Kidepo Valley National Park is found in the far North Eastern part of Uganda, Kaabong District. The park covers an area of 1,442 km2 (557 sq mi) with rugged Savannah, dominated by Mt. Morungole (9,020 ft) and drained by Kidepo and Narus rivers. This Uganda national park is approximately 220km (140 mi), by road northwest of Moroto, the largest town in the sub region. Also 520km (320 mi), by road, northeast of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. This is one of the best but least visited Uganda safari parks.
“Dodoth pastoralists” and “IK farmers” lived in the valley before it was gazetted by the” British colonial masters” as a game reserve in 1958. Its main aim In this was to control hunting, poaching and to clear the bush to combat “Tsetse flies” from spreading sleeping sickness to humans and Nangana to animals. In 1962 during “Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, the game reserve was officially declared as a national park under the headship of Ian Ross as the first Chief Warden,” Ian Ross was later replaced by Paul Ssali in 1972.
The park has got two major valley systems that are Kidepo and Narus rivers. The valley basins lie between 3,000ft and 4,000ft respectively. Kanangarok hot spring in the far north of the park, next to Uganda-Sudan border is the permanent source of water in the Kidepo Valley National Park. Most parts of the park are covered by Savannah trees because of the variation in rainfall amounts hence resulting in animal population variations in the park in areas of Narus with heavy rainfall amounts in the rainy season and Kidepo basin with few animal populations because of little rainfall received.
During the dry season, the only permanent water is found in wetlands in the Narus valley near Apoka with combined Oases along the Savannah terrain making a prominent spot for game tracking and viewing in the game park. This is one of Uganda’s most isolated parks because of its far away from most of Uganda’s developed places as well as located 520km away from Uganda’s capital Kampala. The park offers a magnificent and memorable journey to the Northeastern Uganda through the Karamoja region learning about cultures, historical backgrounds and exploring of African wilderness.
The park is home to more than 77 mammal species and 475 bird species. The park boasts of having the highest buffalo population in Uganda, the only park with Cheetahs in Uganda. Pian-Upe is a neighboring game reserve to the park which is the only home to Ostriches (Largest bird on Earth) in Uganda. Kidepo valley is a home to One of the smallest ethnic groups in Africa called “The Karamajongs” who’re Nomadic pastoralists, the Karamajongs are similar to Turkanas of Kenya and Maasai people in Kenya and Tanzania who have got great value for keeping large herds of Cattle. These people have a unique culture which they have preserved for centuries. Amongst the Karamajongs, we find the “Ik farmers” who are regarded to be primitive and they’re believed to have originated from Ethiopia many years ago.
The “Ik people” still pray to “ancient god” and believe that someday will have to migrate away from Kidepo valley to another place in the world. According to researcher “Terrill Schrock” who is a linguistic worker says that the “Ik people” have cultural evidence which links them to ancient Southern Egypt. Kidepo valley national park is blessed with abundant animal species ranging to 77 mammal species which include Lions (even some tree climbing lions), elephants, buffaloes, oribi, hartebeests, antelope species like hohor reed buck, defassa waterbucks, elands, bush bucks, bush duskier, ostriches (also in Pian- Upe), pangolins, caracals, leopards, cheetahs, bat eared fox, stripped hyenas, aardwolves, wild dogs and hunting dogs.
The park has also got great sceneries and birding experiences, the southern Narus is the beginning of the amazing birder’s haven, birds like Hoopoe, Nubian woodpeckers, vinaceous doves, scarlet-chested sunbirds, mosque swallow, superb starlings, little weaver, singing bush larks, Abyssinian ground, Karamoja Apalis, Ethiopian swallow, African grey flycatcher, White billed tit, Slate colored Boubou, Red billed ox pecker and many more other bird species in Uganda. The Kidepo valley boasts of having over 475 bird species making it the second amongst the national parks with high bird population densities in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth national park which has over 600 bird species.
The best time for having an awesome trip to Kidepo is in the Mid end of the dry season (November and February) when animals concentrate on reliable water sources like Kanangarok hot springs in the far north of the park supplies water to the park in the dry season, during the wet season (April and August) animals move to higher grounds where they aren’t easy to track.
Kidepo valley is a beautiful savanna park which guarantees value for an adventure and it makes no sense for a tourist to spend only a single night in the hidden gems of sub Saharan park of Uganda.
A variety of parks are found in the Kidepo valley which offer a tourist a worthwhile stay in park like Kidepo Savannah lodge, Apoka safari lodge, Apoka rest camp(the rest camp may not provide local food but you need to book in advance), Kakine self-catering campsite(doesn’t provide food), accommodation outside the park include Nga Moru wilderness camp.
Kidepo Valley National Park is a true home of Adventure in Africa; it is rated among st the best 8 travel destinations in Africa by the CNN Traveler’s journal because of its diversity. The park is Africa uncovered, untouched, unforgettable, unspoiled Africa and is situated in remote with no urban infrastructure in the region.
This gives a true definition ancient human organization in local communities; the Karamajongs live in small huts in a one fencing called “Manyattas” which is a similar culture to the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania. Kidepo Valley is accessible by both air and road transport, it is expensive to fly to the park though it is most convenient and time efficient travel style with the great aerial view of the park’s topography. By road, the park is accessed by tarmac road network and it depends the number of days will be spend on the tour. You’re assured of the scenery view meeting with the richness of the African cultures, savannah grasslands, the shrubs.