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Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda

 Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda Safaris & Tours

Kidepo Valley National Park UgandaThe park is located in Kaabong District, in the northeastern corner of Uganda approximately 220 kilometers, by road northwest of Moroto, the largest town in the sub-region the north eastern part of Uganda over 700kms from Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Gazetted in 1962, it covers an area of about 1,442 Sq.km and is a home to 77 mammal species as well as 475 species of birds. A lot of wildlife can also be viewed in this park including; Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo, Bush duiker among others.

The northwestern boundary of the park runs along the international frontier with South Sudan and adjoins against the Kidepo Game Reserve. Traditionally, the Dodoth pastoralists and Indigenous Karamajong farmers were inhabitants of the area before it was gazetted as a game reserve by the British colonial government in 1958 with the aim of protecting animals from hunting. It is one of those secluded parks in Uganda, though those who persist to traverse the land up to there will live to wonder about this outstanding wilderness in Africa and Uganda in particular.

Being a semi-arid area, water can be traced in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka during dry season. Considering these seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, it’s not shocking to brand Narus Valley the epicentre of Kidepo’s game viewing.

How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda.

Kidepo can be easily accessed by a chartered plane from Kajjansi, Kampala Aero Club or Entebbe by Eagle air for a two hour flight. The park can also be accessed by road from Kampala for a 12 hour drive using a 4WD.

Kidepo is gifted with a variety of wild life that are spread along its magnificent valleys such as the famous Narus valley which provide a traveler on Uganda safari with lasting memories. It has five primate species including patas monkeys. Predators also inhabit the park with 20 species available including; black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, cheetah and caracal which are endemic to the park. Others predators include; side-striped jackal, spotted hyena, leopard, lion and a variety of mustelids, genets, mongooses, and small cats. Twelve antelope species occur in Kidepo including; greater kudu, lesser kudu, Guenther’s dik-dik, and mountain reed buck occur nowhere else in Uganda. Other antelope species include; Jackson’s hartebeest, eland, common duiker, klipspringer, bushbuck, Defassa waterbuck, and bohor reed buck. Kidepo supports populations of elephant, Burchell’s zebra, warthog, bushpig, buffalo and giraffe. All these seem to be more than just wildlife especially when viewed from the open rangelands of Kidepo.

Birds in Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda.

The bird check list of 463 confirmed and 26 unconfirmed species makes it second to only queen Elizabeth national park and more than 60 of the birds listed have been recorded in no other Ugandan national park. Kidepo is famous for its birds of prey whereby of the 56 species recorded, 14 are endemic to the park and Karamoja region including; Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Pygmy Falcon. Raptors are also available with 56 species recorded of which the most commonly viewed are dark chanting goshawk, pygmy falcon, tawny eagle, bataleur, secretary bird, and several types of vulture. Other specials of Kidepo in relation to Uganda include; Ostrich, Kori bustard, fox and white eyed kestrels, white billed go-away bird, carmine, little green and red throated bee-eater, Abyssinian scimitar bill, d’Arnauds, red and yellow and black-breasted barbets, red-billed, yellow billed and Jackson’s horn bills, Karamoja apalis, rufous chatterer, northern brownbul, golden pipit, chestnut weaver, red-billed and white headed buffalo weavers and purple grenadier among other species. This presents a birder on Uganda safari with exciting and rewarding experience.

Kidepo National park is gifted with unique landscape that presents travelers with a great scenic view. Landscapes like Narus Valley which is a rising and falling grassland plain surrounded by faraway mountains, Kanangorok Hot Springs which are located 11 kilometers past the Kidepo River along the Sudan border, is a spectacular place to sit down and view the mountains far past the horizon. Mount Morungole rising up to 2,750 meters River Kidepo and River Narus traversing it nourishes the wildlife and the general park eco-system. The Morungole Range forms the southern boundary of this park and rises from these plains a couple of kilometers north-east of Apoka. The Lomej Hills found close to the park headquarters, they form a great viewing point to see wild animals and birds such as the mountain reedbucks. Namamukweny valley which is a serene place deriving its name from a local word Napore literary meaning a place with no birds or perhaps a lonely place with very few people. These landscapes are yet another rewarding exposure while on Ugandan tour.

Local people.

Kidepo valley National park is surrounded by the Karamajong pastoralists and the indigenous Karamajong who are cultivators that were occupying the park before its gazettion. The pastoralist communities around are well known for their nomadism though they have started to adapt to settled farming.  They have a lot of traditional heritage that can be interest even to a second time traveler including their Manyattas, cows and their art and craft.

Tourist activities in Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda.

  • Game drive. With the help of a ranger, lions are easily spotted sitting on the valley’s rocks. The drive along the Narus valley is a rewarding experience on a safari tour as one is able to view a variety of wildlife including; buffalo, elephant, bush duiker, jackal, bushbuck, bush pig, Kavirondo bush baby among others. Early mornings and late afternoon drives (6am and 4pm) are suitable for this activity. A Scenic Drive through Kidepo valley is quite rewarding too. It takes one hour to traverse to Kanangorok Hot Springs amidst splendid landscapes. Take the road north of Apoka passing through rock outcrops and hills receding to Kidepo valley crossing the Sand River and traversing open plains that extend towards Sudan border. Ostriches are common sights here. The best time for game viewing is the middle and end of the dry season (November to February) when animals concentrate around reliable water sources. During the wet season (April to August) animals disperse from the valleys and move to higher ground, where they are more difficult to locate.
  • Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda. This experience can be derived from Narus and Namamukweny Valleys where variety of bird species can be seen including; purple heron, Abyssinian Roller, Clapper ton’s Francolin and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. Birding in Kidepo is good year-round, though perfect from March to April for all the specials and many migrants. Migratory birds are present from November to April. Apoka Rest Camp is a good starting point for the birder on Uganda safari to begin this rewarding experience. The activity can be arranged both in the morning and evening.
  • Nature walks in Kidepo Valley National Park . Have a four hour trek up to Lomej Mountains starting at 7 am. While short guided walks of about two hours along Narus valley extending over 5km radius from Apoka tourism center can be rewarding while on this Uganda safari tour. Visitors can also walk along the impressive Kidepo River Valley between banks of attractive borassus palm forest while Namamkweny Valley can be reached in one hour from Apoka. Community walks to meet the karamajong outside the park are also interesting.

Within the park.

Apoka Safari lodge.

Apoka Safari Lodge is among the very best safari lodges within Uganda. It is a luxury setting in the remote wilderness of Kidepo located on a picturesque kopje overseeing the Narus River valley the epicenter of the park’s game viewing. It comprises of ten separate cottages, each self-contained and including indoor showers and outdoor bathtubs, as well as a veranda for relaxing and enjoying the view. These cottages are also ideal for honeymooners on Uganda tour. The lodge has a rock swimming pool making it unique. Restaurant and bar are also available.

Activities at the Lodge.

  • Picnics and private dinners
  • Community tours to the local community
  • Game drive
  • Night game drive
  • Walking safari
  • Bird watching
  • Visits to the local village
  • Karamajong dance performance

Apoka Rest Camp

This is a budget facility with sixteen self-contained chalets and a hostel consisting of fourteen Bandas each having 2 beds; the Bandas are actually not self-contained. The facility has a camping ground where the visitors can coordinate their camping arrangements thus carrying own tent and other camping gear is advisable. Guests are recommended to carry enough food as well as drinks to last them throughout their stay within the park. Cooking may be arranged with the camp staff.

Kakine Self-catering Campsite.

It’s located over a small distance from Apoka. This campsite is a budget facility has firewood and clean drinking water. It offers self-catering services.

Outside the park.

Nga Moru Wilderness Camp.

Nga’Moru is positioned on a hill, and this camp offers wonderful sights of the remarkable Narus Valley as well as the savannah plains stretching up to the soaring Morungole Mountains. It has two self-contained cabanas. And each cabana can house up to four single beds. Three safari tents with a thatched roof are available to provide a cozy relaxing atmosphere with the capacity of two occupants. The tents are self-contained with basic units.

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