss, and granites overlie these formations.

Some hills in Kibale have exposed layers of hard Laterite soils.

About 90% of Kibale National Park’s area is overlain by Red Ferralitic soils:

  • Over 2/3 (two-thirds) of these are sandy clay loams in the north
  • 1/3 (one-third) of the soil in Kibale park is clay loams in the south.

All these soils are deeply weathered, show little differentiation in the horizon, and are of very low to moderate fertility.

The remaining 10% is fertile Eutrophic soil over a base of volcanic ash around Mpokya and Isunga on the western edge of the park (Howard, 1991: Kasenene, 1980).

Flora Of Kibale Forest National Park

The Flora of Kibale forest national park holds a rich diversity of plants totaling over 351 tree species and this is about 28% of Uganda’s total.

And among these include the rare endangered timber species such as:

  • Cordia millenii
  • Entandrophragma angolense and,
  • Lovoa swynnertonnii.

Kibale is a medium-altitude transitional ever-green forest having both dry tropical and wet tropical rainforests.

A big part of this park is occupied by grasslands and the dominant species include:

  • Pennisetum purpureum
  • Imperata cylindrica and,
  • Cymbopogon afronardus.

All the above primarily occupy hilltops and are probably a result of fires frequently set by poachers.

Flora Found In The Northern Side Of Kibale

This area is dominated by moist evergreen tree species such as:

  • Parinari excelsa
  • Strombosia scheffleri
  • Aningeria altissima
  • Newtonia buchananii and,
  • Olea welwitschii, among others.

Flora Found In The South Of Kibale Forest

Moist semi-deciduous trees are the dominant tree here and they include:

  • Pterygota braedii
  • Lovoa swynnertonii
  • Diosyros abssinica
  • Pure stands of ironwood occupy southern river valleys and lower altitudes.
  • Warbugia ugandensis- sparsely populated.
  • The flat terrain that floods frequently holds thick stands of Palms counting Raffia, Screw Palms, and Phoenix reclinata.

Kibale National Park Flora In The Central Part

 The central part of Kibale National Park boasts a high forest in a mixture of deciduous and the dominant evergreen tree species.

These trees normally rise to over 55m and reveal a semi-closed canopy of stratified tree crowns.

The undergrowth is scanty and characterized by shade-forbearing herbs and shrubs including:

  • Palisota schweinfurthii
  • Pollia condensata
  • A variety of ferns and,
  • Broad-leaved forest grasses, etc.

Fauna Of Kibale National Park

Among the national parks in Uganda, the fauna of Kibale National Park ranks among the best in the Pearl of Africa- Uganda.

Kibale fauna is divided into:

  1. Animals and,
  2. Birds

Animals Of Kibale National Park

Kibale national park holds a great diversity of animals totaling over 70 species.

Among these include 13 species of primates counting over 1500 Chimpanzees out of the 5,000 total in Uganda.

This park holds the highest concentration of primates in Africa thus, called the Primate Capital of Africa.

The Prominent Species Of Primate In Kibale Park

  1. Chimpanzees
  2. Olive Baboons
  3. Black and White Colobus Monkeys
  4. Red-tailed Monkeys
  5. Blue Monkeys
  6. L’hoest Monkeys, plus,
  7. Vervet Monkeys, among others.

These’re mostly spotted while on nature walks within the Kanyanchu area.

Other Animals In Kibale National Park

Kibale forest national park is not only a haven for primates but the park also holds other animals and among these includes:

  • Forest Elephants
  • African Forest Buffalos
  • Leopards
  • Bushbucks
  • Forest Duikers
  • Serval Cats, and,
  • Common Warthogs, etc.

Usually, the above animals in Kibale National Park are hardly spotted due to the thickness of the forest. However, lucky travelers have spotted them!

Visitors on Uganda tours normally encounter animals in Kibale during nature walks.

  1. Birds In Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park boasts a diversity of forest birds in Uganda thus, being one of the prominent sites for birding safaris in Uganda.

This park boasts over 370 bird species counting even the rare Green Breasted Pitta.

Also, some Albertine endemic bird species such as Black-capped Apalis, Collared Apalis, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, and Purple-breasted Sunbirds, can be spotted.

Among the most sought-after birds in Kibale National Park include: 

  1. Green-breasted Pitta
  2. Great-blue Turaco
  3. Papyrus Gonolek
  4. Yellow-spotted Nicator
  5. Double-toothed Barbet
  6. Blue-headed Bee-eater
  7. Black-billed Barbet
  8. Pin-tailed Whydah
  9. Red-fronted Tinkerbird and,
  10. Red-faced Barbet, among others.

Kibale National Park Weather

The tropical climate of the area mainly affects Kibale national park’s weather.

The weather of Kibale forest is warm all year round “just pleasant”. Normally, day temperatures rise over 270C and cool to 150C at the night.

In Kibale forest national park, rainfall can drizzle any time of the day. This is due to its being a tropical rainforest.

Kibale National Park Weather In Dry Months

Dry months in Kibale include June-August and December-February. During these months, the weather of Kibale National Park receives:

  • Sunshine most hours of the day and,
  • Little (minimum) rainfall is expected all day long.

Kibale Weather In Wet Months

Wet months in Kibale Forest include March-May and September-November. Normally, in these months Kibale National Park weather experiences:

  • Rainfall most hours of the day and,
  • Little sunshine is expected a day.

Note that regardless of the season of the year, temperatures in Kibale Forest remain high all year round. Day temperatures always go up to 270C however, it falls to 150C at the night.

The Climate Of Kibale National Park

The climate of Kibale National Park experiences a tropical climate due to its being close to the Equator line.

This kind of climate experiences warm conditions and temperatures are almost the same all year round.

The area also receives heavy rainfall throughout the year.

Characteristics Of Kibale National Park Climate

  • The area receives heavy rainfall all year round totaling over 1700mm per annum.
  • This area experiences two (2) wet seasons annually and these include:
  • March-May and,
  • September-November.
  • The climate of Kibale park also experiences two dry seasons counting:
  • June-August and,
  • December-February.
  • This area also experiences warm temperatures all year round. Commonly, the average annual temperature ranges between 25-280C.
  • In most cases, the average monthly temperature of Kibale Forest is over 180
  • The Kibale area receives Convectional rainfall.

Population Distribution Around Kibale National Park

The human population density around Kibale National Park is high and this also affects the geography of Kibale!

On average, the population density around Kibale Forest is over 173 persons per square km– (according to the 2014 census). This is due to the great immigration in the last century from southwestern Uganda.

The people in the 34 villages adjoining Kibale Forest include the native:

  • Batoro and,
  • Bakonjo

Immigrants from southwestern Uganda include:

  • Bakiga
  • Banyankole and,
  • Bafumbira

Most of these people predominantly practice subsistence farming growing crops such as bananas, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, and sugar cane.

Around Kibale National Park, land pressure varies:

  • In the north around the tea estate, each family holds on average one hectare of land.
  • Families in the east and south of Kibale NP, each use about 2 (two) hectares of land.

Impact Of Population Around Kibale National Park

The population around Kibale National Park features positive and negative impacts on the geography of Kibale Forest.

Positive Impacts Of Population Around Kibale National Park

The population around Kibale National Park is of great value in the following ways:

  1. It has contributed to the growth of cultural tourism around Kibale. Normally, visitors on Uganda tours visit communities around the park like Bigodi village for memorable cultural encounters.
  2. The population around Kibale Forest has facilitated the growth of infrastructures such as lodges, roads, and trading centers. Among these include the Bigodi trading center.
  3. These people also sell souvenirs to visitors on Uganda safari tours in Kibale National Park. Among the souvenirs include amazing handcrafts like mats, sunhats, and baskets.

Negative Impacts Of Population Around Kibale National Park

The population around Kibale National Park has caused numerous negative impacts on the park including:

  1. Encroachment on the park’s land: Due to the high population growth rate in the area, people around Kibale National have encroached on the park’s land area to survive.
  2. Land degradation: This is also another problem affecting the geography of Kibale National Park.

For example, in the south, some people are practicing fish farming and this has changed the topography of the park.

  1. Poaching: People living around Kibale greatly contribute to the poaching of park animals and this can lead to their extinction.

Normally, small antelopes like Bushbucks are victims.

  1. Deforestation: Normally, people living around Kibale National Park smuggle into the forest and cut down valuable tree species in Kibale Forest.

Among these include the rare Mahogany tree.

  1. Human-wildlife conflict: Furthermore, people around Kibale forest national park encourage human-wildlife conflict.

This comes as a result of the loss of properties and sometimes lives.

Normally, in Kibale Forest, Vervet Monkeys are victims and this can lead to their extinction.

What Measures Are Being Taken To Conserve Kibale National Park?

The government of Uganda is doing its best to conserve Kibale National park and among these include:

  • Relocating and evicting people encroaching on the park’s land is one of the measures the Ugandan government is using to conserve Kibale.

For example, in 1992, over 13,000 people were living inside the park. However, these were evicted and relocated to the Kibale district.

  • Encouraging eco-tourism: Uganda government through UWA (an agency responsible for protected areas) encourages visitors to practice eco-tourism while on Uganda trips.

This helps to conserve the environment and endangered species.

  • Promoting afforestation: More so, the government of Uganda is encouraging afforestation in areas around Kibale Forest. Commonly Eucalyptus tree species are planted the most.

This aids to reduce pressure on firewood and poles from the park.

  • Reinforcing laws against poaching: To conserve animals in protected areas Kibale inclusive, the Ugandan government has put in place strict laws against poaching.

These laws come up with heavy fines and also imprisonment. This help to create fear in the would-be poachers.

  • Gazetting park boundaries: This is also among the measures to conserve Kibale Forest.

It helps to avoid land wrangles with people bordering the park thus, protecting Kibale National Park’s geography.

Human Activities In And Around Kibale National Park

There are several human activities in Kibale park and these greatly affect the geography of Kibale National Park. Among these include:

1. Tourism In Kibale Park

Tourism is the main human activity in Kibale National Park. It’s primarily carried out in the Kanyanchu sector.

And among the tourism activities in Kibale park include:

  • Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale
  • Birding
  • Nature walks
  • Chimpanzee habituation experience and,
  • Cultural encounters.

Occasionally, while undertaking activities like Chimpanzee trekking and birding, the vegetation is cut to create trekking trails. Therefore, this leads to the destruction of the park’s vegetation.

2. Settlement Around Kibale National Park

Areas adjacent to Kibale Forest have favored the settlement of people and the construction of infrastructures. However, this has greatly affected the geography of Kibale National Park.

Among the infrastructures include lodges, roads, and personal houses. During the construction of these facilities, the topography, soils, and vegetation of the park are destroyed.

3. Afforestation Around Kibale Forest

Afforestation around Kibale is another activity done around Kibale forest national park and it positively affects the geography of Kibale.

Commonly, eucalyptus trees are planted to meet timber and wood fuel requirements.

4. Livestock Rearing

Typically, livestock rearing is done in the south of Kibale Forest however, the production is still low.

Other economic activities around Kibale include brewing crude Waragi, fishing, and working in the tea plantations.

In past years, local people relied much on products got from the Kibale forest. And among these included game meat, timber, firewood, poles, medicinal plants, wild coffee, craft materials, and land for cultivation.

In summary, the geography of Kibale National Park is a broad aspect however, this article has it all for you!

These aspects include Kibale National Park’s location, altitude of Kibale, soils, topography, and flora and fauna.

Other aspects of the Kibale National Park geography include Kibale National Park weather and climate, Human activities, and population distribution among others.

For Any Inquiries About Your Safaris In Uganda, Please Endeavour To Email Us For A Memorable Experience!

Want to visit Kibale Forest?

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