Kidepo Valley National Park, situated in Kaabong District, North-Eastern Uganda is remarkably one of the virgin travel destinations tourists on Uganda safari should consider a must-visit to experience something unusual. If authentic African wilderness experience is what you are interested in then, Kidepo Valley National Park safari is the right answer!
No best place on planet earth holidaymakers can experience that true feeling of authentic African experience except only in Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP). Gazetted in 1962, the same year Uganda attained her independence, Kidepo is incredibly a pristine Uganda safari park lying in the extreme rugged, semi-arid valley close to border areas with South-Sudan and Kenya.
Kidepo Valley National Park is isolated in the Karamoja Region, North-Eastern Uganda, makes up the premier Eastern Circuit sites and sprawls in land area of about 1442sq.kms. To most people, Kidepo is a true Long-Lost Eden, and a Uganda safari here is a great opportunity to explore and experience what this true Eden has to offer the world. Its remoteness makes it an exceptional wilderness paradise and it is of no doubt one of the best savanna destinations in the East African region.
Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP) noted for its distinct landscape, characterized by mountains, savanna grassland, riparian wood, semi-arid scrubs, and open thorn bush. Kidepo lies within elevation range of 914m to 2749m.
History of Kidepo N/Park Uganda
Years back, Kidepo Valley National Park was largely an area that was occupied by the Ketebo farmers and hunters. The long lived in area from 1800, until, recently in 1958 when it was gazetted as a Game Reserve under the British Colonial Government.
The creation of Kidepo Game Reserve in 1958 was purposely to protect wildlife from hunters and also to reduce bush clearing so as to fight against tsetse flies. The occupants of Kidepo area were forced out (especially Ketebo farmers) who had to relocate to other areas in Bira and they occupied Napotpot, Naurkori, Namosingo, Loriwo and Kudo in South Sudan. In 1962, the Late Milton Obote and its government upgraded Kidepo Game Reserve into Kidepo Valley National Park making it one of the 10 Uganda safari parks in the Pearl of Africa today.
The climate of Kidepo Valley National Park-KVNP, Uganda
Kidepo National Park records semi-arid kind of climatic conditions compared to rest of the other national parks in Uganda. The longest period of the year, the park experiences drought considering its kind of climatic conditions. The temperatures are hot ranging from 29 degrees celsius to 40 degrees celsius during the afternoon. At night, temperatures tend to drop to 17 degrees celsius and generally, Kidepo experiences a single rainy season starting from April, May, July and August.
Each year, Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda, records 2 significant drier seasons. The phase of drier months/season that commences in September, October, November while second phase begins in December, January & February. Temperatures vary from 17 degrees celsius in the morning to 29 degrees celsius afternoon during the dry months of September to November and rise up to 32 degrees celsius day time and 18 degrees celsius in the morning, during the drier months of December to February.
Top things to see in Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda
Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda is of no doubt East Africa’s exceptional wildlife safari destination. This pristine savanna park hosts an estimated population of 77 mammal species. Taking a Uganda tour to Kidepo Valley National Park is a great chance to get exposed to its huge herds of African bush elephants, Cape buffaloes, lions, the Rothschild giraffes, Burchells Zebras, Kavirondo bush babies, common elands, duikers, Jackson’s Hartebeest, roan antelopes, leopards, oryx, cheetahs, Uganda Kobs, Oribis, Senegal Galago.
The others include spotted hyenas, Reed bucks, water bucks, porcupines, pangolins, Warthogs, Lesser and greater Kudu, bush pigs, bat eared fox. With its biodiversity and beauty, it is of no doubt that Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda was ranked as the prime national park in Africa by the World Travel Awards-2013.
Birds of Kidepo N/P
Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP) also has a total check-list of over 475 bird species which lists it among the premier birding destinations in Uganda. In Uganda, Kidepo is in the 3rd position, boasting of a huge concentration of bird species. The 475 avifaunal species include 14 endemic bird species and 56 prey species.
In the check-list, Kidepo Valley National Park protects birds such as black breasted barbet, Karamoja Apalis, ostriches. Around the Apoka Rest Camp and headquarter of Kidepo, the notable birds to expect to keep an eye range from little weavers, Rupell’s superb starlings, Nubian woodpeckers, scarlet-chested sunbird, red cheeked cordon-bleu to Vinaceous doves.
At the edge of Apoka Camp/permanent water hole, the most likely birds to come across include African moustached, broad-tailed warblers, Crimson rumped waxbill, black coucal, yellow rumped see-eaters. Additionally, there are also several fox kestrel, pygmy falcons, eastern pale chanting goshawk, yellow necked spur fowl, African swallow tailed kite, violet tipped courser, white faced scoops owl, red billed ox-pecker, mouse colored penduline, Africa gray flycatchers, four banded sand grouse, rose ringed parakeet, speckled fronted weavers, red winged lark, Abyssinian ground thrush.
Kanangorok Hot Springs
This is another significant tourist site worthy considering a must-visit on Kidepo Valley National Park safari. The Kanangorok hot springs are incredible and offer natural healing power.
Rising up to 2750m, Mt. Morungole is of no doubt a home to the IK people, a group of locals that stays on this mountain’s summits. It is an incredible hiking spot for holidaymakers on Kidepo safaris. Other significant hiking sites include The Lomej Hill, Lonyili Mountain (this is found outside Kidepo).
Activities to do in Kidepo National Park-Eastern Circuit
Safari game drives are the prime reason why most Uganda holidaymakers consider Kidepo safaris. Kidepo Valley National Park is noted for its magical game viewing experiences, offered while you are in a comfortable 4x4 safari vehicle. A 4 days Kidepo safari or 5 days Kidepo safari can do you best while on Uganda safari in Kidepo Valley National Park.
While on Kidepo safaris, expect a lot to see including interesting mammal species including antelopes, African bush elephants, primates, the Rothschild giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, lions, zebras, buffaloes, birds to mention but a few.
Kidepo Valley National Park comes second after Queen Elizabeth National Park as the best bird watching destination. Boasting of all the 475 bird species, Kidepo is remarkably a birder’s haven, offering the best sight of interesting birds such as ostriches, pygmy falcons, Egyptian vultures, Karamoja apalis, and African gray flycatchers.
Besides, there are also several of Abyssinian ground thrush, African moustache, Abyssinian rollers, Clapperton’s francolins, purple heron, Abyssinian ground hornbill, mouse-colored penduline, red winged lark, 4 banded sand grouse, speckled fronted weavers, red billed ox-pecker, Ethiopian swallow.
Kidepo is also hiker’s paradise. The best places to enjoy hiking experience while on Kidepo safaris include Mountain Morungole that rises 2750m and a home to the IK. Trekking through Mt. Morungole is a complete 4 hours’ journey and or take short walks about 2 hours around the Narus valley.
Guided nature walks are also conducted around Apoka Camp area or Kidepo River Valley just between the banks of the borassus palm forest/Namamukweny valley. The most rewarding part about the guided nature walk here is that you come across different species of wildlife, birds and also enjoy the exceptional landscape view.
Uganda safaris in Kidepo are noted for their rewarding cultural experiences offered in the Karamojong/IK communities. Community visit in the Karamojong community is a great chance to interact with the traditional nomadic pastoralists-the Karamajong who live in the North-eastern Uganda, visit the renowned Manyatta houses/village or hike to the summits of Mount Morungole to explore more about the IK.
Best time to visit
Tourism activities in Kidepo Valley National Park can be conducted at anytime of the year. But Kidepo is best to visit during the 2 dry season, starting from September to November/December to February. The park can be hot especially around December to February.
Where to stay
When you compare Kidepo Valley National Park to Queen Elizabeth National Park/Murchison Falls National Park, you realize that few lodges are available in this particular park (Kidepo). But the existing ones include budget, mid-range and luxury. They include Apoka Rest Camp (Basic/budget), Kidepo Savanna Lodge/Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp (Moderate/Mid-range), and Apoka Safari Lodge (Luxury).
Access to Kidepo N/Park in the Eastern Circuit
The 2 alternative ways to reach to Kidepo Valley National Park include by road or by air. When you choose road transportation, expect to drive for about 700kms depending on the route starting from Kampala/Entebbe. The notable routes leading to Kidepo include the Kampala to Lira to Kotido route; the Kampala-via Gulu-Kitgum route or Kampala to Mbale-get to Soroti city then connect to Moroto city. Or fly starting from Entebbe Airport/Kajjansi airfield then land in at Apoka airstrip.