Kidepo Valley National Park is situated in the North Eastern part of Uganda. It is quietly perched in the outlying areas towards the Ugandan border with the Republic of South Sudan and Kenya. The Park is situated in the infamous Karamoja region covered by savannah vegetation given the region’s semi-arid climate.
Kidepo National Park’s location and general outlook make it stand out uniquely from its counterparts across the country. Established in 1958, this national park sits on an area scope of 557 square miles. The park’s name is historical and was coined from the verb “Kidebo” by the Mening people which loosely translates to English as “help us.” The Mening had initially occupied this area before 1800, but dispersed after the area was gazetted as a game reserve by the then British administration.
The other significant feature of the park’s name is the two valleys i.e., Narus River Valley, and the Kidepo Valley. These valleys are extensive and because of this, the park’s name is complete.
Attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Flora and fauna.
The attractions of Kidepo Valley National Park range from fauna, flora, geophysical landscape, and related features. Fauna present is composed of over 80 mammal species with all major species of animals such as lions, elephants, African buffaloes, spotted hyenas, leopards, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, and many more.
Flora on the other hand covers the Narus River valley. Most of the flora here is composed of short grassland ranging from fine thatching grass, bunchy Guinea grass, and red oat grass. Since the area has long dry spells, the common tree species are desert dates, drumstick trees, and red thorn acacias. The park’s water points are commonly surrounded by fan palms and sausage trees.
The highland areas of Mountain Morungole offer beautiful views of Kidepo National Park which are unequaled with extensive savannah grassland on the park’s floor. Large herds of herbivores add to the beauty of this scenery.
Kidepo Valley National Park hosts big game animals. Among these are the African buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, and zebras. With an escorting list of fellow mammal species, Kidepo Valley National Park is a good area for game drives along the established tracks within the park. These animals are visible as they graze and roam the park freely. Our tour guides and rangers do a better job in directing visitors to better-view areas and also track the most sought-after animals.
These are an indigenous tribe in North Eastern Uganda. They are traditionally a cattle-herding tribe who have for generations been prompted to engage in nomadic pastoralism because of the semi-arid conditions in the North Eastern region of Uganda.
Cattle, to the Karimojong, is a status symbol of wealth, and therefore the more cattle one has, the more respect they earn in society. Other of their common livestock include goats and sheep. The herders normally keep some dogs too to accompany them during their pastoral raids and offer protection to their homesteads.
The Karimojong culture is quite unique and outstanding as visitors get to learn about the family units of these people. Their traditional housing architecture is also rare and often fascinates visitors.
The Karimojong’s clothing fabric is also an important attraction to admire, coupled with their waist beads, piercings, footwear and art on both their bodies and houses and traditional furniture made with rare skill, among others. More to learn about these good people is their folklore, legends, cultural beliefs, and traditional songs. The Karimojong culture is rich and beautiful to explore.
Kidepo Valley National Park is located in a very strategic corner which is a good home for numerous migratory bird species. About 450 bird species are situated in the park. These birds are both from within Uganda, and migratory birds from Kenya, South Sudan, Europe, and Ethiopia. More than 40 bird species in the park are endemic to the Karamoja region, such as the Karamoja Apalis. Some of the famous birds are ostriches which are fan to watch as they run within the park. Others include the Egyptian vultures, Abyssinian roller, Pygmy falcon, eagles, and Kori bustard.
Along the towering Mountain Morungole, there is Ik tribe. They are an indigenous tribe to the area who have lived on Kidepo lands for many generations. They have been registered and known commonly for their food gathering, and prowess in hunting. These good people are also lovers of honey and therefore are preoccupied with apiary as one of their agricultural practices.
Their culture is beautiful to experience as they are among the few tribes within the East Africa region who still live an extensive African traditional lifestyle. Their family units are potentially polygamous and many tourists gather to learn more about their marriage formation traditions and practices. Visitors also get to a glimpse of showcasing of hunting and food gathering skills from these people. A tourist may stay at a nearby camp site where they spend some time learning about apiary and honey harvesting from the IK people.
Tourist activities in Kidepo Valley National Park.
- Game drives.
- Cultural expeditions of the Karimojong and IK tribes.
- Nature walks.
Accommodation in Kidepo Valley National Park.
The outstanding lodging facilities near and in Kidepo Valley National Park are Apoka Safari Lodge, Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp, Zebra Plains and Kidepo Savannah Lodge.
Location and getting there.
As earlier noted, this National Park is located in North Eastern part of Uganda, in the infamous Karamoja region. The closest districts to it are Kaabong and Moroto districts. From Uganda’s capital, Kampala, it takes about 320 miles on the road to get to the national park. This is valued at an estimation of about 9-10 hours’ drive.
Interested visitors can book flights which guarantee shorter travel hours to and from the park. The Park has an airstrip i.e., Kidepo Airport at this the flights land and depart. Domestic flights can be arranged from Entebbe International Airport as the tourists arrive in Uganda.
When to visit Kidepo Valley National Park?
The national park’s location gives off distinction in the best time to visit as compared to other national parks within Uganda. The Park is located in a semi-arid region which therefore means low rainfall totals even during the rainy seasons.
Therefore, all year round, a safari to Kidepo national park is possible but the best travel months range from between July and August, and September to December.