Kidepo Valley National Park in North Eastern Uganda
Kidepo Valley National Park occupies an area of 1,442 square kilometers in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province on the far northern Eastern Uganda. The park is near the border with South Sudan is among the most stunning Uganda safari destinations. Kidepo National park is one of Uganda’s most distant and stunning safari attractions. Kidepo has scenery unsurpassed in any other park in East Africa as well as great numbers of floral and faunal species. Its vegetation is of open tree Savannah varying much in structure, size and composition. Mountain forest dominates some of the high places, while areas along the Lorupei River support dense Acacia geradi forests. The ideal time for visiting Kidepo is March-April for all the specials and many transit migrants. But visiting is good for all year-round visiting and a tour would roughly take 4-7 days to exhaust all the tour activities in the park.
Major Bird Species
For bird watchers on a special Uganda safari, over 475 species are recorded, the second biggest number next to Queen Elizabeth National Park are there to see. Birds like the black-breasted barbet and Karamoja Apallis, amongst the Great Lakes Region’s rarest species, are mostly watched at the park.
The park is naturally endowed with a number of birds that can give great times watching by any tourist. These include Ostrich, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton’s and Heuglin’s Francolins, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Kori, White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Eastern Yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Bruce’s Green Pigeon and Rose-ringed Parakeet.
Also on the list are white-crested turaco, White-bellied Go-away bird, White-faced Scoops Owl, Isabelline and Heuglin’s Wheaters, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Little Green Bee-eater, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas, Abyssinian Ground, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Singing Bush lark, Red-winged Lark, Ethiopian Swallow, Pied, African Grey Flycatcher, Karamoja Apalis, White-bellied Tit, Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes, Slate-coloured Boubou and Fan-tailed Raven.
Other birds that cannot escape a visitor’s sight include superb starling, Red billed Oxpecker, Eastern Violet backed, Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers, Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers, Green-winged, Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias, Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbill, Steel-blue and Straw tailed Whydahs, Brown-rumped Bunting.
Kidepo Valley National Park Activities.
Animals to watch
Kidepo, one of the major silent Uganda tourist attractions has about 80 species of mammals 28 out of which are also found in other National Parks Uganda. Among them are bat-eared fox, carcal, cheetah and Klipspringer and many more. During President Idi Amin regime (1971-1979), Kidepo like many other Ugandan National Parks suffered much as many animals were killed due to poaching which left many game herds depleted, meaning that the park is still recovering. Mammals like Elephant, Common Zebra, Buffalo, Bohor Reedbuck, Waterbucks and Kongoni have shown a remarkable increase in numbers. Predators for instance spotted Hyenas, Leopard and Lion and others many and seen commonly in the park.
The Narus Valley has Oribis in abundance and the Guenther’s Dik Dik are everywhere in the dry thorn thickets in the north. Senegal Galago and Side striped Jackal may be found in the rest camp at night and White-tailed Mongoose is common but more likely to be found on a night drive. Reptiles are also quite common in the park.
The park has Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters facing the swallow, southern Narus Valley which is a great spot to begin a wonderful Kidepo birding. The bueatifiul Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike common on thorn trees around camp as well as other types like Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu.
A permanent water hole at the edge of camp attracts swallows and a variety of seed eaters including Yellow-rumped Seed eater. It is fondly visited at night by Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephant, Buffalo and occasionally Lion. Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to camp or along the track to Apoka lodge.
Hiking and Scenery viewing
This can be done on Lamoj Mountains, a few kilometers from the Park Headquarters.
Traditional Cultural Performances
Communities near the park stage cultural dances and performances. Dances like Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are common and worth seeing or participate in if you so wish. Cultural visits and nature walk to the Karamajong manyattas (homesteads) where you can see kraals local communities’ livestock, traditional costume, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows, arrows and jewelry to mention make a the whole enjoyable and memorable. Visiting the splendid Kidepo River Valley dominated by Borassus palm forest is another good experience. Kanangorok Hot Springs, located only 11 kilometers from Kidepo river valley is a must-visit. Picnicking from the sand is also there.
Accommodations around Kidepo Valley National Park
1. Apoka Rest Camp overlooking the Narus Valley with comfortable rooms.
2. National Park Bandas at Apoka with items like bedding, mosquito netting, hot showers, fresh drinking water and firewood. It is wise and recommended to carry your own food for you personal preparation or can be cooked for you if you so wish. Camp shop has various types of beverages.
3. The Kakine Campsite, it’s a small distance from Apoka. This campsite has fresh drinking water and firewood.
4. Nga’ Moru Wilderness Camp
On arrival at Apoka Rest Camp you can arrange for a ranger-guide to accompany you everywhere while at the park. A ranger knows many of the bird species. The park management also requires that all tour vehicles moving towards the north into the Kidepo Valley be escorted by armed guards to combat any possible danger from poachers and cattle rustlers in the area.
Access to the Park
A visitor can use road or air transport. Usually from Kampala, a drive goes through Mbale, Soroti via Moroto covering a distance of 840 kilometres in 12-hours journey in which 4Wheel Drive vehicles are most suitable. There are also Chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport to the Park Headquarters. Tour Kidepo National Park