Kidepo Valley National Park is a wilderness park; hot, dry and isolated; yet spectacular, magnificent, virgin and recently re-discovered. The park is traversed by large sand rivers, with a distinctive composition of wild game. All these co-exist with the dry mountain forests, savanna, and hilltops capped by rock kopjes.
The 1442km2 is located in the Karamoja region of Northern Uganda. Kidepo Valley National Park sits sandwiched between a mountainous region where borders of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan intersect.
The parks major physical features are the two valleys: Narus Valley and Kidepo Valley. However, due to the varying amounts of rainfall received in these two locations, the vegetation and wildlife population in the park seems to vary between the two valleys.
It may be remotely located but Kidepo National Park is still easily accessed; either by road or air.
By road: there are four major routes that lead to this true wilderness of Kidepo.
Now all these routes do involve long distance driving, for many hours on the road. But driving through the wilderness is an exciting experience, not to mention the excellent views of fascinating scenery and nature. You must however, have a good 4X4 vehicle, especially if you visit during the rainy season.
By Air: Chartered air flights to Kidepo can be arranged on request. Take off is either from Kajjansi airstrip or from Entebbe International Airport to Lomej airstrip near the park headquarters. This is a two hour flight. Similarly, domestic flights operated by Aero Link are scheduled but on select days of the week – Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. However, a flight requires a minimum of 4 people to run.
Kidepo Valley National Park is famous for its spectacular natural beauty and rich birdlife. Furthermore, it is the least travelled destination in Uganda but this is worthwhile: you get to enjoy this paradise with less interruptions. Perfect getaway!
Kidepo is Uganda’s remaining virgin wilderness, a safari paradise rated as one of the best in Africa. In 2013, the globally respected channel, CNN Travel voted Kidepo Valley National Park third best safari destination; after Kenya’s Maasai Mara and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana.
While the park is more than 700 kms away from Kampala, it offers a deeply rewarding experience for all safari enthusiasts who make the journey north. A massive bowl of sun kissed hills and valleys is the sight that greets you as you approach the park. In addition, these valleys open up into majestic wilderness of savannah, acacia, borassus palms and lots of sausage trees; a delicacy for the large elephant herd that roams the park’s plains. It is paradise at its best.
Kidepo offers spectacular natural beauty due to its pristine wilderness and will impress anyone who ventures into its territory that has remained untouched for many years. The park is one of the most idyllic locations for anyone interested in experiencing a genuine wildlife safari in Uganda.
Kidepo Valley National Park scores highly as a wildlife safari destination due to its spectacular landscape, serenity and wildlife. This is because within the parks boundaries are about 80 animal species, 28 of whom are peculiar to Kidepo National Park only.
Amongst some of the wildlife seen in the park include a growing elephant population, plain zebras, a huge population of buffaloes and the kongoni. Predators include cheetahs, lions, leopards and spotted hyenas. The patas monkeys are the only primates found in the park.
Rich Birdlife: the park boasts of some special bird species that cannot be found anywhere in Uganda. These include the black breasted Barbet and the Karamoja Apalis. As a matter of fact, these are some of the rarest birds in the region. The park has a recorded bird population of about 475 species.
All year round destination: Game viewing is exciting all year round and so is bird watching. Foot safaris and mountain climbing can also be done. In the dry season, it is worth the drive just to visit the seasonal Kidepo River and stroll along its 50 m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with Borassus palm trees.
The national park is remotely located and the accommodation facilities there are quite few. But the few available do cater for different levels of comfort.
The Apoka Safari Lodge is the only high-end accommodation in Kidepo. Strategically located inside the park boundaries, chances of viewing wildlife up-close are immense. The rooms are comfortable, big and spacious; with plenty of space to relax, read and sprawl. Most of the materials used in this lodge are made by the local craftsmen in the communities surrounding the park. A swimming pool to cool off the afternoon heat is available.
Kidepo Savannah Lodge: Located just a few kilometers away from the park, this lodge offers a variety of rooms. These for different levels of comfort. Additionally, it offers unrivalled views of the expansive Narus Valley, Mount Morungole and the distant mountain ranges of the South Sudan border. Its accommodation interiors draw inspiration from the savannah grasslands, rocky outcrops. Not forgetting the way of life of the Karimojong with their manyattas and colorful blankets. You will enjoy your stay here. Restaurant and bar facilities available, and thankfully with flexible meal times; all served according to your preference.
Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp sits outside the national park boundaries. It is only about 4km form the park gate. Their comfortable accommodation facilities are either in safari tents or the cabanas, all en-suite. It is an ideal place to relax and view wildlife roaming the Narus valley
Budget travelers have been catered for as well. There is the Apoka Rest Camp which is under the managed of Uganda Wildlife Authority. Although budget, it is located within the park boundaries, near the Narus Valley. It has 16 self contained chalets with bathroom en-suite, and other cheaper non-self contained bandas. Visitors are however advised to carry their own food and drinks as the camp does not provide meals. However, the camp may provide local food only if you book in advance.
Kakine Self catering campsite is also another budget option for tourists to Kidepo Valley National Park. Just like for the Apoka Rest Camp, visitors who plan to stay at Kakine must come with their own food and drink provisions. It is located close to the park Headquarters. Firewood and clean water may be provided. It is a great option for visitors keen on camping.
Bird watching in Kidepo takes place either in the morning or afternoon; depending on your schedule. The park has a variety of birds, some of which cannot be seen anywhere else in Uganda.
The best spot to begin your Kidepo birding experience is Apoka Rest Camp. The fringes of the Narus valley also are good birding spots. Bird species in Kidepo include the Purple Heron, Abyssinian Roller, ostrich, Kori Bustard and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill not to mention the Clapperton’s Francolin found only in Kidepo.
Game drives in Kidepo are usually done along the Narus Valley as the park’s wildlife flocks here most time of the year. The uniquely positioned Katurum kopje provides superb views across the valley towards the Morungole mountain ranges. This coupled with the adequate track circuits enable visitors to view the animals at a close range. Game drives are best done in the mornings (6 AM) or in the late afternoons (4pm); for that is when wildlife is most active. During a game drive be on the lookout for giraffes, eland on the drier parts, buffalo and elephants along the valley floors, not to mention the lions that tend to rest on / below the rocky outcrops. On a lucky day, you will see the fastest animal on earth, the cheetah.
Other sightings include: bush duiker, bush pig, jackal, ostrich and so many more.
The Morungole ranges are located a few kilometers North of Apoka. However, even at 2,2794m, the Morungole Mountain is not very visible from most vantage points of the Narus Valley. A trip to Kidepo Valley gives one a good view of this mountain and further exploration is by hiking. Of course, since hiking is on foot, we advise you to engage the services of a ranger guide.
Nature walks take place around Apoka camp at any time of the day. And visitors are able to see different species of animals like bulbul, zebra, elephants and reedbucks. At the Eastern Kakine walk circuit, visitors are able to see wildlife at a close range of up to 80m. The Rionomoe trail also gives a great vantage point of the Narus valley.
We believe that the only way a visitor gets to learn more about a community is by interaction with the local people. That is why Chigo Tours incorporates community walks or activities in most of our itineraries. Community walks are therefore one of the ways a visitor gets to know more about the Karamojong lifestyle, dress code, culture, dance and a lot more.
The Kidepo River is an intermittent sand river. It is located in the northern part of Kidepo national park. Why does it stand out? It stands out because it it lined by Borassus palms, which makes it look like an oasis in the desert. Best time to experience the fascinating sand bed is during the dry season. Moreover, many bird species live around this area. So, one can enjoy the wilderness experience while listening to the different music of bird calls.
Kidepo Valley National Park is an isolated wilderness but an enjoyable destination all the same. Should be interested in touring this true African wilderness, then do not hesitate to contact us. Chigo Tours, Experiences beyond adventure!
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