Kibale National Park

This 296-square-mile tract of forest is home to one of the greatest variety and concentration of primates on the continent, and its population of nearly 1,500 chimpanzees makes it a great place to track these endangered apes.

Kibale weaves a rich tapestry of rain forest life: as many as 13 primate species reside here; around 335 bird species are found, including six that are endemic to the region; and nearly 230 different species of tree create a varied canopy, some towering more than 130 feet (50m).

Chimpanzee-tracking excursions set out from the Kanyanchu Headquarters twice a day. Accompanied by a forest ranger you will hike along forest trails in search of man’s closest relatives (chimps share 98.7% of our DNA). Once located, the group spends a maximum of one hour with these fascinating great apes. You can watch them feed, groom, play, and sometimes even hunt together. There is no guarantee of a sighting, but chances are generally high, with a success rate of more than 90%.

Those with a real passion for primates (and the stamina to match) can join a "chimpanzee habituation" experience. This unique opportunity to observe chimpanzees from dawn until dusk allows visitors to gather deeper insight into their behavior. Nocturnal primates may also be seen, with varying degrees of success, on the guided walk that departs Kanyanchu every evening at nightfall. Birders will love exploring Kibale, and neighboring Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, in search of such key species as green-breasted pitta, brown-chested alethe, and little greenbul. Bigodi is also a great place for monkey-spotting; the guided nature trail in this community-run conservation project takes around three hours to complete.

Outside the park, rolling panoramas of tea plantations and ancient volcanic craters dominate the landscape between Kibale and Fort Portal, with plenty of informal hiking opportunities offering a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. Ask your lodge or guide for details of local routes; many are self-guided and offer the chance to witness everyday rural life in one of the prettiest regions of Uganda.

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