Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys. This is between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700km from Kampala.
Kidepo Valley National Park was gazetted as a national park in 1962. The park has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species.
Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park. It is also the most magnificent, for Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses.
Apoka is at the heart of the park, a savannah landscape. It extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.
During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands. There are also remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka.
These seasonal oases combine with the open, savannah terrain. this makes the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.
Kidepo Valley National 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. They disappear in the dry season, leaving just pools for the wildlife.
- The local communities around the park include pastoral Karamojong people. They are like the Maasai of Kenya, and the IK. The latter being a hunter-gatherer tribe whose survival is threatened.
Things to Do in Kidepo Valley National Park
Game Drives in Kidepo Valley
A park ranger will help you spot the lions that may be sitting on the valley’s various rocks. Other wildlife includes elephants, leopard, bush duiker, jackal, bushbuck and bush pig. You cannot miss ostrich, buffalo and much more, in the wild Narus Valley.
Birding in Kidepo Valley
Apoka Rest Camp is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding experience. Birding can also be done on the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys.
Hiking/Nature Walks in Kidepo Valley
You can hike to the Lomej Mountains. Leisure walks can take you through the Narus Valley. Here you will meet members of the endangered IK tribe. You can also wander the splendid Kidepo River Valley. This is between banks of borassus palm forest.
Cultural Encounters in Kidepo Valley
Lorokul Cultural Group
The cattle-herding Karamojong occupy the north-east of Uganda. This is an area covering one tenth of the country. Here you wil discover the unique culture of this remote tribe. The Lorukul Cultural Group, located just outside Kidepo Valley National Park.
Places Not to Miss in Kidepo Valley National Park
Apoka Tourism Centre
The Apoka Tourism Centre overlooks the game-rich Narus Valley. It is home to an upmarket lodge in Uganda, Apoka Safari Lodge. here there is alos the simple UWA-run cottages. Apoka is the park’s tourism hub.
Ranger guides are at Apoka to escort tourists on game drives and walks. For those without their own transport, park trucks can are handy but at a fee. There is a craft shop with books and souvenirs. You can get bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages d here.
Food will be available on request at the cottages. Cooking gas and utensils can be hired by individuals who wish to cook for themselves.
Narus Valley is a rolling, grassland plain enclosed by distant mountains. The valley has permanent water, and for much of the year the park’s wildlife congregates here. Thus, the area is well provided with game tracks.
Narus Valley has four loop circuits exploring the valley around Apoka. Many creatures such as lions, Jackson’s hartebeest and buffaloes are here. Also giraffes, oribis and reedbucks can be seen in the valley. Less common are cheetahs and leopards.
There is the Narus dam and the water hole near the Tourism Centre. They are perfect observation points for game, especially during the dry season.
At the southern end of the Katurum loop is the Katurum kopje. It is the site of a derelict lodge. It is an attractive destination with superb views north. You can look across the valley towards the Morungule mountain range.
Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs
For most of the year, a lack of surface water means that little wildlife is in Kidepo Valley. It is still worth the drive to visit the dry Kidepo River. You can stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with borassus palms.
Kidepo means to pick from below. The valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer.
The Kanangorok Hot Springs lie 11km beyond the Kidepo River on the Sudan border. This is a glorious place to sit and view the mountains beyond the frontier.
Mount Morungole stands at 2,750m and is crossed by the Kidepo and Narus Rivers. The two rivers that nourish the park’s wildlife and this natural habitat as a whole.
The Morungole Range marks the southern boundary of the park. It rises from the plains a few kilometres northeast of Apoka. This region can be explored on foot with a ranger.
The mountain slopes are home to the IK people. It is the smallest ethnic group in Uganda, with their own unique culture.
Namamukweny is a Napore word meaning a place with no birds. It may also mean a lonely place with few people.
Regarding the birds, quite the opposite is true! The valley is home to a large number of bird species. They include the Eastern Paradise Whydah, White-crested Turaco and Common Bulbul. Others are Abyssinian Roller and Green Wood Hoopoe among others. It is in the north-west of the park and can be accessed by car or on foot.
The Lomej Hills are a short drive from the headquarters. They are a good viewing point for birds and wildlife, including the mountain reedbuck.