Kidepo Valley national park is Uganda’s most isolated national park in the distant north East corner close to Kenya and South Sudan in the sparsely populated Karamoja Region. Ranked as one of the best safari parks in Africa for its magnificent wilderness, large buffalo herds, and breathtaking scenery, the landscapes of the area and grasslands are roamed by big game as they extend towards the rugged mountains in all points of compass.
The pristine ecosystems, intact with local cultures and the chance to see wildlife that survive in Kidepo’s harsh semi-arid environment makes this park a must see destination for an explorer. Steep Volcanic mountains ring the park, presided over by Mount Murongule at 2750metres, the ocean of grass is nearly 2000m below and is contained by a shoreline of these mountains.
Both culturally and ecologically it is a place apart from the rest of Uganda. The Karamajong and the Ik people have maintained many aspects of their Unique life style for centuries despite the outside pressure. Meeting these people and experience their culture will bring your safari experience to life.
The grassland habitats in the 1442km2 park support 86 mammals, 475 bird species and some of the Somali-Masai Biome. The park is Uganda’s only refugee for cheetahs, bat eared fox, stripped hyena and caracal. Elands and zebras occur only in Kidepo and L. Mburo national parks though some have been trans located to game reserves. Elephants, Rothschild’s giraffes, buffaloes, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, black backed and side stripped jackals also wonder in these plains.
Game drives in Kidepo are done in the Kidepo Valley and Narus Valley. The southerly Narus Valley contains the parks only permanent water points and wildlife concentrates in this area for much of the year. Look out for buffaloes and elephants in the swamps along the valley floor, giraffe, elands on the drier slopes and scan on the rocks for lions and leopards.
The Kidepo Valley is dry and short on big gem but has beautiful and massive landscapes and scenery. About 30km north of Apoka, the hub for the park is the road crossed dry bed of Kidepo River to enter into an expansive plain lined to the east by Mt. Morungole and Jebel Lotuke in South Sudan. Mammals are rare but Ostriches and Secretary birds roam the plains.
Take short guided walks around Apoka Rest Camp through the open grasslands of East Kakine and hike along part or all the 15km Rionomoe Trail which follows the Southern side of the Narus Valley. The Morungole range which rises from the plains to the north east of Apoka and can be explored on foot with a ranger or guide escort.
The park has over 475 bird species surpassed by on Queen Elizabeth National park. The park has 58 species of Raptors and 14 are unique to the park. The birding activity is great year round but you will have a wider variety of migratory species if you come in March and April. The experienced local bird guides and site guides will take you through the birdlife which includes Egyptian Vulture, Secretary bird, Pygmy Falcon, Karamoja Apalis, Clapperton’s Francolin, Common ostrich, Kori Bustard, Red and Yellow Barbet among others
Community Walks outside the park provide an opportunity to the get the insight about the life in the Local Karimojong manyattas (Homesteads) at Kawalakol, Lorukul, and Karenga. A hike of Mt. Morungole takes you the Ik communities who are one of the oldest tribes that survive in Uganda.
While on a trip to Kidepo, expect an exciting adventure with various road conditions. The quickest and most popular route is Via Gulu and Kitgum (571km). Or the eastern route via Jinja Mbale, Sipi falls, Pian Upe wildlife reserve then to Kidepo (661kms)
Charter flights and scheduled flights fly to Kidepo air strip from Kajjansi or Entebbe International airport