Kibale National Park contains one of the loveliest and most varied tracts of tropical forest in Uganda but how do you travel to Kibale Natonal park? Forest cover interspersed by patches of grassland and swamp, dominates the northern and central parts of the park on an elevated plateau. The park ins home to a total of 60 mammal species, most famously the 13 species of primates including the chimpanzee. It also contains over 375 species of birds. Kibale adjoins Queen Elizabeth National Park to the south to create a 180-km long corridor for wildlife between Ishasha, the remote southern sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park, as Sebitoli in the north of Kibale.
How to Get to Kibale/ Travel to Kibale National Park for Chimps tracking
Kibale National Park is located in western Uganda, 26km southeast of Fort Portal town. Kanyanchu River Camp, the primary center for tourism activities, can be reached from Kampala either from the north, via Mubende and Fort Portal, or from the south through Mbarara and Kamwenge.
The northern approach is shorter and quicker, with a 300km tarmac road running to Fort Portal followed by 36km of gravel to Kanyanchu. From Kampala there are several buses doing daily trips to Fort Portal town. These are however unreliable and frequently breakdown or have accidents along the way. They are therefore not highly recommended.
Kibale Forest National Park is most normally approached from Fort Portal using the Kamwenge road. If your are driving from Fort Portal town centre, follow Lugard Road north for about 1km. immediately before the bridge across the Mpanga River, turn right. You know you’re on the right road when after about 500m you pass a hospital to your right (with signposts reading ‘blood bank’ and ‘canteen’ perched in intriguingly close proximity). About 12km out of Fort Portal, you reach a major junction, where you need to fork left (the right fork, incidentally, leads to Lake Nkurumba and Ndali Lodge in the heart of Kabarole Crater Lake Field). After another 8.5km you pass the signpost for the Rweetera Tourism Society Camping Site and then 2.5km later Crater Valley Resort, from where it is another 12km to Kanyanchu Campsite and a further 5km to Bigodi.
Public transport to Kanyanchu used to be restricted to two or three dangerously overloaded pick-up trucks running daily between Kamwenge and Fort Portal. These have been recently supplemented by more regular mini-bus taxis, which run back and forth between Bigodi and Fort Portal throughout the day and are far more comfortable and safer than the trucks. Tourists are routinely overwhelmed by the taxi touts, so it’s advisable to check what local passengers are paying. There is normally no transport on Sunday.
A little used alternative route to Kibale Forest National Park runs north from Mbarara via Ibanda and Kamwenge. North Ibanda the road is unsurfaced but mostly in pretty good condition, and with a private vehicle it should take about 3 hours. Using public transport you will probably have to change vehicles in Ibanda and Kamwenge and may well have to overnight at one or other town – both posses a few cheap guesthouses. You can easily pick up transport from Kamwenge to Fort Portal via Kanyanchu. If you are heading this way, you might want to investigate the Mpanga Falls and nearby cycad fields between Kamwenge and Ibanda.
Recommended Lodging and Accommodation Options in Kibale and Fort Portal
Ndali Lodge set stunningly amidst the Bunyaruguru crater lake region of Western Uganda, 24 kilometres south of Fort Portal
Kibale Forest Camp situated in a patch of indigenous forest, just outside Kibale Forest National Park. The camp consists of 7 African safari style tents, which are comfortably furnished with twin or double beds
Kyaninga Lodge located 15 minutes outside Fort Portal town. Perched atop a hill overlooking a stunning blue crater
lake, the lodge enjoys spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding landscape
Primate Lodge Kibale is located at the Kanyanchu Visitors Centre in Kibale
National Park. From Fort Portal follow the road to Kamwenge for 36 kms and branch off at the sign post directing to Primate Lodge Kibale.
Mountains of The Moon Hotel This is a large resort-style hotel, just outside of the center of Fort Portal. It features a large main building with a central garden and rooms surrounding an inside courtyard.
Rwenzori View Guesthouse This is a small scale beautiful guest house in Fort Portal. The owners managed to get the perfect informal atmosphere for this place.