The 1,442 square kilometres Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged semi-arid karamoja province valleys. It is one of Uganda’s prime most remote but spectacular national parks that harbors scenery unsurpassed in any other park in East Africa. Many tourists that visit this park comment on the scenery and often promise and do come back to re-visit Kidepo, for according to them this tour cant not be any better any where.
As a mysterious Uganda safari tour destination, squeezed into the corner of Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo National Park offers breathtaking savannah landscapes, that end into a rugged horizon.It has a wide latitudinal range, that gives off a wide range of climatic conditions that have evolved an extremely diverse vegetation.In effect this has enabled the growth of a variety of animal species in the park that are equally abundant including many not found anywhere else in Uganda.
Kidepo Valley National Park is uganda birding safari paradise for birders.It boasts of a bird list of over 475 species, and ranks second to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Amongst the list of dry, eastern ” specials” not found in any other Ugandan national park are some of East Africa’s rarest and most sought after birds, such as Karamoja Apallis and the Black-breasted Barbet .
Kidepo`s vegetation is an open tree Savannah grass land which varies much in structure and com-position. Its is dominated by Mountain forests some of the high places, while areas along Lorupei River are densely covered by acacia forest. The vegetation and game of this park are more typical of Kenya than the rest of Uganda. Throughout the Park, the landscape is studded with small hills, rocky outcrops and inselbergs a combination that makes Kidepo a unique prime tourist destination.
KEY FACTS ABOUT KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK
Location: Karamoja Province
Size: 1442 km 2 .
Elevation: 914m on Kidepo valley floor to 2749m a top Mount Morungole
Habitat: Semi-desert scrub, open thorn-scrub, open thorn-bush, long and short-grass open tree savannas, riparian woodland including Borassus and Kigelia woodland, thick, “miombo- like” wood-land, montane forest and granite out-crops..
Status: Has been a National Park since 1954
Birds recorded: 475 species.
Timing March-April for all the specials and many transit migrants, although good year – round.
Time required: 4-7 days
Kidepo National Park has proven a life time memory to great birders, internationally due to her endless list of unique birds she has to offer. At Apoka Rest Camp and park headquarters overlooking the shallow, southern Narus Valley offers a good spot for your Kidepo birding tour. The Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike are among the attractive species that frequent the thorny trees around the camp. At the edge of the camp exists a small permanent water hole, that attracts swallows and a variety of seed eaters among which is the Yellow-rumped Seedeater.This spot is always visited at night by the Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephants, Buffaloes and occasionally the Lion.
Along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to the camp, along the track to Amok lodge in the rank grass,, duel the African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbillood and on a good may be seen.
Key Species of Birds
Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Mosque Swallow, Nubian Woodpecker, Pygmy Falcon, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu.White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Eastern Pale Chanting Go-shawk, Green-winged, Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Kori, Ethiopian Swallow, Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin’s Whea-ters, Fox Kestrel, Singing Bush lark, Stone Partridge, Clapperton’s and Heuglin’s Francolins, Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Abyssinian Ground, Four-banded Sand Grouse, OstrichRed-winged Lark, African Grey Flycatcher, White-faced Scoops Owl, Slate-coloured Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, , Little Green Bee-eater, Eastern Yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Karamoja Apalis, White-bellied Tit ,Brown-backed Woodpecker, Superb Starling, Red billed Oxpecker, Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas, , Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes Eastern Violet backed, Brown-rumped Bunting ,Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers, Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbill, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Steel-blue and Strawtailed Whydahs, White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers,
Kidepo National Park has a great diversity of animal species than other parks. In 1971, 80 species of mammals were listed 28 of which were not known to occur in any other Ugandan park. Among the Carnivore species unique to Kidepo and only Karamoja region include the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and hunting dog. Kidepo suffered the with poarchers during the Amin era and is still recovering from years of poaching that left some game herds depleted. Striped Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant’s Gazelle and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and are presumed to be locally extinct. Elephant, burchell’s zebra, bush pig, warthog, rothschild giraffe, cape buffalo, eland, bush buck, bush duskier, defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, jackson’s hartbeest and oribi are some of the other large game herds as well as: lion, common zebra, leopard, Buffalo,several small cats,Kangoni, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal and side-striped jackal-commonly seen. Five species of primate are found in the park- the Kavirondo bush baby being en-demic. Oribis is abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther’s Dik Dik. Senegal Galago may be found in the rest camp at night and the common White-tailed Mongoose but are more likely to be found on a night drive. Kidepo also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna.
You have high chances of viewing tree climbing lions that always sits on the rock just as you enter the Apoka Park Headquarter or sit on sauces trees along Narus valley.
WHAT TO DO:
The park harbors a great diversity of animal species than other parks. Of the 80 species of mammals listed in 1971, 28 were not known to occur in any other Ugandan park. Among the Carnivore species unique to Kidepo and only Karamoja region include the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and hunting dog. Kidepo suffered the with poachers during the Amin era, and is still recovering from years of poaching that left some game herds depleted. Striped Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant’s Gazelle and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and are presumed to be locally extinct. Elephant, burchell’s zebra, bush pig, warthog, rothschild giraffe, cape buffalo, eland, bush buck, bush duskier, defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, jackson’s hartbeest and oribi are some of the other large game herds as well as; lion,zebra, leopard, Buffalo,several small cats, Kangoni, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal and side-striped jackal-commonly seen. Five species of primate are found in the park- the Kavirondo bush baby being endemic. Oribis is abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther’s Dik. Senegal Galago may be found in the rest camp at night and the common White-tailed Mongoose but are more likely to be found on a night drive. Kidepo also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna.
You have high chances of viewing tree climbing lions, that always sits on rock just as you enter the Apoka park headquarter or on sauces trees along Narus valley.
Hiking/ Scenery viewing
Hiking is usually carried out a few kilometers from the Park Headquarters on Lamoj Mountains. The magnificent Kidepo river valley dominated by Borassus palm forest, can be viewed by interested visitors. It`s wide flat bed is dry for most of the year.Only 11km from Kidepo Valley lies the Kanangorok hot springs one may visit too.
The mountain and savannah landscape of the park,the Narus valley situated in the south west of the park (the rugged Napore-Nyagia mountain range forms its western boundary) are great attractions in Kidepo. It is separated by the Natira and Lokayot hills from the Kidepo Valley in the north-east. The Lotukei mountains in the south of Sudan mark north and the southern boundary of the park, marked by the Morungole range marks.
A visit to the Kidepo river picnic site located on the sand, plus the sound of palm leaves in constant motion as blown by the wind is a great ingredient to your Kidepo Uganda tour .
The local community has a group of cultural entertainers who on request are always available to perform. The performers have a large menu for you, traditional dances such as the Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, ethnic groups and Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are awaiting for you. The money that this group earns is used for uplifting their welfare.
Your knowledge on African culture can be increased by a visit to the Karimajong homesteads locally called manyattas and probably kraals to see traditional costumes, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows and arrows and jewelry. If interested, one can buy Some of the Karimajong traditional items from the park tourist office. Please note that it’s advisable to make arrangements for the nature walk two days in advance.Booking can be done from the park headquarters in Apoka or from Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala.
If one follows the Soroti-Moroto road you will be enthralled by the view of the steep Alekilek volcano about midway Moroti 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.
Where to stay
At the park itself, the privately owned Apoka Rest Uganda Safaris Camp overlooking the Narus Valley has 16 self-contained chalets / rooms for $ 75 per person per night with full board. There is also a hostel comprising of 14 bandas each with two beds; these bandas are not self contained at $22 per person per night. Apoka Lodge and the bandas are managed by the park authorities, and reservations are made through Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters in Kampala.
If you like camping, the park has two ‘Do it yourself’ campsites, but you must bring your tent and other camping equipment.
There is also Kakine Campsite located a short distance from Apoka and costs $ 5 per person per night. It has fresh drinking water and a long drop toilet and firewood will be brought to you.
Neither the Rest Camp nor hostel stock food, visitors are therefore advised to carry sufficient food and drinks for the duration of their stay in the park. The Rest Camp staff can arrange for the cooking. However other supplementary diet such as chicken and goat meat can be arranged from the nearby community for visitors who intend to stay longer.
There are four alternative routes by road to Kidepo;
From Kampala to Lira, Kotido then Kidepo is a 705 km drive
From Kampala via Mbale to Soroti via Moroto then Kidepo is a 792 km drive
From Kampala via Mbale to Sironko via Kotido then Kideop is a 740 km drive
From Kampala via Soroti to Kotido then Amuria is a 656 km drive
Driving to Kidepo National Park is more rewarding as vast parts of Karamoja are scenic and total wilderness. But road conditions are some times difficult to navigate and 4-wheel drive vehicles (4WD) are recommended. Please note that the road mainly in use from Kotido to Kabong passes via Kanawauat.
If you intend to travel by road please contact Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters to seek advice about conditions and safety on the roads at that time.
By Air :
At Entebbe International Airport to the park headquarters
Chartered air crafts are available. The Civil Aviation Authority manages an airstrip at Lomej about 3 km south of the park headquarters.
When to visit;
Throughout the year