Kidepo National Park, Uganda Wildlife safari tour in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is positioned in the north western part of Uganda in Kaboong district 220km north West of Moroto the biggest town in the sub region and 700 km from Kampala – the Uganda’s capital city. Kidepo National Park was established in 1962 and it covers 1,442km2 of land surface providing habitat to 77 mammal species along with 475 bird species which makes the second in ranking after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interestingly to note is that 60 of these bird species are endemic to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. Besides Birds, Kidepo also contain 5 primate species including the including the localized patas monkeys; 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as the aardwolf, bat eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal and cheetah. Kidepo National Park has 12 species of Antelope which include the Kidepo endemics namely; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other wildlife also exist in the park including; elephant, lions, buffaloes, lions, bush duiker, leopard among other wildlife. Formerly, the area where Kidepo National Park belonged to Dodoth pastoralists and indigenous Karimojong who practiced cultivation before the establishment of wildlife reserve in 1958 to ensure the protection of wild animals from poaching. The park is the most remote of all Uganda National Parks which has enabled it to remain with its virgin wilderness for a long time making the Uganda safari undertakers who persevere the distance to Kidepo to enjoy the amazing unexplored landscapes that bring out the real taste of African wilderness marked by a range of wild game, birds and impressive scenery. The area has semi-arid climatic conditions and during periods of droughts, water is only confined to small oases along Narus valley forming the ground for great wildlife concentrations in the Narus valley. Kidepo National Park is positioned on the altitude range between 914m and 2,750m above sea level and Mount Morungole (2,750m) is the highest point in the south west of Kidepo. The series of rugged mountain ranges are intercepted in the north east by Kidepo valley and in the south east by the Narus valley. The most of parks vegetation is lightly wooden savannah with patches of montane forest, dense miombo woodland, riparian woodland, rocky koppies and borassus palms.
Attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park
Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo National Park contain various wildlife species that thrive in their natural wilderness that is less explored including; 5 primate species which include the local patas monkey, 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, cheetah, caracal and aardwolf. Other wildlife species include; lions, spotted hyena, leopard, side-stripped jackal, small cats, mustelids, genets and mongooses; 12 species of antelope including the Kidepo endemics such as greater and lesser kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other species of antelope include; Eland, Jackson hartebeest, common duiker, klipspringer, bushbuck, defassa waterbuck and bohor reedbuck. The Kidepo range lands support counts of giraffe, elephants, bush pig, Burchell’s Zebra and warthog.
Birds in Kidepo Valley National Park
Holding the wild game aside, Kidepo National Park also contains a range of birds that offer great birding opportunities. Kidepo contains 463 bird species with 26 species that are not yet confirmed which makes it second in ranking to Queen Elizabeth National Park on Ugandan standards. 60 of these recorded species are restricted to Kidepo National Park and exist nowhere else in Uganda. Kidepo has 56 raptor species which include the dark chanting goshawk, pygmy falcon, tawny eagle, bataleur, secretary birds and various vulture species. Bird species restricted to Kidepo on Ugandan range include; fox and white-eyed kestrels, ostrich, kori bustard, white bellied go-away bird, carmine, Abyssinian scimitarbill, little green and red throated bee-eaters, Abyssinian roller, d’Arnauds, black-breasted barbets, red-billed, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills, Karamoja apalis, golden pipit, rafous chatterer, northern brownbul, chestnut weaver, purple grenadier red-billed and white-headed buffalo weavers among other species.
Scenery in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo National Park has impressive scenic views presented by series of dry mountain ranges intercepted by two notable valleys. The Narus valley is an extensive flat landscape marked by rolling savannah combretum with water points that act as drinking points for a range of wild game. The Kanangorok hot springs are positioned at the base of Kidepo valley at a close range to the south Sudan boarder. The Morungole Mountains standing at 2,750m above sea level making it the highest point in the park along with the Lomej hills make an extended mountain landscape that in turn offer impressive scenic views to Uganda safari undertakers.
Local people in Kidepo Valley National Park
The Morungole highlands act as a home to the indigenous Karimojong who have thrived ithe region of Karamoja for centuries past. The pastoralist Karimojong also thrive in the adjacent areas living their nomadic lifestyle something that they have done for centuries past. Living in a remote area, these two groups have been shielded from the forces of globalization and their traditions are still alive and authentic which makes it interesting to encounter while on safari in Uganda.
Tourist activities in Kidepo Valley National Park
Game drive in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo National Park is atypical African wilderness area that offers impressive game viewing opportunities. The game drives exposes you to lions which has been referred to as King of the Jungle taking a rest on the rocky out crops or wondering in savannah plains in search of daily meal. The ideal game viewing is normally done along the Narus valley where counts of wild game gather around the water points including; buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, Burchells zebra, antelopes like waterbuck, elands, greater and lesser kudu among others. The concentration of grazers pull the predators like lions, spotted hyena, side stripped jackal among others in to the area so as to easily get what to consume. The game drive activity is ideally done in morning at 6am and 4:30 pm in the evening local time and it tends to last for 3 – 4 hours. The drive takes you to Kanangorok hot springs overlooking the south Sudan boarder and chances to see ostrich while the stretch to the south west offers impressive views of Mount Mourungole. The wild game is better encountered towards the middle and the end of dry seasons that is from November to February as they congregate around the water points across the Narus Valley. In the wet season that is April to August wildlife tend to disperse from valleys to raised landscapes posing difficulty in wildlife viewing.
Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo National Park has 463 species of birds of which 60 are endemic to Kidepo on the range of Uganda. It is ranked the second after Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Birding is done across the Narus and Namamukweny valleys where birders on Uganda safari have chances of spotting purple heron, Abyssinian Roller, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapper ton’s Francolin among other birds. The birding encounter is possible all year round in Kidepo though March and April offer higher chances for viewing migratory birds. The birding activity tends to commence at Apoka rest camp in the morning and evening.
Nature walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
The different landscapes of Kidepo National Park form an ideal platform for nature walks. The walk to the Lomej hills takes approximately 4 hours and commences at 7am. The short guided walks are conducted along the Narus valley taking 2 hours and stretch for 5km. The nature walks along the Kidepo valley offer impressive views of beautiful borassus palm forest while one hour walk across the Namamukweny valley are also arranged starting from the Apoka center.
Community encounters in Kidepo Valley National Park
The community encounters involves visiting the indigenous Karimojong community that thrives in the Morungole Mountain so as to explore their traditions and how they have modeled their lifestyle to suit the environment which they have lived in for years and years. The encounter also takes you through the pastoralist Karimojong whose life is centered on their occupation of cattle rearing. Their impressive Manyattas, music dance and drama and traditional handicrafts can be explored.
Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952 and it is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the north west of Uganda at the tip of the western rift valley also known as the Albertine rift, Murchison Falls National Park is in a distance of 311km about 5 hours’ surface drive from the city of Kampala. The national Park covers a surface landscape of 3,440km2 while the wider Murchison Conservation Area which embeds Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves combine to cover 5,308km2. . The Murchison Falls National Park is closer to Masindi town 85km about 2- 3 hours’ of surface drive. The Park is bisected by the River Nile which is the longest river in the world as it makes its way from Lake Victoria to Mediterranean Sea leaving a natural wonder famously known as Murchison falls which is the most powerful waterfall in the whole world. The feature derives its nomenclature after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of the Royal geographical society at the time of its discovery by Sir Samuel Baker. This feature is among the hotspots in Murchison National Park thus should not be missed while on safari in Uganda as it squeezes its self to make the way through an 8m ravine before plummeting 43m Read More About Murchison Falls Park
First established as Kazinga National Park in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated in the west of Uganda nearing the Rwenzori Mountains with snowcapped peaks towering at 5,109m above sea level. The National Park of Queen Elizabeth covers a cross section of the western rift valley floor stretching for1, 978km2 land coverage. Queen Elizabeth National Park is currently the most visited park in Uganda and is listed as a world biosphere reserve. It has rich biodiversity concentration with 95 species of mammals, 600 species of birds which makes it the first in Uganda regarding the bird populations, ten (10) species of primate and 20 predator species. Queen Elizabeth is also a habitat for the tree climbing lions dwelling in its sector of Ishasha, the famous Kazinga channel stretching to 45km long connecting Lake Edward and Lake George, the amazing Kyambura gorge with counts of Chimpanzees not forgetting the range of explosion craters some of which are salty lakes while others contain sulphur. This conglomerate to make Queen Elizabeth National Park an ideal destination that can be encountered while on safari in Uganda. Read More About Queen Elizabeth Park
Located in the south west of Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park stretches for 321km2 at an altitude of 1,160 – 2,607 m above sea level. The area is among the East African areas with largest tract of Afromontane forest which existed since the pre historic era and endured through the last ice age forming the ground for great biodiversity concentration with highest number of trees in relation to other areas of its altitude stature. The park has enormous numbers of butterfly species some of which are endemic to the park and it is also holding great concentrations of mammal numbers. Containing about 400 out of 880 mountain gorillas that apparently thrive in the wilderness with none existing in captivity, the impenetrable forest of Bwindi holds the mantle as a great gorilla trekking safari destination. Surrounded by high population density with great agricultural attachment, it’s very interesting that Bwindi still has great biodiversity concentration including; 163 species of trees, 104 species of fern alongside other taxa. 16 species of trees are restricted to the Uganda’s south western region including Lavoa swynnertonii which is globally threatened. Read More About Bwindi Impenetrable Park
Gazetted in 1991, the park covers an area of 33.7 Sq.km making it Uganda’s smallest national park. It is a second refigium of the endangered mountain gorillas after Bwindi. It is also known for its golden monkey. The park has a strong cultural attachment to the pygmy community that inhabits the area. It has three conical features of extinct volcanoes which is part of the spectacular Virunga area. It shares boundaries with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is located about 15 kilometers, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometers, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The entire park is located in Bufumbira County, Kisoro District the extreme south western corner of Uganda thus among the secluded destinations that a traveler can visit while on Uganda Safari. Read More About Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Kibale National Park is found in Western Uganda sharing the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, approximately 320 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Fort Portal in Kabarole District is the nearest large city to the national park. It covers an area of about 795Sq.km and it one of the last surviving tropical forests in Uganda with over 351 tree species some of which are 200 years old and over 55m tall, 70 mammal species, 13 primate species including chimpanzee and over 375 species of birds. The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park creating a 180 km wildlife corridor. It is a significant eco-tourism and safari destination, well known for its populace of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It also acts as the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS). The park is surrounded by two major tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga who rely on the park for food, fuel, and other resources with the assistance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Read More About Kibale Forest Park
Traditionally, two brothers settled on the land that the park currently occupies. These were Mburo and Kigarama. One night, Kigarama dreamt of an area flooding and cautioned his intimate brother to relocate from the area. His brother (Mburo) disregarded the dream and refused to relocate to the adjacent hills like what Kigarama had done. Unfortunately, the dream came true and Mburo was drowned by mass floods the filled the valley to form the lake that was later named Lake Mburo while the adjacent hill was named Kigarama in reference to these two brothers. Before the gazettion of Lake Mburo as National park, the place acted as royal grazing area for king of Ankole vis-à-vis other Bahima pastoralists who refer the area to “Nshara – ensinungyi erikwera”. Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda. The park is situated about 30 kilometers, by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. At 260 square kilometers, the park is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more Read More About Lake Mburo National Park
The fabled mountains of the moon as described by Ptolemy in 150AD present the most exciting treasure that a visitor on a Uganda Safari would live to remember in his journey memoir. Gazetted as a national park in 1991 covering an area of about 996 Sq.km, received a designation status by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its outstanding natural beauty with Margarita peak standing over 5,109m above sea level and without forgetting its coverage by snow throughout the year despite its closeness to the world latitude (Equator) makes it an attraction worth of encountering. Being a mountain range, it was once described as one of the challenging mountains to climb in the Africa travel magazine. The glaciers like Nyamwamba add spice to its scenic view and the park status assures the wild life of their safety making it their closest habitat. The park shelters 70 mammal species, 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation that differ in its five zones including; montane forest zone, bamboo forest zone, tree heath vegetation zone and Afro-alpine moorland zone. Read More About Rwenzori National Park
Kidepo National Park is positioned in the north western part of Uganda in Kaboong district 220km north West of Moroto the biggest town in the sub region and 700 km from Kampala – the Uganda’s capital city. Kidepo National Park was established in 1962 and it covers 1,442km2 of land surface providing habitat to 77 mammal species along with 475 bird species which makes the second in ranking after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interestingly to note is that 60 of these bird species are endemic to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. Besides Birds, Kidepo also contain 5 primate species including the including the localized patas monkeys; 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as the aardwolf, bat eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal and cheetah. Kidepo National Park has 12 species of Antelope which include the Kidepo endemics namely; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other wildlife also exist in the park including; elephant, lions, buffaloes, lions, bush duiker, leopard among other wildlife. Formerly, the area where Kidepo National Park belonged to Dodoth pastoralists and indigenous Karimojong who practiced cultivation before the establishment of wildlife reserve in 1958 to ensure the protection of wild animals from poaching. The park is the most remote of all Uganda National Parks which Read More About Kidepo Valley Park
The park covers an area of over 1,121 Sq.km with the fourth tall mountain in East Africa which was the once the highest mountain in Africa far from Kilimanjaro but only to be reduced to 4,321m due to denudation forces. With the last eruption occurring 24 Million years ago, Mt. Elgon can be considered oldest and largest solitary volcano not only in Uganda but East Africa in general. It houses one of the world’s intact largest caldera stretching to over 42Sq.km supported by 4,000 Sq. km base which is the largest volcanic base in the whole world.It was first gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1929 and in 1940 the area became the Mt. Elgon Crown Forest while in 1951 it became a Central Forest Reserve. Due to encroachment by the Benet-Ndorobo people, the government alloweda 6000 hectare portion of the Reserve for settlement in 1983 though more 1500 hectares were settled illegally and in 1993 the area received a national park status thus can currently be incorporated in your itinerary while planning your Safari to Uganda. Read More About Mount Elgon Park
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park can be connected to from the following originating areas;
The roads to Kidepo are in bad state especially in rainy seasons which requires 4×4 wheel drive in good mechanical conditions.
Kidepo can also be accessed by Air. Scheduled flights are operated by aero link to Kidepo from Entebbe International Airport. Other charter carriers offer the Air transfer on demand for either Entebbe or Kjjansi to Kidepo.