Kidepo Valley National Park is one of Africa’s most magnificent wildernesses located in Kaabong District, in the Karamoja region in northern Uganda and borders the Sudan in the northwest and Kenya in the northeast. Kidepo is rugged savannah, dominated by the 2,750 metres (9,020 ft) Mount Morungole and transected by the Kidepo and Narus rivers. A wilderness park, dry, hot and isolated, yet spectacular, magnificent and virgin, waiting to be discovered, traversed by large sand rivers, the park is renowned for its distinctive composition of wild game co- existing with the dry mountain forests, open savanna and hilltop capped by rock kopjes.
Enjoy the isolated wilderness dominated by the 2,750m Mount Morungole and transected by the Kidepo and great Narus rivers. Kidepo National Park is home to 77 mammal species and almost 500 birds. Game viewing is exciting all year round with elephants, Giraffe, zebra, Eland, Hartebeest, Lion, Hyena and cheetah and perhaps Africa’s largest single heard of Buffalo roam rolling grassland that extend in all directions towards distant mountain ranges and so is bird watching, foot safaris and mountain climbing. The dry season is worth the drive just to visit the seasonal Kidepo River and stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with Borassus palm trees.
The park consists of the two major valley systems of the Kidepo and Narus Rivers. The valley floors lie between 3,000 feet (910 m) and 4,000 feet (1,200 m) asl. Kanangorok is a tepid hot spring in the extreme north of the park, beside the South Sudanese boundary. This spring is the most permanent source of water in the park. The soil in the park is clayey. In the Kidepo Valley, black chalky clay and sandy-clay loam predominate, while the Narus Valley has freer-draining red clays and loams
Location of the Park
Kidepo Valley National park is located in Kaabong District, in the northeastern corner of Uganda. The park is approximately 220 kilometers (140 mi), by road northwest of Moroto, the largest town in the sub-region. It is approximately 520 kilometers (320 mi), by road, northeast of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. The northwestern boundary of the park runs along the international frontier with South Sudan and abuts against its Kidepo Game Reserve.
Best time to Visit Kidepo Park
The best time to visit Kidepo Valley NP is during the dry season (September to March) although it can be visited throughout the year.
Accessibility to Park
Routes passing west of Lake Kyoga through Acholiland
- Kampala – Karuma – Gulu – Kitgum – Kidepo = 571km (10 hours)
- Kampala – Karuma – Lira – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 705km (12 hours)
Routes passing east of Lake Kyoga through Karamoja
- Kampala – Mbale – Sironko – Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 740km (12 hours)
- Kampala – Mbale – Soroti – Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 792km (13 hours)
Chartered aircrafts to Kidepo may be arranged from Kajjansi or from Entebbe International Airport to Lomej airstrip near the park headquarters. Flight takes two hours. Civil Aviation Authority plans to make Lomej airstrip, to the east of Apoka tourism centre, an international airport to enable visitors fly in direct to Kidepo from abroad.
What to see and do in Kidepo Valley National Park
Apoka Tourism Centre
Looking over the game filled Narus Valley and habitat to a luxury lodge and the standard UWA managed cottages; the Apoka is the tourism centre of the park. Ranger guides are positioned at Apoka to accompany tourists on their game drives plus nature walks. For people not having their private transport, there are park trucks offered for hired. There is a craft shop having books plus souvenirs, alcoholic beverages, bottled-water plus sodas which can as well be bought here. Food is prepared on request and also cooking gas as well as utensils may be hired by people who desire to cook on their own.
The Narus Valley/ Game viewing
Wildlife is most active in the Narus Valley during early mornings and late afternoon – 6am and 4pm are optimum times to set off on game drives. You are advised to use a ranger at all times; they will help you spot some of the park’s lions that may be sitting on the valley’s various rocks. Other wildlife includes elephants, leopard, bush duiker, jackal, bushbuck, bush pig, Kavirondo bush baby, buffalo and much more.
Kidepo Valley Scenic Drive
The wildlife is scarce in the arid Kidepo Valley; the hour-long drive to Kanangorok Hot Springs passes some magnificent landscapes. North of Apoka, beyond the river crossing, the road passes between rock outcrops and hills before descending into the Kidepo Valley, crossing the Kidepo Sand River and traversing open plains that extend past Kanangorok Hot Springs towards mountains across the Sudanese border. This is the part of the park where ostriches are most commonly seen.
Birding in Kidepo Valley
Apoka Rest Camp is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding experience. Birding can also be done on the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys. Among the birds seen are the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapper ton’s Francolin, which is found only in Kidepo. The activity can be arranged both in the morning and evening.
Hiking/Nature Walks in Kidepo Valley
The Lomej Mountains can be reached on foot in four hours, the hike starts at 7am. Shorter guided walks of around two hours can be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre.
Visitors can wander along the splendid Kidepo River Valley between banks of attractive Borassus palm forest. Namamukweny Valley can be reached in one hour from Apoka. Visitors can also meet members of the IK tribe during prearranged hikes to the Morungole Mountains outside the park.
Community walks and Cultural Performance
The nearby local communities possess teams of cultural entertainers that are normally accessible to offer performances on request. These performers have a wide range of traditional dances as well as songs for example the Emuya of the Nyangia as well as the Napore ethnic groups along with Lara karaka plus Apiti dances performed by the native Acholi people.
Mount Morungole towers to 2,750 meters and it is crossed by River Kidepo and River Narus which nourish the wildlife plus the natural habitat of this park. The Morungole Range defines the southern boundary of this park and soars from these plains a couple of kilometers north-east of Apoka. This area may be visited on foot in the company of a ranger. The slopes of the mountain are habitat to the IK people, who are the tiniest ethnic group found in Uganda, and have their own special culture.
“Namamukweny” is a native Napore word for “a place having no birds or perhaps a lonely place with very few people” – although concerning the birds, pretty the contrary is true! This valley is populated by a huge amount of bird species for example the Eastern Paradise Whydah, Green Wood Hoopoe, White-crested Turaco, Abyssinian Roller and the Common Bulbul, among others. It’s found in the northwest part of the park and may be accessed on foot or using a car.
The Lomej Hills are found just a brief drive from the park headquarters. These hills are a great viewing point to see wild animals and birds such as the mountain reedbucks.
Kanangorok Hot Springs
Kanangorok Hot Springs are located 11 kilometers past the Kidepo River along the Sudan border. It is a marvelous place to sit down and observe the mountains far past the frontier.
Where to stay when at Kidepo Valley National Park
Apoka Safari Lodge
Apoka Safari Lodge is among the very best safari lodges within Uganda. Wild animals come to your door-steps, when you are in the middle of beautiful wonders, wild animals in abundance yet you’re in what is known as the Pearl of Africa Within this distant part of Uganda. The convenience, the luxury, the fashion and class encompasses you in the middle of this African Wild.
Apoka Rest Camp
Sixteen self-contained chalets are offered at Apoka Rest Camp which is a hostel consisting of Fourteen Bandas each having 2 beds; the Bandas are actually not self-contained. With regard to visitors who choose camping, this park has 2 ‘Do it yourself’ camping grounds. You have to carry your own tent along with other camping gear.
Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp
Nga’Moru is found at the border of Kidepo Valley National Park that is situated 320 kilometers north of Kampala the capital city of Uganda. You may choose to fly up to Kidepo from the international Airport in Entebbe and in less than Two hours you will be there, alternatively, you may choose to take an exciting drive by using the Gulu to Kitgum road and in 10 hours you will as well be arriving. A number of the wild animals which often visit the camp include: Elephants, Lions, Hyenas, Zebras and Waterbucks.