Located 520kilometres northeast of Kampala, on the borders of South Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda’s most raw and remote destination and those who drive to the Karamoja region are introduced to spectacular sceneries of pristine landscapes, wilderness, natural beauty and cultures. Kidepo has built a reputation as one of Africa’s finest park in the ranking of national parks in Africa. The quickest way to get to this hidden gem is by doing a fly-in safari but some brave adventurers take the 12-hour long road journey from Kampala which gives them a chance to encounter the locals, but this is when you have got an equipped sturdy 4WD.
The savanna par covers an area of 1,442 square kilometers (557 square miles) and is ringed by hills and mountains. Of these is the 2,750 meters (9,020 feet) high Mount Morungole, which can be reached on foot and a certain level of fitness is required to be rewarded with the most raw and oldest tribe –the IK. The park has two rivers two rivers Kidepo and Narus that provide water for the local wildlife and much of the year the animals congregate around the Narus Valley mostly during the dry season. Near the Kidepo River, there are the Kanangorok Hot Springs, where you can sit tranquilly and absorb the view of the mountain ranges beyond the frontier.
The Park is home to a variety of wildlife, of which 28 resident species are not found in any other park in the Pearl of Africa. The park has a great count of large mammals with the largest herds of buffaloes in all Africa, the elephants, zebras, warthogs, Rothschild’s giraffes, buffaloes, reedbucks and waterbucks. Lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and black-backed and side-striped jackals are some of the carnivores that visitors can encounter within the park, and cheetahs can only be seen here and its neighboring reserve, Pian Upe Game Reserve.
Bird watchers are captured by the 475 species of birds, including the ostrich and birds of prey and some of the rare Masai and Somali biome species and its only Queen Elizabeth National Park has more bird variety then Kidepo with over 600 species.
Drives to the Narus Valley and Kidepo valley offer best of wildlife viewing in the park. The permanent river in the Narus attracts a congregation of wildlife all year around from lions, buffaloes, elands and giraffes among others. On the other north side the dry Kidepo Valley may not offer a lot of wildlife but is massive when it comes to scenery, ostriches and the sand bed of the dry Kidepo River during the dry season.
Kidepo is home to raw and untouched local communities that have not been tampered by modernization. The two groups of the IK and the Karamojong can be explored on a walk outside the park. Tourists get to learn about the culture of the Karamojong by visiting their Manyattas. Getting the IK requires a certain fitness level and can be quite hectic since it involves a hike to Mt. Morungole.
With a blend of the Masai-Somali biome species and some are endemic to the area. Species include Karamoja Apalis, Kori Bustard, and it has a notable number of raptors (56).
Taking a guided nature walk from Apoka to the grasslands of Kakine exposes and brings you close to the breathing taking sceneries as you wander and traverse the savanna park to discover the beauty underneath.
The route from Kampala via Gulu and Kitgum about 571km. Also through the east, the 661km with branch offs to the Nile River, Sipi falls, Pian Upe Wildlife reserve and the tepeth in Mt. Moroto. Tourists can take flights to the park (Kidepo Airstrip) from Kajansi or Entebbe International airport.
Kidepo valley National park has fewest of facilities as it is far and less visited. Accommodation at the park can be at the Luxury Apoka Safari Lodge, Adere Safari Lodge, Kidepo Savanna Lodge, or at Apoka Rest Camp.
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