Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700km from Kampala. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species.
Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park, but the few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja would agree that it is also the most magnificent, for Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.
During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.
History of Kidepo Valley National Park
Dodoth pastoralists and Ik farmers lived in the area before it was gazetted as a game reserve by the British colonial government in 1958. The purpose was both to protect the animals from hunting and to prevent further clearing of bush for tsetse fly control. The game reserve was converted into the Kidepo Valley National Park in 1962.
The first Chief Warden of the National Park was Ian Ross, a Briton. In 1972 Paul Ssali, a Ugandan, replaced him. Their handover and training was the subject of the 1974 American documentary film, "The Wild and the Brave."
Top Things to Do in Kidepo Valley National Park
This is a list of top things to do and see in Kidepo Valley National Park. The park has been described as Africa’s Hidden Gem according to CNN. No other park like it in all of Africa – Africa like it was 50 some years ago – called a “Long Forgotten Eden” – a place you might imagine Africa would be like, but only better.
Kidepo Valley National Park is one of those Out of the Ordinary places in East Africa. Africa as you might imagine it, read about in an Ernest Hemingway account, or one of the Safari tales by Karen Blixen in her “Out of Africa” – this is unspoiled Africa, remote, untouched, unvisited, Africa without the crowds – a park with less than 10 new visitors a day, Experiential Africa at its best.
Getting here is a bit tough, or expensive if you fly in, however what awaits you while on Uganda safari to Kidepo Valley National Park far outweighs the cost of a flight or the long journey to the Long Forgotten Eden.
Kidepo Valley Park – a Tapestry of rugged scenery, vibrant wildlife, Warrior Herdsmen Tribe, and the Ik people on remote Mount Morungole.
Kidepo Valley National Park Game Drives are tracks where you can encounter the Wild of Africa without the crowds. This remote Uganda National park allows you to see the best of Africa while on a game drive.
Game drives in Kidepo Valley National Park depend on where you stay – if you stay at Apoka Lodge you will find that two activities a day such as game drives are included in the price of the room per night.
Other lodges such as Nga Mmoru Wildlife Camp or the Uganda Wildlife Authority Bandas mean that like in other wildlife parks we take you in our safari vehicle on game drives. We always use a Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger who comes on board with weapon for your protection. In Kidepo Valley Park you are assured of some of the best game drives than any other park while on African safari in Uganda.
Nature – Bush Walks:
Kidepo Valley Park has some great places for Nature and Bush Walks. There is nothing like taking in the African Wild on foot and there are not many better places to do so than Kidepo Valley Park.
There are also places outside of the park area where you can go for a hike such as an all day hike up the Morungole Mountains to visit the Ik People, one of the smallest tribes in Uganda.
There are many places within the park where you can hike and or climb including Idi Amin’s dream lodge that was never completed while he was president of Uganda – maybe in the future as more visitors come to the park it will be.
All Nature Walks and Hikes within the Park will guided by Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers, you cannot wander off on your own in this remote park.
Birding – Kidepo Valley Park:
Kidepo Valley Park is a great place for birders that also would like to enjoy wildlife in the remote Kidepo Valley Park.
Kidepo is notable for its birds of prey. Of the 56 species recorded, 14 – including Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Pygmy Falcon – are believed to be endemic to the Kidepo and Karamoja region.
There has, however, been no comprehensive survey of birds in Kidepo and visitors stand a good chance of adding to the current list.
Kidepo Valley Park is the only park in Uganda where you can find the common ostrich which is certainly a sight to see. Ostrich Eggs are harvested for breeding purposes by Uganda Wildlife Authority in order to increase number ostriches in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Karamojong Village (Manyatta) Visit:
The Karamojong People are Warrior – Nomads – the Karamoja region has often been called the Wild West of Uganda. When Uganda was a British Protectorate – they simply left this area alone. Their pride is their cattle and in the past cattle raids were the rule of the day.
Things have calmed down in recent years and the Karamojong have been disarmed and have become a lot more passive in nature. Cattle is still king, however subsistence farming has become a lot more common
This is an arid regions and people have to walk miles in order to find water, on the other hand at times there have been floods here wreaking havoc among the people who live here.
This is a cultural visit that you will find most interesting and give you insights into Authentic Africa and in particular insights into the Karamojong People who live and who are related to the Maasai.
A Visit to the Ik People:
You will need an early morning start to climb up into the Monrungole Mountains for a visit with the Ik Tribe. One of the original tribes in the in the Northeast Uganda area.
They were here long the Karamojong entered their land. Today they number around 10,000. The first University Student from the Ik Community is enrolled at Kampala International University. She is doing well.
Colin Turnbull wrote a somewhat negative book entitled “The Mountain People” about the Ik which has been disproved – he had tried to prove that the Ik people were incapable of loving.
This will be one of the highlights of your time in Uganda – learn the ways and culture of the Ik People. This activity will add one day to your safari to Kidepo Valley Park.
Experiential Wildlife Safaris in Kidepo Valley Park:
Here are Safaris that take in Kidepo Valley Park. If you do not see what you would like to do and see in Uganda. Kidepo Valley National Park.
Kidepo Valley Park is not just another safari park in Africa but an experience of the African Wilderness like no other. Past clients have been amazed as to what awaited them while they took a safari here.
If you do not find a safari that meets your needs – we would love to tailor-make your Uganda safari tour that is just right for you.
Kidepo Valley National Park, unvisited and remote – but not for much longer – not to be missed and more and more choose to visit the Park.
Enjoy a Safari in Africa as it used to be – wildlife without the crowds in Kidepo Valley Park.
Biodiversity at Kidepo Valley National Park
The vegetation of the park can be categorized into four associations; the Narus Valley contains grey-haired acacia (Acacia gerrardii) savannah woodland that emerges in the south and into a fire climax grassland, tree and shrub steppe and slowly graduates into bush lands with forests on the higher mountain slopes. The borassus palms (Borassus spp.) follow ridges that are associated with water and sand alluvial soils, and are common along the major rivers of Kidepo, Lopirpir and Kulao.
Much of the park is composed of open savannah grassland, dominated by a mixture of acacia and other perennial grasses, such as Themeda, Chloris, Panicum and Seteria species. Dry thickets composed of numerous short trees and shrubs also common. This vegetation is usually dry for more than a half of the year and antelopes such as Guenther’s dik-dik (Madoqua guentheri), which is found nowhere else in Uganda, are common in such habitats.
Kidepo Vally National Park has high biodiversity, with at least 86 mammal species, 475 bird species and 692 plant species, second only to Queen Elizabeth NP in terms of its known plant diversity and third behind Queen Elizabeth and Murchison for its mammal and bird diversity. Twenty-eight of the 86 species of mammals in KVNP are not found in any other of Uganda’s national parks.
Some of the animals unique to this park include striped hyaena (Hyaena hyaena), aardwolf (Proteles cristata), caracal (Caracal caracal), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), greater and lesser kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros and Ammelaphus imberbis), klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus), dik-dik, Bright’s gazelle (Nanger granti brighti) and Chandler’s mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula chandleri). The beisa oryx (Oryx beisa) and the roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) are believed to have been extirpated from the region. African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) have been observed to come into the park from Sudan occasionally but are not resident in the park.
Many of the other large mammals found elsewhere in Uganda such as African elephant (Loxodonta africana), zebra(Equus spp.), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), Jackson’s hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus jacksoni), lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), and both black-backed and side-striped jackal (Canis mesomelas and C. adustus), are found here.
The park is outstanding for its birds of prey, of which 58 species have been recorded including lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Verreaux’s eagle (Aquila verreauxii), the pygmy falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus), and Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus). Fourteen raptors are unique to this park in Uganda. Of the hornbills (Bucerotidae) which are characteristic of the savannah habitat, five species are represented. Some of Africa’s rarest and most sought after birds occur in KVNP, including the the Karamoja apalis (Apalis karamojae) and black-breasted barbet (Lybius rolleti).
The Narus valley is very important for the elephants in the park and also holds a population of Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus), which, during the dry season, is restricted to a 10 km long section of the Narus River that retains water intermittently in depressions or pools. Perhaps due to limited availability of food, water and space, the crocodiles have a diminutive size with a maximum length of 2.5 m. (Nile crocodiles regularly exceed 4m in other parts of the species range).
|Languages spoken||English, Luganda, Karamoja|
|Currency used||Uganda Shillings (UGX)|