KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK.
Located in the in western Uganda, in the district of Kibale, the national park is 26km south-east of Fort Portal town. The park can be accessed via two routes, the first and the easiest is the northern route via Mubende and Fort Portal and its just 336 Kms from Kampala and the other one is the southern route which passes through Mbarara and Kasese to Kanyanchu the park headquarters.
Kibale Forest National park, covers an area of 795km2 covered with tropical rain forest, the park has varied altitudes that support different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest (moist evergreen forest) on the Fort Portal plateau, through dry tropical forest (moist semi deciduous), to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor this has made it possible for the area to hosts a variety of wildlife species, including 13species of primates including the 13 species of chimpanzees, the highest in any tropical rain forest in the whole of Africa, the forest hosts 1450 chimpanzees, the rare I’Hoest’s monkey and East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus monkey. Other primates include the black and white colobus, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto. Other mammals are present, though rarely seen. These include forest elephant, buffalo, leopard, bush pig and duiker. A keen observer may also spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colourful variety of butterflies.
The park boasts 325 species of birds, including 6 that are endemic to the Albertine Rift region, namely black-capped apalis, blue-headed sunbird, collared apalis, dusky crimson-wing, purple-breasted sunbird and red-faced woodland warbler. Other Kibale specials include the African pitta, green breasted pitta, black bee-eater, yellow spotted nicator, yellow rumped tinker bird, little greenbul, black-eared ground thrush, brown-chested alethe, blue-breasted kingfisher, Abyssinian ground-thrush, and the crowned eagle, 351 tree species have also been recorded in the park making Kibale forest national park unique in its own way different from other national parks in the country.
Activites while at the park include:
Primate walk (Chimpanzee tracking), and this is the most popular activity at the park, these 2-3 hours walk start from Kanyanchu visitor centre in the morning and in the afternoon at 08.00 and 15.00 respectively. While on the walk some of the other interesting wildlife species you will encounter include the black and white colobus monkeys, the red tailed monkeys and the grey cheeked mongabey as well as other many bird species.
Forest Hike: This seasonal 12km hike is restricted to the dry seasons of mid November-February and June-September. It explores the park’s diverse habitats including tropical rainforest, river line forest, swamp and grassland. You will have the chance to see a wide variety of birds and primates and perhaps also duiker and bushbuck. The walk begins at 08.00 from Kanyanchu Visitor Centre and ends at the elephant wallow around 14.00. Take drinks and snacks. Pre-booking is recommended.
Cultural Heritage and Nature Trail (Former Long Distance Walk)
The adventurous visitor can follow a 2-6 days trail through the forest. The full walk starts or finishes at either Kanyanchu or Sebitoli. The route explores the forest during the day, emerging in the evening to sleep in community-run campsites near the villages of Kikoni, Nyaibanda and Nyakalongo. These provide the opportunity to meet local people and gain insights into their Batoro and Bakiga cultures. Porters can be hired at the trailheads to carry equipment. Groups of up to 6 people can undertake the walk. Pre-booking is essential.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary: it is situated just outside the park in Magombe Swamp. This is known for a wide range of wildlife that includes primates, such as chimpanzee, red colobus, black and white colobus, red tailed monkey and other mammals such as sitatunga, bushbuck, otter and mongoose. The wetland is also home to 138 bird species. These can be seen during guided walks from viewing platforms and a boardwalk trail.
The sanctuary is a community-run initiative aimed at conserving the unique biodiversity and environmental values of the wetland. Enquire about the sanctuary at the Kanyanchu Visitor Information Centre or at the UWA HQ in Kampala.
Guided walks, similar to those at Magombe, are conducted in the Kihingani Wetland, just outside the national park near Sebitoli.
Chimpanzee tracking regulations
For your safety and the protection of Kibale’s chimpanzees, please observe the following points:
- Keep a distance of 8 metres between you and the chimps
- Do not enter the forest if you are sick. This puts the chimps at risk of contracting disease.
- Do not eat near the chimps.
- Children of 12 years and below are not permitted to view the chimps for safety reasons.
- Do not enter the forest without a park guide.
- If you need to defecate, do so off the trail and bury waste and toilet paper in a hole 30cm deep.
- Do not scare or attempt to provoke the chimps.
- Bwindi Forest National Park
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- Queen Elizabeth National Park
- Murchision Falls National Park
- Mount Ruwenzori National Park
- Semiliki National Park
- Mount Elgon National Park
- Lake Mburo National Park
- Kibaale National Park