MATHENIKO WILDLIFE RESERVE
Location and background
Matheniko wildlife reserve is located in the far north eastern part of Uganda next to Kidepo valley national park. Matheniko Wildlife Reserve lies in the Uganda-Kenya border within Moroto district, covers an area of 1520 sq kms/590 sq miles and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. It is one of the distant locations from Uganda’s capital Kampala, after travelling over 340km by road to reach the game reserve.
Matheniko wildlife reserve was established in 1964 and efforts to improve it started as it gains its name among the 12 wildlife reserves in Uganda. It falls under the Karamoja sub region which also happens to be among the controlled cattle hunting areas. It is a semi-arid area with hot temperatures during day time and very cold temperature during the night.
It is one of the most threatened conservation protected area in Uganda due to the poachers and hostile groups in the Karamoja sub-region
Activities done in the game reserve
This is the famous activity done because of predators found in the reserves and also the famous Ostriches that are only found in this region in the wild. Through the game drive you get to view a number of animal species like primates including Olive baboons, Patas monkeys, and Vervet monkeys, Carnivores including leopards, cheetahs, jackals, stripped and sported hyenas, wildcats and servals among others. Green feeders including Roan antelopes, Ugandan Kobs, Oribis, blue duikers, Topis, reed bucks, water bucks, lesser kudus, Bohor reds bucks, Cape Buffalos, Gazzels among others. There are also reptiles like large monitor lizards, small lizards, water snakes, puff adders, large rock pythons, chameleons, geckos and skinks. With all this you get to enjoy your stay and visit to Matheniko Wildlife Reserve.
While on a nature walk, you will experience more of the beautiful landscapes of the area and discover more of the caves, hills and flora. This will give you a feel of the wilderness and see the breath taking landscapes while standing on any of the rocks in the place.
Hiking or rock climbing.
This is another activity done in the game reserve to test your fitness levels and stretch your body while hiking the rocks. It is exciting because one fully participate in this activity and gives you a reword after reaching on top of the rock.
Being part of the Karamojong community, this explains why one doesn’t have to miss out on the rich culture of the people living in this area or wildlife reserve. The cultural visit takes you through the life style of the people living within and next to the game reserve.
Birding is yet another exciting thing to be done while visiting Matheniko wildlife reserve were you may have a chance to see the Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, Pygmy Falcon, Ethiopian swallow, the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, the Mountain Yellow Warbler, Verreaux’s Eagle, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, the Egyptian Vulture, Ethiopian swallow, the Red-billed Oxpecker, the Clapperton’s Francolin and the Cattle egret among others.
Matheniko game Reserve is dominated by rocks and rock paintings that estimated to have been made 3,500 years ago. You can have a visit to these rocks to spot some of these paintings as you enjoy the beautiful landscapes and art work of the people that lived in those areas many years ago. The Kushites and Nilotics were responsible for these great art work paintings and they were made to offer an idea picture of what life was back then and what kind of animals roamed the plains way back.
Sport-hunting is yet another exceptional activity done in Matheniko wildlife reserve like in Pian Upe wildlife reserve. However, there are controversial discussions among wildlife conservationists against this activity but it has become popular in Matheniko wildlife reserve were large game hunters find the terrain suitable for hunting down antelopes for sport and to help control over population. Uganda The Wildlife Authority has an agreement with two companies namely Karamoja Safari and Karimojong Overland Safaris to manage sport hunting in the region.
This is specifically for camping lovers who are interested in experiencing the beautiful night African sky/galaxy, the early morning sunrise and the romantic evening sunset. This is better done during the dry season and unless you do camping, you will find no other better place to have a clear view of the galaxies in the night than in the three Wildlife Reserves i.e. Matheniko, Pian Upe and Bokora, plus Kidepo Valley National park.
Best time to visit Matheniko Wildlife Reserve
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve is open to visitors throughout the year, however it receives most visitors during the dry season between June to September and December to January. There are few roads and not well maintained consisting in that they become very slippery with some sections impassable after heavy rains because they are murram roads. Visitors are also advised to travel there immediately after a rainy season because by then the park is still having very green and amazingly beautiful to offer photography opportunities of the landscapes, rocks, hills and valleys, vast mountains and shrubs.
Accommodation in the game reserve
The reserve has not yet had great investment opportunities so there are few accommodation facilities close to it and one plan to sleep in public campsites and cook their own meals as well within the reserve. If you need more comfortable facilities, then you can choose to stay in the larger hotels in Moroto or Kotido towns that are next to the game reserve. From the hotels, one can go for activities in the reserve early each morning but for those that are ok with Camping within the game reserve, you will have plenty of time to see the game animals from you point of sleep better than those that may choose to sleep outside the wildlife reserve.
How to reach the wildlife reserve?
One can drive straight from Kampala to the wildlife reserve for about 542kms to reach the game reserve (11 hours).
Also flights can be arranged from Entebbe international airport to Kidepo airport with Aerolink Uganda for about 2 and a half hours, then drive straight to Matheniko or sleep in Moroto or Kotido.
When planning a trip to Pian Upe wildlife reserve or any other game reserve, consider going through a tour company or a tour operator to do the parking and managing the safari.
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