Kidepo valley national park travel guide
About Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo valley national park travel guide: The national park is located in northeastern part of Uganda in Karamoja region, Kaabong district along the border of Uganda with southern Sudan and Kenya. Kidepo valley national park is one of the most spectacular and magnificent protected area covering a total area of 1442 square kilometers and a habitat of abundant wildlife species including savannah grassland which act as habitat for wild animals such as cheetah, leopards, ostriches, Rothschild giraffes, elephants, lions, buffaloes, zebras, hyenas, wild dogs, caracal, aardwolf, greater and lesser kudu, , birds like kori bustard, little bee-eater, ostrich, red and yellow barbet, dark chanting goshawk, Karamoja apalis, greater kestrel, chestnut weaver, black breasted barbet, Abyssinian roller, pygmy falcon, red throated bee-eater, white bellied go a-way bird among others.
Attractions in Kidepo valley national park
Animals, the national park harbors about 77 animal species with some species endemic to only Kidepo national park. the park is a home of the big 4 mammals which are the lions, leopards, elephants and buffaloes plus other animals like giraffes, zebras, cheetah, wild dog, bat eared fox, hyenas, jackal, klipspringer, mountain reedbuck, bush duikers, oribi, warthogs, Jackson’s hartebeest, bush pigs among others. Kidepo valley national park also harbors 5 primate species which include bush baby, patas monkeys among others.
Birds, Kidepo valley national park is a home of over 465 with about 20 species endemic to the park which makes it one of the best birding destinations in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth national park. Birds to look out for on your safari in the park include ostrich, Karamoja apalis, red throated bee-eater, kori bustard, pygmy falcon, Egyptian vulture, verreaux’s eagle, yellow billed hornbill, Abyssinian ground hornbill among others.
Narus valley, this is a rolling grassland plain that is enclosed by outlying mountains. Narus valley has permanent water throughout the year therefore it attracts large concentration of animals such as the lions, buffaloes, leopards, giraffes, oribi among others which gather around to drink water especially during the dry season. There is also Narus dam in the valley and a water hole which is close to the Tourism Centre and also an ideal area for game viewing.
Apoka Tourism Center, this is an area that overlooks Narus valley and also a home of the luxury lodge. The Tourism Centre is where the park guides who accompany the visitors for game drive, birding are positioned, park trucks and private vehicles for hire can also be found at Apoka tourism center, there is a craft shop with souvenirs, beverages, books, food is prepared on request for visitors who want to have a meal, cooking utensils and gas for hire by visitors who wish to cook for themselves.
Mount Morungule, This is a mountain that stands at 2,750m above the sea level. Mount Morungole is crossed by Kidepo and Narus River in the southern boundary of the park. The mountain is a home of the IK people and visitors who want to visit this small ethnic group can explored the mountain on foot.
Namamukweny Valley, This is one of the birding areas in the park. Namamukwenyi valley is situated in northwestern part of the park and a home of bird species such as green wood hoopoe, white crested turaco, Abyssinian roller, eastern paradise whydah, common bulbul among others.
Lonyili Mountain, the mountain lies between Kitgum and south Sudan border near Kidepo valley national park. Lonyili Mountain is covered with montane forest and act as habitats to primates such as black and white colobus monkeys. The road network in this area is not good therefore it’s advisable to use a scheduled flight to the area or have a great aerial view.
There are other attractions in the park such as Lomej hills which are good for birding, Kidepo valley and Kanagorok hot springs.
Activities in Kidepo Valley National Park
Game drive in the park is carried out in two sections for example around Narus valley which is covered by savannah grassland and Kidepo valley. Narus valley is however the best area for game drives in that it has high concentration of wild animals which gather to drink water and feed on the grassland especially during the dry season compared to Kidepo valley which has a seasonal River, Kidepo River that dries up in the dry season and floods during the rainy season therefore it attracts few wild animals. on your game drive in the park you can look out for animals like buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, waterbucks, bushbucks, Uganda kobs, giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetah, kudus, oribis, Jackson’s hartebeests, bohor reedbuck and bird species like the ostriches, Abyssinian ground hornbill, secretary bird, yellow billed bustard among others.
Kidepo valley national park is a home of over 465 bird species with about 20 species endemic to the park which make it one of the birders paradise in Uganda. There are various birding spots in the park such as at the edge of Apoka Rest Camp, Narus and Namamukweny Valley among others. on your birding safari you can look out for bird species like black headed plover, pygmy falcon, white bellied bustard, superb starling, African swallow tailed kite, kori bustard, ostrich, standard night jar, African grey flycatcher winged lark, white bellied tit, Rufous sparrow, speckle fronted weaver, little green bee-eater, yellow billed shrike, singing bush lark, brown backed woodpecker among others.
This is an adventurous and interesting activity where you get an opportunity to get out of the car and explore the park while on foot as you feel the cool breeze and walk near the wild animals. During the nature walk in Kidepo valley national park you will follow different trails like the 25km Lonyiri nature walk trail which takes you to Napusmur summit taking about 8 hours depending on your speed and the time you started. Nature can also be done around Apoka camp, Lomej Mountain, Mount Morungole where you will meet the IK people among others. Nature walk in the park is guided by a park ranger for protection and guidance and you will be able to view animals like elephants, reed bucks, giraffes, waterbucks, cheetah, zebras, warthogs among others.
Kidepo valley national park is surrounded by two local communities that is the Karamajong and the IK people. The Karamajong are known as fierce warrior pastoralists who consider cattle as their royalty which means that a man is valued according to the number of cattle he owns. Due to large herds of cattle Karamajong boys and men move to different areas with their cattle in search of green pastures and water for their cattle while women stay at home taking care of the young ones. On your cultural visit you will view the Manyattas which are permanent homesteads for Karamajong with small entrances, their dressing code and entertainments through cultural songs, dances, storytelling about their lifestyle among others.
On your cultural encounter you will also visit the IK people a small ethnic group that lives in the Morungole Mountains. IK people were once hunters and gathers but due to cattle raids from the Karamajong they gave up cattle raring and started practicing subsistence farming, honey production and goat rearing. the IK people pay bride price inform of bee hives and goats therefore a man will marry as many wives as possible depending on the number of bee hives and goats he owns. Visitors who want to visit this unique tribe need to be physically fit so as to hike Mount Morungole which is 2,749 meters above the sea level. Visiting the IK people will give you interesting experiences as you learn more about their lifestyle, culture and also be entertained by their traditional performances.
When to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
The park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season there is less rainfall in the park therefore there will be short grass which gives you clear viewing of the wild animals, access roads will be passable and you will be able to view large concentration of animals, take plenty and beautiful photos of the animals which will be gathered around Narus valley to drink water.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
The national park is situated in the remote Karamoja region in north eastern Uganda and can be accessed by both road and air transport means
Air transport, there are domestic companies in Uganda such as Aerolink which operate scheduled and chartered flights from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kidepo airstrip every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. the aircraft departs Entebbe at 12:30pm and arrives in Kidepo at 14:45pm and on the return flight the aircraft departs from Kidepo airstrip at 15:00pm and arrives at Entebbe airport at 16:30pm therefore you can book for a flight to Kidepo to save you from the long distance.
Road transport, there are several routes you can use to get to Kidepo valley national park such as
Route from Kampala via Mbale, Sironko, Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong and then to the park which takes about 13 hours’ drive or even longer when you get stopovers like in Mabira forest, Source of the Nile, Sipi falls among others. The route takes about 13 hours’ drive therefore you are advised to have an overnight in Moroto town and proceed to the park the next morning.
Another route is driving from Kampala via Karuma, Lira, Kotido and then to the park which takes about 12 hours’ drive. Visitors using this route can have a stopover at Ziwa rhino sanctuary to trek the rhinos before they proceed to the park.
The last route is from Kampala via Karuma, Gulu, Kitugum and then to the park. This route passes at the edge of the largest national park in Uganda which is Murchison falls national park and visitors using this route can also have a stopover at Ziwa rhino sanctuary and an overnight in Kitgum town so as not to be so tired. Using road transport to Kidepo valley national park is tiresome due to long distance but full of breathtaking and spectacular views on the way.
Where to stay
Kidepo valley national park has few luxury, midrange and budget accommodations where visitors on a safari can stay such as Apoka Safari Lodge, Apoka Rest Camp, Adere Safari Camp, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Nga Moru Wilderness Camp among others which offer special amenities like comfortable rooms with double, single, twin rooms with en-suite bathrooms, living room, siting lounge for relaxation, swimming pool, laundry services, fireplace, great scenic views of the park, wildlife like birds, animals among others.
Kidepo valley national park travel guide gives you detailed information that can be used when planning for a safari in the park. Using this travel guide you can book safari packages such as 3 days flying safari to Kidepo, 5 days Kidepo and Sipi falls budget safari with Achieve Global Safaris or check out for more safari packages at Kidepo national park website.