Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park

This is a rolling, short-grass savannah of the 1442-sq-km national park ringed by mountains and cut by rocky ridges located in Kaabong district North Eastern Uganda. It’s named the 3rd best wildlife park in Africa and it’s worth a visit for any traveler to Uganda. It offers some of the most stunning scenery of any protected area in Uganda. Kidepo Valley National Park is the most isolated national park in Uganda but still stands out to be one of the best virgin places every wildlife viewer can ever visit in Uganda.

This virgin national park is undoubtedly among the best wilderness areas in Africa, harboring a couple of extinct species of wildlife that can’t be found in any other Ugandan national park. A traveler can opt for 2 hours scheduled flight or charter flights from Kampala but this will reduce the excitement of exploring the countryside.

The national park derives her name from the Kidepo valley. In the indigenous community dialect, Kidepo loosely translates “to pick” from under. Possibly the name was coined from the many communities who wander into the valley to pick fallen ripened Borassus palm fruits for domestic use during the dry season. In Kidepo valley is the seasonal Kidepo River that flows north into South Sudan where Narus River supplements it before pouring into the White Nile.

Kidepo valley has the largest heard of buffalos in Africa and its notable for harboring several animals found nowhere else in Uganda, including cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, caracals, and greater and lesser kudus. You can also view a plethora of game such as giraffes, cheetah, lions, and maneless zebras, leopards, roan antelopes, elephants, Oryx, gazelle, kudus, Uganda Kobs, mountain reedbuck, Guenther’s dik-dik, duikers, zebras, jackals, striped hyenas, Nile crocodiles, waterbucks, baboon and bush baby.  Twelve antelope species occur in the park, including Jackson’s hartebeest, Oribi, eland, and klipspringer. The endangered Rothschild’s giraffe is also present. Kidepo is also the only national park where you can see ostriches in the wild. Two game viewing routes connect the rest camp with the prime wildlife areas near the Winwing River and the rock escarpment to the southwest. On the park’s northern borders are the Kanangorok Hot Springs.

Kidepo valley national park is a less trampled chaste and many travelers on tour into Uganda cannot resist the temptation to wander into the wilderness, explore nature and make personal discoveries. A nature walk into the beautiful Lamoj hills gifts the visitors an opportunity to spot wildlife within the adjacent valleys. For wilderness photography safaris the walk Kidepo valley national park and the Lamoj hills, in particular, is an opportunity to grab bestselling photographs. Many other travelers drive a distance away from Apoka to visit and explore the Kanangorok hot springs a natural spa in the wilderness. In the dry season when River Kidepo National Park is all quiet and dead, many travelers cannot resist the urge to do the nature walk barefoot into the Kidepo valley sands and get a proud feeling of conquering nature and wilderness under their feet.

Travelers in need of quiet corners to explore and get authentic wilderness experiences to visit the Namamukweny Valley. Namamukweny literary translates to place without birds, lonely or isolated places. True to its name, it is an absolute gem blessed by nature’s beauty in abundance. Namamukweny valley is a perfect setting for travelers seeking solitude and places of retreat to explore and refresh their minds without inconveniences of modern-day life luxuries.

Kidepo Valley national park is an intersection where unique bird species from different geographic zones meet. It has a very impressive bird list of over 470 species, the second-highest population of any Ugandan reserve, following only Queen Elizabeth National Park. Sixty birds on its list haven’t been recorded in any other Ugandan park. Kidepo is especially good for spotting raptors. The birding safaris in Kidepo valley national park have also high possibilities of sighting famous Ostriches, Abyssinian roller, Verreaux’s eagle, Yellow-billed hornbill, Egyptian vulture, Kori bustard, Pygmy falcon, Karamoja Apalis, Jackson’s hornbill, and many other species.

You can also take a guided hike to meet the ethnic Karamojong People and Acholi.  The Karamojong is an indigenous community inhabiting the Karamojong region. Travelers on tour can learn about their culture and their nomadic lifestyle, share life experiences, learn about the survival games in the wilderness and explore the authentic lifestyle of an indigenous African community.

Apoka tourism center is the heart of tourism and every traveler on tour into Kidepo Valley National Park often makes errands at. The park offices are at Apoka where travelers make clearance for all park tourism services and other administrative issues. It is an ideal place to book a ranger to escort you on game viewing safari, guided walk, birding safaris, community tour, camping safari or any inquiries. There is an airfield for light aircraft and Apoka is the main gateway to Kidepo Valley National Park by air.

South of Kidepo Valley national park is Mount Morungole range covers and it’s the source of River Kidepo and the Narus River the blood vessels of wildlife species in the park. For adventure travelers on tour into Uganda, hiking into the Morungole mountain ranges is one sure way of satiating extreme adventure adrenalin. The hike into the mountain gifts hikers with commanding views of the Narus and Kidepo plains and the rest of Kidepo valley national park in the foothills. The Morungole mountain range is the sacred place and former ancestral home of the Ik people; a minority group in Uganda. The UNESCO rates the Ik people numbering just thousands of individuals as severely endangered notably after losing their ancestral lands to pave way for wildlife conservation. Hiking to Mount Morungole is a stern test for body physical fitness and starts early morning before the temperatures of Kidepo valley national park hit melting levels. The hike to Mount Morungole is an opportunity for photography and filming safaris to capture wonderful images of the entire Kidepo valley national park and the lands beyond. Many travelers satisfied with wilderness safari into the national park, Visit the Ik homesteads in the Morungole mountain range to interact with a community that lives a traditional African lifestyle. Overnight camping close to the Ik manyatta allows the visitors to venture into the wilderness under cover of darkness to have firsthand honey harvesting experiences.

The Ik love for honey and bees is legendary and individuals have special skills to detect colonies of bees and honey harvesting. Traditionally, the Ik people live a polygamous lifestyle and look at childbearing as a sign of blessing from the ancestors. There is a high teenage marriage amongst the Ik people where the families have no wealth to speak of. Amongst the Ik, the major requirement to get a marriage partner is the ability to provide the family with basic needs of survival; gather food from the wilderness and shacks for shelter.

Climate and weather: Kidepo Valley National Park is a semi-arid region with average annual temperatures of 290C. In extreme cases, day temperatures get to 400C. Kidepo Valley National Park receives one season of rains per year April-September. The rain season may seem long in time, but is erratic and the volume low on average 700mm per annum. The soils in large parts of the Karamoja region are sandy with low plant nutrients and cannot hold the rainwater for long periods. The combination of climate and types of soils influence the vegetation patterns in the entire Kidepo Valley National Park. During the rainy season, vegetation is all green, grasslands, shrubs sprout and the wilderness is agog with a visible vibrant wildlife presence.

Accommodation: Kidepo national park offers guests a wide range of accommodation options ranging from High-end, luxury, Budget, and Mid-range. Apoka safari lodge is a luxury safari camp that offers high-quality hospitality services to travelers, Apoka Rest Camp offers basic accommodation for budget travelers while there is a campsite for travelers with a high preference for camping. Apoka is a hill with commanding views of a manmade dam where wildlife species congregate to cool the irritating heat of the day. Other accommodations include Kidepo Savannah Lodge and Ngamoru Wilderness Camp.

Activities in Bwindi impenetrable forest

Best Time for Wildlife Viewing

The best time for wildlife viewing is the middle and end of the Dry season (November to February) when animals concentrate around reliable water sources.

Best Time for Bird Watching

The birdlife in Kidepo is good year-round, but at its best from March to April for all the specials and the many migrants.