Kibale National Park (formerly Kibale Forest National Park) is the best place for chimpanzee trekking in Uganda. Thirteen species of primates have been recorded, which is the highest number for any Ugandan park, and several monkey species can usually be seen on forest walks. Birds and butterflies are abundant.
Although chimpanzees can be found in quite a number of parks and reserves in eastern Africa the four big ‘chimp parks’ are Tanzania’s Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains, Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest and Uganda’s Kibale Forest. I have been lucky enough to have visited all of them and they all have their plus and minus points.
The chimps of Rwanda’s Nyungwe forest are easily the most timid around people and though the forest is beautiful and there are other things to do here plus easy access it’s probably the least enticing of the four for chimps. Tanzania’s two parks both offer fabulous chimpanzee encounters but both are expensive to visit, other activities are limited, access hard and visitors are limited to one hour with the chimps (as in Nyungwe).
Uganda’s Kibale Forest by contrast offers an enticing mixture of easy access (about a half-day drive from Kampala), excellent value accommodation in all price ranges, a wide array of other activities from seriously good birding in a neighbouring area of marshland to long forest walks and numerous exciting community activities.
All this stands it in good stead but then there’s the chimpanzee encounter itself. The chimps here are almost as relaxed with people as those of Gombe and Mahale so very close up encounters are almost a given. As with all the other parks the standard chimp tracking tour gives you just one hour with the chimps (and it costs more here than any other park), but what I think gives Kibale the edge of all the others is that it’s also possible to pay for a one/two or three day ‘chimp experience.
The one day experience doesn’t cost much more than the one hour tracking permit (and each successive day becomes cheaper still) but you get to spend from the crack of dawn to early evening (or whenever you’ve had enough) with the chimps.
When I did it I think I spent a little over nine hours in the forest with the chimpanzees and it was arguably the most rewarding wildlife encounter I have ever had. What’s even better is that the vast majority of visitors only do the one hour trek so you and your guide have a good chance of spending most of the day with the chimps alone – an utterly magical experience. So for this reason I would say that Kibale Forest is the best place in the world to track chimpanzees.
Accessibilty of kibale national park
Kibale forest national park can be visited all year round and accessed in +/-6 hours drive passing through the beautiful small villages and towns of Kagadi district and Fort portal city which is bout an hours drive to the park for this town, there is available accommodation ranging from the best budget to Luxrury.