Kidepo valley National park

True African Wilderness

Kidepo valley National park Uganda

Kidepo valley National park is a national park that is found in semi-arid valley and rugged areas of Uganda that are between Sudan and Kenya. The park was gazetted in 1962 as a national park and is 7000km away from Kampala. The park inhabits almost 475 bird species and 77 mammal species. Kidepo is one of the most isolated Ugandan national park. Kidepo has one of the Uganda’s magnificent wilderness. Travelers like to travel through the Karamoja wilderness and you will see savannah landscape within the heart of Apoka when coming from Apoka.

Katebo are inhabitants who lived in the area in the past 1800 years and were hunters and farmers. The British colonial government gazetted it as a game reserve in 1958. The main reason was to make sure that animals are safe guarded from the hunter gathers who used to go hunting for animals and also to halt the further clearing of bushes so as to control tsetse fly spreading. The natives were evicted from the land and famine also resulted thus the Katebo were forcefully relocated to Bira areas like Kalo Kudo, Naurkori, Namosingo, Napotpot, Loriwo IN South Sudan.

When Milton Obote’s government took over in 1962, it changed the reserve into a national park. The first warden was Ian Ross and in 1972 a Ugandan known as Paul Ssali took over.

When it is the turn for dry season, you will find the water in remnant pools in Narus Valley and wetlands close to the Apoka. Seasonal oases can be located too and you can also see savannah terrain. These make the viewing of the Narus valley look so beautiful.

Location

Kidepo Valley National park is found almost close to Karenga that is found in Kaabong District which is located in the northeastern parts of Uganda. The park is 220km when using the road as you are coming from the North west of Moroto town and nearly 520km when using the road that of the northeast Kampala. In the North West border, you will find Bira and also South Sudan.

Geology.

The valley is made up of Narus Rivers and Kidepo valleys. It is true that the valley floors are between 3,000feet-4,000ft. When in the extreme north of Kidepo you find the tepid hot spring known as Kanangorok that is in Lotukei, the boundary of South Sudan. The Kanangorok is a favorable and permanent source of water in Kidepo Park.  The soil of park is mainly clay. The sandy-clay predominate and black chalky clay are found in the Kidepo Valley and in the Narus Valley you will see loam and freer-draining red clays.

Wildlife in Kidepo

The park is an inhabitant of manels zebras which are forms of plain zebra. The park is an open tree savannah. This is so due to the differences in the amount of rainfall received. Kidepo receives an annual rainfall of 64 centimeters and Narus receives an annual average of 89 centimeters. Also the population of animal and vegetation varies according to two valleys. . Purple Heron, Abyssinian Roller, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin are the birds spotted in this area. You can also spot lions, leopard, elephants, jackal, bush duiker, bushbuck, bush pig, buffalo and ostrich.

Activities in Kidepo Valley National Park 

Game Drives In Kidepo Valley National Park 

While doing your game driving in this park, it’s good to have a ranger who will guide you on where and how to spot lions, leopard, elephants, jackal, bush duiker, bushbuck, bush pig, buffalo and ostrich that sometimes sit on different rocks in the wild Narus Valley.

Narus Valley Game Drive

Game drive in Narus valley is best set off in morning and afternoon hours that is from 6am – 4pm. This will enable visitors to spot wildlife and bird species in Narus valley. In the southern Narus valley, you find all wildlife and permanent water points. Elephants and buffaloes are in swampy areas across the valley floor. Eland and giraffe are in drier slopes of the Narus valley while lions are spotted in the rocky out crops.

Kidepo Valley Drive

Dry Kidepo Valley has got a wonderful scenery and is good on small game. The Kanangorok Hot Springs drive is long and passes via magnificent landscapes. Apoka is 30km north of the hub and there is a road that crosses the sandy and dry bed of the Kidepo River. This road enters a plain lined of Morungule mountain range in the East and Jebel Lotuke in the north which is 2975m high. Ostriches and secretary birds are spotted always but mammals are not seen commonly in this area.

Birding In Kidepo Valley National Park 

When setting off for birding in Kidepo, don’t miss to spot Apoka Rest Camp. Narus and Namamukweny Valleys are also birding spots. Purple Heron, Abyssinian Roller, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin are the birds spotted in this area. Birding can start from morning and end in evening.

Hiking And Nature Walks In Kidepo Valley

Walking via the Narus Vally, hiking to Lomej Mountains, you meet community members of IK tribe whose culture is endangered wandering in the Splendid Kidepo River Valley through the banks of Borassus Palm Forest.  Visitors are also spotted wandering on the same place. It takes one hour for one to reach Namamkweny from Apoka. IK members are met at Murongole Mountains by the visitors who have arranged to meet them during hiking.

The Lomej Mountains is easily accessed by walking on foot. The hiking that starts from 7am takes about 4hours. Two hours can be spent on the walk from radius of Apoka to Narus Valley which is about 5km distant.

Cultural Encounters in Kidepo Valley.

Kidepo Valley is a national park which is habituated by the IK and Karamajong people. Visitors can tour on the top cultural activities in the park. IK and Karamajong cultures are alike to the Masai culture of Kenya. Visiting this park will bring the sense of similarity of these culture with the guidance of Lorukul Cultural Group or with any other cultural group on the borders of the park.

Best Time To Visit Kidepo Valley National Park 

Kidepo being a semi-arid area can be visited throughout the whole year. However, the most favorable time to visit Kidepo Valley National park uganda is during the dry season i.e. September-March. For the April-August months, the region is wet and a wonderful scenery is seen during this time. You surely watch birds during this period still. Though during the wet season, the roads are muddy and slippery and hence not recommended as the best time to visit this place.

The Peak season is during months of September to march. During this dry season, the wildlife watching is at its best. You will however find water in the permanent water sources that are in the wetlands plus the southern Narus Valley. Again, remnant water sources like small pools are used. As many places have dried up during this months, you will easily spot animal’s busy gathering on the water sources as they drink water. Though sometimes, it will be hectic to clearly view the whole scenery. It is also good to visit this place during this time since mosquitoes are few and a visitor is at low risk, to be affected by malaria.

Low season is April -August thus some lodges and camps are sometimes closed. Wet season is always at the best during these months. When rain is light it does not interrupt the viewing scenery for visitors. The worst climatic conditions to visit the park are in months of December to February. During this period, the Park is dusty and hot. However, it is the best time for bird watchers to visit the park since migratory birds are seen during this season to add on the resident birds. Best climatic conditions to visit are in September, October and November. The season has got the most lushy and beautiful scenery.

Recently, the park was ranked as the third finest national park in Africa. Therefore, Kidepo valley national park Uganda potrys a good image of African wilderness. The semi-arid and rugged terrain valleys give it approximately cleaved attractiveness that cannot be found anywhere else hence the perfect destination for a factual African expedition in Uganda.

Getting to Kidepo Valley National Park.

Road means

You can travel to the park by different means of road transport like using a bus or a car or any other means of public transport.

Best route by car.                       

The best routes to use when travelling by car are; South route via Mbale/Mt Elgon or Sipi falls and Eastern route via the Karamoja region.

Eastern route via the Karamoja region

There are many entry points that are taken from the south through Mbale or Sipi Falls through Nakapiripirit to Moroto thus linking with Kotido, Kaabong and Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda. The longest route taken is from Mbale to Soroti and through Iriiri to Moroto northwards.

Kampala to Mbale to Nakapiripirit to Moroto to Kotido to Kaabong to Kidepo is approximately 740km and that is 12 hours’ drive on the road.

Kampala to Mbale to Soroti to Moroto to Kotido to Kaabong to Kidepo is also approximately 792km and is 13 hours’ drive.

Western route via Murchison Falls

If you want to use Western route from Murchison falls to Kidepo, it better to drive via Gulu and Kitgum. Murchison falls National Park and Ziwa Rhino sanctuary are the most common en-route stop over.

Kampala to Karuma to Gulu to Kitgum to Kidepo is 571km and 10 hours’ drive.

Kampala to Karuma to Lira to Kotido to Kaabong toKidepo is 705km and 12 hours’ drive.

By public transport.

There are also public transport means to Karamoja where Kidepo Park is found. One can decide to take daytime or nighttime busses which are well known as coaches driving from Kampala to Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, Iriri to Moroto and then Kotido.

Public busses can be taken regularly from Kampala through Jinja to Mbale and Soroti.  When coming from Mbale travelling through Nakapiripirit and travelling from Soroti through Iriiri you will use taxi’s driving to Moroto town on a regular basis. The prices depend on the negotiation capacity per season.

Daily bus connections

Kampala – Mbale – Soroti – Moroto (12 hours)

Kampala – Jinja – Mbale – Soroti – Kotido (14 hours)

Kampala – Jinja – Soroti – Kotido – Kaabong (16 hours)

Mbale – Nakapiripirit – Moroto (6 hours)

Mbale – Soroti – Moroto (8 hours)

Air means.

You can also use airline means like the airplane. Entebbe international airport is the central entry point to Uganda and it is located near Kampala capital city.  Flights can also be organized from Kajjansi which is also nearby capital city of Uganda i.e. Kampala.

Tour operators always organize and book chartered flights for different destinations that are with in Uganda or beyond if need is there. We can also pick you from the airport and reserve you a hotel for you stay.

Airports.

Entebbe to Kidepo Valley

Entebbe airport: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

Departure Entebbe: 12PM

Departure Kidepo: 3PM – 4:30 PM

Flight time: 1:30 hrs

Ticket prices.

The Arranged flight rates range from $420 per person for a one way ticket to $700 for a return ticket.

Attractions In Kidepo Valley National Park 

Apoka Tourism Centre

Overseeing the rich Narus Valley you see a home to an upmarket lodge and also spot simple cottages that are run by UWA. Apoka is the main park’s tourism center. Ranger guides can be found at Apoka and can escort tourists on walks and game drives. If you do not have your own means of transport we can hire park trucks. There is a craft shop that has bottled water, books and souvenirs, alcoholic beverages and soda can also be bought here. Food can be cooked on request of a visitor. Cooking gas with utensils can be borrowed by visitors who wish to cook for themselves.

Narus Valley

Narus valley is a grassland plain and rolling which is nearby distant mountains. It has permanent water and wildlife within the park are staying within the Narus valley. It is also well known for game tracks and there are four loop circuits within the valley around Apoka. There are many wildlife that can be seen in Narus valley and these include; buffaloes, Jackson’s hartebeest, lions, giraffes, reedbucks and oribis as well as rare leopards and cheetahs. Tourism Centre near the Narus dam and the water hole are also good observation points for gaming in dry season

Ketebo, Mening and Amening clan are the ones who created the name Narus and they were also living in the valley. Grasses in the Narus valley are the taller bunchy Guinea grass and shorter red oat grass, they are fine thatching grass. In dry areas, there is desert date, red thorn acacias and to the lesser extent are drumstick trees. The fan palms line the water courses and iconic sausage trees, shorter monkey bread, Euphorbia candelabrum and you can also find Buffalo thorn trees here. 

Recurrent water brands River Kidepo as an oasis in the semi-desert that inhabits 86 mammal species that includes cheetah, spotted hyena, leopard, lion, wild dog, giraffe, elephant, African buffalo, zebra, Rothschild’s giraffe and bat-eared foxes even 500 bird species.

Kidepo valley and kanangorok hot springs.

Kidepo Valley streams are dotted with palms and the high areas are thorny acacias bush. Absence of surface water for many years in Kidepo valley National park means little wildlife in the park. However, it is still worth for the visitor to visit the dry Kidepo River to meander along away its 50m extensive bed of white sand that is in-between banks covered with borassus palms.

Kidepo means to pick from below and the valley was visited by visitors coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer. The Kanangorok Hot Springs is 11km beyond the Kidepo River on the border of Sudan. This is a best place to sit and view the mountains beyond the frontier.

Mount Morungule

Mount Morungole is positioned at 2,750m and Narus Rivers and Kidepo cross this place that nurture the park’s wildlife with the whole natural habitat. Morungole Range is a landmark for southern border of Kidepo Park. It upswings from the plains that are a few kilometres to the northeast of Apoka. A ranger can help you tour the place on foot. These home of IK people is at the mountain slopes. IK are the smallest ethnic group of people in Uganda with a unique culture.

Namamukweny valley.

Napore comes from the word Namamukweny which means that there are no birds and it can also mean the place where there are few people though regarding the birds, on other hand the Namamukweny valley is inhabited by many bird species for example white- crested turaco, Abyssinain Roller, common Bulbul, Eastern paradise whydah and many others. This valley can be accessed on foot or by car, it is in North-west.

Lomej Hills

The Lomei hills has a good viewing point for wildlife, a lot of bird species and the mountain reedbuck and it is near from the headquarters.

Lonyili mountain.

Lonyili Mountain is located in Kitgum on the Sudan border and it is covered in the montane forest, Colobus monkey can also be seen in the Lonyili Mountain though there are some problems like poor roads that are out of use currently but renovation is in plan.

Accommodation in kidepo valley national park.

Kidepo Valley National Park is found in Uganda but in a more remote region. Different from the other Wildlife Parks in Accommodation Choices, the accommodation choices are more restricted and in fact new accommodation facilities are being constructed outside the park which will advance accommodation services for visitors to the park. The main cause for few lodging choices in the nearby and within Kidepo Valley National Park is because of the remoteness of the area. There most things are bought from a distant place.

Visiting Kidepo Valley and sleeping at any of these below lodges is worth.

Apoka safari lodge.

Apoka safari lodge has a good facility and once you sleep here the wildlife comes around your door step. You will spot a wonderful scenery with a wealth of wildlife. You can enjoy a stay at Apoka lodge and you feel like you are at home. The lodge is a luxury, comfortable and stylistic in the middle of Wild West of Uganda. The decoration is wonderful and it has an en-suite bath rooms with stone tubs.

Nga’ Moru Wilderness camp

This is a mid-range lodge. It has moderate prices for lodging facilities and some are the tented and Cabanas facilities. The welcoming environment and wonderful staff make visitors to always have accommodation at this place.

Nga’ Moru Wilderness Camp provides for its guests a full board. It provides delicious food plus quality and affordable rooms as they are in wild of Africa.

Kidepo Savannah Lodge:

This offers budget or midrange accommodation facilities to visitors who want stay at Kidepo valley national park Uganda. It is a nature owned lodge. It has budget and moderate priced tents that share a bath and dining room. The food too is delicious. Visitors are well served at Kidepo Savannah Lodge

Apoka Reapoka-bandasst Camp.

Banda’s are accessible at a budget price. You can come with your own food. Toilet facilities are found outdoor of the Banda’s or cabins.  The Banda’s are the basic though they come with two beds. Sometimes food is brought in by visitors since you cannot find a public restaurant available as you stay at Apoka Rest Camp. However, currently food preparation is pre-arranged for only basic meals. Uganda Wildlife Authority manages the camp. The camp has steadily improved however there is a challenge of no nearby restaurant but you can purchase drinks.

Park entrance fee in Kidepo valley National park.

Park entrance fee means money that is paid by those who are interested to visit any National park. The Uganda Wildlife Authority are the ones who collect this fee and it is used to develop the National park and also for the development of local communities through building new schools for community members, repairing roads, providing piped water, building hospitals to the people and among other activities which are needful to develop the community.

Kidepo valley National park entry fee are classified into three (3) different fees and these includes; foreign non- residents pay 40 USD per person, foreign residents pay 30 USD per person and East Africans citizen pay 6 USD per person, children are also allowed to enter and they pay park entry fee each child like East African child pays 5000 Uganda shillings, foreign resident child pays 10 USD and foreign non – resident child pays 20 USD.

Park entry fee in Kidepo valley National park Uganda expires for only 24 hours and that park entry fee allows visitors to do game drive and other activities in the park are paid separately. You also pay parking fee for your vehicle and this fee is charged depending on the weight size of your vehicle like for a foreign registered safari vehicle is 50 USD and East African vehicle is 10 USD.

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