Kidepo Valley National ParkSavanna Game Drives, Bird Watching, Community, Cultural and Nature Walks
Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
TOP THINGS TO DO IN KIDEPO
The Kidepo Valley wilderness park covering an area of 1442sq km is located in the Karamoja region of northern Uganda and borders the Sudan in the North West and Kenya in the north east.
Kidepo Valley NAtional Park - dry hot and isolated, yet spectacular, magnificent and virgin, waiting to be discovered, Traversed by large sand rivers, the park is renowned for its distinctive composition of wild game co-existing with the dry mountain forests, open savanna and hill tops capped by rock kopjes.
Enjoy the isolated Wilderness dominated by the 2750m Mount Morungole and transected by the kidepo and great Narus Rivers. Perennial rains may make Kidepo an oasis in the semi-desert, butits tract of rugged savannah is a home to 77 Mammal species and almost 500 birds. Game viewing is exciting all year round and so is a bird watching, foot safaris and mountain climbing. And even in the dry season, it is worth the drive just to visit the seasonal Kidepo River and stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with Borassus palm trees.
Attractions in Kidepo valley national park
The park consists of two valleys; Narus and Kidepo. The Narus valley which means “muddy area” among the locals was also formally known as the water provision point. This area that was always scrambled for by the native tribes, the Napore and the Mening of Sudan during the dry season, to day serves as the heart of tourism due to the presence of water throughout the year thus attracting a lot of wild animals.
Kidepo valley where the park got its name is known for the borassus tree plantations stretching approximately 100 meters wide naturally planted by elephant droppings through the years. These trees also worked as the source of food during food crisis in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
Kidepo conservation area supports a wide diversity of Mammal species, several of which, like the cheetah, are only found only in this park. Among77 species of mammals include localized carnivores like the Bat eared fox, stripped hyena, and caracal. The tree climbing lions, leopard, spotted hyena and the black backed jackal, striped jackal can also be found here.
The park is also home to Chandlers, mountain reedbucks, elephants, Burchells zebra, bush pigs, Rothschild giraffe, bushbucks, buffalos, and the Eland. Kidepo valley is also referred to as the home of buffalos.
Kidepo prides of an extensive bird list of over 475 species of birds, a number only second to Queen Elizabeth national park 612 species. Highlighted ones include the Ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird, red throated bee eaters and the Abyssinian ground hornbill, Kidepo is also notable for its 58 species of birds of prey including the Verreaux eagle, Egyptian vulture and the pygmy falcon.
The Kanangorok, meaning the place of black stones’ is the only hot spring in Karamoja; it is 40 km away from Apoka camp. The Kanagorok Hot springs are a small collection of natural hot springs located in Kidepo valley near the Sudan border.
The drive to the hot springs cuts through the two main biomes of Kidepo national park allows visitors to see zebras, Elephants, giraffes, Cheetahs, lions, Ostriches , and the Kudus while embarking on this memorable ride.
Activities in Kidepo National park
Game drives/ and Viewing
Game drive can be done along Narus valley as the parks wildlife congregates here much of the year. This area has adequate track circuits enabling visitors view the animals at a close range. The Katurum Kopjes provides superb views north across the valley towards Morungole mountain range.
Nature walks can be done around Apoka camp at any time of the day and visitors will be able to view different species of animals like Elephants, Bulbul, zebras, and Reedbucks,. At the eastern kakine circuit, visitors can see wildlife at a close range of 50-70 meters. Nature walks can also be done a long Rionomoe trail and around this hill where one can view the lower side of Narus valley.
This activity can be done either in the morning or afternoon and the park has got a variety of birds. There are a lot of species to see with an experienced guide.
Community walks are one of the ways one can get to know more about the Karamajong lifestyle, cultures, dressing style, dancing and the tools the use. The Karamajongo are traditionally cattle raiders and hunters. However, through community conservation education, there lifestyle is gradually changing and most of them now know the value of conservation of the park.
The Morungole ranges rise from the plains a few kilometers north of Apoka. A trip to Kidepo valley is needed to get a good view of Morungole Mountain, the highest peak in Kidepo. Even at 2,749m, this peak is not easily seen from most vantage points in the Narus valley. This can be explored on foot with a ranger guide escort.
Sand along River Kidepo
Kidepo River is an intermittent sand river found in the northern part of the park. It stands out because it is lined by Borassus palm, making it look like an oasis in the Sahara. The sand bed experience on the river Kidepo can be very fascinating especially during the dry season. Many bird species can be found around this area and one can enjoy the wilderness experience while listening to the bird calls.
Location & Accessibility
- There are four routes by road the shortest being 571km journey from Kampala via Gulu – Kitgum then Kidepo,
- Kampala via Lira –Kotido-Kaabong the Kidepo 705km journey
- Kampala via Mbale-soroti- moroto-kotido-kaabong and then kidepo is 740km journey.
Driving through the wilderness is an exciting experience as one gets to the chance of better scenery and interaction with local people but a 4wd recommended.
Chartered Aircraft to Kidepo arranged from Kajjansi or from Entebbe International Airport to Lomej Air strip near the park headquarters, Flights take two hours, Civil Aviation Authority plans to make Lomej airstrip, to the east of Apoka tourism Centre, an International airport to enable visitors fly in direct to Kidepo from abroad.
RECOMMENDED SAVANNA SAFARIS
Best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo valley national park is open to visitors and tourists pretty much all year round. The perfect time to visit however is September to March which is the dry season and catching sight of wildlife is much easier.