Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda’s most endowed yet less visited National Park found in the far remote north-eastern corner of the country bordering South Sudan as well as Kenya. The remote location of Kidepo Valley National Park (about 700 kilometers-9-10 hours’ drive from the Capital City) is the sole reason why it receives few tourists compared to other savannah National Park but the few tourists who accept to endure the difficulties of visiting it enjoy its beauty and extraordinary endowments.
Extending for an area of 1442 square kilometers, Kidepo Valley National Park was gazetted in 1962 and has continuously been ranked among the Continent’s best Wilderness Areas including being named the third best National Park in Africa.
Wildlife species in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is endowed with more than 80 species of mammals including over 20 species endemic to the Karamoja region. Popular species include the maneless zebras, leopards, lions, buffaloes, elephants, cheetahs, stripped and spotted hyenas, wild dogs, bat-eared foxes and Rothschild giraffes among others.
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the avifauna rich conservation Areas in Uganda with more than 500 species of birds including the Ostriches that can’t be spotted in any other National Parks in Uganda. Other popular bird species that can be sighted in this Park are the Kori bustard, Egyptian vultures, Karamoja Apalis, Verreaux’s eagles, Jackson’s hornbills, Yellow-billed hornbills and Pygmy falcon among others.
Other attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park
The Karamojong are the indigenous communities living around Kidepo Valley National Park and their riveting cultures and customs will make your visit complete. A visit to their Manyattas to share some of their cultures as well as participating in their invigorating dances as they jump high with ease will keep memories of your safari alive.
Also known as the Oasis, Narus Valley is the most diverse area in Kidepo valley National Park characterized by short red oat grasses as well as tall bunchy guinea grass. It’s in this area that you are likely to spot the bat-eared foxes, spotted hyenas, zebras, waterbucks, Rothschild giraffes, elands, hartebeests, cheetahs, African buffaloes and Rothschild giraffes among others as they converge to drink water as well as cool off the excess heat.
Activities conducted within Kidepo Valley National Park
Given the fact that Kidepo Valley National Park is a gem with diversity of wildlife, game viewing is so far the main activity conducted within the Wilderness Area. 4WD vehicles are recommended for game drives and early drives offer opportunities of spotting the nocturnal species as they return from hunting.
Cultural tours in and around Kidepo Valley National Park involve visiting the nearby Karamajong communities who pride in keeping cattle. Tourists to this Park get a chance to visit their Manyattas (grass-thatched houses) and participate in their invigorating cultural dances. Besides the Karamajong, cultural visit lead visitors to the isolated Ik people who occupy the slopes of Mount Morungole thus hiking require physical fitness.
With over 500 species of outstanding birds in Kidepo valley National Park, birding is one of the key activities undertaken by visitors to the Park to spot rarely seen species like the giant Ostrich, Kori bustard, Egyptian vultures, Karamoja Apalis and many other species that can’t not be found in any other Parks of Uganda.
Nature walks and hiking
Kidepo Valley National Park is endowed with a number of magnificent areas that are ideal for nature walks. The best way to enjoy an African wilderness is by walking and offers opportunity of encountering attractions not easy to see during game drives. The vast flat plains and landmarks across Kidepo especially the spectacular Kanangorok hot springs, Namamukweny valley and Lamoj hills reward visitors with the views of zebras, Rothschild giraffes, lions, leopards, Uganda kobs and the Ostriches among others.
Where to stay within and around Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park has relatively fewer accommodation facilities but your visit will be complete with these comfortable places to stay. Apoka Safari Lodge is an ideal choice for luxury travelers.
Midrange visitors are sorted with the existence of Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp, Kidepo Savannah Lodge while the Apoka Rest Camp and Kakine Self catering Campsite take care of the Budget travelers’ needs.
Best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
The perfect time of visiting Kidepo Valley National Park is the dry season (January, February, June, July, August, September and December) because during this time, game viewing is easier given the fact that animals tend to converge at drinking points and lush vegetation areas.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is about 700 kilometers/8-10 hours’ drive from Kampala City (Uganda’s Capital) making it the remotest but most beautiful Park in the country. There are currently four routes that can lead you to Kidepo Valley National Park. The most popular route is the Kampala-Karuma-Gulu-Kitgum-Kotido to Kidepo Valley National Park and is 571 kilometers away lasting about 10 hours. The second Northern route is Kampala-Karuma-Lira-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo Valley National Park for 705 kilometers lasting 12 hours.
The eastern routes to Kidepo Valley National Park are-Kampala-Jinja-Mbale-Sironko-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo Valley National Park and is the short for 740 kilometers lasting 12 hours and the second one is longer-Kampala-Jinja-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo Valley National Park for 792 kilometers lasting 13 hours.
Kidepo Valley National Park can also be accessed by air transport with chartered flights arranged from Kajjansi Airstrip or Entebbe International Airport to Apoka Airstrip.