Kidepo Valley National Park is Nestled in the wild frontier region of Uganda and is apparently the most isolated national park in Uganda. Kidepo Valley Mational Park is 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. Kidepo Valley National Park is right at the core of a Savannah landscape right next to a few mountainous bodies.
The reasons for planning your Uganda safari here are endless, something you will definitely see when you set foot on Uganda’s soil.
Besides the exceptional wildlife safari experience, this national park is another great spot for a cultural trail especially to those who would like to see the Karamojongs, Acholis plus other great tribes.
Some of the other exciting tourism activities in the wilderness of this area include nature walks, birding and hiking.
There are outstanding lodging accommodation options of Apoka safari lodge, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Nga’Moru Wilderness camp coupled along with the cool environment, exceptional views of the Savannah grasslands plus so many more attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Kidepo valley national park is a true gem with huge abundance in wildlife. It remains a true rendition of tourism in Uganda but remains unknown to many!
Kidepo Valley National Park was gazetted into a national park in the year 1962 and currently hosts over 75 species of mammals and 470 species of birds.
All these fall in a prime game viewing location. This national park is situated in Kaabong district in Northeastern Uganda.
By estimate, it is about 510 Kilometers by road form Kampala – Uganda’s capital and Moroto is apparently the largest town in the sub region.
Being named the 3rd best national park in Africa, this national park is definitely a must visit for any traveler to Uganda while on a visit to Uganda, Uganda safaris, Uganda tours, Uganda wildlife safaris.
Kidepo Valley National Park management
Park management; Uganda Wildlife Authority a government body entrusted with managing all wildlife resources also provides park management for Kidepo Valley National Park.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has headquarters in Kampala with regional offices in all wildlife reserves. In Kidepo Valley National Park, the Uganda Wildlife Authority head offices are at Apoka.
There are two entrance gates to Kidepo valley national park; travelers from the southwestern side of Kitgum and Gulu enter through Lokumoit gate while Nataba gate is the main entry point that connects to southeastern side.
Travelers arriving by flight at Lomej airfield get clearance to access the park at Apoka main offices 3 km near. Uganda Wildlife Authority is the custodian of wildlife; mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, vegetation and other wildlife resources within wildlife reserves.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has mandate to protect and conserve wildlife integrity of Uganda. The work of Uganda Wildlife Authority amongst others includes:
- Protecting visitors coming into wildlife reserves and their property
- Offer of guiding and interpreting wildlife phenomenon to the visitors into the wildlife reserves
- Handle revenue from visitors on tour into wildlife reserves
- Providing and managing hospitality services that enable vacation and easy wildlife spotting
- Highlighting the importance of wildlife to the rest of the world and Uganda as the best travel destination for wildlife viewing safaris
- Relocating wildlife that intrudes into indigenous communities
- Handle illegal trade in wildlife species
- Handle wildlife crime
- Sensitizing the indigenous communities about wildlife
Climate and Weather in Kidepo Valley National Park
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 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. Vegetation stunts and withers at times to sand and bare ground during long periods of drought.
The open vegetation cover for the large part of Kidepo Valley National Park is ideal for spotting a wide range of game on safari into Uganda.
Places of Interest in Kidepo Valley National Park
Apoka tourism centre
Apoka is the heart of tourism and every traveler on tour into Kidepo Valley National Parkoften makes errands at the Apoka tourism centre. 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.
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 high preference for camping.
Apoka is a hill with commanding views of a man made dam where wildlife species congregate to cool the irritating heat of the day.
The Karamojong herdsmen
The Karamojong is an indigenous community inhabiting the Karamoja region. The Karamojong traditionally lived a nomadic lifestyle roaming the vast plains of Karamoja with large herds of livestock; cattle, sheep, goats and chicken.
Dogs are important in a Karamojong homestead; manyatta for they alert the family of intruding wildlife species. The Karimojong take pride in their livestock. The size of a herd is a symbol of wealth and social status.
In the African traditional lifestyle setting where there was no currency, livestock was a medium of settling social as well as business transactions.
The Karamojong nomads and wildlife coexisted in the Karamoja region, their livestock grazing on the side of herivores and share watering holes.
In the past Karamojong violently raided the neighboring communities’ livestock to increase the size of their herds. The raids have subsided with sensitization about dangers of violence and arms’ embargo in the Karamoja region.
The Karamojong settled in permanent homes but still hold their traditional customs and cultural beliefs in high esteem. Travelers on tour into Uganda often visit the Karamojong manyatta to share life experiences, learn about the survival games in the wilderness and explore authentic lifestyle of an indigenous African community.
Note; book with the park management or at hotel reservations for the indigenous ranger to escort you on the visit the manyatta.
The national park derives her name from the kidepo valley. In the indigenous community dialect, Kidepo loosely translates “to pick” from under.
The Kidepo valley is famous for scenic borassus palm trees; a delicacy of elephants as well as indigenous communities, that are beautifully scattered all through the valley.
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 seasonal Kidepo river that flows north into South Sudan where Narus River supplements it before pouring into the White Nile.
During the rainy season, the valley floods and Kidepo river is a threatening giant that only the stone hearted creature can dare cross.
The vegetation is lush and there is a very vibrant mammal presence in all corners. Wildlife species congregate in the Kidepo valley and there are possibilities of spotting any of the game that reside in the Kidepo National Park.
In the dry season, vegetation in Kidepo withers to bare white sand dunes. The blood vessel, Kidepo river slumbers and snores till the next rains come. Most wildlife species desert the Kidepo Valley to Narus Valley searching for resources to survive on.
To the adventure travelers on tour into Uganda, this is an ideal time for nature walk safaris in the valley to explore the wilderness, discover and hold the beauty of Uganda wilderness within your hands.
This is an ideal time for walking safaris in the valley to explore the wilderness, discover and hold the beauty of Uganda wilderness within your hands.
Narus Valley: Narus in the local Karimojong dialect means muddy or soggy ground. Karamoja is a semi arid region with high temperatures, low rainfall and semi arid vegetation that gets bare ground after prolonged droughts.
The soil texture in the valley is soggy and holds water for longer periods after the rain season creating temporary swamps, bushes and oases. The Narus river floods during the rainy season and flows northwest of Kidepo Valley National Park through the valley.
The Narus valley retains oases even during the long drought of the dry season when most of the Karamoja region gets semi desert. The valley is a big blessing to the indigenous Karimojong nomads who roam the Karamoja region in search of watering holes and fresh pasture for their large herds of livestock.
To the travelers on tour of Uganda in Kidepo Valley National Park, the valley is the arena of tourism drama. The Narus Valley is an oasis in the semi arid conditions of Karamoja region where wildlife congregate to cool off the heat from the burning sun.
The valley has a clear track system leading to secret spots that make wildlife sighting an easy sport. It is highly advisable to pick a ranger at Apoka tourism office close by, who interprets wildlife scenarios, is conversant with wildlife habits in the area and is aware of their hideouts.
The Narus valley is a recommended location to spot lions, buffalos, zebras, hartebeests, giraffes, cheetah, leopard, waterbuck, several species and many beautiful bird species.
Katurum track has magnificent views of the rest of the Narus valley and is an ideal spot to gaze in amazement and appreciate the choice of tour into Uganda.
The Narus River joins the larger Kidepo river further north 13 km into South Sudan that later joined the White Nile.
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve 1,520km2 located in Moroto district, is part of larger Kidepo Valley Conservation Area though detached from the national park.
Matheniko wildlife reserve is located southeast of Kidepo valley national park touching on the hem of international borderline with Kenya. Matheniko Wildlife Reserve like large parts of Karamoja region is a semi arid savanna where dates, acacia and butterfly pea are dominant tree species.
The Wildlife Reserve has a very vibrant wildlife presence with unique species that withstand harsh semi arid conditions.
Tourism services are not highly developed like other Uganda safaris destinations, but the visitors who travel to Matheniko Wildlife Reserve get surprised at the beauty, population density and uniqueness of wildlife species.
Game viewing safaris often yield fruitful results with cheetah, buffalos, leopards, roan antelope, lesser kudu, elands, serval cats, mountain reedbuck, topi. wildcats, Bright’s gazelle, blue duikers, Bohor reedbuck, striped hyena, waterbucks, jackals, Ugandan kobs, Oribi, spotted hyenas, civets, common duikers, Olive baboons, Patas monkey, vervet monkeys and other mammals possible sightings.
There is a high bird species presence in Wildlife Reserve with unique species from the larger Somali-Masai corridor that stretches from the horn of Africa to the neighboring Kenya.
There are high possibilities to spot The black-headed plover, thick-billed honeyguide, Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian vulture, Ethiopian swallow, Pygmy falcon, Clapperton’s francolin, Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, the Mountain Yellow Warbler, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, the Red-billed Ox-pecker amongst many others.
Self-catering camping in the wilderness is the only possible accommodation inside the Wildlife Reserve though Moroto and Kotido town are within reasonable travel distance. There are plans to establish a safari camp in the near future.
4WD car is essential because some parts of the road system are dirt and get messy during rainy season; April, May and November. Many travelers on Uganda tour to Kidepo Valley National Park break the monotony of long travel at Matheniko Wildlife reserve.
Bokora Wildlife Reserve
Bokora Wildlife Reserve 2,056km2 located in Moroto district, is the second largest single wildlife protected area in Uganda. Bokora Wildlife reserve status as an important component in the ecosystem gained prominence even during the colonial rule times.
It became a wildlife reserve in 1964 to date. Bokora Wildlife Reserve is located in the Karamoja region, southwest of Kidepo Valley national park. It touches borders with Matheniko Wildlife reserve in northeast and Pian Upe wildlife reserve in southwest.
The three wildlife reserves are a solid connection from which wildlife species migrate from Mt Elgon national park further south to Kidepo Valley National park north. There is a market similarity in climatic conditions, soils, vegetation cover and wildlife species in the same zone.
Bokora wildlife reserve is an ideal Uganda safari destination for travelers seeking quiet corners in which to explore in the wilderness and discover the beauty of a peaceful country.
Few travelers have ventured into this undisturbed chaste, and their reviews always speak volumes about the beauty of this undiscovered Uganda tourism gem. Loporokocho swamp is popular game viewing destination where wildlife species in all sizes and colors congregate to cool off.
There are high opportunities of spotting Lions, topi, lesser kudus, leopard, buffalos, zebra, stripped hyena, roan antelopes, the Elands, Oribi, duiker, the Uganda Kobs, the Bright’s gazelles, hartebeests, the spotted hyenas, the Oryx and Reedbucks amongst the mammal species.
Bird watching safaris in Bokora wildlife reserve create everlasting impressions on the memories of travelers on tour into Uganda with unique bird species sightings.
Notable bird species most likely to sight include Ostriches, Alpine chat, Jackson’s hornbill, Grey cuckoo-shrike, Lemon dove, Dusky turtle dove, White-headed buffalo weaver, Black-throated wattle eye, African Hill Babbler, the Thick-billed Honeyguide, Mountain yellow warbler, the Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, amongst.
Bokora wildlife reserve is an untapped gem where very few travelers have set foot in. The tourism and hospitality facilities are still basic but that does not take away the rich wealth in wildlife resources.
Camping in the wild is the only possibility of accommodation through a private developer is making final arrangements of a luxury safari camp.
Travelers on Uganda tour into Bokora Wildlife Reserve book accommodation in Kotido, Katakwi and Abim towns that are a reasonable distance close to the reserve. Bokora Wildlife is an ideal place to break the long travel en route to or from Kidepo Valley National Park.
Mount Morungole range covers large parts south of Kidepo Valley national park and is 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 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.
Hiking to the 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 entire Kidepo valley national park and the lands beyond.
Note: Book a ranger escort with Kidepo Valley park management or your hotel to get maximum satisfaction from unique experiences of your tour into Uganda.
The Ik People
The Ik people is an indigenous community that inhabits the Morungole mountain range as their sacred home. 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.
The Ik people traversed the Karamoja plains in search of game to hunt, gathering edible fruits, leaves, roots and flowers. 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 family with basic needs of survival; gather food from the wilderness and shacks for shelter.
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.
An overnight camping close to the Ik manyatta gives the visitors an opportunity to venture into the wilderness under cover of darkness to have first hand honey harvesting experiences.
Note: You will need an indigenous ranger escort for the tour into the Ik community. It is highly advisable to carry gifts for the Ik to win over their confidence and get authentic lifestyle experiences.
Activities in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is a popular Uganda safari game drive / viewing destination with a wide range of game. The Karamoja region has in excess of 80 mammal species and travelers on tour into the Kidepo Valley National Park have high opportunities of spotting a wide range of them.
28 of the mammal species are endemic to only the Karamoja region in Uganda and travelers on Uganda safari into Kidepo Valley National Park have high opportunities of sighting them.
Much of the Kidepo Valley National Park is a flat terrain with scenic undulating hills scattered in a few spots.
The vegetation is eye-catching grassland and savannas that spread into the horizons beyond the eyes can see. The natural conditions make spotting game less bothersome and game viewing safaris highly successful.
It is highly advisable to use a safari customized car and be within the game viewing zone around 6am to have opportunities of spotting nocturnal wildlife species and interact with game when very active in the coldness of the morning.
Be within the same zone by 4pm for the evening game viewing safaris and catch game winding up the activities of the day. Picking up a ranger at Apoka tourism office maximizes opportunities of wildlife sightings since the rangers are conversant with wildlife habits and monitor their movements.
The wildlife species within Kidepo Valley National Park like many other wildlife places, drastically reduced by insurgencies of 1980s where poaching game for economic purposes seemed a lucrative business. Rhinos were hunted to extinction for their horns.
There is relative calm in entire of Uganda and wildlife species statistics are on the upward trend. Travelers on tour in Kidepo Valley National Park have opportunity to spot.
These animals includelions, cheetah, leopard, mane less zebras, kudus, buffalos, Oryx, gazelle, elephants, giraffes, elands, roan antelopes, striped hyenas, jackals, hyenas, zebras, reedbucks, waterbucks, Uganda kobs, Nile crocodiles, duikers and many others.
Kidepo Valley National Park is vast. It is beautiful and full to the brim with exciting things to see. To many travelers on tour of Uganda, Kidepo valley national park has exact features of the authentic African wilderness.
Flat plains in scenic landscape and land features where beautiful wildlife species spread into all corners of the grasslands and mingle at will.
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.
Natures 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 best selling 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 needs of quiet corners to explore and get authentic wilderness experiences visit the Namamukweny Valley. Namamukweny literary translates to place without birds sic life, lonely or isolated place.
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.
Book a ranger at Apoka park offices or your hotel reservation desk for your exciting nature walk safari. Ranger escorts have capability of interpreting nature, wide knowledge of all the corners of Kidepo Valley national park wilderness and definitely make nature walk safaris rich and highly rewarding.
The landscape and land features of Karamoja region and Kidepo Valley National Park in particular are unique from the rest of Uganda. The Karamoja region marks the extreme ends where the arid conditions of North Africa meet grasslands of East Africa.
Kidepo Valley national park is an intersection where unique bird species from different geographic zones meet. Kidepo valley national park is an Important Birding Safaris Area in Uganda with close to 450 bird species and a dream Uganda tour destination for bird watching expeditions.
A dozen out of the 50 birds of prey species in Uganda are endemic in the Karamoja region. The birding safaris in Kidepo valley national park have 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.
Kidepo Valley National Park Travel Tips
As you engage yourself in a tour to Kidepo Valley National Park are so important and essential for one to have a smooth Kidepo Valley tour. It is important to know what is needed, the do’s and don’ts and some facts about the park.
Mostly they tell you about the rules and regulations also as when most people don’t find the rules, they can oftenly follow the safari tips being offered. Most of this travel tips are also given as guidelines from Uganda Wildlife Association.
Below you will find a list of tips that will guide you to have a safae travel to the park and easily do your safari with minimal or no queries.
- Please confirm your booking and be sure of accommodation before travel. This is one of the most important safari tips.
- Please adhere to park regulations. They are designed with a sole purpose of keeping you safe and your tour of Uganda exciting
- Make any inquiries to park and hotel staff. They will gladly direct you to right places.
- Pack light clothes with high preference for dark color long sleeved. The roads are dusty during dry season and muddy during rainy season.
- Insect repellent is essential because high temperatures are conducive conditions for different species of insects and bugs.
- The sun gets scotching at any time and body gets sunburns. Carry body scream, safari hats, caps, sunglasses to reduce the impact of the heat on your body. One of the most important safari tips.
- Hiking boots are ideal for wilderness safari
- Drink a lot of non alcoholic drinks; water and juice to minimize dehydration
- 4wd safari vehicles are essential in rainy season
- Break the journey for overnight stop to reduce fatigue. There are several other tourism activities to explore along all the routes to Kidepo Valley National Park
- Scheduled flights or charter flights from Kampala are fast; 2 hours, but reduce the excitement of exploring the countryside
Best Time to Visit Kidepo Valley National Park
The best time to visit Kidepo valley national park is during the dry season and that is from the month of September to March however since the park is semi-arid with no heavy rains in the wet season. The park can be visited anytime throughout the year depending on the visitor’s interest.
From the month of September to March the park is less crowded, April and May the camps and tents tend to close due to rains, September, October and November the rains end ushering in the dry season and then finally from December to February is when the park is extremely hot and dusty.
For visitors interested in wildlife adventure, its best you visit Kidepo valley national park in the dry season because wildlife viewing is much easier as animals be on a move looking out for water sources and vegetation and also game driving is easier on the bumpy marram roads in the park compared when the roads are muddy.
On the other hand, the wet season is best for bird watching tours. It’s during this period you will find migratory birds, the park is lush and green, the heat is less repressive and even though the animals are less spotted during this wet season, you will still spot some of them.