About Kibale National Park; Kibale National park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda close to the foothills of Mountain Rwenzori and fort portal town. Kibale Forest National park comprises mainly of soggy semideciduous and evergreen forest grassland, woodland, lakes and wetlands, and plantations of exotic trees. The National park was established to protect the tree species and their inhabitants. Kibale is inhabited by several wildlife species including primates, bird species, reptiles, and insects. All these are delimited within 794 square kilometers which is the Parks’ total area.
Kibale Forest National park is one of the greatest safari destinations for chimpanzee trekking among the 10 national parks found in Uganda and on the African continent. Kibale National park is crucial in terms of Uganda’s tourism development due to the greatest number of chimpanzees it shelters. Other than chimpanzees, Kibale biodiversity park contains birds, mammals, interesting butterflies, and a wide range of plant species. The famous of Kibale Park depends on its popular community of chimpanzees which are fully habituated. These include; Ngobi community with more than 200 chimps located at the center of the first, Kanyawara community comprise of about 60 members, Kanyachu in southern Kibale park, and lastly is Sebitole is situated in the northern part.
A brief history of Kibale Forest National Park
The history of Kibale Forest National Park is broad and there is a lot to talk about Kibale Park. Kibale was gazetted in 1932 by the British colonialist as the forest logged areas. The motive of the British was not only to maintain its nature validity but also to use it as a source of hardwood. After extraction of the hardwood in this Park, the British embarked on the planting of planted exotic trees in Kibale, especially where hardwood had been cleared. The idea to construct the Copper cobalt plant at Kilemembe in Kasese town in 1950 made the demand for hardwood extracted in Kibale Park to increase.
Still, under the British control, Kibale National Park was elevated and gazetted into a forest reserve in 1948 to combat the increased illegal deforestation activities that were going on by the indigenous communities. Afforestation was practiced by the British planting this time the exotic trees in areas where deforestation was severe. In 1993, Kibale forest reserve now fully turned into Kibale National Park and the Uganda National Parks took over the control of the conservation efforts and activities in 1994.
As if that was not enough, the Uganda National park body emerged with the game department of Uganda to form the current Uganda Wildlife Authority in 1996. Up to date, Kibale is under the management and control of Uganda Wildlife Authority which is mandated to sustainably manage wildlife resources and supervise wildlife activities in and outside the protected areas in Uganda. The Authority has done a tremendous job in ensuring restoration of the authenticity of Kibale by making Kibale Park the best ecotourism and biological study center for Ugandan prestigious institution Makerere University.
Kibale National park like any other park is surrounded by the local communities that are important for tourism cultural drive. The major tribes adjacent to Kibale are Batoro and Bakiga and they use the park mainly for firewood, medicinal herbs, and other resources with guidance from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. For the last century, the population of the Kibale community has been hugely increasing and this has been attributed to increased revenues and job creation as a result of tourism development in the Park.
Wildlife in Kibale National park
Kibale Forest National Park is very unique in that it forms an unremitting forest stretch up to Queen Elizabeth National Park “the Medley of wonders”. This park stretch is equivalent to 180 kilometers and is named Wildlife corridor. This offers an opportunity for animals such as lions and elephants to crossover to Kibale National park from Queen Elizabeth National Park and vice vasa. This connection probably explains why most of the visitors to this Park other than Chimpanzees have spotted cuts like lions and huge mammals such as elephants and buffaloes making it the interesting destination for your safaris.
This Park is the home to 13 species of primates making it the most primate rich in the destination in the whole of the Africa continent. Six of these primates are diurnal and have been extended for thorough research. This Park has over 30% (1500) out of 4950 total chimpanzees in the whole of Uganda. Examples of other primates include; red colobus (endangered species), black and white colobus, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys mangabey, and L’Hoest’s monkey.
Besides primates, Kibale National park anchorages over 355 plant species,72mammal species, and over 372 species of birds out of the total 1042 recorded bird species in Uganda. This Park harbors the highest concentration of forest elephants in Uganda. Other mammals include buffalos, bushbucks among others. The dense forests may make it a challenge to spot these cautious mammals as compared to open savannah parks of the southwestern region. However, the resulting encounters with these animals in the forest are so enchanted.
Other species in this Park include the duiker, warthog, bushbucks and sitatungas, and Mongoose. Travelers can also get an opportunity to see predators such as leopards, serval cats, and African golden cats. These predators can get to Kibale forest from Queen Elizabeth National park via the wildlife corridor that links the two parks. It is from these wildlife species that Kibale Forest is one of the most beautiful with most varying creatures that catch the visitor’s eyes whenever they are present within the park.
Convenient time to visit Kibale Forest National park
Convenient time to visit this park involves the period in the form of months, seasons when travelers can best go to Kibale for tourism safaris. The park is convenient for tourists throughout the year just like any other National park in Uganda. This means that you can book your safaris to Kibale any time or months of the year. Besides, there is a convenient time when activities in Kibale park such as birding, chimpanzee tracking, forest walks, village walks, and chimpanzee habituation are best done. The best time sometimes is determined by the choice of the activities in the park you’re interested in at Kibale National park.
The convenient time to Visit Kibale park’s national safaris activities is during dry conditions. The tourism dry seasons in Uganda is the time when tourism is at its peak, there are two dry seasons in Uganda though travelers should expect changes as weather conditions keep on changing. The dry spell kicks off in December and goes up to mid-February and then recommences from mid-May to July. This presents a convenient time for visiting this park because during dry seasons all the roads leading and trails in the park are passable which makes activities like chimpanzee habituation and trekking encounters so easier.
Many visitors travel in Kibale in June up to September similarly to other protected areas. This is high season for tourism where Uganda receives very many tourists for primate tracking. But most visitors come for gorilla trekking in both Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks. Since gorilla trekking and chimpanzee trekking work concurrently, and Kibale national park is the best destination on the African continent for chimp trekking, undoubtfully, it also receives the highest numbers of travelers in June and September.
The wet season in this Park is experienced in March, April, and May June and from October to November yearly. These are two rainfall months/spells that are received in Kibale. During these months, the park receives rainfall that not necessarily stop travelers but somehow makes it uncomfortable for them to thoroughly enjoy the experience. However, the heavy rains in this Park is experienced during May and November. These are the difficult months for visitors to visit the park. Too many rains make the trails in the Kibale park especially forest trails impenetrable and slippery and at time ecolodges in the shut up during wet seasons
Therefore, travelers should visit Kibale National park during the dry season since it provides a convenient time to do chimpanzee tracking and habituation with a remarkable experience. The activities to do in this period in this park include; chimpanzee trekking and habituation, birding watching, nature walks, camping among others. However, the wet season has its advantages of setting Kibale park free for chimpanzee habituation experience that gives travelers more time to interact with chimpanzees. It’s upon the travelers to choose when to book a safari to the park since its available for visitors all the time of the year.