Kidepo Valley National Park: Welcome to the fascinating Kidepo valley national park. Few of the parks in Africa have the same or close kind of wilderness presented by this destination. Situated in the far northeastern corner of Uganda, Kidepo Valley national park is one of the largest nature reserves in Uganda occupying 1,442 square Kilometers. It is the most remote national park in the country and thus less visited.

Kidepo valley national park was gazzetted in 1962 to protect a profusion of wildlife including large mammals, birds and their habitat. It is an isolated safari destination located on the border of Uganda, Kenya and Sudan. With the true open savannah landscape, the park offers clear views of the mountainous bodies close to it including the home to the IK people.

Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park

Characterized with a semi-arid type of climate, Kidepo Valley national park boasts an incredible biodiversity that includes 77 mammals and about 475 bird species. Some of the residents of the park include the less and greater Kudu, Cheetahs, bush duikers, Elands, Rothchild giraffes, lions, leopard, hyena, jackals, Caracal, Guenther’s dik-dik, bat eared fox, Uganda kobs and Oribis. It also has large concentrations of African buffaloes, elephants and zebras.

The birds of Kidepo Valley national park include the Ostrich, Pygmy Falcon, Eagles, Kori Bustard, Karamoja Apalis, Red and Yellow barbet, Dark chanting Goshawks among others.

Attractions in the park

  • Wildlife
  • Lomej Hills
  • Mount Morungole and the Ik people
  • The culture of the Karimajong and the Ik
  • Lonyili mountain
  • Apoka Tourism Centre
  • Narus Valley
  • Kidepo valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs

Activities to do in Kidepo Valley National Park

This rugged and isolated park is a great destination for adventurers looking to explore typical wilderness. Kidepo Valley national park is named the 3rd wilderness nature reserve in Africa after Masai Mara of Kenya and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in the southern part of the continent. Major things to do in Kidepo include;

Wildlife viewing

Game viewing is always one of the top reasons that drive tourists to Kidepo valley national park. The southern and western sectors of the park have a number of tracks that lead travelers to areas where most wildlife roam. A 4×4 safari vehicle is recommended for Kidepo safaris. Game drives are done both in the morning and evening when weather conditions are ideal for animals to stay active. A guided game drive to Narus valley which is located about 5 kilometers from Apoka Tourism Centre offers an opportunity to encounter herds of African buffaloes, elephants, Uganda kobs, lions, Zebras, reedbucks, Duikers and other mammal species.

Night game drives give a chance to sight the nocturnal wildlife such as; Leopards, Jackals and Bush babies among others.

Bird watching

Kidepo Valley national park has an impressive list of about 475 bird species. It has the second highest population of birds in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth national park. Close to 60 species of birds in Kidepo Valley national park have not been spotted in any other park in Uganda.  Common species here include the ostrich, Kori Bustard, red and Yellow barbet and Dark chanting goshawk. Major sites for bird watching in Kidepo valley national park are the Apoka Rest Camp, Narus Valley and Namamukweny Valley. Other birds in the park are the Purple Heron, Karamoja Apalis, Clapperton’s Francolin, Abyssinian Roller, Black Breasted barbet, Jackson’s hornbill, Rose-ringed parakeet and Rufous chatterer among others.

Hiking and guided Nature walks

Guided nature walks are done in the park to the Lomej hills for hiking. The activity starts early in the morning with a briefing at the park headquarters. While here, you are assigned a knowledgeable and experienced park ranger guide who shares a lot of information about the wildlife and landscape. For more adventures, the hike can be combined with the 2 hours walk at Kidepo River Valley along the banks of the beautiful Borassus Palm Forest. Alternatively, a guided nature walk can be done at Apoka Namamukweny Valley.

Cultural encounters

When planning to visit Kidepo Valley national park, be informed that you can include a cultural tour on your package to meet one of the few tribes in Uganda that have preserved the true African culture. The Karamajong people and the Ik still live an ancient life that involves practices such as living in homesteads made up of several Manyattas with an African architecture and with their animals’ kraals constructed close to their houses. Their traditional dances and music are just part of them. They also have a unique way of dressing which is partly determined by the semi-arid climatic conditions of the region.

Where to stay in Kidepo Valley

The number of safari lodges in Kidepo Valley national park is quite smaller compared to other parks in Uganda because it receives few visitors. The few lodging facilities here offer a good service, experience and amenities that supplements on your safari adventure in the park. They include;

  • Apoka Safari Lodge
  • Kidepo Savannah Lodge
  • Adere Safari Lodge
  • Apoka Rest Camp
  • Nga Moru Wilderness Camp

Best time to visit Kidepo Valley national park

The Dry season is the best time to visit the park for wildlife viewing because the tracks are accessible. There is only one permanent water place during the dry season which is known as the Narus Valley adjacent to Apoka tourism Centre and this is where herds of animals congregate to drink and cool their bodies.

Accessing Kidepo Valley national park

Kidepo can be accessed by road and air transport.

By road, there are a number of routes that can lead you to the park with some of them giving you a chance to stop at different attractions.

The shortest and mostly used route is the Kampala-Karuma-Gulu-Kitgum-Kidepo route which covers 571km and takes about 11 hours. It takes you via Nakasongola where you can go for rhino tracking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Murchison falls national park.

The other route is the Kampala-Karuma-Lira- Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo which is 705km long and takes about 12 hours.

Passing through the Eastern region, the Kampala-Mbale-Sironko-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo is 740km and also takes more than 12 hours. You can stopover at Sipi falls or Mt. Elgon national park.

Still via the East, there is an alternative of driving from Kampala-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo.

Tourists who do not want to sit for long hours to get to Kidepo can fly with domestics airlines. They will fly you to the Kidepo airstrip and your safari driver picks you up for a transfer to your lodge.

A safari to Kidepo valley national park can be combined Murchison Falls National Park or Mountain Elgon National Park for double thrilling adventures in the Pearl of Africa.

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