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 Valley 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 of 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 waterbuck, Elands, Orbis, Reedbucks, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush duikers, bush bucks and Topis among others. The extraordinary bird species within this Park include the Karamojong Apalis and the raptors among others. The following are the interesting activities conducted within Kidepo Valley National Park
ACTIVITIES IN AND OUT OF THE PARK
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 francolin, 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.
This remote National 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
Karamojong village walks
There are several Karamojong settlements that surround Kidepo Valley National Park. The Karamojong 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 Karamojong 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 subsistence 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 Karamojong 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 exceptionality and the tribe sent the First Representative in Parliament (in the 10th parliament).