Kidepo Valley National Park – The Land Of Cheetahs & Ostriches
Straddling in the jagged semi-arid valleys between Uganda-South Sudan-Kenya border and was established into a National Park in 1962. This remote National Park receives less tourists (when compared to other National Parks) making it a must-visit for tourists who desire genuine and unblemished destinations that offer a true African Wilderness. Kidepo National Park is situated at 700 kilometers/10-13 hours drive from Kampala City hence very tiring to reach. It is advisable to fly-in (which is expensive) or you endure with the long hours to drive to experience what other National Parks nearer and more accessible cannot offer you.
This beautiful National Park boasts spectacular landscapes and large populations of mammals. There are over 77 mammal species and 475 exceptional bird species that call Kidepo Valley National Park home. Animals within this National Park are all in abundance, the prides of lions are exceptional (especially during the dry seasons), and the elephants and buffaloes linger within a closer range. The leopards, cheetahs, Ostriches, Wild dogs, Pangolins, Aardwolf, Caracal, hunting dogs and bat-eared fox are some of the mammal and bird species only found within Kidepo Valley National Park. Other wildlife species within Kidepo Valley National Park include Antelopes such as Defassa waterbucks, Elands, Oribis, Reedbucks, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush duikers, bush bucks and Topis among others. The extraordinary bird species within this Park include the Karamajong Apalis and the raptors among others. The following are the interesting activities conducted within Kidepo Valley National Park.
The park is hidden in a valley in North Eastern Uganda along the border with Sudan. Surrounded by mountains it is considered by many to offer the most stunning scenery of any national park in Uganda.
This savannah remote park is located north-eastern Uganda of Moroto district (Karamoja region).
The 1,436sq km park with mountain landscapes which end in rugged horizon, offers some of the wildest and most chartered flights available from Entebbe International Airport.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
Drive through Soroti-Moroto road and you will be amazed by excellent views over the steep Alekilek volcano about midway Moroto and Soroti. And if you take the Lira-Kotido road, expect to enjoy the scenery of the Labwor hills and in particular the massive and bare Alerek (Kidi Rwot) rock about 55 km to Kotido.
Things to See in Kidepo National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park was founded in 1962 to offer refuge to its diverse wildlife species including over 77 mammal species, 475 bird species most of which can be best explored while you are on safari in Uganda. They include leopards, kudus, buffalo, cheetah, elephants, giraffes, Oryx, bush baby, lions, Uganda Kobs and many others.
Wildlife in the Park
Kidepo valley national park is blessed with a number of wildlife species that include the cape buffaloes, lions, zebras, gazelles, hyenas, cheetahs, crocodiles, wild dogs that usually come from southern Sudan and go back after some time, elephants, jackals, giraffes, hartebeests plus a number of bird species that include barbets, vultures, eagles and many others.
The park is notable for a number of animals that are not found anywhere else in Uganda including Cheetahs, Ostriches and bat-eared foxes.
Five primates have been recorded in the park including the localized Patas monkey. It also has large concentrations of elephants, zebras, bushbucks, buffaloes and a number of 20 predators including Lions, Leopards and hyenas .There’s also a variety of mustelids, genets, mongooses and small cats.
Twelve antelopes are found in Kidepo and they include the greater and lesser kudu, Guenther’s dik- dik, and mountain reedbuck which occur nowhere else in Uganda. Others are Jackson’s Hartebeest, Eland, Bushbuck, common duiker, Klipspringer, Oribi, Defassa waterbuck and Bohor reedbuck. The park also supports populations of elephant, Burchell’s Zebra, Warthog, Bush pig and buffalo. The black rhinoceros recently became extinct in kidepo.It’s also a good bird – watching destination, with a recorded number of 463 birds which includes endemic birds,%6 raptors including the pigmy falcon and Kidepo “specials” which are restricted to the park.
Most of the wild animals in the national park are easily seen in the Narus valley because it’s the only place that usually has water even during the dry season therefore the major herbivores usually keep around this area to feed on fresh grass and the major predators like the lions and hyenas also stay in the valley to hunt what they will have for their meals.
The Morungole Mountain
For all the adventurous tourists interested in hiking, Kidepo valley national park is also a very good tourist destination for mountain hiking, especially around the Morungole mountain. Hiking this mountain provides great views of the surrounding environments and there no need to fear as hikers are usually protected by armed rangers.
The Narus Valley
Being the only place with water even during the dry season, the Narus valley is one-place tourists’ in Kidepo valley national park should not miss visiting. While here, tourists will not miss seeing the major animals in the national park.
Things to Do in Kidepo National Park
Safaris in the Park
The beautiful national park though rarely visited has a wonderful scenic viewing, game viewing, visit to the hot springs, hiking on Morungole Mountain, bird watching, community walks while learning the ancient customs and beliefs of the karimojong people and dancers.
Guided Nature walks
This Park offers the most breathtaking opportunities for nature walks. There is no great experience as exploring the African wilderness on foot and no great destination offers that experience except the Kidepo Valley National Park. Besides doing it within the National Park, nature walks can be done from outside the Park such as hiking to Late Idi Amin’s dream Lodge that he never fulfilled his dream while still the President of Uganda. All nature walks within Kidepo Valley National Park are conducted with the guidance of Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers for security against stray animals, and short nature walks take one hour to Namamukweny Valley-the perfect birding spots in the National Park. Hikes can also lead to Lomej Mountains, by walking gently through the Narus Valley where you will meet the endangered Ik people.
Birding within Kidepo Valley National Park is very worthwhile and guided by the National Park’s numerous habitats which offer both permanent and temporary shelters to more than 475 bird species and you will be able to sight at least 100 of bird species that include 56 recorded species of birds of prey such as the Verreaux’s Eagles, Pygmy Falcon, Ostriches and Egyptian Vultures. Other bird species include Ostriches, Handsome franc0lins, and the world’s largest and heaviest bird of flight-the Kori bustard is also found in Kidepo Valley National Park. Other bird species to look out for include the Purple Heron, Abyssinian Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, the Common Bulbul, buffalo weavers, black-breasted barbets and White-crested Turaco among others. Apoka Rest Camp is also a significant place to start your incredible bird watching experience.
There are well-developed game driving trails that are usually followed by tourists to view the major wildlife species in the national park. Important to note is that remarkable and most rewarding game drives are usually carried out in the Narus valley because of the different wildlife species present there.
The park has well maintained game tracks where tourists can encounter the true African wilderness without the large crowds as it is with other National Parks. Game drives have to be done with UWA Park Ranger in your vehicle because rangers know where to spot the wildlife species of interest such as Lions. Other prominent wildlife species within the Wild Narus Valley that you will spot during game drives include large herds of Buffaloes, Elephants, Giraffes, Burchell’s Zebras, Bush duikers, Leopards, Jackals and Bush pigs among others. Game drives within this Park start at 6:30 am to spot the early risers or late Afternoon at 4:00pm
Karamajong village walks
There are several Karamajong settlements that surround Kidepo Valley National Park. The Karamajong People are generally warriors and considered primitive and backward by the other tribes in Uganda. These people greatly take pride in their Cattle, and treat them as their second god after Akuj their god-who gave them total authority over all the cows which explains why there are continuous cattle raids among the Karamajong and other tribes like the Masai (of Kenya). Karamoja is a semi-arid region where the locals have to move for miles to get water, and these “primitive”-as they are referred have just started embracing substinence farming much as they are generally nomads.
Climbing mount Morungole (to visit the Ik people)
Climbing Mount Morungole to visit the Ik people-one of the native tribes of North-eastern Uganda needs to be done early morning. The Ik people are believed to have occupied the areas within Kidepo Valley long before the Karamajong people even invaded their land. There are currently only 10,000 Ik people and several facts seem strange, funny but true about them. Polygamy is a common practice among members of this tribe and bride price is paid inform of bee hives and goats. Do you believe that the first University student to come from this tribe is currently admitted at Kampala International University (KIU)? She has become a center of attention because of her exception and the tribe sent the First Representative in Parliament (in the 10th parliament).
Best Time To Visit
This national park can be visited at any time of the year however the major wildlife species in the national park can be best viewed during the dry season (between July and August) when most of them gather around the Narus valley.
Where To Stay
The major accommodation facilities in this national park include Apoka safari lodge that offers luxury services, Kidepo safari lodge, and Apoka rest camp for budget tourists.
Kidepo valley national park is located over 600 kilometers from Kampala and getting there by road may take about 10 hours or more. Most tourists who go there by road some times have a stop over for an overnight and proceed to the national park the next day while others use charter planes from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Lomej airstrip taking about 2 hours.
Where to Stay
Are you planning to take a safari to Kidepo Valley National Park, and worried about accommodation? This article will make it easy for you to choose what accommodation facilities to choose from. The following are the accommodation facilities within Kidepo Valley National Park
Apoka Safari Lodge
This Luxury lodging facility is the only L0dge found in the Heart of Kidepo Valley National Park, in the center of the Narus Valley. It is made up of 10 immense Tented rooms with floors made of hardwood and woolen carpet, vast hand-hewn beds with mosquito nets and duvets, en-suite bathrooms, dressing gowns, solar-heated running water in the bathrooms and state of art furniture situated around a captivating rock kopje and each with the most astonishing views across the savannah plains to the ragged mountains in the distance. There are also outdoor bathtubs that are engraved from the rock face to maximize the chance of relishing the breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. Some of the facilities available at the Lodge include a spacious restaurant that serves some of the moist delicious meals, a lounge with a collection of wildlife and fashion books/magazines, a swimming pool for relaxation
The most interesting thing about this Lodge is that it is sometimes visited by the residents of the National Park especially the Buffaloes, Elephants, Giraffes, jackals, giant forest hogs, zebras and several antelopes among others.
For reservations and inquiries, contact them at +256 414 251182, +256 776 707004 and +256 772 489497 or reach them through their website at www.wildplacesafrica.com/apoka-lodge
Apoka Rest Camp
This facility is situated inside Kidepo Valley National Park, at the Narus Valley-perfect for nature walks, sightseeing and game drives with several wildlife such as lions, zebras and buffaloes and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Apoka Rest Camp is comprised of 16 self-contained cottages, which include 14 Bandas self-contained with each having 2 beds and 2 campsites for tourists interested in feeling the real touch of the wilderness. However, tourists are advised to carry their own tents and other camping gear. Visitors to Apoka Rest Camp are advised to carry their own food that will last for all the days within the Park since the Rest Camp only offers accommodation without food or drinks. Nevertheless, the staff of the Camp can organize for cooking with several additional diets like Chicken and goat meat from the nearby communities. There are several toilets outside the cottages and Bandas. Some of the activities to enjoy within Apoka Rest Camp include visit to the local Karamajong homesteads, game drives, guided nature walks and birding among others.
The Rest Camp can be contacted on +256 312 355000, +256 414 355000 or +256 392 899500 for more information and bookings.
Kakaine Self-catering Campsite
This Campsite is also rum by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and provides comfortable campsites without meals; therefore tourists need to carry their own food. For more information, and for bookings, call the management on +256 312 355000 or +256 392 899500.
The Accommodation facilities outside Kidepo Valley National Park include;
Nga’ Moru Wilderness Camp
This mid-range facility is found on a hill at the border of Kidepo Valley National Park and rewards tourists with the mind-blowing views of the Narus Valley-home to a number of wildlife species and the vast savannah plains spanning to the high Morungole Mountains. Nga ‘Moru is locally translated as a “place of rock” and is your place to be for relaxation and sighting of spectacular wildlife species. There are two Cabanas and Safari Tents beneath thatch with a serene atmosphere, and is a fallboard Lodge with delicious meals and comfortable rooms in the true African wilderness of Kidepo Valley National Park.
For bookings and inquiry, call them at +256 772 448844 or +256 754 500555 and +256 785 551911 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or access their website on www.ngamoru.com.
Therefore, if you are planning for wildlife safaris in Kidepo Valley National Park, you can choose from Apoka Safari Lodge for luxury accommodation, Apoka Rest Camp, Kakaine Self-catering Campsite and Nga’ Moru Wilderness Camp to complement your safari and make your stay memorable.