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Home » 10 National Parks of Uganda: Uganda National Parks: National Parks in Uganda » Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is positioned in the north western part of Uganda in Kaboong district 220km north West of Moroto the biggest town in the sub region and 700 km from Kampala – the Uganda’s capital city.

Kidepo National Park was established in 1962 and it covers 1,442km2 of land surface providing habitat to 77 mammal species along with 475 bird species which makes the second in ranking after Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Interestingly to note is that 60 of these bird species are endemic to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. Besides Birds, Kidepo also contain 5 primate species including the including the localized patas monkeys; 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as the aardwolf, bat eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal and cheetah.

Kidepo National Park has 12 species of Antelope which include the Kidepo endemics namely; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other wildlife also exist in the park including; elephant, lions, buffaloes, lions, bush duiker, leopard among other wildlife.

Formerly, the area where Kidepo National Park belonged to Dodoth pastoralists and indigenous Karimojong who practiced cultivation before the establishment of wildlife reserve in 1958 to ensure the protection of wild animals from poaching.

The park is the most remote of all Uganda National Parks which has enabled it to remain with its virgin wilderness for a long time making the Uganda safari undertakers who persevere the distance to Kidepo to enjoy the amazing unexplored landscapes that bring out the real taste of African wilderness marked by a range of wild game, birds and impressive scenery.

The area has semi-arid climatic conditions and during periods of droughts, water is only confined to small oases along Narus valley forming the ground for great wildlife concentrations in the Narus valley.

Kidepo National Park is positioned on the altitude range between 914m and 2,750m above sea level and Mount Morungole (2,750m) is the highest point in the south west of Kidepo.

The series of rugged mountain ranges are intercepted in the north east by Kidepo valley and in the south east by the Narus valley.

The most of parks vegetation is lightly wooden savannah with patches of montane forest, dense miombo woodland, riparian woodland, rocky koppies and borassus palms.

Attractions in Kidepo Valley National Park

Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo National Park contain various wildlife species that thrive in their natural wilderness that is less explored including; 5 primate species which include the local patas monkey, 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, cheetah, caracal and aardwolf.

Other wildlife species include; lions, spotted hyena, leopard, side-stripped jackal, small cats, mustelids, genets and mongooses; 12 species of antelope including the Kidepo endemics such as greater and lesser kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik.

Other species of antelope include; Eland, Jackson hartebeest, common duiker, klipspringer, bushbuck, defassa waterbuck and bohor reedbuck.

The Kidepo range lands support counts of giraffe, elephants, bush pig, Burchell’s Zebra and warthog.

Birds in Kidepo Valley National Park

Holding the wild game aside, Kidepo National Park also contains a range of birds that offer great birding opportunities.

Kidepo contains 463 bird species with 26 species that are not yet confirmed which makes it second in ranking to Queen Elizabeth National Park on Ugandan standards.

60 of these recorded species are restricted to Kidepo National Park and exist nowhere else in Uganda. Kidepo has 56 raptor species which include the dark chanting goshawk, pygmy falcon, tawny eagle, bataleur, secretary birds and various vulture species.

Bird species restricted to Kidepo on Ugandan range include; fox and white-eyed kestrels, ostrich, kori bustard, white bellied go-away bird, carmine, Abyssinian scimitarbill, little green and red throated bee-eaters, Abyssinian roller, d’Arnauds, black-breasted barbets, red-billed, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills, Karamoja apalis, golden pipit, rafous chatterer, northern brownbul, chestnut weaver, purple grenadier red-billed and white-headed buffalo weavers among other species.

Scenery in Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo National Park has impressive scenic views presented by series of dry mountain ranges intercepted by two notable valleys.

The Narus valley is an extensive flat landscape marked by rolling savannah combretum with water points that act as drinking points for a range of wild game.

The Kanangorok hot springs are positioned at the base of Kidepo valley at a close range to the south Sudan boarder.

The Morungole Mountains standing at 2,750m above sea level making it the highest point in the park along with the Lomej hills make an extended mountain landscape that in turn offer impressive scenic views to Uganda safari undertakers.

Local People in Kidepo Valley National Park

The Morungole highlands act as a home to the indigenous Karimojong who have thrived ithe region of Karamoja for centuries past.

The pastoralist Karimojong also thrive in the adjacent areas living their nomadic lifestyle something that they have done for centuries past.

Living in a remote area, these two groups have been shielded from the forces of globalization and their traditions are still alive and authentic which makes it interesting to encounter while on safari in Uganda.

Tourist activities in Kidepo Valley National Park

Game Drive in Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo National Park is atypical African wilderness area that offers impressive game viewing opportunities.

The game drives exposes you to lions which has been referred to as King of the Jungle taking a rest on the rocky out crops or wondering in savannah plains in search of daily meal.

The ideal game viewing is normally done along the Narus valley where counts of wild game gather around the water points including; buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, Burchells zebra, antelopes like waterbuck, elands, greater and lesser kudu among others.

The concentration of grazers pull the predators like lions, spotted hyena, side stripped jackal among others in to the area so as to easily get what to consume.

The game drive activity is ideally done in morning at 6am and 4:30 pm in the evening local time and it tends to last for 3 – 4 hours.

The drive takes you to Kanangorok hot springs overlooking the south Sudan boarder and chances to see ostrich while the stretch to the south west offers impressive views of Mount Mourungole.

The wild game is better encountered towards the middle and the end of dry seasons that is from November to February as they congregate around the water points across the Narus Valley.

In the wet season that is April to August wildlife tend to disperse from valleys to raised landscapes posing difficulty in wildlife viewing.

Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park

Queen Elizabeth National ParkKidepo National Park has 463 species of birds of which 60 are endemic to Kidepo on the range of Uganda.

It is ranked the second after Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Birding is done across the Narus and Namamukweny valleys where birders on Uganda safari have chances of spotting purple heron, Abyssinian Roller, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapper ton’s Francolin among other birds.

The birding encounter is possible all year round in Kidepo though March and April offer higher chances for viewing migratory birds.

The birding activity tends to commence at Apoka rest camp in the morning and evening.

Nature Walks in Kidepo Valley National Park

The different landscapes of Kidepo National Park form an ideal platform for nature walks.

The walk to the Lomej hills takes approximately 4 hours and commences at 7am.

The short guided walks are conducted along the Narus valley taking 2 hours and stretch for 5km.

The nature walks along the Kidepo valley offer impressive views of beautiful borassus palm forest while one hour walk across the Namamukweny valley are also arranged starting from the Apoka center.

Community Encounters in Kidepo Valley National Park

The community encounters involves visiting the indigenous Karimojong community that thrives in the Morungole Mountain so as to explore their traditions and how they have modeled their lifestyle to suit the environment which they have lived in for years and years.

The encounter also takes you through the pastoralist Karimojong whose life is centered on their occupation of cattle rearing. Their impressive Manyattas, music dance and drama and traditional handicrafts can be explored.