Kidepo Valley: The word “Kidepo” amongst the indigenous Karamojong people means to pick up from under or pick up from below. Kidepo valley national park derives her name of this valley. This signifies the importance of this valley to the former settlers in the valley. The Kidepo valley is a series of beautiful hills emanating from mount Morungole mountain range northeast of Apoka gently rolling towards the north into South Sudan.
The ridge in the valley floods during the rainy season forming a temporary River Kidepo that flows and joins the White Nile in South Sudan. Fresh pastures thrive, wildlife species congregate here and the Kidepo valley is a hive of wildlife drama. The sandy soils in the valley are not strong enough to retain water for long periods into dry season and easily erode. In the dry season, River Kidepo dries up and the valley is a desolate sleeping giant. Many wildlife species migrate to other areas that guarantee easy supply resources for their survival.
Grasslands, thickets and shrubs vegetation cover large parts of Kidepo valley while borassus palm forests dominate the edges of the river. From time immemorial, the indigenous settlers in Karamoja region traversed the Kidepo valley in search of and to pick ripened borassus palm fruits that fall off the trees. The ripened borassus palm fruit, a delicacy for elephants, is an ingredient in fermenting and brewing a traditional wine for the Karamojong communities. This explains how the valley got the name Kidepo; ‘to pick from under’.
The Kidepo valley is a popular spot to locate browsing mammal species. The thicket and shrub vegetation provide enough food for elephants and giraffes whose diet is largely composed of tree leaves, twigs and foliage. The thickets and shrubs in the valley provide the necessary cover for concealment and are ideal places for mammal species that live a solitary lifestyle. Travelers on visit into Uganda traverse and explore the valley searching for bushbucks, reedbucks, kudu, klipspringer, dik dik, bush pig, warthogs amongst other mammals. The borassus palms fruits are a natural magnet for large herds of elephants.
In the dry season, River Kidepo dries up and white sand dunes are the visible reminders of past presence of flowing water. Vegetation in the valley withers and is unpalatable to many mammal species that migrate to safer zones. This is a blessing in disguise for adventurers seeking to explore the quiet corners of Ugandan wilderness away from inquisitive eyes. This is an opportune time for exciting bush breakfast, picnics, sundowners in which travelers own wilderness all by themselves. Often travelers enjoy strolling barefoot in the sand, sand games, face painting and other adventurous wilderness activities. Note; ranger escort is very essential before engaging in these activities.
The eye-catching scenery of the Kidepo valley is very tempting and to some adventure travelers seeking ways of exploring and discovering the core beauty of the African bush, hard to resist. Nature walking safaris into Kidepo are very popular and easy to arrange with ranger escorts. It is a very thrilling experience and generates a high sense of conquering walking into herds of antelopes, waterbucks, warthogs, towers of giraffes, or zebras capturing amazing images as they give way as you approach them. Often the visitors on nature walk explore the Kanangorok Hot Springs and experience the healing magic of natural spa in the middle of the wilderness.
The thickets, shrubs and woodlands in the Kidepo valley are a habitat for unique bird species in the Karamoja region. Enthusiastic bird watchers traverse and explore the Kidepo valley on the lookout for bird species that are not easy to spot in other national parks of Uganda. The Green wood Hoopoe, the ostrich, yellow-billed hornbill, Pygmy falcon, Egyptian vulture, Verreaux’s eagle amongst other bird species are easily spotted in the valley.