Kidepo valley national park activities
Kidepo valley national park activities : Kidepo valley national park is one of the isolated national parks located in north-eastern part of Uganda in Kaabong district bordering Kenya and Sudan. The park covers a total land area of 1442 square kilometers and is one of the best parks to visit in Uganda due to abundant wildlife including the open savannah vegetation, over 75 animals like lions, buffaloes, leopards, cheetah, bat eared fox, giraffes, bush pigs, elephants, zebras, black backed jackal and over 470 bird species such as the little bee-eater, red and yellow barbet, Kori bustard, Ostrich, yellow necked spur fowl, Karamoja Apalis, Jackson’s hornbill, secretary bird, Abyssinian ground hornbill , superb starling among others.
Activities in Kidepo valley national park
Among the Kidepo valley national park activities Game drive is the most done activity in the park and can be done either in the morning, afternoon or in the evening. Game drive in Kidepo valley national park is commonly done in the Narus valley in that it harbors a high concentration of wildlife with an armed guide who will help you to sport various animals such as elephants, buffaloes, zebras, elands, lions. Leopards, Oribi, bush pigs, warthogs, waterbucks, bushbucks, bohor reedbuck, giraffes, bush duikers among others. During the game drive you will also visit Narus River a water source in the park that attracts large numbers of animals which will be drinking water especially during the dry season hence a great area for wildlife viewing and taking photographs.
Night game drive, Kidepo valley national park is one of the few national parks in Uganda offering night game drive which starts either at 6:30pm or 7:00pm and takes about 2 to 3 hours. This is done with spotlight torches for clear viewing and a ranger guide who will offer protection and also help you to spot some nocturnal animals which are rarely seen during the day such as white tailed mongoose, hyenas, pottos, bush baby, lions, leopards which will be hunting the prey and many others.
Kidepo valley national park is a home of over 470 bird species which makes the second national park with the highest number of birds in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth national park. The park has some endemic species which are equivalent to 60 species such as ostrich, pygmy falcon, Clappertons francolin, fox kestrel, Karamoja Apalis, black breasted barbet among others which make Kidepo a birding paradise. Birding in the park can be done in different areas such as at the borders of Narus, Namamukweny valley, during the game drive, nature walk among others. Birding can either be done in the morning when the birds are migrating or in the evening when they are coming back to their nests. During bird watching in the park you will be able to view bird species such as silver bird, purple heron, grey capped social weaver, little green bee-eater, standard winged nightjar, yellow billed shrike, red pate Cisticola, brown backed woodpecker, white bellied bustard, black headed plover, Kori bustard, Rufous crowned roller, long tailed nightjar, Abyssinian ground hornbill among others. Visitors who will be staying in Apoka Rest Camp will have an added advantage because it’s also one of the best areas where you can spot different bird species.
Kidepo valley national park offers visitors an opportunity to move out of the car and enjoy nature, feel the cool breeze, explore the savannah vegetation on foot. Nature walk in the park can be done around Apoka Safari Camp, Namamukweny valley, Lomej mountains, Narus valley where they will view animals like elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks zebras, giraffes, warthogs, cheetah, lions, Lonyiri nature walk which stretches to among others with an armed ranger for protection and direction. During the nature walk you will hike Morungole Mountains where you will view the IK tribe and have great views of the landscape, wild animals which will be grazing in the savannah such as elephants, zebras, reedbucks, baboons, bushbucks, monkeys, warthogs watch the birds singing in the trees such as broad tailed warblers, Kori bustard, red and yellow barbet, dark chanting goshawk, little bee-eater, ostrich which will be staring at you among others.
There are two tribes of people living around Kidepo valley national park which can be visited on your safari such as
Karamojong people, Karamojong is a tribe in north Eastern Uganda situated outside Kidepo valley national park and is known of fierce warrior pastoralists. The Karamojong consider cattle as royalty therefore a man is valued according to the number of cattle he owns. Therefore the men and boys will move to different areas in search of green pasture and water for their cattle while the women stay in the Manyattas permanent homesteads for Karamojong taking care of the home, young children, grinding sorghum, digging among others. During you culture tour, you will see their unique homesteads with small entrances where they have to bend when entering, their way of dressing and will also be entertained by their cultural dances, songs, stories among others which gives you incredible experiences about their life style.
IK people, on your cultural encounter you will hike to the Morungole mountains where the IK people live. IK is a small tribe of about 10,000 to 11,000 number of people which migrated to Morungole Mountains around 1960’s due to government interference when they gazette their area into a national park. The IK people were once hunters and gathers but due to cattle raids from other tribes like Turkana and Pokot in Kenya, Karamojong they gave up cattle raring and started practicing subsistence farming, goat keeping and honey production. The name IK means head of migration because they were the first people to migrate to northeastern Uganda. During your encounter with the IK people you will learn more about their culture such as paying bride price with 5 to 10 beehives, goats, chickens instead of cattle, practice of polygamy where men can marry as many wives as they want depending on the number of beehives he has, children moving out at the age of 5 years to stay with their grandmothers until 11 to 13 years among others. hiking Morungole mountains is tiresome is that its peak is 2,749 meters above the sea level and therefore needs one who is physically feet because the trail is 8kilometres long which makes it a 16 Kilometer round trip but filled with breathtaking and beautiful scenery, their homesteads, how polygamy is part of their family, traditional performances, enjoy their beer among others.
Best time to visit Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park can be visited anytime throughout the year though the best period to visit is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During this period there is less rainfall in the park therefore access roads will be passable as well as wildlife viewing because vegetation in the park will be short for clear viewing and most of the animals such as elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, waterbucks among others will gather around the water bodies such as Narus River to drink water therefore you will be able to view several animals and also take plenty of pictures.
How to get to Kidepo valley national park
Kidepo valley national park is an isolated national park located in north eastern Uganda and can be accessed by either road or air transport means.
Road transport, when using road transport there are several routes you can use to reach the park such as
- Driving from Kampala via Karuma, Lira, Kotido and then Kaabong where you will proceed to the park then to the park which takes about 12 hours’ drive. Visitors using this route can have a stopover at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to track the Rhinos and then proceed with the journey.
- Drive from Kampala via Karuma, Gulu and Kitugm for an overnight and then proceed the next morning to the park. Travellers using this route will pass at the edge of Murchison falls national park and they can have a stopover at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to track Rhinos.
- Driving from Kampala via Mbale, Sironko, Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong and then Kidepo national park which takes about 13 hours’ drive. Travellers using this route can have a stopover in Mabira forest, Source of the Nile in Jinja, visit Sipi falls among others therefore it’s advisable to spend an overnight in Moroto town and proceed the next morning so as not to be so tired.
Air transport, there are domestic airlines such as Aerolink airline, eagle aviation which operate scheduled and charter flights from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield to Apoka airstrip or Kidepo airport which take about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Flying to Kidepo valley national park is the best option for travellers who don’t like moving long distances.
Kidepo valley national park is one of the best destinations to visit in Uganda for wildlife viewing, birding, nature walk because it has plenty to offer such as unique wild animals, unique culture, open savannah vegetation, beautiful scenery among others which makes it one a must visit destination on your safari in Uganda.