Attractions in Kidepo National Valley Park
Attractions in Kidepo National Valley Park: Also known as the “Masai Mara of Uganda“, Kidepo Valley national park is truly a jewel in the wilderness that is worth exploring. The national park is the third largest national park located in Kaabong district north eastern Uganda.
Kidepo Valley national park in Uganda covers a total land area of 1,442 square kilometers and is the best park for landscape and wildlife viewing in that it harbors abundant wild animals like elephants, buffaloes, bushbucks, side backed jackal, waterbucks, Oribis, lions, leopards and hyenas among others. The national park is also home to unique bird species such as the Ostrich, Kori bustard, pygmy falcon, goliath heron, fox kestrel, standard winged nightjars, and Nubian woodpecker among others.
The national park is mainly covered with savannah grassland which is dominated by acacia trees. It is the least visited national park in Uganda due its distant location as it takes about 12 hours’ drive to get to the park from Kampala. Visitors who visit the national park can engage in thrilling activities like the game drive, nature walk, birding, cultural encounter which give you breathtaking experiences on your safari.
Attractions in Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park is home to about 77 mammals- of which 28 of these animals are endemic to the national park. Some of the wildlife to lookout for during your visit to the park include the big four mammals which are the lions, leopards, elephants and buffaloes. Other animals in the park include spotted hyena, giraffes, zebras, bat eared fox, great and lesser kudu, eland, black backed jackal, side striped jackal, bush pigs, warthogs, bushbucks, duikers, waterbucks, Bohor reedbuck, Oribis , aardwolf, DikDik, caracal, Jackson’s hartebeest among others. Animals in the park are best viewed during the game drive which can either be done in the morning, evening or at night to spot the predators and nocturnal animals.
Kidepo valley national park in Northeastern Uganda is a birders paradise. The national park hosts over 475 bird species and it’s the second park with the highest number of birds in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth national park. The national park also shelters some bird species that are endemic to the park such as the ostrich, Karamoja Apalis and the Kori bustard. Others birds in the park include Egyptian vulture, black headed plover, Verreaux’s eagle, fox kestrel, pygmy falcon, African swallow kite, little green bee-eater, standard winged nightjar, brown backed woodpecker, white bellied tit, red winged lark, African grey flycatcher, white crowned shrike, black faded waxbill, black breasted barbet , purple heron, Clapperton’s francolin among others. Birding in the national park can be done in destinations like Namamukweny valley, Narus valley, around Apoka Rest Camp among others.
This is found in the southern part of the national park. This valley has permanent water therefore during the dry season it harbors high concentration of animals such as elephants which gather to drink water. There are several tracks around the Narus valley for game drives where visitors will get an opportunity to spot various animals either early in the morning or in the afternoon. During the game drive in the Narus valley you will spot animals such as the elephants, bat eared fox, hyenas, cheetah, zebras, bushbucks, waterbucks, side striped jackals, Uganda Kob, buffaloes, Oryx, bush pigs, giraffes, bird species such as secretary bird, black breasted barbet, Karamoja Apalis, yellow billed hornbill, singing bush lark, silver shrike among others.
Mount Morungole is located within Kidepo valley national park. It stands at 2,759 meters above the sea level and is crossed by Narus and Kidepo River. Mount Morungole is a great place for mountain hiking and is a home of the IK tribe which is one of the ethnic tribes in Uganda. Hiking mount Morungule can be done with a park ranger and you be able to have panoramic views of the park, valleys and also interact with the IK people by learning about their culture, lifestyle, food they eat among others.
Apoka Tourism Centre
Apoka tourism Centre is a tourism hub in Kidepo Valley national park and it overlooks Narus valley, which is popular for game drives. This tourism hub is run by Uganda Wildlife Authority along with Apoka luxury lodge and cottages. This tourism hub has cars for hire for the visitors who travelled to the park without any means of transport, an area where the park guides who escort visitors during the night game drive, nature walk, birding are stationed, a restaurant where food can be cooked on request and visitors who want to cook their own food can hire cooking utensils. It also has a craft shop with souvenirs, books, and drinks like sodas, alcoholic beverages among others.
Kanangorok Hot springs
These are extra ordinary hot springs that are situated 11kilometres away from Kidepo River on the Sudan border. Accessing these hot springs is not easy in that you will pass through shrubs, grass, thorny bushes and thickets. Kanangorok hot springs boil beyond the temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius and the water flow at 1litre per second. The hot spring are one of the best destinations that you should visit during your safari in the national park in that you will be able to sit, relax as you enjoy the natural spa with spectacular views of the mountains, vegetation, some animals among others.
This valley is situated in the north western park of the park and can be accessed while on foot. The name Namamukweny is a Napore word which means a lonely place with few people, no birds and animals but when you visit this valley its quite the opposite because it’s a home of high concentration of birds like the Abyssinian roller, green wood hoopoe, white crested Turaco, common bulbul among others.
The Lomej hills are located near Kidepo valley national park and it takes a short drive from the park headquarters to Lomej hills. These hills are a perfect spot for bird watching and animal viewing. While at Lomej hills you will be able to view animals like the mountain reedbuck and some bird species.
Lonyili Mountain is mainly dominated by montane forest and lies between Kitgum and the South Sudan border. This mountain is a habitat of primates such as the black and white colobus monkey, red tailed monkeys and various bird species therefore visitors who visit Lonyili Mountain can engage in activities like nature walk, bird viewing among others.
Kidepo valley national park is mainly dominated by two ethnic groups which are the Karamajong and the IK people. Taking a cultural community tour during your visit to the park will give you an opportunity to interact with the local people and learn more about their unique cultures.
The Karamajong are known to be fierce warriors and pastoralists who consider cattle as royalty therefore a man is valued depending on the number of cows he owns. The Karamajong men and boys always move from one place to another in search of green pasture and water for their animals leaving behind their women to take care of the young children. The Karamajong have a unique culture where by they dress up in a traditional cloth, build houses with a small entrance where they have to bend down when entering, unique dances, and songs among others.
IK is another tribe that resides in the Morungole Mountains in Kidepo Valley national park. This ethnic group was the first to migrate to north eastern Uganda. They were once cattle keepers but due to cattle raids from the Karamajong they started practicing subsistence farming and goat keeping. They also have a unique culture of being polygamous and paying bride price with bee hives instead of cattle therefore a man who owns many bee hives can marry as many wives as he wants.
When to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
You can visit Kidepo Valley national park at any time of the year. However the best time for you to visit the park is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During this period there is less rainfall in the park therefore there will be short grass for clear viewing of the animals and there will be scarcity of water there many animals will gather around Narus River to drink water hence giving you a clear view of high animal concentration and you will be able to take good and clear photos.