Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo Valley National Park is one national park that any visitor on a Uganda Safari should not miss including in their travel itinerary. The national park has so often been referred to as the ‘Masai Mara’ of Uganda because of its stunning and beautiful savannah grasslands as well as numerous wildlife species.
Kidepo National Park is located in the far northeastern part of Uganda in Kaabong district. The national park spans over an area of 1,442 square kilometers and was gazetted as a national park in 1962. Aside from its stunning wildlife, other unique attractions in the national park include the 2,750 meters Mount Morungole and rivers like Kidepo and Narus.
The national park lies on Uganda’s border with Kenya and Sudan. The park is home to more than 77 mammal species and about 475 species of birds. Its location in the far northern region makes it the most isolated national park in Uganda.
Kidepo National Park in Uganda is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, a government agency that is responsible for managing nine other national parks in the country. The national parks lies at altitudes ranging between 914 meters to 2,750 meters above sea level.
The national park derives its name from the Dodoth word ‘akidep’, which means ‘to pick up’ in the English. The national park was previously a game reserve in 1958 during the British colonial times, and later when it was elevated to the status of a national park, its first appointed chief warden was Ian Ross and later replaced by Paul Ssali in 1972.
Points of interest in Kidepo Valley National Park.
There is so much for visitors to see on a visit to Kidepo park, and these include;
- Wildlife: Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda is the ideal national park for wildlife viewing during Uganda Safaris. The national park is home to over 77 species of mammals including; elephants, ostriches, leopards, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes and so much more.
- Kanangorok Hot springs: The Kanangorok hot springs are one of the interesting tourist attractions in Kidepo National Park. The hot springs are located about 11 kilometers from Kidepo River near Uganda’s border with Sudan. The water in Kanangorok hot springs boils at a temperature of about 50 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough for one to boil an egg in.
- Kidepo Valley: The Kidepo Valley in Kidepo Park is one of the places in the park where visitors can view savannah wildlife. Wildlife in this part of the national park usually converge around the Kidepo River, a seasonal river which flows through the valley.
- Narus Valley: The Narus Valley in Kidepo Park is another unique attraction in the national park. This valley is dominated by the Narus River which flows through the valley and is ideal for viewing wildlife in the park.
- Lomej Hills: The Lomej Hills, which are found near the park’s headquarters in Apoka, are ideal for wildlife viewing, hiking and guided nature walks, as well as birding activities in the national park.
- Mount Morungule: Mount Morungule is a 2,750 meter tall mountain located within Kidepo Valley National Park. This mountain is ideal for carrying out hiking expeditions in the park, with the highlight of the activity being a community visit to the surrounding IK communities. The IK people are a unique ethnic group in Uganda, who are believed to be the first inhabitants of this country and have a unique culture and language.
- Apoka Tourism Center: The Apoka Tourism Center is where the headquarters of Kidepo Valley National Park are located. It is also where most of the activities in that are conducted in the national park begin.
Activities done in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Visitors in Kidepo Valley National Park can take part in activities such as;
- Game drives: Game drives in Kidepo Valley National Park are conducted in the morning and at night. Morning game drives in the national park commence as early as 6am and night game drives start at 6pm in the evening. Some of the wildlife animals that visitors can sight on a game drive include; zebras, buffalo, lions, leopards, giraffes, jackals, hyenas, elephants, duikers, and so many more.
- Birding Watching: Birding in Kidepo National Park costs USD 30 dollars per person, and some of the bird species that visitors can sight in the national park include; the Yellow-billed Shrike, Taita Fiscal, Rufous Chatterer, the Karamoja Apalis and Ostriches to mention but a few. There are over 475 bird species in the park and about 23 species are endemic to the national park.
- Hiking and Guided nature walks: Kidepo Valley National Park offers hiking and guided nature walks within the national park. Hiking expeditions in the national park start from Apoka Tourism Center and take visitors as far as the Lomej Hills and Mount Morungule.
- Community Tours/Cultural Visits: Community and Cultural tours in Kidepo national park offer visitors an opportunity to embark on a unique cultural experience during their Uganda Safaris to the park. Visitors can interact with the local people in the neighboring IK and Karamojong communities and get to learn more about their unique cultures.
Other activities carried out in Kidepo Valley National Park include Camping.
Accommodation in Kidepo National Park.
Kidepo Valley National Park offers its visitors accommodation in the following lodging facilities; Adere Safari Lodge, Apoka Safari Lodge, Apoka Rest Camp, Kakine Self-Catering Campsite, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, and Nga Moru Wilderness Camp. Campsites in the national park do not provide meals for guests, thus visitors staying in these camping sites should carry their own food.
Accessing the National Park.
Kidepo Valley National Park can be accessed by visitors travelling from Kampala City by road. The national Park is located about 700 kilometers from Kampala via Kotido, and approximately 571 kilometers via Gulu- Kitgum.
Alternatively, visitors can use a faster and more convenient option of travelling to the national park by air. Visitors can charter flights from Kajjansi Airfield or board domestic flights by Aerolink Aviation from Entebbe International Airport.
Kidepo Valley Park is a jewel worth visiting/exploring by tourist travelling to Uganda on a wildlife safari.