KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Kidepo Valley National Park Africa’s finest tourist destination with a lot of authenticity about African wildness. Kidepo was named from dokolo verb ‘akidep’ meaning to “pick up.” Located in northeastern Uganda bordering South Sudan and Kenya in the Karamoja sub-region. The park is relatively raised at an altitude of 914mm to 2,750mm above sea level.
It’s Uganda’s third largest national park with an area coverage of 1442 sq/km. The Karamajongs are the people of the region who only dance to the beat of their own drums. Kidepo National Park was established in 1958 as a game reserve and become a national park in 1962.
It’s made of two valley systems of Narus River Valley and the Kidepo Valley. The Narus Valley system hosts highest concentration of wildlife due to permanent water of the Narusi swamp. And the Kidepo valley section which extends in the north kanangorok hot springs is the permanent water source neighboring south Sudan.
The Kidepo Valley National Park is considered to be the remotest park. It’s hard to reach by road and this has scared many travelers to explore this exotic natural wonder. The people of the land, widest open savannah landscape, rough mountains that are often lost in rain clouds explain the perfect side of the park.
Apoka is the heart of the park where the glamorous savannah landscape extends far beyond the park limits. By 1960 giraffes dominated the sight which is not the case today where Buffalos, zebras, warthogs and several antelope species dominate the catch.
Safari booking in 2019 ranked Kidepo valley national park 11th among the 50 best African national parks. In 2021, Kidepo feature on the list of best African national park by World Travel Awards.
Kidepo Valley National Park shelters a certain number of wild species among which include giraffes, herds of bushbuck, Uganda kobs, oribe, zebras, warthogs, water bucks bush buck, Kudus, fox, hyena, aardwolf, Jackals, Jackson heart beast, eland, dik dik, ostrich, cheater, civet, hunting dog and very many great encounters.
Accessing Kidepo Valley National Park
The park can accessed or exited with two routes of Kampala, Soroti/Moroto route. This route can be used in two ways considering Kampala-Kapichorwa-Nakapiririti-Moroto-Kotido-Kidepo. Or the Kampala-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kidepo, this has become the cheaper with a paved road up to Moroto. The second route is Kampala-Gulu-Kitgum-Kabong-Kidepo the shortest route. It’s advisable to consider en-routes when driving to Kidepo and avoid a long one day drive from Kampala to Kidepo.
Adventure activities Kidepo valley national park?
Wildlife game drive
Wildlife game drive is mainly done at Narus Valley known for higher concentration of wildlife. High wildlife chances to watch some of the big five games of elephants, buffalos, lions and leopards. Lions sometimes are sighted lazing in rocky outcrops and sometimes these pride of predators are seen relishing their prey.
There larger herds of antelope species including Jackson’s heartbeasts, bushbucks, oribi, Uganda kobs among other, several zebras and giraffes, warthogs, wild dogs, among many other wild encounters can be spotted along your game drive.
The game drive can extend to kidepo valley in the north of the park along the Kanangorok hot spring, watching ostrich and many other sights. Also with own safari vehicle a night game drive can be done at an extra cost of USD $40, the night game drive can present predators actively hunting.
Nature guided walks to surrounding communities brings closer to nature. Nature walks are only abled with armed park rangers due to the presence of predators. Then its best option to watch several bird species, wildlife and can led to communities for cultural experiences.
This is a full day undertaking leading to the rare Ik people, reaching to their communities one has to climb mountains like mountain Morungole reaching the Ik people who surface at the peak of the mountain. The hiking activity really will need a certain level of fitness has have to walk for over 12km to and from where you vehicle can’t continue any far.
Kidepo valley national park is another well-endowed with about 500 bird species. Then the park bargain for spectacular birding adventures to bird enthusiasts this is mainly done at Narus swamp. Bird to encounter at Kidepo valley national park include; Carmine, secretary bird, ostrich especially in the Kidepo valley, Kori bustard, Abyssinian ground hornbill, yellow billed hornbill, Karamoja apalis, black breasted barbet, silver shrike, Nubian woodpecker, Vivacious bird, Hoopoe, scarlet chested sun bird, white bellied go away bird, singing bush lark and little Weaver and the list continues.
Kidepo is located in the Karamoja sub-region, meaning the land of the nomadic Karamajong people. These are among Uganda’s indigenous people, however, for years faced the challenge of being among the marginalized group. These were worrier who depended their levies on rooting cattle, and claimed to own all the long horned cattle in Uganda. The claim at a time makes the region insecure to travel to. However campaign to disarm these people initiated harmony enabling daily activities.
Now there are organized communities which are available for visiting around the park. This is done by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) organizing cultural tours to surrounding communities. Cultural tours at Kidepo can extend to the northern part of Kidepo to find the special IK group of people. The IK people these are the smallest tribe in Uganda who speak Spanish like language and have continued to style in their own beats staying behind the scene of modern civilization.
Besides being back ward they cringed on their traditional beliefs like rejected the rest of the foreign religions in Uganda and insisted on their own Akuj GOD whom they believe gives them all the cattle they own. Visiting communities around Kidepo valley national park like Lurukul cultural community around the park participate in the cultural entertaining undertakings, reach inside their almost empty houses, and also learn their culture through the narrations told at the scene.
Kara Tunga in moroto organizes in-depth cultural tours to the Karamoja communities. With the company organizes culinary tours tasting various foods and beers of the region. As well camping is possible with Karatunga into the community manyattas.
Is a special adventure to take in the midst of the wider open savannah just far away from other people, wildness camping within the park is accompanied by an armed ranger guide and select a cool place to make your camping for an overnight. Always expecting to hear the ever closest lion roars throughout the night.
Wildness camping is done with own camping gears, or even can hire a camper van, endeavor to go with an armed ranger guide from the UWA, the will have ever the best wildness camping in the midst of angry predators.