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Located in the northern circuit of Uganda, Kidepo valley national park is an isolated national park lying in the rugged semi arid valleys in the borders of Uganda with Kenya along side south Sudan and is the least visited national park in Uganda. The national park was established in 1962 in order to protect wild life from hunting and the wide spread of tsetse flies that had become a big problem in the park and the surrounding communities.

This park is known as one the most awe-inspiring parks of Uganda and has many unique species of carnivorous mammals that are not found anywhere else in Uganda . Primary among them are the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and the hunting dog.

This park is in the border region of Uganda, Sudan and Kenya and the views of the expansive savannah that this park offers are breathtaking. It can be reached through road and is one of the few parks that can be reached by chartered flights too.

Few visitors venture as far as Kidepo Valley National Park, in Uganda’s remote northeast (bordering Kenya and Sudan), though it is probably one of the most magnificent safari destinations in Africa. Enclosed by two river valleys, it is an oasis in the middle of a vast area of inhospitable territory. The 1,440km park offers vistas of rocky outcrops (Kopjes), mountainous vastness and huge, sweeping horizons. Harsh semi-desert scenery suddenly gives way to improbable lush river valleys, criss-crossed by small streams and wetlands. There are two distinct eco-systems, broadly centred around the Narus and Kidepo Rivers, which support an abundance of wildlife – including the ‘big five’. Elephants, buffalos, zebra, bushbucks, Ugandan kobs, Rothschild giraffes, lions, leopards and cheetah are frequently sighted and the birding is excellent (over 475 species). It’s also the only park in Uganda in which you will spot ostrich.

There is a lot that you can do while at this park. Since this park has diverse species of animals and it is quite common to spot at least a few species, it is quite popular for its game viewing. You could spot lions, leopards, jackals and even tree climbing lions or even an ostrich that was not originally present in the park.

Lamoj Mountains within the parks present an excellent opportunity for hiking and travelers hiking along this trail would be presented with one of the most beautiful scenery that the savannah has to offer.

For people who are enthused by less intensive hiking, you could just walk along leisurely and increase your knowledge of African culture by visiting the homesteads, where you can see a lot of items like spears, knives, headdresses etc, for sale. These items can also be purchased as souvenirs. It is recommended that an advance booking be made for such nature walks.

There is a picnic spot within the park as well, which offers you the option of relaxing on the sand and listening to the lovely sound of the palm trees.

There are several cultural performances conducted by the local community who perform on request and have a wide variety of traditional dances.

Many visitors to the park choose to track rhinos en-route, stopping overnight at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. In addition, no visit to this remote region would be complete without paying your respects to the Kanangorok Hot Springs and above all, ‘old tired men who stayed behind’ or local Karamojong homesteads. These nomadic pastoralists –who live and die for cattle – have an immeasurable pride in maintaining their traditional way of life amidst an arid expanse of sweeping gold savannah and bush.

However, despite of the less visits to the national park, it is blessed with various natural, cultural, historical features some of which are not found anywhere else in the whole world, it hosts approximately 175 bird specie and over 78 mammal species. Travelers visiting Kidepo valley national park can enjoy the following adventure activities:

Getting There

This park is in the border region of Uganda , Sudan and Kenya and the views of the expansive savannah that this park offers are breathtaking. It can be reached through road and is one of the few parks that can be reached by chartered flights too.

Things to See

Wildlife

Kidepo Valley National Park harbors a great diversity of animal species than other parks in Uganda. These include carnivores, ungulates, and primates. A guided safari to Kidepo National Park offers high chances of viewing tree climbing lions that always sits on sauces trees along Narus valley or on the rock just as you enter the Apoka Park Headquarter.

This park is known as one the most awe-inspiring parks of Uganda and has many unique species of carnivorous mammals that are not found anywhere else in Uganda . Primary among them are the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and the hunting dog. Right from Apoka Rest Camp other animals that can be seen include elephants, leopards, bush duikers, jackals, bush bucks, bush pigs, Kavirondo bush babies, buffaloes and much more.

There is a lot that you can do while at this park. Since this park has diverse species of animals and it is quite common to spot at least a few species, it is quite popular for its game viewing. You could spot lions, leopards, jackals and even tree climbing lions or even an ostrich that was not originally present in the park.

Birds

Birding The Park boasts of an extensive avifauna. 465 species have been recorded Birds of particular interest include the ostrich and the Kori bustard which are principally associated with arid regions. The park also has outstanding numbers of birds of prey. In this category, 58 species of birds that have been recorded. Amongst these 14 are believed to be endemic to Kidepo and the Karamoja region.

Natural Scenery

Lamoj Mountains within the parks present an excellent opportunity for hiking and travelers hiking along this trail would be presented with one of the most beautiful scenery that the savannah has to offer.

For people who are enthused by less intensive hiking, you could just walk along leisurely and increase your knowledge of African culture by visiting the homesteads, where you can see a lot of items like spears, knives, headdresses etc, for sale. These items can also be purchased as souvenirs. It is recommended that an advance booking be made for such nature walks.

There is a picnic spot within the park as well, which offers you the option of relaxing on the sand and listening to the lovely sound of the palm trees.

Things to Do

Game drives

Made up of the open savannah grasslands, Kidepo valley national park is the best tourism destination in Uganda for game drives. The game drives are done with the help of the rangers who helps travellers spot different wild animals as they feed and hunt down their preys. Some of these animals include lions, which are know for sitting on the rocks in the park, the elephants, cheetah, leopards, jackals, bush duikers bush bucks, bush pigs, and ostriches among others. Game drives are usually done in the early mornings and late evening since it is the time when most animals are grazing in the open savannah grass lands.

Village walks in the national park

Kidepo national park is located in karamoja region. This provides a chance to the travelers to move to the neighboring villages where they interact with the local people. Travelers participate in local activities such as traditional dances, preparing local foods, traditional marriages ceremonies, digging and all other local activities. This interaction with the local people gives them a feeling that they are part of the local community and this experience cannot be forgotten even after going back to their original home areas.

Mountain hiking

Hiking can be carried out on Lamoj Mountains just a few kilometers from the Park Headquarters.

Hiking is also done at mount Murungole, which stands at altitude of 2750m. The mountain is covered with vegetation that harbors various wild lives all-interesting to the travelers. The top of the mountain provides travelers with a clear view of the surrounding communities and other attractions in the national park. It is the site that every traveler should not miss out for the great and memorable experience.

Birding

Being a home to over 475 birds some of which are endemic to the national park, kidepo valley national park is the best tourism site for birders. Birding starts at the rest camp of apoka and also on the boundaries of the two valleys of Narus and Namamukwenyi valleys both within kidepo valley national park. The common birds that can be seen in the national park include among others the Ostrich, Red-and-yellow barbe, Dark chanting goshawk, little bee-eater, Secretary bird, and Kori bustard. Kidepo valley national park s the second after queen Elizabeth national park to have many birds that make the safari so interesting and memorable. Every traveler should therefore move to the northeastern part of Uganda for the great and memorable birding experience.

Cultural Performances

There are several cultural performances conducted by the local community who perform on request and have a wide variety of traditional dances. During safaris in Kidepo valley national park, tours to the local communities in the neighboring villages can also be arranged. The local community near the park stages cultural dances and performances. Traditional dances such as the Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are worthy to see and participate into.

Nature Walk and cultural visits to the Karimajong Manyatta (homesteads) where you will probably see kraals belonging to local communities, traditional costume, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows and arrows and jewelry among others are also interesting and worthy to take during a safari holiday in this park.

Where to Stay

Well-established lodges serve Kidepo valley national park and other accommodation facilities among which include the Apoka safari lodge, Kakine Self-catering Campsite and Apoka rest camp all under the management of the Uganda wild life authority (UWA). The accommodation facilities offer high quality services, which meet bot national and international level. Travelers re therefore assured of good and quality services that will add to the total experience never to forget.

In conclusion therefore, Kidepo Valley National Park is an off-the beaten path tourism destination with very unique natural, cultural and historical features. For those looking to touring Uganda, including this park on the itinerary can make you have a unique safari experience of a lifetime.