Kibira National Park comprises of 400 square kilometres of biodiverse Afromontane rainforest spilling over the Congo-Nile divide, an undulating mountainous area in northwest Burundi. Kibira is celebrated for its high-density of chimpanzee gangs and is a Nirvana for chimp trekking safaris.
Famed for being the source of the Congo and Nile Rivers, this Congo-Nile basin is a magical destination for both landscape and game viewing. The basin is the meeting point for a lattice of rivers and streams that provide water systems for other parts of the country. This primaeval forest truly is rich with water and food sources, which attracts plenty of game.
Endless dense scenes of green-covered mountains surrounded by two expansive tea plantations, provide a high-altitude haven for flora and fauna. There are primates within the rainforests that are of conservation concern, which includes the Angolan colobus, owl-faced monkey and mountain monkey.
Kibira National Park is one of Africa’s truly wild and remote places, but luckily the park is quite accessible. Both entrances to the park are located a mere 61.3 kilometres from Bujumbura International Airport in Burundi.
Kibira National Park sits at an altitude of between 1,500 and 2,660 metres at the top of the Congo-Nile range.
Before it became a wildlife haven, Burundi kings regarded it as a sacred hunting reserve.
Kibira National Park is the second-largest reserve in Burundi and offers a diverse habitat supporting an array of ecosystems. The national park is a protected area that provides a sanctuary for 98 mammals, 200 species of bird, and dozens of primates. In total, there are seven species of bird endemic to the ancient montane rainforests. The beautiful colours of the commonly spotted Rwenzori turaco and the red-collared mountain babbler, contrast the deep greens of the rainforest landscape.
The waterways of the Congo Basin and damp rainforest floor provides shelter for an array of reptiles and amphibians. There are over 1,900 unique species of fauna and flora in the area, making the region rich with natural resources. Black colobus, chimpanzee, golden monkeys, owl-faced monkey, and mountain monkeys are just a few of the primates to spot while chimpanzee trekking.
The main reason for visiting Kibira National Park is to go chimp trekking. Because Kibira National Park is such a dense rainforest area, it means that there is heavy rainfall—especially during the summer season. The dry season is the best time of year to visit, which is December to January. The shorter rains occur from September to November, also a good time of year to visit.
Chimpanzee trekking through the thick vegetation on guided walks is the main tourist attraction of the area. Visitors are led by a park ranger through rugged terrain in search of primates and will learn about the chimp’s daily behaviour.
Birding in Kibira is an absolute extravaganza of colour. Guided walks through renowned birding regions in the park, will lead to sightings of bar-tailed trogons, black-and-white squeaked hornbills and—the most popular of all—the Rwenzori turaco. Birding walks tend to be a few hours long and are generally not too strenuous.
The main entry point into the park is at one of the local Pygmy villages resting on the outskirts of the park. Visiting the village is a fantastic way for visitors to get to know the local communities of the area.
There is no accommodation in the national park. On the outskirts of the park, close to both entrances, there are clusters of hotels and resorts. Resorts tend to be more luxurious and offer amenities such as swimming pools and entertainment areas. There tend to be a number of more budget eco-lodges and small hotels, which offer just the basics.