Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda
Kidepo Valley National Park famous as the true African wilderness is one of the best Uganda safari destinations. In the Kidepo Valley popular for scenic borassus palm trees, Kidepo Valley National Park is situated within the Karamoja plains far north east of Uganda covering about 1442 square kilometers. The park derives its name from its location within the Kidepo Valley. Apparently one of the most isolated safari parks in Uganda, here is much more to know about Kidepo Valley Park;
Location of Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda
Kidepo Valley Park is located in Kaabong district near Karenga in the north eastern corner of Uganda. The largest town in the region Moroto is 251km to the park on a rough road along Kotido-Moroto Road on about 4-5 hours drive. From Kampala-Uganda’s capital, Kidepo Valley Park is 558km away on a 9-10 hours drive via Kampala-Gulu highway.
Kidepo Valley National Park Background
In 1958, the fate of the now Kidepo Park started when the British colonial government gazetted the area as a game reserve. This was in a bid to protect animals from hunting and further clearing of bush for tsetse fly control. The Ketebo or Mening were the inhabitant farmers and hunters who lived in the area since 1800.In 1962, the government of Uganda under Milton Obote converted the reserve into Kidepo Valley Park with the first chief warden as Ian Ross.
Best time to visit Kidepo Valley Park Uganda
Unlike other parts of Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park has only one wet season which is in the months of April, May, June, July and August. The rest of the months of the year are dry season months. However, December to February can be much drier and therefore more dusty and hotter compared to other months.
The months of September, October, November are therefore most preferably the best months to visit Kidepo.
However, the park is accessible and tourists can safari Uganda at any time of the year. The wet/rainy season however, finds the grassy plains much more thicker and therefore wildlife viewing limited rather than in the dry season when the plains are drier and grass short enough for wildlife viewing.
Being a semi-arid park, the dry season can really be hot and dusty therefore the wet season could be preferred. However, the rain season sees the roads get slippery and can be hard to get to the park. Wildlife too moves to drier areas outside the park therefore can be hard to spot.
The dry season eases Uganda wildlife tours since wildlife viewing is easier as animals collect around waterholes especially on the Narus valley.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda
Kidepo Valley National Park being a popular Uganda tour destination can be accessed both by road and air. Here is how to get to Kidepo Valley National Park by both means;
The largest town in the region Moroto is 251km to the park on a rough road along Kotido-Moroto Road on about 4-5 hours drive.
From Kampala-Uganda’s capital, Kidepo Valley Park is 558km away on a 9-10 hours drive via Kampala-Gulu highway.
The roads to Kidepo Valley Park are fairly tarmacked from Kampala but become rough and dusty as you get closer to the park.
Chartered flights can be arranged from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Kidepo Airstrip. Aerolink Uganda organizes chartered flights on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from Entebbe to Kidepo with flights lasting about 2 h 15min.
Your Route to Kidepo Valley National Park
Safari attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda
Kidepo National Park is a true African wilderness gem with huge abundance of wildlife, bird life and unique cultures. With the 2 valleys of Kidepo and Narus inhabiting different wild species, the park is known to host over 77 mammal species as well as about 475 bird species.
Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
A visit to Kidepo Park on a Uganda wildlife safari would be one wise thing to undertake. Wildlife/animals in the park are diverse and rich in predators like lions, leopards and Bat-eared fox. Other animals in Kidepo include the Black-backed Jackal, Side-striped jackal, large herds of buffaloes, twelve antelope species including the Jackson’s Hartebeest, Oribi, Eland and Klipspringer. Recently about one hundred Ugandan Kobs were relocated to the park from Murchison Falls National Park. A few primate species like the patas monkey can be seen in the park.
Kidepo Valley Park is home to several endemic wildlife species like the cheetah, caracal, aardwolf, greater and lesser kudu, Guenther’s dik-dik and mountain reedbuck.
Birds in Kidepo Valley National Park
Birding in Kidepo Valley with the many birds in the park is a great option for tourists on Uganda birding safasris. The park has an impressive bird list of about 470 bird species which is the second highest total in all of the Uganda tour parks coming after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Birds of Kidepo Valley National Park are mostly endemic to the park with about 50 raptor species in the park. Some of the bird species that can be sighted include the Dark Chanting Goshawk, Abyssinian Roller. Black-breasted Barbet, Chestnut Weaver, Fox Kestrel, Golden Pipit, Greater Kestrel, Karamoja Apalis (Endemic to the park), Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Pygmy Falcon, Rufous Chatterer and many more.
Cultures in Kidepo Valley National Park
The area where Kidepo Valley Park sits is home to unique cultures including the Karamojong and Ik people. The Karamojong are nomadic pastoralists who mainly survive on cattle grazing and partially farming. The traditions of the Karamojong are one of a kind for instance the marriage procedure is one that requires a man to be strong enough and have lots of cattle. The culture of the Karamojong is so welcoming and its portrayed from their way of dressing and construction.
The IK people are one of the smallest tribes in Uganda alongside the Batwa Pygmies of western Uganda. The IK live in Mount Morungole and practice bee keeping and farming.
Safari activities in Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda
Cultural visits in Kidepo Valley National Park
The area where Kidepo Valley Park sits is home to unique cultures including the Karamojong and Ik people. Both tribes being formerly hunter gatherer tribes, they share their traditions with visitors during cultural tours as they dance, act and entertain. With the Karamojong, dance, the higher you just the better dancer you are. The Karamojong make crafts and tourists can purchase them to support the society.
Nature walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
To many tourists on tours to Uganda’s Kidepo valley game drives are the automatic way to view wildlife, however recently a nature walk can be the best option. The Lonyiri nature walk is one of the new safari Uganda activities that offer a real feel of this true African wilderness. The 25km long Lonyiri nature walk takes you to the Napusmur summit taking about eight hours depending on the client ability. On this nature walk, a client rewards are only limited by their imaginations.
Game drives / wildlife viewing in Kidepo
With a lot of animals, wildlife safaris in Uganda’s Kidepo National Park are a real reward to the tourists. Animals that can be seen on either a morning or evening game drive include but are not limited to lions, leopards, Bat-eared fox, Black-backed Jackal, Side-striped jackal, large herds of buffaloes, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Oribi, Eland and Klipspringer, Ugandan Kobs, cheetah, caracal, aardwolf, greater and lesser kudu, Guenther’s dik-dik and mountain reedbuck.
In the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found the broad Narus Valley near Apoka, together with the open savannah terrain this is the ultimate wildlife viewing point.
Birding in Kidepo Valley Park
Having the second highest bird total in all of Uganda safari parks, birding in Kidepo is a treat for any birder. Some of the bird species that can be sighted include the Dark Chanting Goshawk, Abyssinian Roller. Black-breasted Barbet, Chestnut Weaver, Fox Kestrel, Golden Pipit, Greater Kestrel, Karamoja Apalis (Endemic to the park), Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Pygmy Falcon, Rufous Chatterer, Superb Starling and many more.
The Apoka Rest Camp and park headquarters are the best spots to start a birding excursion in the park since the Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around the camp. The best time for birding in Kidepo is between March – April.
Hiking Mount Morungole
Though Kidepo Valley Park is within the Kidepo Valley, its rimmed by mountains including Mount Morungole. A hike to Mount Morungole is one sure way of satiating extreme adventure adrenalin. On about 2,749m above sea level, Mount Morungole offers hikers great views of the plains below. On the top of the Mountain is where tourists meet the IK people. With the high temperatures in the region, if a tourist is planning to hike Mount Morungole, remember to carry lots of water and wear light clothes.
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