Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo valley national is located in the far northeast of Uganda bordering Sudan and Kenya. The national park covers an area of 1,442 sq km with an altitude range between 914m and 2,750m above sea level. Kidepo valley national park is the most remote of Uganda’s national parks and has been recognized by CNN travel as one of the best destination for wildlife safaris in Africa.
Kidepo valley national park boasts of lush mountain scenery and vast plains offering excellent opportunities for game viewing and birdwatching. The park has two seasonal rivers that is Kidepo River and Narus River that dry up during the dry season and fill up during the wet season providing water for the wildlife.
Wildlife of Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo valley national park boasts of a total of 86 mammal species and 475 bird species. 28 species of the mammals are endemic to Kidepo valley national park and are found nowhere else the country. These species include cheetah, stripped hyena, caracal, bat-eared fox, aardwolf and hunting dog. Other wildlife in the park includes side-stripped jackal, spotted hyena, lion, leopard, mongoose and small cats. Kidepo valley national park is home to a total of 17 antelope species and seven of these species are only found in Kidepo and nowhere else in the Uganda. These are the greater kudu, Grant’s gazelle, lesser kudu, rian antelope, mountain reedbuck, beira oryx and Guenther’s dik-dik. The other antelope species in the national park include topis, eland, common duiker, Jazkson’s Hartebeest, Uganda Kob, bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, oribi, bush buck and waterbuck. Kidepo also is home to elephants, warthogs, bush pig, burchell’s zebra, giraffes and is well known for having large herds of buffaloes.
Kidepo valley national park is a prime destination for Uganda birdwatching safaris with about 475 bird species with the key specials being the ostriches and kori bustard which can only be sighted in Kidepo. Other bird species in the Kidepo region include the secretary bird, karamoja apalis, pygym falcon, tawny eagle, Egyptian vulture, red-throated bee-eaters, Abyssinian roller, and black-breasted barbets among others.
Activities to do in Kidepo Valley National Park
Game Drives in Kidepo Valley National Park
Game drives are the main tourist attraction in Kidepo valley national park and the game drives are usually happen in the Narus Valley. The game drive experience takes you through this beautiful park with stunning views of the vast plains and open savanna. There are morning and afternoon game drives with the best being the morning game drive as it offers you an opportunity to sight the nocturnal animals before they go in to hiding. Predators to look out include the cheetah, lions are often seen on top of rocks and leopard. Other wildlife species to look out for while on the game drives include Cape Buffalo, Zebras, Giraffes, Elephants, klipspringer,Topis, Grant’s gazelle and Uganda kob.
Apart from the Narus valley another drive to kidepo valley takes you to the Kanangorok hot springs, a picnic lunch can be set up near the springs. The kidepo valley has less wildlife but has stunning landscape and ostriches are usually best sighted in this area. Generally game drives are the main activities in the park and the perfect way to end a game drive is with a sun downer as you watch the sun set in to the plains.
Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo is a prime destination for Uganda birding with about 475 species of birds and comes second after Queen Elizabeth national park which has the most recorded bird species in Uganda. Bird species to look out for while on a birding safari in Kidepo include the karamoja apalis, black-breasted barbet, ostrich, secretary birds, Abyssinian roller and several types of vulture.
Karamojong Cultural Tour
Community walks in Kidepo take you to visit the Karamojong as you interact with their culture through visiting their manyattas- their local homesteads, participate in their traditional dance and get an experience of their culture. The karamojong are an ethnic group and nomadic pastoralists with a strong attachment to their cattle.
Visit to the IK tribe
The visit to the IK tribe is also a community tour that takes you on one day hike to Mount Morungole where they live. The hike takes you through stunning scenery and also offers you spectacular views of Kidepo valley national park. The day is spent with the IK tribe as visitors spend time with the people, experience their way of life, listen to stories of how they migrated in to the mountain and engage in the IK tribe dances.
Kidepo valley national park offers guided nature walks. The nature walks usually can take between 2-4 hours and animals to look out for include zebras, buffaloes, water bucks and elephants. A ranger guider is present with you throughout the nature walk.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
The most common mode of transport to the national park by travellers is by chartered flight from Entebbe International airport to Apoka airstrip right in the heart of Kidepo valley national park.
The other way to access the park is by road which is a 12 hour drive that is usually cut short with an overnight in Gulu town at a hotel and then continuing with the journey to Kidepo the next day.
Luxury – Apoka Safari Lodge
Mid-range – Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Adere Safari Lodge
Budget – UWA Bandas, Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp
Tours to Kidepo Valley National Park