Kidepo Valley National Park

Park at a Glance

Size: 1,442km2

The park’s altitude ranges between 914m and 2,750m above sea level.

The park contains two rivers – Kidepo and Narus – which disappear in the dry season, leaving just pools for the wildlife.

The local communities around the park include pastoral Karamojong people, similar to the Maasai of Kenya, and the IK, a hunter-gatherer tribe whose survival is threatened.

Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700km from Kampala. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species.

During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.

When to Go

The park is best visited during dry season, June to September and December to February. This time wildlife is easy to see around water oasis. Travelers would require spending a couple of days in the park. Although the finest accommodation in this park including Apoka safari lodge is expensive, there’s Kakine self catering campsite services and UWA Bandas inside the park as well as outside Ngamoru wilderness camp are best for budget travelers.

Getting There

Getting to Kidepo Valley National Park can be difficulty and the journey from Kampala takes approximately 12 hours drive from Kampala city.

This is considered to be Uganda’s remotest park located about 700-800km from Kampala taking about 12 hours road drive to reach the park. With that long distance the park can be accessed in three ways i.e. by road and plane. On road there are two ways which are Kampala – Jinja – Mbale – Kapichorwa – Moroto –Kabongo –Kidepo Valley National Park or can use the Kampala – Gulu – Kitgum – Kabongo – Kidepo Valley National Park, a drive to Kidepo is advised to be divided into two days before reaching the park.

There is charter flights are available for hire. As there is a chartered plane for those who can’t wait for long drives which starts from either Entebbe Airstrip or Kajjansi Airstrip and fly for a space of one hour.

Things to Do in Kidepo Valley National Park

Game Drive

The most striking adventure in the true African wilderness, a game drive while seated in your 4×4 safari vehicle leads closer to the exotic explosion of flora and fauna. Wild game viewing drives are majorly done early morning at 6am and late evening at 5pm these hours rewards with spectacular wildlife viewings. However at any time one can take on a game drive with an amazing night driver which rewards with the view of prides actively hunting. Game drives in Kidepo is usually done in the Narus Valley which has the highest concentration of wildlife as well the kidepo valley rewards with spectacular game viewing of ostriches which can be done in the Narus valley.

Nature walks

Nature walking trails are done in areas around the Narus valley to Apoka tourism information center which can cover around 5 km taking on almost 2 hours. Around this park people are not allowed to just wander around unless under the lead of an armed ranger guide. The Kidepo valley however proposes great walking alternatives and mainly walking comes with hiking experiences which are mainly the Lamog mountain hiking which can last for 4 hours and the mountain Morungole hikes which can last for 6 hours covering 12km to the Ik people.

Visiting the local people

Yes, if one opting to experience what the true African wilderness is must as well reach to some of the communities around the park which are still to date hold to the ancient practices. Climbing the Mt. Murungole leads you to the Ik people who lived in the mountain before anyone new about it not until recently when they discovered these people. The Ik people still value their inherited practices and it’s all what they display at your visit including the local tales, dances among others. Also at the proximity of Apoka information center is the Olulekol village for the Karamajong people which is a very rewarding local homestead and stand a chance to glance at the pastoral lifestyle, take part in the traditional dances, and can by crafts as souvenirs.

Bird watching

This is another very rewarding encounter which proceeds right from the Apoka information center continuing to the Narus Valley and can also proceed to Namamukweny valleys. There is quite a number of bird species one can encounter with over 400 bird species, Kidepo Valley National Park is Savannah Park with broad view making bird spotting very easier compared to any other place in Uganda.