MATHENIKO WILDLIFE RESERVE
Matheniko wildlife reserve is located in Karamoja region north of Moroto along the Kenya boarder near Kidepo valley national park. The reserve is bounded on the east by the great rift escarpment which forms the Uganda/Kenya boarder. It is situated in the northeastern part of Uganda, covering an area of 590 square miles. Matheniko wildlife reserve is part of the Karamoja wildlife reserve protection zone. The zone consists Kidepo valley national park, Pian Upe and Bokora. The reserve is known for its unique landscape, rocky outcrops, vegetation and mountain. The region is semi-arid with high temperatures with little or no rain fall throughout the year. It 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.
Tourist attractions in Matheniko wildlife reserve.
Matheniko wildlife reserve has a wide range of animals you will see while on a game drive, these include; the Uganda kob, wild cats, mountain reed buck, lesser kudu, oribi, cape buffalos. Topi, Bright’s gazelle, dik-dik, eland, cheetah, stripped hyena, wildcats like the serval cat. The reserve also has a lot of reptiles like large rock pythons, water snakes, large monitor lizard, small lizards among others. Matheniko wildlife reserve is endowed with primates like vervet monkeys, baboons, patas monkeys among others. You must register with the office, they give you a guide to escort you to the reserve.
Apart from animals, the reserve harbors a wide range of birds some of which are endemic to the region. Birds you will see include, the ostrich, verreaux’s eagle, thick billed honey guide, red-billed oxpecker, pygmy falcon, mountain yellow warbler, lemon dove, hartlaub’s turaco, grey cuckoo shrike, Egyptian vulture, Ethiopian swallow, eastern bronze napped pigeon, dusky turtle dove, Clapperton’s francolin, bronze napped pigeon, black headed plover, black throated wattle eye, African hill burbler, Abyssinian ground hornbill among others.
Mountain and rock climbing.
The reserve is covered by rocks and mountains which provides a good terrain for mountain climbing. Be physically prepared for the most rewarding hike ever. 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 Matheniko wildlife reserve, the reserve 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.
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.
Matheniko game reserve has rocks that were painted over 3500 years ago. It is believed that they were painted by the Nilotics and the Kushites many years ago. An arrangement will be done for you to go and see these great paintings. You will see how the ancient people lived their lives.
Get a chance to experience the true wild feeling when you camp at Matheniko wildlife reserve. Wake up to the beautiful sunrise.
How to reach Matheniko wildlife reserve.
From Kampala, you can use jinja Soroti road which is approximately 556 kilo meters and about 11 hours ride. It’s better you hire a 4×4 safari especially when visiting in rainy seasons. from Kidepo valley national park, its approximately 119 kilo meters to reach the reserve.
Travel by air.
Flights take about 2 hours from Entebbe airport to Kidepo valley national park.
What is the best time to visit?
Matheniko game reserve can be visited throughout the year but the best time to visit is in the dry seasons of December to January and June to September. However, you will the reserve to yourself during rainy seasons, this is because there are few visitors in this period.
Where to stay
The best and larger accommodation facilities are found in Kotido and Moroto, there are few near the reserve. Its better you sleep in camps at the reserve if you are ok with it, there is more privacy.