Kidepo Valley National Park is situated in the rugged semi arid Karamoja province valleys, Northeastern Uganda. It lies at the border with Sudan and Kenya and it features the most remarkable savanna landscapes as well as distinct vegetation. It covers an area of about 1442 square kilometers which makes it one of the largest protected areas in Uganda. It features semi desert scrub, open thorn scrub, long and short grass open tree savanna, open thorn bush, riparian woodland including borassus and Kigelia woodland, thick Miombo like woodland, montane forest and granite out crops and many more. Its altitude ranges from 914 meters to 2749 meters. This stunning national park offers refuge to over 475 distinct species of bird making it the second destination with the largest number of bird species after Queen Elizabeth National Park. The rare species in the park that you may not find in any part of Uganda include karamoja apalis and the black breasted barbet. The park’s vegetation is open tree savanna grassland that also differs in structure and composition. It is largely covered by the mountain forests in most of the high areas while places along River Lorupei are highly occupied by acacia forest. Kidepo Valley National Park offers the authentic African experiences and it is one of the less crowded safari destinations.
For birding safaris in Kidepo Valley National Park, the notable bird species to spot include silver bird and small bands of yellow billed shrike, seed eaters, and yellow rumped seed eater. Others include African moustched and broad tailed warblers, black coucal, marsh tchagra, crimson rumped waxbillood, Nubian woodpecker, pygmy falcon, little weaver, red cheeked cordon blue, white bellied and hartlaub’s bustards, scarlet chested sunbird, long tailed and standard winged nightjars, mosque swallow, hoopoe, Clapperton’s francolins, African grey flycatcher, four banded sand grouse, ostrich, red winged lark, white faced scoops owl, eastern yellow and Jackson’s hornbills, Rufous and chestnut sparrow, yellow spotted petronia and many more. The best birding spot in the park is the Narus valleys.
For game drives
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the most best protected areas for you to spot spectacular wildlife species. The notable species to sight include bat eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah, hunting dog, elephants, lions, leopards, bush buck, bush duikers, Defassa water buck, Rothschild giraffes, cape buffaloes, eland, oribi, warthog, kangoni, black backed jackal and side striped jackal, 5 primate species dik dik, Senegal Galago, white tailed mongoose and many more.
For scenic viewing or hiking adventures, Kidepo National Park is also an important area for you to hike through. Hiking adventures are always done just a few kilometers from the park’s headquarters on Lamoj Mountains. The park is filled with the stunning borassus palm forest which can be viewed by tourists on safari in the park. About 11 kilometers of Kidepo Valley is situated at the Kanangorok hot springs that are worthy exploring while on safari in Uganda. The mountain and savanna landscape of the protected area, the Narus valley is found in the southwest and features the stunning rugged napore-nyagia mountain range. It is divided between natira and lokayot hills from the Kidepo valley in the north-east. The Lotukei Mountains in the south of Sudan mark north and the southern boundary of the protected area, marked by the Morungole range marks. This park is also the best area to take a picnic tour in Uganda as it comes with an incredible Kidepo river picnic site that lies on the sand.
Besides enjoying wildlife species in Kidepo Valley National Park, you can also participate in cultural experiences as you to catch a glimpse of the dramatic cultural performers around the park. Cultural visit to a local community in the park is the best way for you to get entertained by traditional dances like the emuya of the naporre and nyangia, ethnic groups and Larakaraka and apiti dances of Acholi. A visit to the Karamojong village offers you opportunity to explore their pride that lies largely on the large herds of cattle which makes it the major activity in the whole sub region. You can also climb through Morungole Mountain and pay a visit to IK people, the famous inhabitants of this stunning mountain in Northeastern Uganda. There are about 10000 IK people in the whole country and the first student to join University in IK community was enrolled at Kampala International University. Hiking through Morungole Mountain is such an incredible experience that you shouldn’t miss out as it offers you opportunity to explore more about these mountain people.
Visitors on safari to Kidepo Valley National Park can also embark on nature walk where you will have a chance to pay a visit to Karamojong homestead also famous as the Manyattas and several kraals to explore more on traditional customs and tools that they always use. You can also hike to Mount Morungole where you will pay a visit to the IK people, one of the smallest ethnic groups in Uganda. Other sites for you to hike through include the Idi Amin’s dream lodge which was not finished at the time when he was still the president of Uganda.
Accommodation in Kidepo National Park
The notable accommodation for visitors to spend a night while on safari in this park includes the Apoka Rest Camp which towers the Narus valleys and features 16 self contained chalets. Apoka Safari Lodge and the bandas are under the management of the park authorities and reservations are made via Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala. For visitors who are interested in camping experiences, you are advised to come along with camping items as well as enough food that can take you throughout your planned safari holiday in the park.
How to reach Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo National Park is accessible by road and air. By road it can be reached from Kampala-Lira, Kotido then you connect to Kidepo National Park which is about 705 kilometers’ drive. You can also take Kampala through Mbale-Soroti through Moroto and then you link to the park and this covers around 792 kilometers. Kampala through Mbale-Sironko through Kotido and then to Kidepo Valley National Park and this route covers around 740 kilometers. There is also Kampala through Soroti-Kotido to Amuria and this is a 656 kilometer drive. A road trip to Kidepo Valley National Park features among the most rewarding safaris that shouldn’t miss out while on holiday in Uganda. Visitors have a chance to catch a glimpse of the surrounding areas along the way. However, you will need a 4 by 4 safari car to help you transverse through the remotest routes to Kidepo National Park.
For visitors who may desire to use air transportation, there are chartered air crafts to help you reach to Kidepo Valley National Park. You can fly from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi airstrip to nearest airstrip at Lomej which is around three kilometers south of Kidepo Valley National Park.
In conclusion, Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Uganda’s most stunning protected areas which reward visitors with authentic African experiences. It is less visited meaning visitors on Uganda safari have opportunity to enjoy its remarkable attractions without any crowds.