Kidepo Valley National Park
Tucked far in the north eastern Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is the most isolated park amongst the top ten parks in Uganda. Of all parks, Kidepo still stands as one of the most appealing spots in Uganda liked by Wildlife enthusiasts from different parts of the World.
This protected area was declared as a national park in 1962, currently provides habitat to various peerless Wildlife species that are not found in any other Ugandan park.
Ranked the third best National Park in Africa, this Park is located in Kabong district, at about 510 kilometers from Kampala by road. It’s neared by Moroto, the largest town in this sub region.
The Park’s convenient location in a core of Savannah landscapes neared by plenty of mountainous sceneries offers breathtaking views of sunrise/set, wilderness and rolling hills. Kidepo with its tempting features draws a lot of travelers per year.
Its fauna consists of over 75 species of mammals together with 470 species of birds including the endemic and non-endemic species.
More than Wildlife, Kidepo National Park is unbeatable if it’s endless cultural encounters in Uganda. You can visit the Matheniko, Karamajong, Acholis in the local communities and more.
How to get there
Kidepo can be reached either by road or air transport means. By road, there are numerous options to choose from as listed below.
Kampala- Karuma- Gulu- Kitgum- Kidepo route is about 571km, takes about 10 hours for the drive.
Kampala- Karuma- Lira- Kotido- Kaabong- Kidepo is about 705km, takes about 12 hours on a good tarmac road.
Then routes passing through Karamoja east of Lake Kyoga include Kampala- Mbale- Sironko- Moroto- Kotido- Kaabong to Kidepo, its 740km taking about 12 hours for the drive.
Lastly you can go via Kampala – Mbale – Soroti- Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo, its 792km and drive for 13 hours.
The best recommended and usual route used is Kampala – Gulu – Kitgum with a stopover in Gulu or Kitgum for an overnight stay.
For this route; Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary stopover is possible or spend a day in Murchison Falls National Park and after continue to Kidepo, this often depends on your itinerary.
By Air – Private charters are arranged from Kajjansi airstrip daily up to Apoka airstrip in the surbubs of Kidepo Valley National Park.
Major spots in the Park
Narus Valley is impressive with its rolling grassland plains enclosed by towering mountains. The permanent water within the valley attracts plenty of Park’s wildlife annually.
The area is well established with game tracks incorporating four loop circuits that offer best sights of flora and fauna. Traversing around this valley uncovers several wild animals including buffaloes, giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, reed-bucks and lions.
In the dry season, the Narus dam and water hole near Apoka tourism Centre are perfect points of view for game. Katurum kopje, a captivating spot with sumptuous views across the valley sits at the southern end of Katurum loop.
Kanangorok Hot springs
These hot springs are stationed in the northern Kidepo beyond river Kidepo bordering South Sudan’s boarder. It’s a perfect getaway to escape the bustling towns, sit and relax while taking in sweeping views of Kidepo’s Wilderness.
Temperature of waters at the hot springs raise up to 50°c hot reaching to an extent of boiling an egg. It’s spiritually believed by locals that waters from Kanangorok hot springs contain some healing powers.
During the visit, you can find some people bathing within these waters, while some visit the place to witness the usually talked about healing powers.
Located in the North eastern part of Uganda bordering the southern boundary of Kidepo valley, Mount Morungole, stands at 2750 meters high. The peak is crossed by Narus and Kidepo rivers, the main water sources to huge Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park.
It overlooks the vast flat and Narus plains of the Park. The slopes of Mount Morungole are home to the unique Ik people, a smallest ethnic group in Uganda.
Lovers of adventure in Kidepo, Morungole is the ideal place to have jaw dropping mountain hiking escapades that are led by experienced ranger guides. You will also visit to the Ik people to delve into their local way of living along with unique culture exhibits.
In the north eastern part of Uganda- Kidepo, you find the Namamukweny valley. Its name was derived from a Karamajong word that means “a Place with no birds”. But, the name is a real opposite; the place is packed with diverse bird species.
What a haven for bird watching; some of the species sighted include white crested turaco, Abyssinian roller, green hood hoopoe, eastern paradise whydah, and more.
You can access this valley by car or on foot while in the Park. Moreover, the valley offers awe-inspiring views of the Park inclusive of wild animals feeding.
Top Activities in the Park
Game driving in Kidepo is the best way to have a magical African Wildlife encounters without threats of animal attacks. Wild animals sighted include elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeests, Zebras and more.
If you are on self-drive, you can arrange the game driving with the lodge like Apoka Safari lodge. A ranger guide is on board for an added insight about the Park’s Wildlife and history.
Then for local tour operator, all the game driving is done by the Safari guide on a suitable pop up Safari vehicle. Payments for game driving in Kidepo are $20 USD for day and $100 USD for night game drive.
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of those Uganda’s most awed spots for bird watching recorded with plenty of different unique species of birds. Of the 56 species, 14 are recorded endemic to the Park and the Karamajong region. They include the pygmy falcon, verreaux’s eagle, Egyptian vulture and more. More to know is that Kidepo is the only Park to find the Ostrich. While in the Narus valley or Namamukweny valley there a lot to see no struggling for better sights. Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park costs $30 USD per person.
A number of various tribes inhabit the surrounding areas of Kidepo Valley National Park. During your safari to the park, you can visit some of these tribes for cultural encounters through cultural performances such as singing, dancing and more. Some of these tribes include the Emuya of Nyangia, Ik, Matheniko and Naporre ethnic group.
More than game driving, you can explore Kidepo Valley National Park by nature walks. There is nothing more exceptional than having an African Wildlife excursion on foot. Some of the exciting places for hiking like Mountain Morungole are just outside the park.
Then within the park, you can climb up to unfinished Idi Amin’s dream lodge that was started when he was still the Ugandan president. All the hiking’s and walks are conducted by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Accommodation in the Park
Currently the Park consist of only three lodges for accommodation on a visit, these include Apoka Safari lodge – Luxury, Apoka Rest Camp – midrange and Nga’moru Wilderness camp for budget.
It is recommended to book for accommodation in Kidepo in advance before your travel dates, otherwise failure to do that you are most likely to find all lodges fully booked certainly during peak season.