Kidepo National Park
Kidepo national park is one of the most scenic national parks in Uganda found in rugged semi-arid karamoja province valleys in the north eastern region of Uganda, Kidepo valley national park is a remote national park covering an area of 1,442 square kilometers. This amazing park is one of the prime tourist destination in Uganda and home to over 77 mammal species and over 475 bird species, the park lies in a distance of 700 kilometers from Kampala the capital city of Uganda.
Kidepo valley national park lies on the borders of Uganda with South Sudan and Kenya, the park is dominated by breathtaking savannah landscape together with rugged landscapes. Kidepo valley national park was first gazette as a game reserve in 1958 by the British colonial government with the aim of conserving and protecting the animals which were poached by the locals, in 1962 the reserve was declared as a national park.
Safari attractions in Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park is one of the recognized important birding areas in Uganda and East Africa, the park is a habitat to a variety of bird species with over 300 bird species. These bird species include Ostrich, karamoja Aplais, red pate, red-billed Oxpecker, foxy cisticolas, little green bee-eater, black-breasted and red-fronted barbets, superb starling, brown –backed woodpecker, slate-colored Boubou, African grey-flycatcher, fan-tailed raven, red-winged lark, four-banded grouse, black headed plover, violet-tipped courser, Abyssinian and rufous-crowned rollers, white-bellied tit, Heuglin’s and Clapperton’s francolins, singing bush lark, yellow necked spur fowl, eastern pale chanting, goshawk, Bruce’s green pigeon, rose-ringed parakeet, fox kestrel, stone partridge, pied, isabelline and heuglin’s wheat-tears, Ethiopian swallow, vinceous dove, Abyssinian ground, long-tailed and standard-winged nightjars, mosque swallows, eastern yellow and Jackson’s hornbills, Nubian woodpecker, Ruppell’s and superb starlings, pygmy falcon, scarlet-chested sunbird, red-cheeked cordon-bleu, little weaver, white bellied and hartlaub’s bustards, orange winged and red winged pytilias and many more. These birds live and are found in various sections of the park.
Kidepo valley national park is a great habitat to a variety of wildlife species, when compared to other national parks in Uganda this park hosts a huge population of wild animals that is why it is referred to as the Masai Mara of Uganda of most tourists. According to research of 1971 an estimated 80 species of mammals were recorded to be living in Kidepo valley national park and 28 of these species were identified to only be found in Kidepo and no other national park in Uganda. Species of mammals only found in Kidepo valley national park are mostly carnivore species and they include cheetah, stripped hyena, hunting dog, bat-eared fox, aardwolf and caracal.
Other mammal species found in Kidepo valley national park include elephant, bush duikers, cape buffaloes, leopard, lions, bush pig, zebras, warthog, Jackson’s hartebeest, bohor reedbuck, origin, spotted hyena, kangoni, side-stripped jackal, black-backed jackal and many more.
There are also five species of primates in Kidepo valley national park and these include Kavirondo bush baby which is an endemic species, guenther’s dik-dik, Senegal galago, white tailed oribis.
Lomej hills in Kidepo valley national park are an attractive feature situated in a short drive from the headquarters of this amazing park, these hills are amazing viewing points for wildlife and birds while on a tour in the park such as lions, elephants, cape buffaloes, mountain reedbucks and many more.
Namamukweny valley in Kidepo valley national park is a great habitat of birds in the park, the valley is situated in the north-west region of the park and easily accessed by either a vehicle or by foot.
Namamukweny valley derives its name from a local slag Namamukweny of Napore people which means a lonely place with a few people, the factor of few people in Namamukweny valley is because of the large population of birds inhabiting the valley.
These bird species include green wood Hoopoe, white-crested turaco, common Bulbul, eastern paradise whydah and many more which can easily be seen when you visit the valley.
Mountain Morungule in Kidepo valley national park is a fascinating mountain standing at the 2,750 meters above the sea level, this mountain and its ranges forms the southern corner of southern corners of Kidepo valley national park and rinses from plains situated in a few kilometers north east of Apoka area.
Mountain Morungule is crossed by Kidepo and Narus rivers which feed the park and provide its wildlife with water, this mountain is a home to the IK tribal people who habit at its summit and they are visited on a cultural encounter by hiking to the summit.
Narus and Kidepo valley
Narus valley in Kidepo valley national park is a great habitat of wildlife and bird species in the park, Narus valley is dominated by savannah grasslands and features permanent water sources which explains why to attracts a huge concertation of animals.
Narus valley offers excellent game viewing experience which is done on four loops circuits allowing exploration of the valley, animals found in Narus valley include lions, giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeests, reedbucks, oribis and many more.
Kidepo valley in Kidepo valley national park is an attractive valley, Kidepo valley derives its name from a local slag Kidepo which is translated as picking from below. This is because the valley was usually visited by the local people who came to pick fallen Borassus fruits which were used to for fermenting in the making palm beer.
Though dry for most of time of the year with less concentrations of animals compared to Narus valley, In Kidepo valley there is a 50 meters wide white sand bed which is the most attractive feature of the valley. The wide white sand bed lies amidst banks of the seasonal Kidepo river and covered with Borassus palms, Kidepo valley is crossed by Kidepo river which usually dries up during dry season.
Kanangorok hot springs
Kanangorok hot springs in Kidepo valley national park are one of the major tourist attractions found in the park, the hot springs are located in the Kidepo valley and situated in a distance of 11kilometers from Kidepo river found on the Sudan border.
Kanangorok hot springs is an impressive feature as it sprouts hot waters from the ground with temperature of over 50 degrees Celsius, according to local people they believe that the waters of this hot springs has power to cure diseases such as skin diseases, infertility and used to lift curses and many more
Kidepo valley national park is found in the karamoja region which is in habited by the local Karamojong people, these people initially occupied the park and use it as grazing area for their animals. Currently these people’s communities share boundaries with the park and while in Kidepo valley national park it is possible to visit the communities.
The Karamojong people are pastoral people with a huge resemblance to the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania, these people have the undisrupted African heritage, traditions, values and practices with their trademark manyattas which are a manifestation of their local art and craft. The local manyattas are circular houses built using local reeds, wood, mud and thatched with grass.
Safari activities to do in Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo is an internationally certified paradise for bird lovers offering amazing sights and memorable birding experience to birders, the park hosts over 300 recorded bird species and these birds include Ostrich, Karamoja Apalis, red pate, red-billed Oxpecker, foxy Cisticolas, little green bee-eater, black-breasted and red-fronted barbets, superb starling, brown –backed woodpecker, slate-colored Boubou, African grey-flycatcher, fan-tailed raven, red-winged lark, four-banded grouse, black headed plover, violet-tipped courser, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned rollers, white-bellied tit, Heuglin’s and Clapper ton’s francolins, singing bush lark, yellow necked spur fowl and many more.
Bird watching in Kidepo is done on various tracks running the various regions of the park and for a better sight of these birds, carrying a binocular is very much recommended. Best viewpoints to spot numerous birds in Kidepo national include Apoka Rest camp and Kidepo Park headquarters which overlook the shallow and southern Narus valley, at the camp small bands of yellow-billed shrike and silver band are spotted on the thorny trees around the camp.
At the ends of the camp consisting of watering holes, swallow seedeater are spotted. At Apoka lodge sights of African Moustached and broad tailed warblers, clapperton’s francolin, black coucal, marsh Tchagra, crimson-rumped wax bill and many more are sighted.
For fascinating game viewing safari experiences kidepo national park is your best site to visit as it harbors a great diversity of wildlife species totaling to 80 species of mammals, 28 of these species are only found in this park in the whole Uganda.
Mammal species in Kidepo Valley national park include elephant, bush duikers, cape buffaloes, leopard, lions, bush pig, zebras, warthog, Jackson’s hartebeest, Bohor reedbuck, origin, spotted hyena, Kongoni, side-stripped jackal, black-backed jackal, Kavirondo bush baby which is an endemic species, guenther’s dik-dik, Senegal galago, white tailed oribis and many more.
Game viewing in Kidepo national park is best done in Narus valley which attracts a high concentration of animals, as you drive through the valley you get to spot many animals, enjoy the magnificent scenic landscape including rock outcrops, hills and mountains. Game viewing in Kidepo is offered as morning game viewing, afternoon game viewing and full day game viewing experience.
Hiking in Kidepo is a physically exciting safari activity offering a walk to Lomej hills/mountains, this experience starts from Apoka Tourism centre starting at exactly 7 am an offering in sessions of short hike of 2 hours and long hike of 4 hours. Hiking is also done along the kidepo river valley, Morungole mountain and Namamkweny.
Cultural encounters in Kidepo is an opportunity for visiting the Karamojong communities and their homesteads, these people still poses their primitive culture, customs and traditions including their nomadic pastoral way of life. On your visit in the Karamojong communities you will spot the local manyattas built in circular form, traditional instruments such as stools, spears, knives, arrows, beads, local costumes and local dressing code and beautiful jewelry. Local dance, songs and drama are performed giving a full insight in the Karamojong history and past events.
Where to stay in Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo national park has few of accommodation facilities where to tourists can get to stay while on their safari in this scenic destination, regardless of being few in number the available accommodation facilities are dedicated to offering great services and bed to tourists during their stay. These include Apoka safari lodge, Nga Moru wilderness camp, Apoka Rest camp and many more.
How to get to Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park is situated in the far corner of North eastern region of Uganda which is a remote area and lies in approximately14 hours’ drive from Kampala the capital city of Uganda and starting center for most of the safaris to Kidepo valley national park. Tourists going Kidepo valley national park for a safari experience can use both road and air means to get to the park, by use of road various routes can be used from Kampala. Using road transport requires use of 4X4 wheel car because roads in Kidepo are in a bad state, also you will spend an overnight in Kitgum then proceed to the park the next morning.
Use of air means to get to Kidepo valley national park for safari is the quickest way and scheduled flights are offered from Entebbe international airport and Kajjansi airstrip to Kidepo airport, these flights are operated by aero link.