Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo valley national park is a Uganda safari that aptly fits into any adventure traveler’s dream. It is a natural wild playground where different herbivore species in all sizes, population and shapes mingle freely but keeping a keen eye on the predating carnivores scheming to pounce. The Kidepo valley is Uganda’s best kept natural secret with astounding natural wonders. Kidepo Valley National Park covers a surface are 1442km2 of plain grassland, bush and savannas located in Kaabong district, Karamoja region extreme north east of Uganda touching borders with South Sudan in the north and Kenya in the west.
Kidepo is a semi arid zone with average annual temperatures of 290C though some days experience more than 400C and a single rainfall mid April- early August averaging 80mm annually. In extreme cases of long droughts and poor rains, much of vegetation withers and ground is bare. Kidepo and Narus valleys experience floods during rainy season with seasonal rivers. The vegetation in these valleys survives longer and the two valleys have high wildlife concentration and are centers of drama for wildlife activity. For the modern nomad on tour of Uganda seeking to explore the wilderness and discover new ways of adventure, these are the prime spots to fold your arms and watch in amusement. Kidepo was gazetted a national park in 1958 after epidemic outbreak; sleeping sickness to humankind and Nagana to livestock in the valleys. Note that indigenous communities shared habitat with wildlife and transmitted diseases amongst themselves. The colonial government evacuated indigenous communities as a way to break the chain and reduce spread of diseases.
Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda safari destination with a large wildlife presence but more so the mammal species. The open flat plains allow room for animals to wander and graze in the grasslands. The carnivorous predators have open conducive environments to stalk large herds, spot weak target and chase the prey. The Uganda safaris into Kidepo traverse the valleys on the lookout for elephants, buffalos, leopards, lions, giraffes, kudu, cheetah, zebras, oryx, gazelle, elands, roan antelope, jackals, hyenas, reedbuck, waterbucks, warthogs and many others are resident in Kidepo Valley national park. Previously, rhinos too roamed the Kidepo and Narus valleys but poachers hunted them to extinction.
The semi arid conditions of Kidepo valley favor a unique species of bird from more arid African horn region. Kidepo valley national with more than 450 bird species is rich Uganda bird watching safari destination and an Important Birding Area of international reputation. Enthusiastic bird watching teams traverse the wilderness in search of ostrich, Egyptian vulture, Pygmy falcon, Kori bustard, Karamoja apalis, Varreaux’s eagle and some other resident bird species in Kidepo valley and entire Karamoja region.
Safaris to Kidepo valley national are almost not complete until travelers visit the homestead of indigenous community. The indigenous people have lived with wildlife in the Karamoja region sharing natural resources; grazing areas and watering holes for ages. The Karimojong are a pastoral community that keep large herds of cattle that like wildlife face wrath of harsh climatic conditions during drought seasons. The Karimojong grazed their livestock close to predators; lions, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, jackals. Each one knew their bounds and the relationship was utmost mutual. The Ik community residing on the edges of Morungole Mountain ranges, are former wilderness wanderers who survived only on natural resources; hunting game, gathering fruits, leaves, flowers, and dug out edible roots of plants. Their love for honey and bees is legendary only rivaled by honey badgers in the wilderness. The lifestyle of these communities altered on formation of Kidepo valley national park in their former habitat. Travelers on tour of Uganda visit these communities, share life experiences and discover the authentic traditional African lifestyle.
The adventurers on tour of Uganda seeking thrill, extra excitement and adventure explore the Kidepo in for hot air balloon safaris. The balloon wander over flat plains with open savannas and spot particular areas of attention in a more eco friendly way. The hot air balloon safaris give a bird’s view adventure of the wilderness exploring unique spots that are not easy to access otherwise.
The nature landscape, plant and vegetation cover, land features of Kidepo valley national park are a feast for the eyes and offer unrivalled wealth of sights, sounds and sceneries. Many travelers on tour of Uganda find it very hard to resist the temptation to walk from the safari camp and wander into the beautiful wilderness. Many travelers feel the urge to walk barefoot into the white sands of Kidepo and Narus valleys during the dry season and sip drinks under borassus palm trees. Many visitors hike into Morungole Mountain ranges 2750 meters and get an aerial view of the adjacent valleys in the foothills and opportunity to capture top magazine cover pictures. Namamukweny valley is a postcard wilderness destination for travelers who seek to explore the wilderness in serene and quiet corners. Kanangorok hot spring is a natural wonder and spa that offers relief for travelers battered by long travel and wilderness adventure.
Kidepo valley national is the furthest of wildlife protection areas of Uganda hundreds of kilometers away from Kampala. Charter flights from Kajjansi airfield and Entebbe airport to Lomej airfield close to Apoka tourism zone take less than 2 hours. Travel by air is fast and slightly more comfortable, but the travel on tour of Uganda misses much of the experiences of the countryside lifestyle. A series of smooth road network from Kampala City take different directions to nearest towns to Kidepo before giving way to dirt roads most of which are being up graded now. It is highly advisable to visit other tour attractions en route to Kidepo to give travelers room to minimize fatigue and spend a night in one of many towns along the way.
Kampala- Karuma- Gulu- Kitgum –Kidepo = 571km (10 hours). Make a break at Ziwa wildlife sanctuary and track rhinos on foot. Spend a night in Gulu or Kitgum town.
Kampala-Mbale-Sironko-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo =740km (12 hours). Break the journey at Sipi and climb to the Sipi falls. There are descent hotels on site or spend a night in Kapchorwa town.
Kampala-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo = 792km (13 hours). Break journey in Kumi town and visit Nyero rock. Spend a night in Kumi or Soroti town.
Kampala-Karuma-Lira-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo= 705km (12 hours). Break journey at Ziwa wildlife sanctuary and track rhinos on foot. Spend a night in Lira town.