The known Kibale Forest became a forest Reserve in 1932 and is one of the largest Tropical rainforests in Uganda covering an area of 795 square kilometers/307 square miles/79500 hectares. This Park is located in Western Uganda on the outskirts of Fortportal, and a haven to several mammal species including 13 primate species with the Chimpanzees being the most popular and others include Grey-cheeked Mangabey, L’Hoest’s Monkeys, Red-tailed Monkeys, Black and white Colobus Monkeys, and Blue Monkeys among others. Other Mammals that call this Forest home include Forest Elephants, African buffaloes, Sitatunga, Golden Cats, Giant Forest Hogs, Red and Blue Duikers and Bush pigs among others. This Forest contains over 229 tree species and was gazetted into a National park in 1993 (two years after Mgahinga and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park were gazzeted into National Parks).
The forest hike within Kibale Forest involves hiking through Riverine Forests, open Savannah, Swampland and the Tropical Jungle and is the ideal activity for tourists interested in studying about different tree species, but tourists will not only be rewarded with several tree species but also mammal species like bushbucks and duikers, bird species such as the African Pitta, Blue-breasted kingfishers and some of the 200 butterfly species such as the Charaxes pollux. This Forest walk, conducted within the luxuriant Kibale Forest is a 12 kilometer trail for more than 6 hours and is one of the most rewarding moments within this Park
Best Time for the Forest Walk
Much as the Forest Walk within Kibale Forest can be conducted all year round, the more convenient time is the dry season (June to September and early December to February), because this season experiences less rain and the hiking trails are less muddy and slippery. However since Uganda is a tropical country, it can rain anytime.
How the Forest Walk is Conducted within Kibale Forest
This trail usually starts at 8:00am from Kanyanchu Visitor Center where hikers meet with UWA ranger guides for pre-hiking briefing/Orientation regarding what to expect from the Forest hike. These Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger Guides are well trained and are experienced in the different flora and fauna you will encounter while on the nature walk within this Park. By 2pm while on this Forest walk, you will get up-close with the Elephant wallow and hiking through this Trail introduces tourists to variety of terrains/landscapes that you would encounter during chimpanzee trekking within this Forest.
What to Carry/wear for the Forest Walk within Kibale Forest
Before you hit the Forest Walk trail in this Park, make sure you are dressed appropriately and have carried the right equipments. This involves;
Wear long trousers because you will be hiking through a dense jungle hence the long trousers will protect your legs from cutting grasses and other dangerous plants.
Also wear long sleeved shirts to protect your arms from nettle stings, insect bites or being injured by the rough plant species and thorns.
Wear waterproof hiking boots to allow you to hike through the jungles easily, and wear long socks and tuck the trousers into your socks.
Carry at least 2 liters of water and snacks/or packed lunch to keep you hydrated and replenish your energy during hiking.
Wear a rain jacket. Even though it was earlier mentioned that the activity perfect during the dry season, it doesn’t stop it from raining because the area is within a Tropical rainforest this receives rain all year round. A hat is also handy to protect your head from the sunshine.
You need a camera to capture all the interesting wildlife, plant/tree, bird and butterfly species that you will encounter ion your way and binoculars to magnify those attractions that may be afar.
A backpack to carry your packed lunch/snacks, drinking water, cameras and binoculars during hiking.
In conclusion, the forest walk within the Jungles of Kibale Forest allows tourists to explore different mammal species including primate species, elephants and Blue duikers and several bird species.