Kidepo Valley National Park is located in Kaabong District in North East Uganda and it covers 1,442km2. This is the most isolated National Park in Uganda dominated by Mount Morungole which is 2750M, River Narus. The names Kidepo came from the local word “Akidep” which means ‘to pick up’. The Kidepo valley is well known for the borassus palm trees whose fruits ripen and fall on the ground during the dry season and they are eaten by the Elephants and others picked up by the communities for home use. This park boarders with Sudan and Kenya. This Park is in semi-arid region with average annual temperatures of 290C. In extreme cases, day temperatures get to 400C. Kidepo Valley National Park receives one season of rains per year April-September. The open vegetation cover for the large part of Kidepo Valley National Park is ideal for spotting a wide range of games by visitors on the Kidepo valley national park.
Attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park
There are several attractions in Kidepo valley national park ranging from mammals, bird species , mountain Morungole, Hot spring, reptiles butterflies among others as elaborated below;
- The park is home to over 77 species of mammals including the Hunting dog, Cheetah, Bat-eared Fox, Caracal, Striped Hyena, the aard Wolf, elephants, Jackson’s hartebeests, oribi, burchell’s zebras and more others that are usually seen during the game drive and nature walks.
- There are over 475 bird species out of which 50 birds of prey species are endemic in Karamoja region. The most common species which are normally sighted during birding include, the Abyssinian roller, the Verreaux’s eagle, the Yellow-billed hornbill, the Egyptian vulture, the Kori bustard, the Pygmy falcon, the Karamoja Apalis, the famous Ostriches, the Jackson’s hornbill and many other species
- The park is also harbors several reptiles including the Crocodiles, insects and butterflies.
- The Narus Valley is yet another attraction in this park. This area is properly supplied with game tracks since it’s a home to several wildlife including lions, reed bucks, Jackson’s hartebeests, oribis, buffaloes, giraffes, Cheetahs, leopards that are always seen during the four loop circuit as you watch over the whole valley.
- Kanangorok Hot Springs which are located 11 kilometers past the Kidepo River along the Sudan border and the Lomej Hills are also the great attractions and it provides the maximum viewing point to see several wild animals and bird species.
Activities in Kidepo National Park
Activities in Kidepo Valley National Park are as follows;
Nature walks: The nature of this park with the Flat plains with beautiful sceneries provides the visitors with an opportunity to do the nature walk as they wonder into the wilderness throught the park and in the process several wildlife and bird species are seen. Well, a walk into the Lamoj hills rewards the visitors with the site for photographs with such a pretty background in it. A nature walk into the beautiful Namamukweny swamp is one of the precious gift you will have on your Uganda safari in Kidepo valley national park.
The word “Namamukweny” means “the place without birds” and in deed you will see this lonely and isolated place where you sit and relax your mind without any noise from the birds as you observe the beautiful nature at your fingertips.
A walk through the Narus valley during the nature walk is also another ideal opportunity which you shouldn’t miss out on your trip in Kidepo valley national park.
The word “Narus” in the local Karamojong language means muddy or soggy ground. The Narus Valley is an oasis in the semi-arid conditions of Karamoja region that provides permanent water throughout the year and wildlife always gather here to cool their bodies off the heat from the burning sun during the dry season. This valley, visitors are able to spot several wildlife including giraffes, cheetah, leopard, waterbuck, lions, buffalos, zebras, hartebeests and many more mammals and bird species such as the Eastern Paradise Whydah, Green Wood Hoopoe, White-crested Turaco, and many other birds , reptiles and butterflies.
Birding: This Park is a home to over 450 bird species out of which, the 50 birds are prey species and endemic in the Karamoja region. The birding activity in Kidepo valley national park Offers visitors the possibilities of sighting several bird species including the Abyssinian roller, the famous Ostriches, the Verreaux’s eagle, the Yellow-billed hornbill, the thick-billed honey guide, the Egyptian vulture, the Kori bustard, the Pygmy falcon, the Mountain Yellow Warbler, the Karamoja Apalis, Clapperton’s francolin, the black-headed plover, Jackson’s hornbill, Hartlaub’s Turaco Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, Ethiopian swallow, the Red-billed Ox-pecker, and many more species which are usually seen during birding and nature walks.
Game viewing: This activity is mainly carried out on Loporokocho swamp where most mammals are easily seen by the visitors including Lions, topi, lesser kudus, leopard, the Hunting dog , buffalos, zebra, stripped hyena, roan antelopes, the Elands, Oribi, duiker, the Uganda Kobs, burchell’s zebras, the Bright’s gazelles, Jackson’s hartebeests, the spotted hyenas, the Oryx, serval cats, cheetah, lesser kudu, elands, mountain reedbuck, topi, wildcats, Bright’s gazelle, blue duikers, Bohor reedbuck, waterbucks, jackals, Oribi, civets, Caracal, common duikers, Olive baboons, Bat-eared Fox, Patas monkey, vervet monkeys and many more mammals
Hiking: The best place for Hikers in Kidepo valley National Park is on Mount Morungole which is 2,750 meters and it is crossed by River Kidepo and River Narus. During hiking, visitors are able to view the Narus, Kidepo plains and rest of Kidepo Valley National Park and the landscape beyond the park. Hiking on this mountain starts early in the morning before the temperatures of Kidepo valley National Park hit melting point. Hiking may be conducted on Lamoj Mountains only a couple of kilometers from the Headquarters of the Park. Visitors may as well go to see the marvelous Kidepo River Valley covered with Borassus palm forest
Cultural encounters and cultural performance: In this process, visitors get a chance to meet the IK community that still lives a traditional African lifestyle of hunting and gathering fruits, leaves, flowers and roots for food in the Karamoja plains. These communities build their own manyattas for shelter. The IK people are believed to be the smallest group in Uganda and they live on the Morungole mountain range which is also believed to be their ancestral home. During cultural encounters, the visitor will have a chance to venture into the wilderness under cover of darkness and experience the process of honey harvesting. During the cultural encounters, visitors also meet the Lorokul Cultural Group.
These notorious cattle-herding Karamojong occupy northeastern Uganda, in an area covering one tenth of the country. Discover their unique culture of this remote tribe with the Lorokul Cultural Group, located just outside Kidepo Valley National Park. Their main livelihood is herding livestock, and the social and cultural importance will be explained as you walk with the guides to the traditional Karamojong manyattas, granaries and cattle enclosures. Learn how the villagers make their distinctive beads, sample the local cuisine, and even meet the Karamojong King, who will narrate the tribe’s folklore and beliefs and finally, the nearby local communities possess teams of cultural entertainers that are normally accessible to offer performances on request. These performers have a wide range of traditional dances. These Cultural encounters make kidepo one of the best safari destinations in Uganda because clients usually enjoy this part of their Uganda safaris.
Visiting the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary: this is the last thing you shouldn’t miss on your visit to Kidepo valley national park and to the Murchison falls national park. This None-Government organization was formed in 1997 to protect the Rhinos in Uganda. In this sanctuary, visitors get a chance to see the white rhinos and some bird species including the rare Shoebills.
“The best time to visit Kidepo valley national park for the nature walks and game drives is during the dry season when the park is less muddy and the possibility of viewing the wildlife is high whereas the best time for birding is in the wet season when the park is green and lush for bird species to live in and some animals will also be spotted. Come to Kidepo valley national park and experience the view of fauna and flora in wilderness”.