Located in the most undiscovered region in Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park stands out to be one of the best rewarding destinations every wildlife viewer can ever visit in Uganda. In fact, this national park is without any doubt one of the best wilderness places in Africa. It is a haven to numerous living species of wildlife that can’t be encountered elsewhere.
Kidepo national park originates from Kidepo Valley, and the name, when translated using the native language, means “to pick” from down. This park is renowned for its scenic Borassus palm trees, a sturdiness of game and the authentic communities that are beautifully spread all from side to side of the valley.
One thing that you will not want to miss while at kidepo national park is the seasonal Kidepo River that flows north into South Sudan where it meets Narus River before feeding into the White Nile. The vegetation at Kidepo National Park indeed is abundant enabling the safe stay of the vibrant mammal species in all corners of the park.
It is worth noting that during dry season, several games abandon the Kidepo Valley to Narus Valley in search of water and greener pastures. However, this gives the travelers a chance to do nature walks in the valley as they explore and discover the beauty of Uganda’s wilderness.
Kidepo national park has more than two entrance gates to Kidepo valley national park; Nataba gate which is the main entry that connects travelers to the south-east side, travelers from southwestern side of Gulu and Kitgum will be required to use the Lokumoit gate, and those landing by flight at the Lomei airfield get cleared before accessing the park at Apoka, the park’s main offices.
There are several rewarding activities that tourists engage in while at the Park as well as places that tourists can visit;-
When it comes to a very rewarding game drive experience, Kidepo national park is that ultimate destination that is very reliable when it comes to the game because of its flat terrain and grassland base.
Tourists have high chances of spotting numerous wildlife such as; lions, cheetah, leopard, maneless zebras, kudus, buffalos, Oryx, gazelle, elephants, giraffes, elands, roan antelopes, striped hyenas, jackals, hyenas, zebras, reedbucks, waterbucks, Uganda Kobs, Nile crocodiles, duikers and many more.
Kidepo Valley National Park is a very gigantic area with beautiful plains and exciting features to explore and make discoveries. A nature walk experience into the fascinating Lamoj hills rewards visitors with different wildlife species within the adjacent valleys.
A traveler can also choose to drive a distance away from Apoka to visit and explore the Kanangorok hot springs which are a natural spa in the wilderness.
Matheniko wildlife Reserve
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve covers approximately 1,520km2 and it is situated in Moroto district; this is a section of the great Kidepo Valley Conservation Area though separate from the national park. This wildlife reserve borders kidepo national park from the south-east sitting on the edge of the international borderline with Kenya.
Matheniko Reserve is a semi-arid savanna dominated by the tree species such as the acacia and butterfly pea. You can as well find various unique features such as the cheetah, buffalos, leopards, roan antelope, lesser kudu, elands, mountain reedbuck, wildcats, blue duikers, Bohor reedbuck, striped hyena, waterbucks, Ugandan Kobs, spotted hyenas, civets, vervet monkeys, and others.
It also has countless bird species such as the black-headed plover, thick-billed honeyguide, Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian vulture, Ethiopian swallow, Pygmy falcon, the Red-billed Ox-pecker, to mention but a few.
Bokora Wildlife Reserve
Surprisingly, the Bokora wildlife reserve is the second-largest single wildlife protected area in Uganda. It gained prominence as an important component in the ecosystem during the colonial times. Bokora became a wildlife reserve back in 1964 to date.
This reserve borders Matheniko Wildlife reserve in the northeast and Pian Upe wildlife reserve in the southwest. These three reserves are real homes for all the game, bird species and any other wildlife that migrates from mountain Elgon national park.
It is true the mount Morungole occupies a very large portion of the south Kidepo valley national park as well as being the source of River Kidepo and Narus River which is a “blood vessel” of wildlife species in the park.
Hiking this mountain is a very rewarding experience for all travelers who make it to this park. The exercise gives you the real view of the kidepo valley and the neighboring features.
Visiting the Ik people
This is an indigenous community that lives on the rugged ranges of Morungole Mountain as their sanctified home. Basing on the UNESCO rating, the Ik people are numbering thousands of individuals who are endangered especially after losing their ancestral lands to enable wildlife conservation. These people traversed the Karamoja plains in search of game to hunt, gathering edible fruits, leaves, roots, and flowers.
They love honey and so have the skill of detecting the colonies of bees and harvesting honey. The IK people entertain their guests in all unique ways, ranging from performances, storytelling, traditional songs, tasting local cuisine, etc.
Kidepo Valley national park is a junction where unique bird species from various geographic zones meet. Kidepo valley has approximately 450 bird species and very suitable for bird watching.
The majority out of the 50 birds are of prey species in Uganda and endemic ones include Yellow-billed Hornbill, Egyptian vulture, Kori bustard, Pygmy falcon, Karamoja Apalis, Jackson’s hornbill, and many others.
When to visit?
Kidepo national park is open to visitors all year round; however, the ultimate time to visit is particularly during the dry season between Septembers to March., because when it is dry, the park is less crowded and animals tend to come out of their hiding place in search for food and water.
Yet in April and May, there is a lot of Rain and so the camps and tents tend to close due to the floods and then, from December to February is when the park is partly hot and dusty with amazing opportunities of game viewing.
Apoka tourism center
Apoka tourism center is the heart of tourism and every traveler to Kidepo Valley National Park stops upon arriving at this place. It is at Apoka where park offices are located, a place where travelers make clearance and where most activities start from.
Best way to get to Kidepo national park
Instead of driving for over 11 hours on road to Kidepo national park, there is an alternative of flying with a domestic flight right from Kajjansi or Entebbe to Lomei airfield in Kidepo. Take a step and face the wilderness of Kidepo National Park.