Kidepo Valley National Park is found in the remote Karamoja region in the North Eastern corner of Uganda. Kidepo’s scenery is, beyond any doubt the most beautiful in the whole of the East African region.
Karamoja is the most remote and unspoiled region in the country and is inhabited by the the legendary fierce Karimajong warriors. Most of these warrior tribes whose lives are centered on cows still live the simple, basic nomadic life style their ancestors lived centuries before them.
Not surprisingly, these vast, untouched plains are often referred to as the wilderness because of the fact that human development has hardly had any impact on the park and its surroundings. Kidepo, with its unique climatic conditions, has a greater diversity of animals than most other parks in Uganda and 28 of the species found in Kidepo can be found in no other Ugandan national park.
This charming spot, despite its remoteness did not escape the ruthless poaching that characterized the political turmoil of the late 1970’s and 1980’s and sadly, some animals like the Striped Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grants Gazelle and the Beisa Oryx are feared to be locally extinct. But animals like Elephants, Giraffes and Zebras can easily be sighted in the park.
The star attraction is, by far the magnificent scenery that brings a certain liberty to the soul. The wide grassy plains speckled with Acacia trees and shrubs that just go on and on until the horizon meets the rugged Napore Range to the south-west and the Morongole mountains to the East. Also the mysterious ‘Kidi Rwot’ Rock and the large Granite outcrop at kitenga provide some breath taking scenery.
This area is the source of two main permanent rivers, a couple of their distributaries and numerous seasonal rivers. The Rivers Kidepo and Narus flow slowly northwards towards Sudan where they meet the Nile. I think that explains the lush green in this largely semi-arid area. The karimajong tribes, who have, against all odds shunned development and preferred to stick to their cultural values, inhabit the vast plains surrounding the national park. They are nomads whose lives are centered on cows and they live in manyattas similar to the Masai of Kenya. Another similarity between the Karimajong and the Masai is their love for colorful dress.
A visit to their home steads and kraals to see traditional customs, stools, manyattas, jewelry and cultural dances can be arranged with the park offices. This being the only National Park in Uganda Where Giraffes and Zebras can be viewed together, makes it a special place to visit. Most of the wildlife is concentrated in the Narus Valley and many animal species can be observed from the overlaying Apoka Rest Camp.
As mentioned in the introduction, this park hosts 28 animal species’ that cannot be found in any other National park in the country. These animals include the Bat-eared fox, Caracal, Klipspringer, the Cheetah among others. Other widely seen species are the Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Zebra, Giraffe, Kongoni, Buffalo, Oribi, Side-striped Jackal, spotted Hyena among many more. Kidepo valley national park is truly the most Wild and unspoiled place in Uganda.
A number of bird species are particular to Kidepo Valley National park most notably, its birds of prey. Of the 465 bird species understood to exist in the National park, 58 of these are birds of prey and 14 are believed to exist in no other Ugandan Park. Birds like Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and the Pygmy Falcon are known to be locally endemic to Kidepo Valley National park.
Other birds of prey that can be observed include the Common Vultures, Swallow Tailed Kite, Fox kestrel, White-faced Scops Owl, and the Secretary bird. Other birds of interest include the globally vulnerable Karamoja Apalis, The Ostrich, Standard-winged Nightjars, Little Green Bee-eater, Bruce’s green pigeon, Ethiopian swallow and Heuglin’s francolin.
The complete bird list can be found on the Species page. Kidepo Valley NP is accessible both by air and by road. Various charter airline companies can arrange a return trip though travel by road is highly recomended. Places like the large granite outcrop at Kitenga and Kidi Rwot rock are found outside the national park along the road. There are several routes to take by road though the road from Kampala through Karuma, Lira and Kotido is the most commonly used since it passes near the Murchison falls national park and is very rewarding in terms of scenery.
Currently, Kidepo does not offer Luxury accommodation since the Apoka Rest camp is still under reconstruction but never the less runs a comfortable do it yourself hostel that has 14 bandas or cottages at Apoka and it is recommended that visitors bring food to last them the entire duration of their stay. The Kakine campsite is also available for campers.