Situated in distant Northeastern Uganda, near the borders of Kenya and South Sudan is a spectacular Kidepo Valley National Park. This is the most isolated Uganda safari park, featuring a beautiful semi-arid savanna, low mountains, and seasonal rivers.
Kidepo features a breathtaking landscape covering a land area of 1442sq.km. It lies at an altitude of 914 meters, a low-lying area along the valley floor, and 2750 meters – Morungole Mountain peak. There are two rivers in Kidepo – the Narus and Kidepo rivers.
Kidepo Valley National Park was created in 1962, the same period when Uganda attained its independence. It is the 3rd biggest park and a bio-diverse protected area with over 77 species of mammals, 470 bird species, and other wildlife.
Kidepo NP lies in Karenga sub-county, Kaabong District in Northeastern Uganda. This is about 220km Northwest of Moroto and over 520km from Kampala. The park’s Northwestern boundary stretches along the international frontier with Bira, South Sudan.
More than 77 species of mammals live in the Kidepo Park and including leopards, lions, spotted hyenas, elephants, cheetahs, bat-eared fox, caracals, black-backed jackals, Rothschild giraffes, zebras, lesser and greater kudus, reedbucks, elands, striped hyenas, duikers, white-eared kob, buffaloes, and others.
Kidepo Valley National Park currently has a list of over 475 species of birds. They include black-headed plovers, Karamoja apalis, ostriches, Abyssinian scimitar bill, Nubian woodpeckers, pygmy falcons, verreaux’s eagles, Northern carmine bee-eaters, bruce’s green pigeon, red-winged pytilia, superb starling, eastern pale chanting goshawk, white billed buffalo weaver, African moustached francolin, marsh tchagra, secretary, red-billed ox-pecker, Egyptian vultures, yellow-spotted petronia, red-cheeked cordon-bleu, silver bird, kori bustard, Ethiopia swallow, broad-tailed warblers, little green bee-eaters, clapperton’s francolins, and others.
Places to visit in Kidepo Valley NP include Lonyili, Lomej hills, Mount Morungole, Apoka Tourism Center, Namamukweny valley, Kanangorok hot springs, Narus Valley, and more.
Tour Activities to do
Kidepo National Park offers remarkably memorable African safari experiences. A game drive is a special experience to immerse yourself in the sweeping savanna plains of Kidepo as you keep an eye on diverse wildlife. The Park’s animals of interest on the Kidepo safari game drive include lions, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, bird species, buffaloes, gazelles, zebras, reedbucks, elands, giraffes, and more. This begins at the Apoka tourism center.
Guided wildlife/nature walks
Wildlife or nature walks allow you set foot into the magical savannas of Kidepo through the enriching animal trails. With an experienced and knowledgeable guide, take 2-3 hours exploring the Narus valley. Explore different wildlife and enjoy the breathtaking views of the park’s landscapes. If you are an enthusiastic birder, the Narus and Namamukweny valley fringes should be a must to explore to identify birds such as Abyssinian ground hornbills, clapperton’s francolins, Abyssinian roller, and more. Mount Morungole is another area of interest for hikers. Mt. Morungole is 2750 meters and at the top, there is IK community.
The park has many birding opportunities and supports more than 475 species of birds. The birding sites include Apoka Rest Camp, Namamukweny Valley, Narus Valleys, and more. The birds to expect to see while in Kidepo include the steel blue whydahs, Ethiopian swallow, white-bellied go-away, verreaux’s eagle, Abyssinian ground hornbill, red-billed ox-peckers, Egyptian vultures, secretary birds, red and yellow barbets, Northern carmine bee-eaters, golden pipit, Karamoja apalis, and others.
Kidepo Valley National Park safaris provide more than game viewing. The IK and Karamojong communities are the main areas to visit for the cultural experience. Unique cultures, traditions, and cultural entertainment from residents are the highlights of a cultural tour in the IK and Karamoja community.
Best time to travel
Access to Kidepo Valley National Park is possible at any time of the year. But the most favorable season to plan or travel to explore the park is during the dry season which runs from September to October & November. Birding is ideal during May, April, and May.
Accommodation choices in and around Kidepo Valley NP
Places to book for an overnight stay in Kidepo include budget, midrange, and luxury lodges. The accommodation choices for an overnight stay in Kidepo include Apoka Safari Lodge & Adere Safari Lodge, (Luxury), Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Apoka Rest Camp, and Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp.
Getting to the park
Traveling by road- from Kampala via the Eastern route or drive via the Kampala-Gulu highway. The Eastern route allows you to make a stopover at iconic sites like the Source of the Nile, and Sipi Falls and on the Northwestern route, you can branch off at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for rhino tracking. By air, Aero Link offers flights from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi to Apoka airstrip.