Kidepo Valley National Park
Travel to Kidepo Valley National Park – A Forgotten Wilderness
Kidepo Valley National Park is 1,442 sq. km of true wilderness lying in the extreme northeastern corner of Uganda, along the borders with Sudan and Kenya. The vast savannah plains and rugged mountain landscape of Kidepo Valley National Park makes it by far the most spectacular of Uganda’s parks. It is also the most remote. Kidepo boasts a diverse range of animal species with a list of more than 80 mammal species including 28 species found in no other Ugandan park.
The highest point in the park is Mount Morungole at 2,750m, located in the southern boundary of the park. To the north, with the border of Sudan, is the Loukei mountain range. Situated in the southwest of the park is the Narus Valley and along the western boundary is the rugged Napore-Nyagia mountain range. The Natira and Lokayot Hills separate the park in the northeast from the Kidepo Valley. While mountain forest dominates the high places, the areas along the Lorupei River support dense acacia forest.
Dry plains game can be found here such as the greater kudu and cheetah along with bat-eared foxes, caracals and Klipspringers. As with a number of other Ugandan Parks, Kidepo is still recovering from the Idi Amin era when poaching and indiscriminate killing of game depleted herds.
Those less common and perhaps locally extinct are the striped hyena, lesser kudu, Grant’s gazelle and beisa oryx. However other large mammals have made excellent recovery and healthy populations of elephant, Burchell’s zebra, buffalo, Rothschild giraffe, eland, Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, bonhor reedbuck, waterbuck and kongoni can be found in the park today.
Plentiful numbers of carnivores such as leopard, lion, spotted hyena, black-backed and side-striped jackals are also seen. Kidepo is also home to five different species of primate, including the Kavirondo bush baby, which is endemic to this area. The dry thorn thicket landscape in the north of the park is home to Guenther’s dik dik and Senegal galago. A rich and diverse reptile fauna is also found in the park.
Bird species recorded upwards of 475 second only to Queen Elizabeth Park. Some of East Africa’s rarest and most sought after birds can be found here such as the black-breasted barbet and Karamoja apallis. An outstanding amount of birds of prey are found in Kidepo and of the 58 species recorded, 14 are believed to be endemic to the Park and the wider Karamoja region. Among those seen are Verreaux’s eagle, the Egyptian vulture and pygmy falcon. Four species of hornbills have been recorded and the red-billed, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbill are peculiar to Kidepo and the giant Abyssinia ground hornbill is also common.
Not only is Kidepo a wildlife and birdwatchers paradise but the park also offers hiking trips to the Lamoj Mountains, a few kilometres from the park headquarters. Views of the spectacular Kidepo River Valley and Borassus palm forest can be seen. And from Kidepo Valley visitors can make a trip to the Kanangorok Hot Springs located just 11 km from the river valley.
For those interested in expanding their knowledge of local African culture visits can be arranged to the local Karamajong manyattas (homesteads) to see traditional costumes and jewellery making. Locally produced craft items can be purchased from the park tourist office. Arrangements for these visits should be made at least two days in advance.
At Apoka Safari Lodge relax in the comfort of your own room – from a rock-hewn outside bathtub enjoy your own private view across the savannah to the distant mountains. Watch zebra, waterbuck and buffalo meander by, or contemplate life from your own private verandah.
The Kidepo Valley National Park can be accessed by either road or air. The route by road from Kampala, via Mbale, Soroti and Moroto is an arduous 840 km journey and takes approximately 12 hours. Road conditions can be difficult and a sturdy 4WD is required. If you choose this route it is recommended to break the journey and overnight on the way by road. Road travel is also dependant on the security situation. Check with a local travel expert for advice and recommendations at the time of travel.
Perhaps an easier option is to fly. Charter flights are available as well as regularly scheduled departures on Eagle Air to Gulu and Kitgum (with an extra ‘hop’ to Kidepo on request).
- Search for sausage tree-climbing lions on a late afternoon game drive
- Join an early morning walking safari and experience the sounds and smells of the bush close-up!
- Relax and unwind in the luxurious surroundings of Apoka Safari Lodge