Located in the Karamoja region – North Eastern region of the Pearl of Africa – Uganda, Kidepo Valley national park is one of the most isolated national parks in the country. Kidepo valley national park is one of the virgin places any wildlife viewer would not wish to miss at any time during a Uganda safari.
The park is located at the core of savannah landscape and is neighbored by few mountains, including Mount. Moroto, Kadam and Morungole. Kidepo Valley national park covers an area worth 1,442 square kilometers and lies about 510 kilometers away from the capital city – Kampala.
The park depicts its name from a Dodoth verb “akidep” which means “pickup”. The area was initially inhabited by Dodoth pastoralists and Ik farmers before being declared a game reserve in 1958 with an aim of protecting animals which were being hunted by then.
Kidepo Valley national park was gazzeted in 1962 (a year when Uganda gained her independence) and is currently protected and managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Kidepo Valley National Park has one of the most amazing game drives in Uganda. The drives usually happen in the morning and afternoon hours. The park has some of animal species which cannot be found in any other national park. The game drives introduce you to animals such as lions, buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, warthogs, antelopes, to mention but a few.
Kidepo Valley National Park is one the reliable destination for lovers of birds. It is a home to about 750 species of birds, some of which are rift valley endemics and others are restricted to the area. Some of the birds found in Kidepo valley national park include but not limited to the following; ostrich, secretary bird, African swallow-tailed Kite, Abyssinian ground hornbill, African Grey Flycatcher, Superb Starling, four-banded Sand Grouse, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Violet-tipped Courser Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers.
Visiting Kidepo Valley national park introduces you to spectacular hiking experiences. You get a chance to explore the Lomej hills, Namamukweny valley, Mount. Morungole, etc., and also a chance to test your potential in terms of walking. Some of the trails are challenging in nature but they still provide spectacular experiences.
Inhabiting the mighty Morungole Mountain are the Ik people. The Ik are hospitable people any traveler would not wish to miss. They specialize in fruit gathering and they love honey so much. They have unique traditions such as polygamous marriages and their strong belief in ancestors. Visitors get an opportunity of spending a night harvesting honey with the Ik in the wilderness – a moment turned into memory.
On the other hand, there are the magical Karamojong – lovers of cattle. The Karamojong inhabit the Karamoja region – Manyatta area. Traditionally, the Karamajong lived a nomadic way of life – ever in search for greener pastures. Cattle raiding was one of their major activities since the one with most number of cattle was considered the richest. The government of Uganda disarmed them and they started living settled lives.
Visiting the Karamojong introduces you to their traditional dances, marriages, local food, hand-made tools, to mention but a few.
Kidepo Valley national park is generally semi-arid and its temperatures range from 290C, stretching to 400C in hotter days. The area receives rains once a year, between the months of April and September. The land usually gets bare and sandy during the dry spell and vegetation cover becomes green during the wet season.
Kidepo Valley national park can be accessed from Kampala / Entebbe airport using both road and air transport.
By air, you can board a domestic plane from Kajansi airfield to Kidepo airport or Apoka (Lomej) airstrip. The flight from Kampala to Kidepo Valley national park takes two hours.
By road, you can drive from Kampala to Kidepo Valley national park via Gulu city. The journey involves lunch stopovers and you need a 4WD vehicle since the road is not entirely tarmacked.
Kidepo Valley national park has quite a number of accommodation points. Hotels and lodges range from budget to mid-range and luxury. These include but not limited to the following and more; Apoka Rest Camp, Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp, Apoka Safari Lodge, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, and Adere Safari Lodge.
Kidepo valley national park can be visited throughout the year but the best time to visit is during the dry months between September and March since the views of the wild are scenic and spectacular. Trails are dry making game drives an easy venture. Hiking is also best during the dry spell.