Kidepo Valley National Park is one of East Africa’s last great wildernesses, covering 1,442sqkm. It was gazetted as a national park in 1962. Kidepo Valley national park is located in the northeastern part of Uganda in the Karamoja region, its bordered by Kenya and South Sudan.
The park holds two broad valleys surrounded by volcanic mountains with seasonal rivers in between them, Kidepo that flows only after heavy rain and Narus that receives some rainfall to form pools that provide life to wildlife during the dry season. This makes the park`s tourism activities to be done at Apoka near the Narus valley. Kidepo Valley National Park`s open tree Savannah vegetation covers the plains and hills that harbor various wildlife like the hyena, giraffe, cheetah, leopards, birds for example Karamoja Apallis, Black-breasted barbet among others. The area around the park is a home for the Karamojong, they have an interesting tradition and lifestyle any visitor should not miss. Their special homesteads (manyattas), traditional practices like dancing, marriage, ceremonies etc., and togetherness make you want to be part of this brotherhood.
HOW TO ACCESS KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Kidepo Valley National Park can be accessed by either road or air transport.
By Road, various routes can be used to reach the park, each route has unique features that are good for sighting on travel. The quickest route to the park from Kampala is via Gulu and Kitgum, which is a 12-hour drive, the other routes are via Soroti and Mbale and Moroto and Mbale.
By air, the park can be reached from central using aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airfield.
The Kidepo Valley national park is covered by savanna grassland, grey-haired acacia (Acacia gerrardii), short trees, shrubs and grasses. The park is rich in different species with a total of over 86 mammals of which 28 are not in any other park, 470 birds, 52 raptors and 700 plant species, making it relatively biodiverse. Some of these unique species of the Kidepo, include bat-eared fox, lion, leopard, striped hyena, cheetah, side-stripped and black-backed jackal, caracal, and buffalo, Nile crocodiles and elephants mainly along the Narus Valley. The park also inhabits unique and various birds like Karamoja Apallis, Black-breasted barbet, rose ringed parakeet, Clapperton’s francolin, silverbird, ostrich, yellow-necked spurfowl, kori bustard, red-throated bee-eaters, among others.
Kidepo Valley National park has a semi-arid climate with just one long dry season (October –March) and a long wet season (April-September). The valley of the Narus river in the south of the park receives more rain than the Kidepo valley in the North
ACTIVITIES TO DO ON KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK SAFARI IN UGANDA
Kidepo Valley National Park is well known for the rarest unique birds in Africa and has various birding spots that bring out the beauty and pleasure of over 470 bird species to bird viewers and researchers. The Apoka Rest Camp, park headquarters and the Narus valley are the best spots for bird watching in Park, they have various species that are eye-catching and interesting to watch like Pygmy falcon, Karamoja apillis, Jackson hornbill, Red-throated bee-eater, Abyssinian roller, Chestnut weaver, Fox kestrel, Rufous chatterer, Northern carmine bee-eater, Ostrich, Kori, Abyssinian ground among others. This can be done with experienced rangers available at the parks headquarter. The best time for bird watching is good all-round the year.
Kidepo valley national park offers the opportunity to explorer the wild on foot, these are offered by the open grasslands of East Kakine, the sides of the Narus valley and around Apoka Rest Camp. During the walking various wildlife like animals for example buffalos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, butterflies, plants and birds like Little weaver, Nubian woodpecker, Silverbird etc. are quietly and closely observed.
Kidepo Valley National Park is known for game driving due to a variety of wild animals, it has two valley drives that is; The Narus Valley with broad grasslands with distant views of hills, this valley is also blessed with a river which gives life to most of the parks wildlife mostly animals like buffalos, elephants, giraffes, waterbucks among others; and the Kidepo Valley which has a seasonal river, but it’s almost dry throughout the year. The white sand residue of the dried river looks thrilling on the drive as you viewing different wildlife mostly birds like ostriches, secretary birds among others moving in the dry sand. The Kanangorok hot Springs, beyond the river on the South Sudan border, are also a must watch in the valley. The game drives are divided into two shifts, the daytime shift done in the morning and the nighttime shift done during the night. A ranger should lead the drive.
ACCOMMODATION IN KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
There are so many accommodation facilities located within the Kidepo Valley National park ranging from the budget facilities to the midrange facilities to the most luxury facilities. These facilities offer different types of accommodation including lodges, modern bandas, luxury tents, and Apoka Rest camp operated by the UWA.