ACTIVITIES IN KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK.
Kidepo valley national park is located in the north-eastern part of Uganda found in the district of kaabong, seated on 1,442 square kilometers. Kidepo valley national park is one of Africa’s great wildernesses remotely located in the savannah landscape in the northern corner of Uganda near South Sudan and Kenya. The park is dominated by the mountain forests within the high areas near River Lorupei, the land is covered with tiny hills and rocky outcrops making Kidepo valley national park the best and unique safari destination.
Kidepo valley national park has a wide range of unique carnivorous animals you can luckily spot while on a game drive, these include; the hunting dog, cheetah, caracal, bat-eared fox, aardwolf and the stripped hyena.
Other animals you can see while on a game drive in Kidepo valley national park include; waterbucks, bushbucks, zebra, giraffe, buffalo. The park has animals that can only be found there, these animals include; the cheetah, Lesser kudu and Eland.
Kidepo valley national park harbors over 400 bird species like the Karamoja Apalis, red-cheeked cordon-blue, black breasted barbet, scarlet chested sunbird, mosque swallow, superb starlings, vinaceous dove, Nubian woodpeckers among others.
There are two sectors for game viewing, the Kidepo sector and the Narus valley river sector. Kidepo valley national park has dry seasons between the month of September to March, then it rains from April to August.
What to do while in Kidepo valley national park.
Game drives in Kidepo valley national park are one of the top activities done and booked by tourists who visit the park. Game drives are done early in the morning and in the night. Day game drives are cheaper than night game drives.
There are two places where game drives take place; these are; the Narus Valley and the Kidepo valley. The Narus valley is a grassland with mountains and hills, the valley has a water supply from the narus river which attracts a lot of animals who are seeking for water. Animals found in the narus valley include the savanna elephants, buffalos, giraffes, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, hippos and lions.
The Kidepo valley on the other hand has few animals, here you find the ostriches, the kanangorok hot springs and other animals. The night game drive lets you spot the nocturnal animals, these animals include; cheetah, Guenther’s dik dik, reedbuck and more animals.
Kidepo valley national park harbors a wide range of animal species some of which can’t be found in any other national park in Uganda, some are locally extinct, for example the Beisa oryx, lesser kudu and the giant gazelle. Expect to see animals like the elephants, oribis, Burchell’s zebras, Jackson’s hartebeests, warthogs, cape buffalos, bohor, reed bucks, deffassa waterbucks, Rothschild giraffes, bush duskier, leopards, zebras, kongoni, black backed jackal, spotted hyena, lions and so many other animals that are commonly seen in Kidepo valley national park. Other animals like the white-tailed mongoose and the Senegal galago can only be seen while on a night game drive
People who are interested in watching lions have a higher chance of spotting them resting in tree branches or seated on rocks in the park. Uganda is indeed the pearl of Africa, visiting will avail you with chances of seeing your dream animals, experience the best weather and the most hospitable people.
- bird watching
Kidepo valley national park has a diversity of birds inclusive of the unique ostriches. Birding in Kidepo valley national park is done around Apoka rest camp, the narus valley and namamkwenyi valley among others. Other bird species in Kidepo valley national park include; yellow billed shrike, yellow rumped seedeater, Clapperton’s francolin, black coucal, marsh tchagra, Nubian woodpeckers, scarlet-chested sunbird, Ruppel’s, superb starling, mosque swallow little green bee eater among other bird species. Birding in Kidepo valley national park can be done anytime of the year. Get your cameras ready and capture the best birding photography, get up and close with nature that harbors the most interesting birds. Engagi safaris is ready to take you on a birding tour in Kidepo valley National Park.
3.Hiking or sightseeing
Hiking at Kidepo valley national is conducted from the head headquarters on the lamoj mountains as you view the Narus valley. Tourists who hike in Kidepo valley national park love the sand banks in the Kidepo valley, it’s a good place for photography, sundowners and picnics. You can also hike to the kanangorok hot springs, morungole mountains and to montene forest. You can as well hike to the IK [one of the smallest tribes in Uganda] tribe community see their lifestyle and learn more about their culture and customs. Get your body in shape with the most rewarding hike in Kidepo valley national park, hiking in Kidepo is also fan and memorable, you sight different animals and birds as you hike, refresh your body as you breath in fresh oxygen. Its indeed the best hike you can have in your life.
- Community visits
You can visit the Karamojong homesteads called the Manyattas, participate in their traditional dances, see their jewelry, stools, bows and arrows, spears and their traditional knives. You can graze or milk cows with them. Karamojong and the Ik still live a true African life style, they have not fully embraced modernity. This is a great opportunity for you to experience a true African live style. They tell you stories about their history and culture. You can as well purchase their traditional items as souvenirs. You will be welcomed to the sound of their music and unique dancing moves, you are free to join them and get a feeling of being a Karamojong.
The Karamoja people are similar to the masasi in Kenya and Tanzania because of their pastoralist nature. The communities like the Lorukul village and the Ik people have gained in these community tours. The Karamojong lived in the park, but later got settlements near the park after the government gazzetted it. The Karamojong people have interesting stories about their marriage and marriage ceremonies and raising children. These people value cows a lot, ones’ wealthy is determined by the number of cows one has.
A visit to the IK people will give you a great experience of the true African life. As earlier noted, they are one of the smallest group of people in Uganda, they live near the Karamojong and have a little similar lifestyle. They also have polygamous marriages and leave around mountain morungole ranges. They have interesting stories about their lifestyles like marriage, harvesting bees among others. The Ik are mainly hunters and fruit gatherers, they are good at harvesting honey and have a strong connection with the bees.
Apart from those activities, you can opt to go to Matheniko wildlife reserve. The reserve is located southeastern part of Kidepo valley national park, away from the park near Kenyan boarder. The reserve is a good spot for game drive due to the availability of the cheetah, hyena, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, buffalos, wild cats, mountain reedbucks, blue duikers and chimps like olive baboons, vervet monkey, patas monkeys among others.
For birders, Matheniko wildlife reserve harbors a wide range of birds like the ox peckers, bronze-napped pigeon, yellow warbler, black headed plover, hartlaub’s turaco, pygmy falcon among other birds.
It is found south of Kidepo valley national park, it is a great location for hikers, it is from this mountain where you can see the whole of Kidepo valley national park, great for photography and videography. It is from this mountain that the Narus river and Kidepo river come from. Hiking to Morungole mountain starts early in the morning before the sun rises, this is because of the high temperatures in Kidepo valley national park that may tire you before you even start on the hike.
6.Bokora wild life reserve.
This is also away from Kidepo valley national park. It is located in moroto district south west of the park. it’s a less explored area with a low visitor turn over which makes it a better destination for those who want to explore new places. The reserve harbors animals like the lion, reedbucks, roan antelopes, topi, spotted hyenas, the Oryx, zebras, leopards, Oribi, hartebeests, duikers, Bright’s gazelles, Uganda kob among other animals. Bokora wildlife reserve has the Loporokocho swamp which is a good spot for birders, you expect to see birds like the thick-billed honeyguide, grey cuckoo-shrike, black-throated wattle eye, lemon dove, ostriches, African hill babbler, Alpine chat, the eastern bronze-napped pigeon, Jackson’s hornbill, white-headed buffalo weaver among others.
The best time to visit Kidepo valley National Park.
Tour to Kidepo valley national park
The park can be visited any time of year, though for those interested in a game drive and community visits, its better you visit in the month of September to March in the dry season, during this period animals are moving around looking for water and pasture, spotting them becomes easier when driving around the park. For those doing bird watching, its better you visit during rainy seasons, this is because there is less heat and dust, birds are easily seen up in their nests.
Where to stay when you visit Kidepo valley national park
Accommodation in Kidepo valley national park range from budget, mid-range and luxury accommodations. There a wide -range of accommodations some inside Kidepo valley national park, some are outside and others inside. You can opt to stay in Apoka Rest Camp situated with in the park over-looking the Narus valley. The camp has 16 self-contained rooms which will offer you the best experience while in Kidepo valley national park.
You can also sleep in the bandas which are not self-contained but offer good accommodation and are situated within the park.
Some of the accommodations in you can sleep in while in Kidepo valley national park.
Kidepo savanna lodge, Adele safari lodges, kabango resort hotel, nga’moru wilderness camp.
How to reach Kidepo valley national park.
Kidepo valley national park can be accessed by road and by air.
There are chartered flights from kajjansi airfield and Entebbe airport that take you to Apoka airstrip, this journey takes approximately 2hrs 15min.
From Kampala Via jinja pass through Mbale and Soroti and then Kotido and kaabong. This route takes proximately 10-14 hours’ drive.
You can opt to drive from Kampala via Karuma, Gulu, kitgum and then to kaabong. This route takes about 12-hour drive. This route has enroute sites like Ziwa rhino sanctuary if you are interested in tracking Rhinos and visiting Murchison falls national park.
Entrance to Kidepo valley national park.
There are two entrance gates you can use to enter Kidepo valley national park, the main gate is called Nataba. If you pass via Gulu and kitigum, Lokumoit gate is the nearest to use.
What to pack while in Kidepo valley national park.
A tour to Kidepo valley national park will reward you with great memories that will stay with you forever, to capture these moments, don’t forget to come with a camera, enough storage and good lenses, comfortable safari clothes not brightly colored, bright colors scare away animals, pack long sleeved shirts to protect you skin from being scratched by tree branches or thorns, don’t forget your scarfs and trousers. Protecting your skin from sun the is more important, don’t forget your sunscreen, a cap or a hat and sun glasses. Come along with durable water proof boats that are sturdy enough to support you on slippery trails. If you are coming for bird watching, don’t forget to come with a pair of binoculars and a birder’s book and a chimpanzee trekking permit if you are coming for chimpanzee trekking. The permit can be got straight from Uganda wildlife authority offices or through your tour operator.
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