Discover Karamoja region
Discover Karamoja region : Karamoja region is one of the most undiscovered or visited region in Uganda however, the most interesting and fascinating region to visit in the whole of Uganda. The Karamojong people are said to be descendants of the Nyangatom of the Ethiopian highlands who migrated to their current settlements during the 1600AD since they are nomadic pastoralists in search of a permanent grazing lands and water for their livestock.
The word Karamojong comes from the local word “Akara emojong” meaning the old man is tired. During migration the Karamojong people are said to have gotten tired of moving and settled in their current today location. This is in the far north-eastern part of Uganda bordering Kenya and South Sudan. Karamojong region has about seven districts including; Kaabong, Kitido, Abim, Moroto, Napak, Amudat and Nakapiripirit.
History about Karamoja region
The Karamojong are descendants of Nyangatom of Ethiopia; a group of nomadic pastoralist community who migrated south around 1600 AD in search of permanent grazing lands and water for their livestock. After settling in northern part of Uganda where the land was enough for their livestock, the area is semi-arid with less water and vegetation for their cattle.
However, during the colonial period, the karamonja region lost a considerable portion of their land through pacification and redrawing of the Uganda borders with Kenya and Sudan, leaving most of the grazing lands outside Uganda while some of the land in the region was restricted for newly formed national parks, reserves and protected forests.
Karamoja region also became an isolated region during the colonial time where the region was a closed district and mobility was restricted to the extent of first acquiring a permit to cross to the region. Several Uganda governments adapted anti-pastoralist policies, leading the people to lose land vital for the survival of their herds of cattle on which they depended on. During the President Amin’s reign, the Karamojong people were more suppressed and humiliated as they were forced to settle in an unanticipated social crisis, allocation and usage of resources. This forced the Karamojong in the eighties to obtain guns form abandoned army barracks. This resulted unto a tribal war, cattle rustling, and resource conflicts with Karamoja until in 2001 when the Uganda People’s Defence Force under the National Resistance Movement which came into power in 1986 started a program to disarm the Karamojongs and found solutions to address the crises in Karamoja region.
Reasons to visit Karamoja region
Unfortunately the insecurities in the past have given people a negative image about the Karamoja region within and beyond Uganda. However, the good news to the whole world is that given the positive changes in the this region, many countries have changed their travel advise, allowing their people to travel through this isolated region. The Uganda government has also put a lot of efforts in developing the region inform if infrastructure; roads, schools and electricity have been improved. Thus, Karamoja region is now one of the safest and secure places to visit while on a Uganda Safaris Tour or any kind of visit. Karamoja region is one of the blessed regions in Uganda, adding beauty to the Pearl of Africa. For travellers’, you will need a minimum of 10 Days Karamoja region tour to fully explore the Karamoja region given it’s variety of attractions and beautiful landscape. These are some of the reasons for travellers’ to visit Karamoja region on Uganda Safaris Tours.
Karamojong Cultural tours.
The Karamojong people are mainly nomadic pastoralists that is to say their livestock is everything although they also now practice agriculture even though their lands are semi-arid. They are known for their love for cattle and resistance to accessories of civilisation. Due to the decades of remoteness and their strong cultural beliefs, the Karamojong people have been able to sustain their ancestral cultural heritage and customs for years.
The Karamoja region comprises of several ethnic groups that are classified into Karamoja clusters. These ethnic groups include the Dodoth people in the north, Jie people in the central and the Karamojong people in the central south. However the Karamojong people are further also divided tribes and clans such as the Matheniko, Bokora, Pian, Tepeth also known as the So, Pokoth, the IK to mention a few. The Karamojong people of Uganda are similar to the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania, Turkana in Kenya and Nyangotom people who live on the Omo Valley of Ethiopia.
The most unique tribe in the Karamojong region is the IK people who reside up on Mount Morungole in Kaabong district. The IK are unique in a way that they are the indigenous settlers in Karamojong however, due to conflicts and given that they were weaker in the tribal wars, they moved and settled on Mount Morungole, today travellers hike that mountain to visit this same group of people. They are farmers since their cattle were taken from them during the tribal wars in the region. The other ethnic groups and tribes settled in the seven districts of the Karamoja area. The Dodoth settled in the current Kaabong district, the Jie people who are known to be cattle warriors, settled in the current Kotido district. The rest of the Karamojong people settled in the remaining districts of Abim, Moroto, Napak, Amudat and Nakapiripirit.
Cultural tours in Karamoja region are the best cultural experiences for travellers’ varying from Karamoja village tour and a night with the Karamojong nomads warriors, and community visits. These are not only sightseeing experiences but a more practical experience where visitors get to interact with the community while they share their rich heritage. You can also choose to spend a night in a traditional hut and learn detailed exciting history of the Karamojongs. Travellers will also participate in various domestic activities while learning the economic activities like Basket weaving, Hut weaving, Bead making, Clay sculpting, and Bee keeping. You also get to participate in daily life activities; like preparing their local food to celebrations with traditional folklore, what unforgettable journey, this can be!
Since the Karamojong are typical nomads, Kotido district has the largest nomadic groups with large herds of cattle. So you can experience the life of a nomadic by sleeping with the former warriors who later became cattle keepers in the Kraal. You also get to participate in their activities like milking the cows in the morning, learning how to identify local greens, learn traditions as spearing a cow for blood to drink and get your own Karamoja name.
The Karomoja entertainment is one of the unique traditional dances and music that should be experienced by everyone. The dances involve jumping up and down along with songs, this dance is usually for marriage and the highest jumping man wins a bride for himself. The Karamojong have distinctive beauty ideals as scarification on the body and faces, usage of colourful beads, the iconic blankets and transitional shows.
Wildlife Safaris in Karamoja region
Karamojas region is blessed with the best wildlife experience in the entire Africa. This region is blessed with one national park and several wildlife reserves which include Kidepo national park and Pian Upe wildlife reserve and other several conservation areas
Wildlife safari in Kidepo Valley national park
Kidepo national park is the third largest national park with an area size of about 1,442 square kilometres after Murchison falls national park which is the largest national park and Queen Elizabeth national park which is the second largest national park respectively. Kidepo national park has been listed by CNN as one of the eight best safari destinations in Africa thus “Africa’s True African Wilderness”. This park was gazetted as a national park in 1962 and is located in Kaabong district close to South Sudan in the north and Kenya border in the most renown and remote national park containing most exciting flora and fauna with over 77 mammal species thus making it one of the best savannah wildlife national park in Uganda with the highest variety of animals where to find animals like the Ostrich birds and the Cheetahs as the unique attraction to the park. Other commonly seen animals in Kidepo national park include; Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffaloes, Zebras, waterbucks, warthogs, Giraffes, striped hyenas and Caracal just to mention a few. This animals can be seen in the two river valleys of Narus Valley River and Kidepo Valley River which disappear in the dry season leaving just pools for the wildlife.
Wildlife Safaris in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve
Pian Upe wildlife reserve is also yet another famous and interesting tourist attraction in Karamoja region. This reserve has since earned its title of being one of the best wildlife safari destinations in Uganda because of tourist attractions in the region. Unlike other national parks, Pian Upe is a place to avoid crowds of tourists like what happens in the Murchison falls national park and Queen Elizabeth national park. Pian Upe wildlife reserve is located is located in the North Eastern part of Uganda in Nakapiripiti district in North-eastern part of Uganda.
Pian upe wildlife reserve is the second largest conservation area with area coverage of 2,275 square kilometres after Murchison falls conservation area. The reserve has plenty of wildlife species to explore although it cannot be rated as high as Queen Elizabeth national park and Murchison falls national park in terms of density and diversity of wildlife but then it is worth visiting when traveling to Uganda. While on a guided safari to Pian Upe wildlife reserve, expect to see animals like Jackals, Hyenas, Cheetahs, Cape Buffalo, Roan antelope – it is only in Pian Upe wildlife reserve where we can find this fine looking antelope, Dik Dik, the great Kudu, Uganda kob, Waterbuck, Aardvark, Velvet and Patas monkeys and Olive baboons and birds like the giant Ostriches. Various types of antelopes especially the roan antelope, baboons, velvet monkey, the strong vocalized Patas monkey, Zebras, Buffalos, Dik Dik, birds to mention a few are the easiest to be seen and with a bit of luck, you can also spot the cheetahs. Predators found in the reserve include; the wildcats, Jackals, Spotted Hyenas, Civets, Serval Cats, the mysterious Leopards and prides of Lions are reported to periodically seen in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.
Hiking tours in Karamoja region
Karamoja region is one of the best regions for hiking and trekking experiences. There are several mountains that offer hiking and trekking experiences combined with cultural tours because most of these mountains have been settled by some tribes of the Karamojong people.
Mount Moroto hiking experience
Mount Moroto is the highest mountain in the Karamoja region which is about 3,063 meters high and a great place to see some of the dry in north eastern while at the edge of the mountain ranges in the Karamoja sub-region. Mount Moroto borders Mount Elgon in the south and it also covers parts of Mount Kadam and Mount Morungole. There is a forest reserve called Bokora forest reserve and it protects the habitats from the arid thorn savannah areas to the dry montane forest. To reach at the peak of mount Moroto, you need longer days taking about 3 days.
Mount Kadam is one of the interesting mountains to climb in the Karamoja region. It is about 3,063 meters high and located in the northern park of Mount Elgon making it the second highest volcanic mountain in Karamoja after Mount Moroto. Hiking and trekking Mount Kadam offers some of the best climbs with interesting attractions. Depending on one’s interest, you do a day’s hike or more days. You are provided with equipment for the hike such as local guide, camping tools and food. Given its location, there are surrounding tribes like the Pokot, Tepeth, Sebei and the Kadam so cultural tours will also be experienced during the hike to the peak.
Mount Morungole is also another exciting mountain in Karamojong region offering great hiking anc cultural experiences. Mount Morungole is also known as the Ikland that is home of the Ik people. These are the indigenous Karamojong tribe that settled on Mount Morungole after they were displaced from Kidepo national park when it was gazetted as a national park. Hikinh Mount Morungole is a day’s hike to find the IK people. While visiting the IK, you will enjoy the stunning scenery of the mountain as you climb higher with sights of the Eastern rift valley of Kenya and over to south Sudan. On finding the community of the IK, you will spend time with them while enjoying their cultural experiences.