Kidepo can be visited all year through although conditions in the park are more difficult during the rainy season, It is Quite hot and generally dry, whereas June to Sept: Rain is more prevalent, temperatures are still warm and storms rarely last more than an hour and it is usually advisable to use 4×4 vehicles while in the park.
Accommodation within and around the park is really scarce and the few reasonable options include Nga Moru Wilderness Camp and Apoka Safari Camp. The only budget accommodation available is Apoka Rest Camp managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Game viewing is what mostly brings visitors to this park – viewing herds of different game while driving in vehicles on dirt roads that crisscross the southern and western parts of the park. A few improved murram roads exist and are easily passable no matter the weather.
The best way to organize a visit to Kidepo national park is going through a local tour operator / Safari Company for ease of booking and a stress free tour. Note that you can book your activities from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala or at any entry points of the park as well but Kidepo is a difficult place to maneuver without the tested driving skills of a local.
By road, it is approximately 12 hours’ drive from Kampala. Regular scheduled flights by Aero Link take about 2 hours and fly into Kidepo from Entebbe airport. Charters can also be easily if you contact any of the flight operators or through your tour operator.
Areas of Interest
Apoka Tourism Centre
Overlooking the game-rich Narus Valley and home to an upmarket lodge and simple UWA-run cottages, Apoka is the park’s tourism hub. Ranger guides are stationed at Apoka to escort tourists on game drives and walks. For those without their own transport, park trucks can be hired.
There is a craft shop with books and souvenirs; bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages can also be purchased here. Food is cooked on request and cooking gas and utensils can be hired by individuals who wish to cook for themselves.
Narus Valley is a rolling, grassland plain enclosed by distant mountains. The valley has permanent water, and for much of the year the park’s wildlife congregates here. Thus, the area is well provided with game tracks, with four loop circuits exploring the valley around Apoka. Many creatures such as lions, Jackson’s hartebeest, buffaloes, giraffes, oribis and reedbucks can be seen in the valley.
Less commonly seen are cheetahs and leopards. The Narus dam and the water hole near the Tourism Centre are perfect observation points for game, especially during the dry season. At the southern end of the Katurum loop, Katurum kopje (the site of a derelict lodge) is an attractive destination with superb views north across the valley towards the Morungule mountain range.
Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs
For most of the year, a lack of surface water means that little wildlife is found in Kidepo Valley, though it is still worth the drive to visit the dry Kidepo River to stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with borassus palms. Kidepo means to pick from below and the valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer. The Kanangorok Hot Springs lie 11km beyond the Kidepo River on the Sudan border. This is a glorious place to sit and view the mountains beyond the frontier.
Mount Morungole stands at 2,750m and is crossed by the Kidepo and Narus Rivers that nourish the park’s wildlife and this natural habitat as a whole. The Morungole Range marks the southern boundary of the park and rises from the plains a few kilometres northeast of Apoka. This region can be explored on foot with a ranger. The mountain slopes are home to the IK people, the smallest ethnic group in Uganda, with their own unique culture.
Namamukweny is a Napore word meaning a place with no birds or a lonely place with few people – though regarding the birds, quite the opposite is true! The valley is inhabited by a large number of bird species such as the Eastern Paradise Whydah, White-crested Turaco, Common Bulbul, Abyssinian Roller and Green Wood Hoopoe among others. It is located in the north-west of the park and can be accessed by car or on foot.
The Lomej Hills are a short drive from the headquarters. They are a good viewing point for birds and wildlife, including the mountain reedbuck.
Lying between Kitgum and the Sudan border, Lonyili Mountain is largely covered in montane forest and home to primates such as colobus monkeys. Due to poor conditions in this area the road is currently out of use. There are plans to repair it – you are strongly advised to contact UWA for updates before embarking on your journey to the mountain.