Kidepo Valley National Park
One of Uganda’s most magnificently endowed yet scattered savannah grassland is the Kidepo Valley National Park set so far apart from the rest of Uganda’s parks but still presents a marvelous safari adventure.
Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the semi-arid valley of Karamoja region, Kaabong district in the northeast Uganda vastly cast across 1,442 square kilometers, at an altitude of 914m and 2750m. Gazetted in 1962, the park has since remained a true top tourist destination of Africa’s finest wildernesses. The park is 700km from Kampala City, towards the border with South Sudan and 5km away from the Eastern border of Kenya.
The park offers a true wilderness experience especially when the seasonal rivers of Narus have dried up and the remnant pools is an arena of wildlife display of survival tactics to quench thirst yet in the same space; face threats from lions ready to pounce at the unsuspecting giraffes and antelopes whose thirst overshadows their alertness. One is pleasantly lost in the isolated park on an adventure of Africa’s true wilderness; here fantasies come alive, as the safari is truly rewarding.
Uniqueness and attractions of the Kidepo Valley National Park.
Kidepo Valley is home to the indigenous tribe of Karamojong and IK people whose hunting and gathering life style is an iconic experience itself. Deeper into the park is an array of wildlife like no other, cast across vast stretches of savannah and scattered woodland. The buffaloes graze in tens of thousands, elephants trumpet in their hundreds, from a distance stealthily caved in the grasslands are leopards and lions waiting on an opportunity to pounce at their unsuspecting victims. These, make the big four of Kidepo Valley.
Additionally, the Rothschild giraffes tower over the red thorn acacia trees carefully, and gracefully picking off the leaves while thorns remain. Other mammals like the mountain reedbuck, cheetah, caracal, greater eland, stripped hyena, gunther’s dik-dik, are some of the 28 mammal species exceptionally found in the Kidepo Valley.
The park is unique for its night game drives, where tourists can observe nocturnal carnivores like the leopard, hyenas and lions among others. The chilly night game drives are exceptionally intense thrillers of ambushes, kills and fights among carnivores for prey.
The bird catalogue has the ostrich, Karamoja Apalis, African Swallow-tailed kite, superb starling, African grey flycatcher, long tailed nightjar, among others, form part of the over 470 bird species in the park. Bird watchers would have a field day in the valley, in the sweet company of singing birds.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park?
Those that seek to adventure in Africa’s truest wilderness must brave a 16-hour long journey by road, from Kampala to Kaabong via Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, and Kotido. The reward is a safari of lifetime, a wilderness where fantasies come alive! This route is popular because it gives the tourist an authentic African countryside road trip, with several visible landmarks, local communities and an array of landscape along the way.
The most popular route to the park is Kampala via Karuma-Gulu-Kitgum to Kidepo within 10 hours over a distance of 571km. This route is fairly smooth with various tourist attractions like gushing white waters of the Nile at Karuma, landscapes preceding Karuma and people far beyond.
By air, Kidepo Valley is accessible with direct flights from Entebbe international airport or Kajjansi airfield to Lomeji airstrip in Apoka tourism zone. The flights are usually thrice a week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The traveler enjoys a bird’s eye’s view of the wonderful attractions on the 2 hours 15 minutes journey. Take off is always at 1230 hours while arrival is at 1445 hours.
When is the best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park?
Although Kidepo valley is a semi-arid area and thus generally dry for much of the year, Kidepo seasonal rivers often flood heavily during the wet season of April, May, and November. This creates some degree of difficulty for game drives.
Dry season on the other hand, which is much of the year causes Kidepo river to dry up completely while a small pool of Narus river remains, many animals gather here in search for water, giving the tourist a wide range of animals to see in one place.
Overall Kidepo Valley National Park is a truly unique wildlife safari, whose adventure creates unforgettable memories.