KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Kidepo Valley National Park features vast grass plains, lying in the far North-eastern part of Uganda. This is one of the least visited destinations in Uganda considering its distant location away from the heart of Kampala capital city. Unlike before, Kidepo is currently accessible by road and also air. Kidepo National Park was officially gazetted in 1962, and this was the same period Uganda as a country gained her independence.

Location of the Kidepo NP

Kidepo National Park is situated in North-eastern part of Uganda in Kaabong District and it is next to border with South Sudan. It is an isolated protected area, rich in its unique wildlife and mostly, the only park to find cheetahs in the wild. Kidepo has its boundaries stretch up to 1442 sq.km and it is set on an altitude of 2750 meters –the highest point of Mount Morungole.

Kidepo is set in the Semi-arid area, featuring arid savanna, seasonal rivers and low mountains. The park has two stunning valleys each offering unmatched game viewing experiences –the Kidepo and Narus Valleys. The two rivers exist in these respective valleys. Besides, the park holds diversity of wildlife including 77 species of mammals, 475 bird species and it is unique from the rest of Ugandan National Park the fact that it features similar conditions like the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

Wildlife

The animals living in Kidepo account for a total of about 77 mammal species, boasting of its biodiversity. 20 of the park’s wildlife are predator species and they include leopards, lions, and spotted hyenas. Other animal species to be viewed include the caracals, black-backed jackals, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, cheetahs, buffaloes, the Rothschild giraffes, dik-dik, lesser Kudus, Senegal galagos, duikers, elephants,  zebras, oribis, reedbucks, Beisa Oryx, white-tailed mongoose, and roan antelopes.

Kidepo Valley National Park’s exceptional tourist areas to explore include the Narus Valley, Apoka Tourism Centre, Morungole Mountains, Lonyili Mountain, Kidepo Valley, Kanangorok hot spring and Namamukweny Valley.

Bird species

A huge concentration of birds, accounting for over 475 species making it a preferred birding location in Uganda. The birds to sight on birding tour in Kidepo include Jackson’s hornbills, chestnut weavers, rose-ringed parakeet, Northern carmine bee-eaters, fox kestrel, rufous chatterers, Abyssinian ground hornbill, pygmy falcons, clapperton’s francolins, white-bellied go-away bird, red-throated bee-eaters, Karamoja apalis, golden pipit, purple grenadier, black breasted barbet, Greater kestrel, Abyssinian rollers, purple herons, ostriches, and more. The must-visit birding spots in Kidepo Valley National Park include Namamukweny, Apoka Rest Camp and Narus Valley.

Tourism Activities to do

Game drives

Game drives are the main highlights of every Kidepo Valley National Park safari. The park offers unforgettable morning and afternoon game drives. The normal game drive lasts for 2-3 hours and tourists get to explore the different trails/tracks in the Narus and Kidepo Valley. The likely animal species to be spotted include hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, lions, buffaloes, Bohor reedbucks, the Rothschild giraffes, bat-eared fox, caracal, aardwolf, elephants, oribis, hyenas and birds.

Birding

Bird watching in Kidepo National Park exposes enthusiastic birders to diversity of birds. The park supports over 475 species of birds and the main areas of interest include Apoka Rest Camp, Narus Valley and Namamukweny Valleys. The birds to sight on Kidepo safari include the purple heron, Abyssinian rollers, Jackson’s hornbills, white-bellied go-away bird, chestnut weavers, purple grenadier, D’arnaud’s barbet, rufous chatterers, fox kestrel, clapperton’s francolins, secretary bird, greater kestrel, ostriches, rose-ringed parakeet, and many more.

Nature walking

Nature walks in Kidepo are done with lead of the park guide. You will be exploring the park on foot and there are various locations to visit. These include Mount Morungole- Kidepo NP highest peak, Mt. Lomej and Narus Valley. During a guided nature walk, you will be exploring the rich eco-system of Kidepo Valley National Park.

Cultural tours

Cultural tours offer a close interaction between guests and the local residents living adjacent to the park. The Karamojong and IK communities are the renowned communities offering authentic African cultural experiences in Kidepo. The Karamojong community visits allow you to explore in depth about the ancient traditions and cultures of the Karamojong people and IK community exists on Mount Morungole summits. Guests hike to meet the IK on this volcano summit.

The best time to visit Kidepo Valley NP-best wildlife park

Kidepo Valley N/Park is best to visit during the dry season that is in December, January, February and around March, July, and August. The huge wildlife population confine around the remaining oasis of Narus and Kidepo Rivers.

Places to stay/Kidepo accommodation

Kidepo NP has fewer lodging accommodation options, but features all the 3 categories: budget, midrange and luxury. They include Apoka Rest Camp, Kidepo Savanna Lodge, Adere Safari Lodge, Apoka Safari Lodge, Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp, & Kakine Self-Catering Campsite.

How you can get to Kidepo NP

Kidepo Valley National Park is easier to reach by road and air. Driving from Kampala city to Kidepo takes 10-12 hours through the Luweero-Gulu highway or the Jinja-Mbale route. By air, take about 2 hours on a flight setting off from Entebbe International Airport to Kidepo airstrip.