Things to Do
The high number of chimpanzees, the accessibility of the forest and the length of habituation makes Kibale one of the most popular places to track chimpanzees in Uganda. Although sightings are not guaranteed, you have over a 90% chance of seeing these fascinating creatures.
Unlike gorilla tracking, Kibale’s terrain is not particularly challenging and so you don’t have to be particularly fit or able to trek for long periods to track chimpanzees. Standard tracking excursions last about three hours and include a maximum of one hour with the chimps, during which you can expect to get within 8 - 10 metres. Permits are required to track the chimpanzees and you will join a group (maximum of 8) led by Uganda Wildlife Authority Interpretive Rangers who will introduce you to the chimps and their forest world.
The tracking excursions depart twice a day at 08:00 and 14:00. The morning departures are the busiest because many itineraries combine it with an afternoon visit to the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.
If an hour with the chimps is just not enough and you want more time to observe and understand their complex behaviour, then join a habituation experience. Walking with the habituation research team, you will push deeper into the forest. Your targets are less used to human presence and so the experience is unpredictable and can be challenging if the group decides to move quickly to another location. This experience is available as both a half and full day excursion. For those joining for the full day, you will join the chimps from when they break nests at about 6:30am the whole day through until they nest again for the night at about 7pm.
Bigodi Community Wetland Sanctuary
Bigodi is prime birding and monkey habitat, but a walk here is also a wonderful way to support a superb community tourism initiative. The Sanctuary is run by the Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development and all profits support education and income-generating initiatives in the Bigodi Cultural Centre. Guided walks last for about three hours and depart in the morning and afternoon. Birders are recommended to join the morning walks to enjoy Bigodi at its best.
While you may not see great numbers of species, those you do will be very special because they are forest-fringe and swamp dwellers, plus West African species at the eastern limit of their range. The impressive great blue turaco is often seen. Other highlights include the papyrus gonolek; grey-throated, yellow-billed, yellow-spotted and double-toothed barbets; speckled, yellow-rumped and yellow-throated tinker barbets; yellow-bill; and black-and-white casqued hornbill.
The canopy is shared with a great range of monkeys. Red colobus are commonly seen, as are red-tailed monkeys, L’Hoest’s monkey, black-and-white colobus and grey-cheeked mangabey. If you are particularly lucky, you may see chimpanzees foraging on the swamp edges, disturbing the elusive sitatunga antelope.
Bird Walks & Night Walks
Specialised guided bird walks are available in the central forest area plus the northern Sebitoli Sector and in the Kihingami Wetlands.
Spotlighted nights walks are also available daily, providing the opportunity to see nocturnal mammals like the galagos - and lots of moths.
Toro Crater Lakes Exploration
The Crater Lakes are a glorious scenic contrast to the forests and swamps of Kibale and can be accessed from all properties. Explore them as part of a day drive with your guide or from crater-rim lodges.
More than 30 permanent crater lakes exist in the Toro region, scattered over a 10km area running alongside the western boundary of Kibale National Park. It is a heavily cultivated area (the climate is ideal), but lush pockets of forest remain. The lakes are a mixture of saline and freshwater and some are bilharzia-free, making for a spectacular wild swimming spot. The lodges is this area, like Kyaninga and Ndali, offer canoeing, mountain-biking and walking trails for a more active experience of a beautiful place.
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