Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the most spectacular and the most remote parks in Uganda situated in the North Eastern region in the district of Kaabong with Kabong town found near the border between Uganda and South Sudan. Kidepo Valley national park lies in the altitude ranging between 914m and 2750m covering an area of 1,442 square kilometers, the park consists of a semi arid landscape. The park’s landscape is crossed by 2 seasonal rivers that is Narus River and Kidepo River, these rivers dry out dry season. The landscape is generally rugged savannah, hills and great valleys that are surrounded by Morungole Mountains.
Kidepo Valley national park experiences semi-arid climate with only one rainy season in the months of April – September, in the dry season the Kidepo River turns into 50 meters bed of white sand between banks covered by borassus palm trees. The only water remaining in the park is in wetlands and remnant pools along the Narus valley.
Kidepo Valley national park was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1958 by the colonial government due excess poaching and destruction of vegetation done by the Ik and Dodoth people, these people carried out deforestation and clearing of the vegetation as a way of controlling Tse Tse flies. In 1962 the game reserve was recognized as a national park.
Kidepo Valley national park is one of the diverse national parks in Africa boosting over 77 species of mammals with Africa’s largest single herd of Cape buffalo roaming grasslands of the park, animals found in the park include Elephants, Rothschild’s giraffe, Burshell’s Zebra, Oribi, Klipspringer, Bohor Reedbuck, Eland, Hartebeest, Lion, Hyena and Cheetah, Leopard, striped jackals, Cape buffalo, Cheetahs, Eland and Kudu and occasional white-eared Kob from the neighboring South Sudan.
Kidepo Valley national park is rich with wildlife with 465 bird species with 14 species believed to be endemic to Kidepo and Karamoja region and 58 birds of the prey, birds in the park include Ostrich, Secretary bird, little green bee-eater, Kori bustard, Pygmy falcon and Karamoja Apalis among others.
Important areas in Kidepo Valley national park
Areas of Interest
Apoka Tourism Centre – built overlooking the great Narus Valley, the center is a hub for all activities happening in the park and is where most of the staffs of the Uganda Wildlife Authority are stationed.
Kidepo Valley – the valley is the best place to stay wildlife in the park and various bird species such as ostriches, as a result of the river drying it leaves the valley with a long trail of white sand of 50 meters wide.
Narus Valley – the valley is a famous place for wildlife viewing in the park, the valley is a gathering point for wildlife hosted in the rolling savannah grassland dominating the valley surrounded by mountainous landscape. The valley is crossed by Narus River which dries out during the dry season leaving small muddy ponds and artificial Narus dam which becomes the only sources of drinking water.
Kanangorok Hot Springs – these magnificent features are found past Kidepo valley and border on the border of Uganda and South Sudan.
Namamukweny Valley – the valley is found in the north-western part of the park inhabiting several bird species such as Eastern paradise-whydah, white-crested turaco, Abyssinian roller, green wood hoopoe and common bulbul among others. The valley’s is loosely translated as “a place with no birds”.
Mount Morungule – it is a 2750 meters tall mountain found along the boundaries of the park, the mountain is a home to the Ik people living on the top.
Lamoj Hills – These hills are found near the park’s headquarters and they are perfect for watching of birds and spotting of animals.
Safari activities to do Kidepo Valley national park
The major safari activity to do in Kidepo Valley national park is game drives offering a close look up to various wildlife, birdlife inhabiting in park and the beautiful scenery. The park has a spectacular landscape dominated by short savannah grassland making it easy to spot animals from your vehicle, game drives are offered as morning game drive, afternoon game drive and evening game drive.
Game drives in Kidepo Valley national park are usually done in the Narus Valley which is always filled with a number of animals due to water sources thus making it easy to watch the animals. Animals to lookout in the park include lions, leopards, Elephants, Rothschild’s giraffe, Burshell’s Zebra, Oribi, Klipspringer, Bohor Reedbuck, Eland, Hartebeest, Lion, Hyena and Cheetah, Leopard, striped jackals, herds of Cape buffalo, Cheetahs, Eland and Kudu among others.
The best time for game viewing in Kidepo Valley national park is early in morning at 6:00 am and later in the evening about 05:00 pm when the animals are more active since the sun is not as hot as during day.
Kidepo Valley national park is rich with birdlife recorded to be over 465 bird species making the park a very rewarding destination for spot birds, the bird population in the park include 58 species of birds of the prey and 14 species believed to be endemic to Kidepo and Karamoja region. Birding in Kidepo Valley national park is a thrilling safari experience starting from Apoka rest camp and proceed to the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny valleys. Birds to watch in the park include Ostrich, Secretary bird, little green bee-eater, Kori bustard, Pygmy falcon and Karamoja Apalis, Verreaux’s eagle, Egyptian vulture, pygmy falcon, Clapperton’s Francolin, Purple Heron, Karamoja Apalis, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Abyssinian Roller, Eurasian Roller, Helmeted Guinea fowl among others. The best time for bird watching in Kidepo Valley national park is in the morning or evening hours.
Nature and Hiking walks (Walking Safari)
Nature and hiking walks in Kidepo Valley national park are memorable Uganda safari experience perfect for nature lovers offering a chance to explore the park on foot. Hiking in the park is done on Lamoj Mountains situated outside the park, hiking the mountains takes approximately 4 hours starting early in the morning. This activity offers magnificent views of the endless plains of the park and the surrounding.
Nature walks in Kidepo Valley national park are done in Namamukweny valley and Narus valley, nature walks in Narus Valley starts from Apoka tourism center on a walk of 5 kilometers. In Namamukweny valley, nature walks take approximately 6 hours offering beautiful scenery of the park and encounter a number of birds and animals.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
The Karamoja region is a hotspot for cultures of the Karamojong and the Ik people, the Karamojong are nomadic pastoralists living in the northeastern region of Uganda including the areas of Kidepo. The Karamojong are closely related to the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania with their lives depending on cattle, these people believe all the cattle on earth belong to them and every cattle which is kept by them, they believed it has been stole from them at a certain point in the past. While visiting the Karamojong homesteads you will get a glimpse in to the pastoral lifestyle of the Karamojong , join in rearing cattle, taste local food, witness the making of local crafts such as knives, jewelry and others which you can purchase and be entertained by local dances and drama.
The Ik tribe is an isolated tribe living on top of Mount Morungole and to get to them requires you to hike the mountain to the top, the Ik people are believed to have originally come from Ethopia before settling around the Kidepo area. Due to constant fights with the Karamojong they decided to the top of the mountain, in the Ik community you will be exposed to their ancient traditions, culture and norms, be entertained by local dances and drama, way of dressing, hunting methods and try to learn their language.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley national park is located in the north eastern region of Uganda in 521 kilometers from Kampala the capital of Uganda, Moroto town is the nearest town to Kidepo Valley national park and it is in a distance of 291 kilometers. The park is accessed by use of road and air means of transport, it is a long journey from Kampala and the most convenient routes to use are
- Kampala – Mbale – Soroti – Moroto – Kidepo
- Kampala – Mbale – Sironko – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo
- Kampala – Gulu – Kitgum – Kidepo
By air transport, chartered flights are offered from Kajjansi airstrip or Entebbe International airstrip to Kidepo airstrip.
Accommodation in Kidepo valley national park
There are a few accommodation facilities in Kidepo Valley national park, however the available are of high standards and categorized as luxury, midrange and budget. Most of these accommodations are situated inside the park and they include Apoka Safari lodge, Apoka Rest camp, Nga’Moru Wilderness camp, Kidepo Savannah lodge and Adere Safari Lodge.