Kibale National Park is one of Uganda’s western National Parks located in the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge on a total area of 766 square kilometers. The park is 330km from Uganda’s capital Kampala and just 30km southeast of the town of Fort Portal. The park can be found on the coordinates of 00 30N, 30 24E (Latitude: 0.5000; Longitude: 30.4000), and has a varying altitude between 1,100 and 1,600 meters (3,600–5,200 ft.).
Kibale was first gazetted in 1932 and then officially established as a National Park in 1993 with the aim of protecting a large area of forest which was beginning to lose a number of unique tree species as a result of logging activity when the area was still run as a logged Forest Reserve.
The park boasts of one of the most beautiful and diverse areas of tropical forests in the country with varied types of vegetation ranging from forests, patches of grassland and swamp vegetation in different parts of the park. The vegetation cover is surely something to acclaim Kibale for with tree species amounting to 351 among which some trees have been in existence for over 200 years and bearing record heights of up to 55m.
Kibale National park is more popular for its population of primate species especially the 1450 habituated chimpanzees and the L’Hoest’s monkey that reside in the park’s habitats making it a top destination for primate safaris in Uganda. Although the park has the tagline, “Primates’ Planet” it is not only limited to primate species only but offers visitors sightings of sixty (60) other mammal species including lions which migrate from Queen Elizabeth, leopards, buffalos, warthogs, forest elephants, bushpigs, blue and red duikers and the mongooses. The park’s habitats are a refuge to over 375 bird species including the Western Nicator, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Red-chested Owlet, African grey parrot, and the Blue-headed Sunbird. Adding to the many stunning biome species in the park, Kibale National Park also has a varied diversity of landscapes which are something to marvel at.
Kibale National Park joins with Queen Elizabeth National Park to form a 180km wildlife corridor, with a number of mammal and bird species making daily, weekly and monthly trips between these two parks. The northern part of Kibale National Park at Sebitoli and the southern part of Queen Elizabeth at Ishaha join to form this awesome corridor. While at Kibale, tourists can also access a number of other interesting places in less than a day’s drive. For example they can make trips to the Toro – Semuliki wildlife reserve or just make excursions to Fort Portal town where they will get a chance to see the palace of the King of Toro. While in Fort Portal, tourists can have astounding views of the legendary Rwenzori Mountains which have snow on top.
The park has for long been a center for research mainly in tree species and primates especially the Chimpanzee. The Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS) is also located here.