Kidepo Valley National Game Park
Kidepo Valley National Game Park the most remote and rich game park in Uganda
Kidepo Valley National Game Park of all Uganda national game parks is regarded as the beautiful national park, very remote being the least explored park and isolated of all Uganda national parks. However, it is rich in Africa’s finest wilderness with the savannah landscape extending far beyond the gazetted area towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges. Kidepo valley national Game park was gazetted as a game reserve by the British colonial government in 1958 and later as a national park in 1962, it was occupied by the local Karamojong people called Dodoth who practiced pastoralism.
Kidepo Valley National Game Park is located in Karenga Sub County in Kaabong district in the far North-Eastern corner of Uganda’s borders with Kenya and Sudan. The park covers an area of 1,442 square kilometers with rugged savannah dominated by Mount Morungole with an altitude of 2,750 meters above sea level, transected by Kidepo and Narus Rivers.
Activities in Kidepo Valley National game Park
The leading tourist activities in Kidepo Valley national game park include:
Game drives in Kidepo Valley national game park. The park has the highest concentration of game with a great variety of animal species than any other park in Uganda where visitors will only be able to spot. It’s the only park in Uganda where you will see the ostriches and cheetahs. Other animals that exist in the park include; antelope, Lions, Elephants, giraffes, cape buffaloes, Leopards to mention a few.
Game viewing activities are mainly done in Narus Valley is best known to possess the largest buffalo herds and antelopes. Narus valley is also a hunting ground for the big cats. Kidepo valley which is close to the South Sudan border is the best part to see the Ostrich bird and the hot springs (Kanangorok-the place of black stones).
Cultural Tourism: Kidepo valley national game park is rich in Cultural tourism. Areas around Kidepo national game park are settled by the Karamojong people. The main livelihood of the Karamojong people is cattle keeping however they also practice some farming on their land during the rainy seasons. The Karamojong people are similar to the Masai people of Kenya staying around Masai Mara as they have similar characteristics. The most interesting ethic group in Kidepo national park is the IK people, also known as the mountain people of Uganda.
They are the smallest number of Karamojong ethnicity with about 10,000 people living on Mount Morongole serving on only pastoral activities. Visiting the IK village is a full day hiking up the mountain however meeting them is excitingly rewarding as they are very humble, loving and welcoming people. Kidepo national park also has other small communities that reside close to the park providing cultural tours to visitors. For example the most common is Lorukul village.
Given the location of Kidepo valley national park as the farthest, there are 2 routes by road that is the road and the easiest being air transport though experience. Kidepo can be accessed through the Northern route which is shorter than the Eastern route. Driving to Kidepo is about 9-13 hours drive from Kampala / Entebbe. However, during the drives, both routes are interestingly enjoyable to drive through with sights of the landscape and its people. Kidepo national park is reached using a domestic flight taking about 2 hours.
Charter flights and scheduled flights can be arranged by Aerolink Uganda Limited and Fly Uganda. These are the only flight companies that operate flights to Kidepo Valley national game park -Apoka airstrip located inside the park.
Best Time to Access Kidepo
The best time to visit Kidepo valley national park is during the month of January, February, March, and December during the dry season. However since the park is semi-arid with no heavy rains, the park can be visited anytime throughout the year depending on the visitor’s interest. During the months of September, October, November, December, January, February and March, the park is less crowded while in April, May, September, October, and November, the rains end ushering in the dry season and then finally from December to February is when the park is extremely hot and dusty.
Its best to visit Kidepo valley national game park in the dry season because wildlife viewing is much easier as animals are on a move looking out for water sources and vegetation and driving on the bumpy marram roads is much easier compared to when the roads are muddy. The wet season is best for bird watching tours especially to find migratory birds.
Accommodation at the Kidepo national park offers visitors a variety of accommodations from up-market, luxury, and mid-range to low budget. It’s only one’s travel budget that will limit them to stay at a given lodge. Safari lodges in Kidepo valley national park are built and designed with both local and traditional materials to blend with the natural environment of the park. Some of these accommodations are constructed inside the park and others outside the park gates. Apoka Safari lodge stands out as the only upmarket lodge in the park, Kidepo savannah lodge and Adere safari lodge are in the mid-range category while the Apoka camping site are for visitors interested in camping.