Kidepo Valley National Park, Nestled in the wild frontier region and offering some of the most astonishing scenic beauty of all the protected areas in the in Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is concealed away in the lost rugged, semi-arid valleys in extreme northeast of Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, 700km from Kampala the vibrant capital and largest city of Uganda. Characterized with rolling, short-grass savannah, ringed by mountains and cut by rocky ridges, Kidepo Valley National Park is considered one of the most remote safari parks in Africa that remains virgin and undoubtedly placed among the best wilderness parks in Africa.
Gazetted as a national park in 1962 and seated on a total of 1442-sq-km of land, Kidepo valley boasts of harboring a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species some of which are endemic to this park and found nowhere else in Uganda, including cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, caracal and greater and lesser kudus. The other wildlife game spotted here include large concentrations of elephant herds, zebras, buffaloes, bushbuck, giraffes, lions, jackals, leopards, hyenas and Nile crocodiles. Kidepo is as well as endowed with an array of birds mounting to approximately 475 bird species making it a credible birding destination.
Kidepo valley national park is a verifiable jewel of wildlife in the world but remains undisclosed and untold to the tourism market. It is situated in Kaabong district in northeastern Uganda.
Wildlife game drives is the most ventured in captivating tourist activity here. This is executed in two sessions i.e. morning and afternoon. There is an extensive network of driving tracks in the park, Narus Valley being a top target for wildlife. Lions are often spotted lazing in rocky outcrops and climbing the branches of fig trees. Also popular are the borassus palm forest and Kanangorok hot springs by the Kidepo River near the South Sudan border which is home to ostriches believed to be endemic to the park in the whole of Uganda. The rest of the game that entice tourists on game drive include, large elephant herds, buffalos, zebras, jackals, warthogs and different types of antelopes that include the beautiful klipspringer.
Birding watching is the second best alternative in Kidepo Valley National park. The park is home to approximately 475 bird species and more are still being discovered by tourists on birding safaris in this scenic park. Bird species spotted include the superb sterling, Ostrich, Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Clapperton’s Francolin which is only found here. The list of bird species in kidepo is endless and birding excursions are organized around Apoka Rest Camp, Narus valley and Namamukweny.
The Karamajong and IK people live adjacent to the park. The Karamajong, IK and Masai of Kenya are indistinguishable. Cultural excursions to Karamojong and Ik villages with hiking at Mt Morungole, both memorable experiences allowing you to interact and discover the unique cultures of these northeast tribal groups.
In addition, a great option for wildlife viewing is to venture out on foot, accompanied by armed rangers. The hikes and walks will take you to the Lomej Mountains which can be reached on foot for approximately four hours and starts at 7am. There are shorter guided walks that take about two hours, through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre, scenic Kidepo River Valley between banks of attractive borassus palm forest or Namamkweny Valley which can be reached in one hour from Apoka.
Accessibility to Kidepo Valley National Park is by either road or air. The best way to get to Kidepo Valley NP is by a scheduled or chartered flight as it is shorter in terms of distance and time spent along the way. However, travelling by road is more gratifying as much of Karamoja region possess extensive and virgin wilderness. It should however be noted that the road conditions are sometimes difficult and 4X4 vehicles are usually essential. There are several routes. The most direct route, through Gulu to Lokumoit Gate, takes about 10 hours. Two longer routes pass through the remote Karamoja sub region, arriving at Nataba Gate. Karamoja was subject to banditry in the past but it has been considered safe for several years and is a growing center of community-based tourism.
Chartering a flight right into the national park is another option. Aerolink and Fly Uganda operate scheduled and private charter flights to the Apoka Airstrip in Kidepo.
At Kidepo national park accommodation, lodging choices are more limited and new lodges are being constructed which will improve on the accommodation choices for guests to choose. Lodges in this amazing park include but not limited to; Apoka Lodge (Luxury), N’gamoru wilderness camp (Midrange) and Apoka Rest Camp Banda’s under the management of UWA (Budget option).