If you’re planning to tour Uganda, the best place not to miss is the western part of the country, through the Albertine rift. This western border with Congo is a true paradise and forms the backbone of Uganda’s nature, adventure and culture. To be able to cover this part of the country in full, you will likely be travelling from north of the Albertine rift down to the southwest gorilla sector, on this route you will visit several parks and could start with either Murchison falls, Semuliki or Kibale forest national park then move south to Rwenzori mountains, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Mgahinga, all located on one tourist route. Between the main parks, you can also find other hidden jewels that are least talked about. These include Kabwoya wildlife reserve, Ziwa Rhino ranch, Kaniyo Pabidi in Budong forest, semuliki wildlife reserve, Kyambura gorge, Kigezi wildlife reserve and the wonderful community or cultural encounters. Some people who have shorter time of traveling this direction like to start mid-way from Semuliki or Kibale by connecting through Kampala – Mubende – fort portal route and leaving out Murchison falls national park and Kabwoya wildlife reserve. In this guide, I will share several places in the Albertine rift valley start with Kibale forest national park.
If you have ever imagined spotting millions of birds in a jungle, an encounter with the highest density of chimpanzees in their natural habitat, or any other primate, reptiles, amphibians or the large mammals deep in the woods, you have probably dreamt of being in Kibale forest national park. It is an ecosystem with very minimal impact of human activity, a home to Chimpanzees and other primates surrounded by Natural, cultural and community wonders that will leave you perplexed during your trip.
Location and attractions of Kibale forest national park:
Kibale forest national park is located in western Uganda and is one of the major equatorial forests surviving in this country. At the size of 795km2 Kibale National Park is one of the most beautiful and with the most varying spans of tropical forest in the whole of Uganda. The Forest covering predominates in the central and northern part of the park on the Fort Portal plateau. The park’s northern tip is highest, standing at 1590m above sea level.
This park is natural habitat and home to a number of forest wildlife, most especially 13 species of primate including the chimpanzees. Kibale is home to the uncommon I’Hoest’s monkey as well as East Africa’s biggest population of the endangered red colobus monkey. The black & white colobus, red tailed monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon, grey cheeked mangabey, bush baby and potto are among the other primates. Other mammals are also present, though they are hardly seen. These consist of buffalo, leopard, bush pig Elephant, and duiker. A neat viewer could also see amphibians, reptiles and a colorful variety of butterflies
Without forgetting the variety of butter flies that celebrate a good home in this forest, the park is a home to 325 variety of bird species, including 6 that are native to the Albertine Rift. These include; dusky crimson wing, black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis,red-faced woodland warbler and purple-breasted sunbird. Other Kibale specials are the green breasted pitta, African pitta, black bee-eater, Abyssinian ground thrush, yellow spotted nicator, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brown chested alethe, yellow rumped tinker bird, blue-breasted kingfisher, along with the crowned eagle.
How to get there
Kibale forest National park is accessed by a public road. You can arrive either by public or private transport like buses and taxis, private car, bicycle or motorcycle. The visitor Centre is located at walking distance off the Fort portal Kamwenge highway. From Kampala, at Busega round about, you take the Kampala-Fort portal road – on the right – through Mubende town up to fort portal. In fort portal, turn left past the Mpanga bridge at Mpanga market following the signs of Kibale forest national park. You will follow the main road until it enters into Kibale forest National Park. The journey from Kampala is about 313kms approximately 4.5 hours’ drive. This is the shortest route where you drive up to Kanyanchu visitor center from fort portal.
One can also choose to use Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara road. From Lyantonde town you branch and take Kiruhura-Ibanda road near L. Mburo national park. Then from Ibanda, you take Kamwenge road up to Kanyanchu visitor center. The route is about 700kms approximately 8 hours’ drive from Kampala and about 5 hours from Lyantonde. Those from Mabarara Kabale can choose to go through Ibandas – Kamwenge road. As I write this, the road from Ibanda is getting tarmacked and the road challenges during rainy seasons will be history very soon.
For budget travelers and those using public transport, it’s advisable to use the Kampala-Mubende-Fort portal high way that has daily buses and taxis. You can easily get public transport to this area in Kampala Bus Park and Taxi Park that end in fort portal town, unlike the Kampala Masaka, Lyantonde or the Ibanda – Kamwenge routes that rarely have public transport. From Fort portal you get a shared or hired taxi to Kamwenge at Mpanga market and for about 39kms you get out at Kanyanchu visitors center or your preferred accommodation place. For detailed information or assistance on arranging this, contact us at email@example.com or your preferred tour operator
Activities you can participate in
- Chimp tracking or chimpanzee habituation.
- Forest Hikes exploring the park’s habitats
- Birding in Kibale: Bigodi a top birders spot.
- Cultural exploration trail in the 2-6 days walk learning the cultures of the Batooro and Bakiga people.
- Night walks Kanyanchu
- Cultural heritage and nature trails at Sebitoli forest
- Children’s forest walk
- Exploration of the great crater lake
Community accommodations on this trip:
- Tinka’s homestay Bigodi
- Safari hotel Kingo (basic accommodation)
- CVK lakeside resort
- Lake Nkuruba community camp
- Rwetera safari park
Community activities you can participate in
- Bigodi sanctuary and bard walk
- Bigodi women cultural dance and drama
- A traditional lunch at Tinkas homestay
- Mahoma water falls trail
- Visit to the tea estates
Other accommodation offered here:
Please contact us for other lodges if you want to review or use none community accommodations