Perhaps one of the most remote parks in Africa, Kidepo Valley National Park is not on everyone’s must-see list. But that would be a mistake, as Kidepo presents some of the most striking safari scenery in Uganda. Plus, there is wildlife found here that’s not seen elsewhere in the country.
The journey to this rugged park is worth the effort to find its resident cheetahs, aardwolves, bat-eared foxes, and caracal. Of Kidepo’s 75 species of mammals, you’ll enjoy the company of elephants, buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, jackals, leopards, wild dogs, and hyenas. Plus, Nile crocodiles can be seen in its two rivers – the Kidepo and Narus.
Maybe it’s because of the park’s isolated location or that fewer tourists come here, but its wildlife seems unafraid of the curious humans visiting their turf. It is not uncommon to spot the animals lazing about near the park’s accommodations. So, whether on a game drive or relaxing at your accommodation, it is possible at Kidepo to spend plenty of quality time in proximity to its wildlife.
Kidepo is also home to 470 species of birds, amongst them the goshawk, little bee-eater, sandpiper, and ostrich.
The rugged, rolling savannah of this unusual park is anchored by nearby mountains, especially 2,750 m (9,020 ft) Mount Morungole. Accenting the vast plains here are red thorn acacia trees, desert dates, the iconic sausage trees, and fan palms found near its rivers. But perhaps its most famous tree species is the Borassus palm, whose fruit is a delicacy for elephants as well as the indigenous communities of these lands.
These local people include the pastoral Karamojong who are similar to the Maasai people of Kenya. Like the Maasai, they have traditionally been nomads with their large herds of cattle, sheep, goats, and chicken.
The Karamojong have come to settle in permanent villages but still practice their ancestral customs and beliefs. Park visitors can visit these communities to learn about their lifestyle and culture.
The other indigenous community in the area is the Ik people, a hunter-gatherer tribe living on Morungole Mountain. With less than 10,000 members, the Ik are an endangered tribe.
Location: The park is in northeastern Uganda, in the rugged valleys between the borders of Sudan and Kenya. A fairly large park at 1,442 sq. mi (557 sq. mi), it is primarily comprised of semi-arid savannah.
Climate: The park is dry and temperatures can go up to 40°C/104°F during the daytime and drop to 17°C/63°F at night. The dry season stretches from September through February, with the driest months being December through February. The wet season is from April until August, though compared with other national parks, the rains are not especially heavy.
When to go: The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day.
Best time to visit: From November to January you may be treated by the sight of some of the largest Buffalo herds in Africa. Also during the dry season, the wildlife are found in higher concentrations near the water sources where it is easy to spot them.
Getting there: By road – take a Natural World Kenya Safaris tour from Kampala, which is 520 km (320 mi) from the park, an overland drive of about 10 hours.
Game Drives – The vast stretches of park savannah lend themselves to active game viewing – the region offers dozens of mammal species. Look for lions out on these plains and even high up in the branches of the overhead fig trees. For a glimpse of another distinct species, the Kanangorok hot springs by the Kidepo River is home to many ostriches.
Nature Walks – The park’s stunning scenery can be appreciated up close on a guided nature walk. This on-foot safari also affords excellent opportunities for wilderness photography.
Cultural Tours – Two indigenous groups live within the borders of the park – the Karamojong tribespeople and the Ik. You can arrange to visit their villages, meet the people, and learn how they have survived in this rugged terrain. Enjoy your time in these unique environments experiencing their traditional cultures and ancient lifestyle.
Many are unaware of this isolated park with its arid terrain and immense broad plains. But if you’re willing to take a detour to get here you’ll be rewarded with Uganda’s greatest diversity of wildlife. The scenery in Kidepo is unsurpassed with its unusual flora and has been described as truly ‘magnificent’. Treat yourself to an African safari few get to experience in the northeastern reaches of Uganda.
Join us on safari to one of the greatest displays of Ugandan wildlife that’s off the beaten path. At Natural World Kenya Safaris we specialize in exciting adventures you’ll love to share with friends and family. Just contact us and we will personalize a safari just for you. We have safaris departing Kigali, Rwanda, and Entebbe.
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