KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Uganda’s 1’442sq.km Kidepo Valley is the most impressive national park and protected area. Tucked far north of the country at the border of Sudan and Kenya is an isolated ethereal wilderness jewel, decorated with a number of international travel and tourism Accolades because of its gorgeousness and untamed wilderness. The CNN travel has over the years ranked the park among the must-see places in Africa like in 2012, 2013 and 2018. It has over the years been nominated in the World Travel Awards among Africa’s top safari destinations.
Kidepo Valley national park is known for its grip and share of wildlife witnessed in an adorable wilderness setting, characterized by rugged milieu offering notable and mouthwatering safari encounters.
“Its sweeping plains of Kidepo and Narus valleys outshined by the brooding mountain scape of the Morungole Ranges (the sacred peak of the mysterious Ik people) has a huge appeal just for the scenery alone. It might be the most beautiful park in all of Africa”- Mark Eveleigh; CNN
The altitude ranges between 2750m and 914m above sea level with two rivers; the Narus and Kidepo which disappear in the dry bout leaving only pools for the wildlife to roam. The park has a semi-arid type of climate with just one light rainy season per year from April to September, the Narus valley in the South and Kidepo valley in the north receive some 890mm and 635mm of rain per year respectively, the recurrent rains make Kidepo an oasis in the semi-desert.
Kidepo Valley national park is bordered by the Karamajong as the biggest cultural group; they are traditional nomad pastoralists who have slowly adapted to the changes in their traditional lifestyle, they are a group similar to the Masai of Kenya. The other include the Ikpeople one of the most reclusive and marginalized tribes in Uganda who still live in a very traditional way in relative isolation high atop Morungole Mountain.
How to get to the park
There are four different routes by road that lead you to the park, Kidepo Valley National Park can be accessed through four different routes by road from Kampala; the shortest being the roughly 9hours journey via Karuma Falls through Gulu-Kitgum to Kidepo. Other routes include Lira-Kotido- Kaabong to Kidepo; the Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong to Kidepo route and the last one being the Mbale-Soroti-Matany-Kotido-Kaabong and on to Kidepo. The journey to Kidepo is a long drive that requires overnight break en-route especially the last three routes that run for more than 700km. driving through the wilderness is a rewarding experience as you get to see better scenery.
The park can also be accessed by domestic air travel, and there are scheduled flights from Entebbe to Lomej airstrip in the park near its headquarters and it takes about 2hours.
Wildlife in the park
Kidepo Valley is known for its beautiful scenery that defines a setting of an African wild landscape. The park is dominated by two large sand rivers; Kidepo and Narus valley which in the rainy season become filled up with water and in dry season become empty pools for wildlife to roam. The park has over 77 mammal species, 475 species of birds including 58 of prey, which live in a rich blend of habitat composed of; Montane Forests, open savannas, Borassus Palm trees, Riparian woodland and hilltops capped by Rock Kopjes.
Among its wildlife are mammals and birds only distinct to the park and can’t be traced elsewhere in a national park in Uganda; such as Cheetahs, Ostriches, Greater Kudu etc.
Kidepo Valley national park is home to 4 of the African Big Five that is the Leopards, Lions, Buffalos and Elephant. The list of carnivores in the park is diverse with big and small cats, herbivores are also highly represented with highlights like Chandlers, Mountain Reedbucks, Burchells Zebras, Bush Pigs, Rothschild’s Giraffes, Lesser Kudu and Bushbucks among others. The park also shelters Five Primate species including the localized Patas Monkey.
The park is popularly known for its big share of wildlife and it is famous for the big game safaris. The park’s immense wilderness is known for extreme wildlife adventures like game drives, walking safaris/ nature walks were visitors can see wildlife at a range of up to 50-70metres at Kakine circuit. Walks around Apoka camp and Rionomoe trail offer stunning views of varied wildlife.
Kidepo’s 2’749m elevation above sea level is the Morungole ranges that are ideal for hiking adventures.