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Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park,  You cannot think of beauty and charm in terms of wildlife safaris without mentioning Kidepo Valley National Park, situated within the remote north-eastern corner of Uganda. This Park is a true definition of Wilderness Park due to its rich biodiversity yet it is the least visited due to its remoteness.

Covering 1442 square kilometers, Kidepo Valley National Park is found within the rugged dry Karamoja area and characterized by vast dry savannah plains as well as Mount Morungole that is undeniably the highest area at 2750 meters above sea level. This Park is drained by two Rivers that include Narus and Kidepo Rivers that provide water to the Park’s wildlife species. The Park was gazetted in 1961 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Park but has never been as popular as other savannah Parks especially Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth.

Attractions

It’s undeniable that Kidepo Valley National Park is literally the most endowed savannah National Park, yet remote but the few people who visit it attest to its beauty and charm. Kidepo Valley National Park occupies the fertile areas of Kidepo and Narus Valley that make the Park one of the most beautiful places to visit in Uganda.

Wildlife

Kidepo Valley National Park is a home to several wildlife species that cannot be found in any other National Park in Uganda. The Kidepo and Narus Rivers are the hot spots and spring of life within the Park with over 85 species of mammals calling the Park home. Look out for the lions on kopjes, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, cheetahs, greater kudu, Uganda Kobs, bat-eared fox, Klipspringer, side-striped jackals, zebras, waterbucks, bushbucks, Topis, Grant’s gazelles and Caracals among others.

Bird species

When you talk of Important Birding Areas in Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park cannot go unmentioned. With over 400 outstanding species of birds, this remote National Park is a birding haven sheltering the Black-breasted barbets, Somali Ostriches, Karamoja Apalis, African grey flycatcher and many others.

Other attractions  include the Narus Valley, Lonyili Mountain, Kanangorok Hot springs, Lomej Hills and Mount Morungole among others.

Tourist activities to do 

Game drives

Game drives in Kidepo Valley National Park are mainly conducted within the Narus Valley, which is considered the oasis and heart of the Park. This is where you will see the Rothschild giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, common elands, Defassa waterbucks and lions. The second most popular game tracks in this Park is the Kidepo valley track that leads visitors through the beautiful Kanangorok hot springs, the beds of River Kidepo and the East of the Park where Mount Morungole and the neighboring South Sudan is visible. This drive introduces visitors to the rare Somali ostriches with few animals.

Birding

Birding offers sights and sounds of the Somali Ostriches (that are not present in other Parks of the country), secretary birds, Egyptian vultures, Karamoja Apalis, Abyssinian ground hornbills, Abyssinian Roller and the Clapperton’s francolin among others. Birding can be conducted in the morning, afternoon and evening with hot spots of the Park being the Apoka Rest camp, Namamukweny and Narus Valley.

Cultural tours

Cultural tours around introduce visitors to the cattle-herding culture of the Karamajong as well as their invigorating dances. A visit to the Mount Morungole will introduce you to the IK People and their interesting beliefs. The Lorokul Cultural Group near the Park takes you through Manyattas visits, tasting delicious Karamajong dishes and participating in cultural dances.

Nature walks/Hiking

Nature walks through the Narus Valley, Namamukweny Valley as well as the beautiful River Kidepo Valley allow tourists to explore the extraordinary borassus palm forest, animals such as the warthogs, Rothschild giraffes, elands, waterbucks, zebras, impalas and Uganda kobs, increase possibilities of encountering the African rock pythons and bird species of the Park. Physically demanding hikes are conducted to Mount Morungole the home to the IK people and Lomej Mountains among other places.

Accommodation Facilities 

Has few accommodation facilities ranging from budget to luxury options that include Apoka Safari Lodge, Adere Safari Lodge, Apoka Rest Camp, Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp, Kakine Self-Catering Campsite and Kidepo Savannah Lodge.

Best Time to visit 

open to tourists from January to December but the perfect time to visit is the dry months of June to September and December to February because during these months, animals converge around oases (including Narus Valley) for water making it wonderful of wildlife viewing.

Roads tend to be muddy during the wet months-March, April, May, October and November, hence making it difficult to access the Park.

How to get to there

Kidepo valley National Park in north-eastern Uganda is 570 to 790 kilometers/10-13 hours’ drive from Kampala depending on the route chosen. The commonest Northern route is the Kampala-Karuma-Gulu-Kitgum-Kidepo Valley National Park lasting 10 hours for 571 kilometers. The commonest eastern route is Kampala-Mbale-Sironko-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo Valley National Park lasting 12 hours for 740 kilometers.

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