KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
This great Park is located in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of the remote Karamoja region in north eastern Uganda between the border of Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan. The park which covers 1,442square kilometers of land is arguably the most diverse fauna of any park in Uganda. With over 77 species of mammal, several of which are restricted to the Kidepo and Karamoja region, the park also has circumscribed carnivores such as the bat-eared fox, cheetah, striped hyena as well as caracal and aardwolf. Other carnivores accommodated in the park area are lion, leopard side-striped jackal, spotted hyena, and black-backed. The rarely ungulates species include the lesser and greater kudu, chandlers Mountain reedbuck, klipspringer and Guenther’s dikdik among others. Other large ungulates include elephant, Rothschild’s giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, bush pig, warthog, Capped buffalo, eland, bushbuck, hartebeest and oribi, Defassa waterbuck, Bohor reedbuck, Jsckson’s hartebeest and oribi. Five pronounced primate species are recorded in the park including the endemic Kavirondo bush baby.
The park has unique record of 475 bird species, making it second only in Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park. A few species of note, at least in Ugandan standards include the Ostrich, Kori Bustard and Karamoja Apalis, secretary bird, carmine, little green and red-throated bee eater, Abyssinian scimitarbill, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills and the Karamoja apalis. Kidepo is also notable for its birds of prey. Of the 56 species recorded, 14, including Verreaux’s eagle, Egyptian vulture and pygmy falcon, are believed to be endemic to the Kidepo and Karamoja region.
The most interesting Tourist’s activities in Kidepo national park
Game drives in Kidepo national park
Games drives are mainly done along the Narus Valley of Kidepo because wide-range of wildlife convenes here for it is the only area with water during the lengthy dry season. The area is well organized with game trucks to allow easy game driving. The Katurum kopje offers superb views north across the valley towards the Morungole Mountains. The early morning Game drives along the Narus Valley are very impressing. The ranges of wildlife which can be spotted include elephants, leopard, bush duiker, jackal, bushbuck, bush pig, Kavirondo bush baby, buffalo and much more.
Bird Watching in Kidepo national park
Kidepo national park is one of the remarkable birding destinations for birders on Uganda safaris. The Park Headquarters and famous Apoka Rest Camp overlooking the swallow, southern Narus Valley is a perfect spot to start your Kidepo birding experience. The attractive Silver bird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around camp, as do a number of other widespread species such as Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. A small permanent water hole at the edge of camp attracts swallows and a variety of seedeaters including Yellow-rumped Seedeater and is visited at night by Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephant, Buffalo and occasionally Lion. Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to camp or along the track to Apoka lodge
Hiking and Scenery viewing in Kidepo national park
Hiking can be made on Lamoj Mountains situated few kilometers from the Park Headquarters. Visitors can also go to view the fabulous Kidepo River Valley dominated by Borassus palm forest; it has a large flatbed that is dry for most of the year. From Kidepo Valley, you may also visit the Kanangorok Hot Springs, which are situated only 11 km from Kidepo river valley. The mountain and Savannah scenery of the park is fantastic. The Narus valley is situated in the South West of the park; the rough Napore-Nyagia mountain range forms its western frontier. Separating it from the Kidepo Valley in the northeast, are the Natira and Lokayot Hills. To the north in the Sudan are the Lotukei Mountains and the Morungole range marks the southern edge of the park.
Mountain Hiking in Kidepo national park
The hike on Mountain Morungole is an exciting activity leading to the Ik people. The great Morungole expedition which involves a day’s hike through varying vegetation and rocky mountain terrain commanding spectacular views of Kidepo Valley National Park. The hike shall reward you with dances from the Ik people, their lifestyles, and unique settlements and also learn about their unique migration history.
The Lomej Mountains can be reached on foot in four hours, the hike starts at 7am. Shorter guided walks of around two hours can be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre.
Nature Walks in Kidepo national park
Nature walks are done during any time of the day. One of the good spots is around Apoka camp; it offers an opportunity to encounter game like Zebras, and Reedbuck. Another good and established spot is the eastern Kakine circuit, especially very early morning. Lots of wildlife are within 50-70meters range. The Rionomoe hill trail too is an established nature trail and offers views of the lower side of the Narus Valley.
Cultural and Community Walks in Kidepo national park
Among the Kidepo local community tours includes visiting the Karamajong who have such unique lifestyle and traditions. The Karamojong are traditionally cattle raiders and hunters and thrive on raiding cattle from their neighboring tribes. To the Karamajong, all cattle is theirs by right. However, through community conservation and education, they are gradually changing most of their ruthless ways. Communities near the park stage cultural dances and performances. Dances like Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are common and worth seeing or participate in if you so wish.
Cultural visits and community walk to the Karamajong manyattas (homesteads) can offer you chance to see kraals local communities’ livestock, traditional costume, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows, arrows and jewellery.
Access to Kidepo national park
Kidepo Valley National Park is accessible either by road or by air. The most commonly driven route from Kampala – Karuma – Gulu – Kitgum – Kidepo = 571km (10-11 hours) and a sturdy 4WD to complete.
By air, Charter flights to Kidepo may be arranged from Kampala (Kajjansi), Kampala Aeroclub, or Entebbe with Eagle Aviation. Flights take about two hours.
MAP SHOWING HOW TO GET TO KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
MAP SHOWING THE OFFICIAL LOCATION OF KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Accommodation in Kidepo national park
There are few safari lodges or hotels where one can stay and have a decent meal while on Uganda safari tour to Kidepo. The recommended lodges include, Apoka Rest Camp, run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, A more upmarket option is the exclusive Apoka Lodge. This luxury lodge is located in the Centre of Kidepo National Park with capacious rooms and private veranda. Each room has a sitting room and ensuite bathroom among other amenities. Nga’Moru Camp mid-range lodge situated on the border of the Kidepo Valley National Park, only 4kms from the Katarum Gate.