Kidepo Valley National Park is a distinct National Park and one of Uganda’s most distant safari sites. Despite being a remote park, Kidepo Valley National Park has maintained its natural authenticity, which any safari traveler would find fascinating to witness.
The districts of Kaabong and Karenga in the northeastern part of Uganda. Kidepo Valley National Park, which is dominated by the Morungole Mountain ranges, is a true African wilderness with rough, semi-arid grassland and seasonally flowing rivers, Kidepo and Narus. The Park’s scenery spans 1,442 sq km (557 sq mi) and is located at elevations between 914 and 2,750 meters above sea level. However, the Morungole mountain commands the breathtaking horizon.
Kidepo Valley National Park is well known for its superb game viewing, with huge animal and unusual bird sightings, in addition to its stunning terrain. In accordance with its gazette, the Park is now home to over 470 bird species, including African raptors, and over 80 animal species. Travelers should be treated to magnificent wildlife views of the rarest animal sightings that aren’t found elsewhere in Uganda, such as the cheetah, eland, lesser kudu, etc., during safari game drives in the park.
Kidepo Valley National Park is a fantastic place for cultural interactions for tourists interested in interacting with the distinctive cultures of the Karamojong, the 1k, and Acholi in addition to its exhilarating wildlife-viewing safari experiences. Hiking, birding, and nature walks are some of Kidepo’s other thrilling tourist attractions.
GETTING TO KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
In the northeastern region of Uganda, near to Karenga and Kaabong, sits Kidepo Valley National Park. The Park is located around 220 kilometers (120 miles) from Moroto, the main town in the subregion, and about 550 kilometers (320 miles) from Kampala, the capital city. There are other ways to get to Park, but the shortest path goes through Gulu and takes about ten hours to get to the Lokumoit gate. Karamoja is on a different road that leads to the Nataba Gate.
However, a charter flight is the most effective way to travel to Kidepo Valley National Park. Your tour operator can make arrangements for any of the domestic flights that Bar Aviation and AeroLink operate. You will also be picked up from the airport and taken to your lodging in addition to the flight. Entebbe International Airport, the primary entry point into the nation, or Kajjansi Airstrip serve as the departure points for all domestic flights in Uganda.
Kidepo Valley National Park’s Attractions
The amazing biodiversity of Kidepo Valley National Park is one of its most remarkable features. Over 80 different mammal species can be found in the park, including the biggest herds of Uganda’s buffalo. Its beautiful valleys: Narus and Kidepo are home to many different animals, including spotted hyenas, lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, leopards, wild dogs, bat-eared foxes, Rothschild’s giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush pigs, black-backed and side-backed jackas, and antelopes. Baboons, red-tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys are among the primates found in Kidepo Valley National Parks.
The second-highest concentration of birdlife of any protected area, behind Queen Elizabeth National Park, is found in Kidepo Valley National Park, which boasts an avian diversity of over 475 documented bird species. Rare birds such as the only population of the Clapperton’s Francolin in East Africa and the African rose-hinged parakeet are among them. There are also 56 species of raptors that have been recorded, including the pygmy falcon, bateleur eagle, black chanting goshawk, Egyptian vultures, and white-headed vultures, among others. The common ostrich, Karamoja Apalis, Kori bustard, red and yellow barbet, Abyssinian roller, Greater Kestrel, Northern red-billed hornbill, Chestnut weaver, Secretary bird, and the Abyssinian ground hornbill are just a few other recorded bird species that you can’t afford to miss out on during a Uganda birding safari in Kidepo.
The Narus Valley
The majority of the park’s species congregates in the rolling savannah plain, which is surrounded by distant mountains and enjoys year-round access to permanent water. To allow visitors to experience the valley’s natural features, game routes have been created throughout the valley. In the Narus valley, you can go on a game viewing safari and see a wide range of creatures, including oribis, reedbucks, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, and various birds.
In contrast to the Narus valley, the Kidepo valley’s water sources, particularly the Kidepo river, have a tendency to dry up during the dry season, leaving the valley with nothing but barren white sand. However, because so many different species of birds, including ostriches, call this area home, it’s a great place in the park to see birds.
The Kidepo Valley National Park’s northwest region contains this valley. The Valley gets its name from the indigenous word “namamukweny,” which literally translates as “a place without birds.” This is paradoxical given the valley is home to some fantastic birding opportunities. Several bird species, such as the Abyssinian Roller, White-crested Turaco, and Eastern Paradise Whydah, can be found in the valley.
Mount Morungole, which is 2,749 meters above sea level, delineates the border between South Sudan and Uganda. The smallest ethnic group in Uganda, the 1k, live on its high slopes. The mountain served as the 1K’s spiritual abode. Travelers on a Uganda safari at Kidepo Valley National Park can explore Mount Morungole on foot, providing exceptional hiking and genuine cultural experiences.
Hills of Lomej
Kidepo’s Lomej Hills, which are only a short drive from the park’s administrative building, are a fantastic place to see animals. Visitors might anticipate seeing a variety of mountain reedbucks here.
Karamojong and Ik Culture
The Karamojong and 1k cultures are another fascinating tourist attraction in Kidepo Valley National Park. The Karamojong are primarily recognized as ferocious warriors who rely on livestock for their subsistence. They feel as though they own every cow in Africa, therefore they have no qualms about robbing nearby villages to get additional livestock. The traditions and way of life of the Karamojong people are fascinating, nevertheless; while the women and children stay at home and take care of the household duties, the men travel in search of cattle. Additionally, the Karamojong rely on livestock for both milk and food. They engage in polygamous marriages and live in small huts known as manyattas.
The 1k, on the other hand, make up Uganda’s smallest ethnic group. On Mount Morungole’s summit in Kidepo Valley National Park, the 1k people reside. They moved to the mountain in search of a sacred location that was also removed from local conflicts and raids by other tribes, particularly the Karamojong. The 1k also raise cattle, but they also engage in farming. They are exceedingly hospitable and live in compact, contained villages. Visitors to the 1k community should become familiar with their distinctive culture and experience 1k life. Discover their regional traditional clothing, cuisine, and entertainment, as well as their traditional dance.
SAFARI ACTIVITIES TO DO IN KIDEPO
Safari Game Drives
The primary tourist attraction at Kidepo Valley National Park is a safari game drive, where guests may enjoy wildlife viewing while relaxing in a 4×4 pop-up safari truck. Kidepo Valley National Park offers two types of game drives: morning game drives and afternoon/evening game drives. On occasion, full-day game drives are also available. Visitors spend their entire stay here exploring Kidepo’s breathtaking wilderness. In the Narus and Kidepo valleys, which are used for game drives in the Kidepo Valley National Park, visitors can see a wide variety of animals, including reedbucks, lesser and greater kudus, Grant’s gazelles, giraffes, antelopes, lions, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, elephants, and zebras.
Kidepo Valley National Park is a top birding destination in Uganda since it is home to over 475 bird species, including 56 raptors, as well as resident and migrant species. The Namamukweny valley and the surroundings surrounding Apoka Rest Camp are the primary locations for bird watching in Kidepo Valley National Park. Ostriches, Clapperton’s Francolins, Abyssinian Ground Hornbills, Karamoja Apalis, Egyptian Eagles, Dark Chanting Goshawks, Fox Kestrels, Pygmy Falcons, and Superb Starlings are just a few of the many bird species that may be seen in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Another popular tourist activity in Kidepo Valley National Park is taking nature hikes. Visitors may get up close and personal with the magnificent terrain and extraordinary fauna of the park by taking nature hikes in Kidepo. The nature hikes are undertaken on foot and in the company of a trained, armed range dog.
The 1k and the Karamojong tribes are the focus of cultural exchanges in the Kidepo Valley National Park. Visitors will get the opportunity to interact with the people and discover more about their customary ways of life during the cultural interactions. They will enjoy traditional dances, folk songs, and theater, as well as visiting their homesteads and nearby museums.
Best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park can be visited any time of year, although the dry seasons from June to September and December to February, when there is less rainfall, are the best times to go. The ideal time to see animals in Kidepo Valley National Park is now. More so, during the dry season, park animals concentrate in the Narus valley in search of water, making them simple to see on a safari.
Although it is difficult to access the park during this time, it is not advised to visit Kidepo Valley National Park during the wet season (March to May). Furthermore, it is challenging to locate the park’s animals at this time of year because they are dispersed.
Kidepo Valley National Park accommodations
Safari hotels and safari camps are only a couple of the lodging options available at Kidepo Valley National Park. These lodging options include cheap, upscale, and luxury options, and some of them are as follows:
Adere Safari Lodge
This lodge is near the entrance to the park, not far from the main gate. There are both single and double rooms in each of the lodge’s 17 cottages. All of the rooms in the cottages feature en suite bathrooms, and the wood and furnishings are well designed. The lodge also has a bar, a pool, and a restaurant that serves delectable three-course dinners.
Apoka Safari Lodge
One of the top safari lodges in Kidepo Valley National Park is Apoka Safari Lodge. The luxurious lodge is ideally situated on a hilltop with a view of the Narus Valley, providing its visitors with spectacular views of Kidepo animals. The lodge features 10 luxurious rooms, one of which is a family room with exquisite African crafts. After an evening game drive, you can cool off in the bar, restaurant, or swimming pool, among other amenities.
Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp
The name of this mid-range safari camp is derived from a local term that refers to a rock-filled area. The lodge also has a view of the Narus Valley, where guests may see animals like giraffes, buffaloes, elephants, etc. wandering across the park’s savannah. The Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp includes five roomy, private rooms. In addition, the camp has a restaurant, a lounge, and born fire.
Kidepo Savannah Lodge
This lodge is a moderately priced lodging establishment situated close to the park’s Kalukodo gate. The resort is a tented camp with safari tents that are both self-contained and not. The resort welcomes both midrange and low-budget tourists, and the self-contained tents are comfortable with en-suite toilets. Among the additional amenities provided are a restaurant and a bar.
Apoka Rest Camp
Kidepo Valley National Park’s Apoka Rest Camp is a low-cost safari lodge run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The camp has 14 non-self-contained bandas with shared restrooms outside and 16 bandas with en-suite bathrooms. However, since visitors are frequently advised to bring their own food, the camp does not offer food or beverages. However, there is staff on hand to assist with cooking.