Kibale National Park Situated on the Fort Portal plateau in Western Uganda, this forest park has a good reputation for apes, with 13 primate species inclusive of both new world monkeys and old world monkeys like chimpanzees. Its other specials include 70 mammals’ species like baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, forest elephants, forest duikers, L'Hoest monkeys, black and white colubus.
It boasts a spectacular range of habitats thanks to its abundance of 351 species of towering indigenous trees. On one side, it is surrounded by scenic tea plantations and on the other, it blossoms with enchanting crater lakes, most of which have crystal clear water.
On the part of chimp trekking, the hiking experience here is considerably easier than for the gorilla trekking. The terrain is mildly undulating and the vegetation far less dense.
To avoid interfering with the ecosystem, the chimps here are not fed. They look for food on their own in the park's 795sq.km expanse. The chimps roam freely in search or food, sometimes disappearing 10kilometers into the heart of the park. As such, the hike to see them lasts between 30mins-5 hours. On reaching their location, the first thing you are likely to see is a mother and baby up on the tree, being very quiet.
In comparison with gorilla's, chimps are extremely loud and very, very active..... It is such a rewarding experience to watch them nest and also stand in amongst them while they sleep, play and eat figs and fruits. Don't expect to see many other primate species around them because they (Chimps) are noisy and aggressive.
To double the amount of protein in their system, they sometimes hunt black and white monkeys for meat.
The ranger guides here are great hosts. On the other hand, the porters, while not as polished as those for the Gorilla's are also very good and knowledgeable.
If it is your lucky day, you might come across so many chimps on the ground. This is a huge blessing considering these primates prefer to spend their day in the canopy.
To see how these primates behave at night, you can give the night forest walk a try. You are likely to witness how they make their nests by bending over branches and stuffing it with leafy twigs to make it more comfortable for sleep.
Along the way, you might spot forest leopards.
A decent array of accommodation in or near the Kibale National Park caters for most budgets.
Bigodi wetland walk!
A nature walk in Bigodi wetland is a must for any bird lover – within 30 minutes, you will have seen at least 60 different bird species especially if you visit early morning. It is a pristine swamp where you stand great chances of monkey and bird species to which Kibale National Park is home. This is thanks to its varied vegetation cover as comprised of Wild Palms, Polita Fig Trees and Papyrus jungle. Brace yourself for the Great Blue Turaco, Papyrus Gonoleks, Flycatchers, Hornbills, Waxbills, Cuckoos, Kingfishers and Weavers
The trails at this community-owned swamp are mostly flat and well maintained. Even when you go off-trail, the terrain is very manageable. This makes the experience easier than gorilla tracking.
Tag along with binoculars so you can see the birds better. Also, as always, have a bottle or two of water to keep you rehydrated.
Chimp Habituation in Kibale
By the end of this half-day jungle walk, you will leave with thousands of unforgettable memories and pictures. It is more intense and rewarding than chimp trekking as it entails pursuing chimps that are still 100% wild. Be warned though, the forest is thick and chasing after chimps can be challenging as they are very fast. You need to be in fairly good shape for this experience, with comfortable hiking boots. The good news is that most of the ground is flat.
You will get closer than you can imagine. As the chimps move through the trees, the trackers often need to wait for their calls before being able to choose the right direction to follow. In the dry season, when food is scarce, sub-groups who find food tend to stay quiet and not advertise their find. This means a lot of walking around in the forest. To this effect, it is wiser to travel light and only carry items you intend to use. We are happy to hire for you a porter to carry your heavy cameras as you when hiking.
Along the way, you will see many plant species, which your guide can easily identify. Here, you can also amuse yourself with butterflies and Colubus monkeys.
What to carry
Considering that Kibale receives sudden rain, you are advised to bring a brimmed hat or poncho. You could also bring some camera protection from possible rain.
Wear comfortable hiking boots as you will walk over rough terrain for long duration.