Kidepo valley National Park which is located in the north-eastern part of Uganda in the Karamoja region can be accessed either by road or by air. The National Park is strategically located in a remote area at the border of Uganda with South Sudan and Kenya.
The National Park offers an unspoiled nature in terms of wild the life and a vast landscape that is home to both the various bird species and animals found within the National Park. Kidepo valley can be accessed either through public or private means. We highly recommend that you use private means because it is more comfortable and offers you the best experience while on your safari. Travelling using public means is also a whole new experience especially, for tourists who want to try out new ventures and on a budget.
Public means: several buses are found in the city Centre and these travel both during the day and night. It is a 16 hours’ drive from Kampala to Kotido while using public means to Kotido and you can hire a private car from Kotido to the National Park.
Private means: this is the most commonly used means by tourists and 4×4 safari vehicles are used to transport tourists to their destination.
Kidepo National Park via road
This is by the far the best way to get to Kidepo and we highly recommend it. The roads might be a little bit hard to use especially during the wet season when the rains become wet, slippery and muddy and this is why all tourists travelling by road to Kidepo use 4×4 safari vehicles. There are about four routes that you can use to get to the Kidepo valley National Parka and these have been listed below.
Routes found in the Eastern part of Lake Kyoga
Two routes go routes that go through the Eastern part of Lake Kyoga and these are:
Kampala to Mbale to soroti to Moroto to Kotido to Kaabong and finally to Kidepo. This route takes 13 hours with a 792 kilometers journey.
Kampala-Mbale-Sironko-Moroto-Kotido to Kaabong to Kidepo. This route is about 740 kilometers long and will take you about 12 hours to arrive at your destination.
Western Lake Kyoga routes
Kampala-Karuma-lira-Kotido-Kaabong to Kidepo. This is a 12 hours and 705 kilometers journey. This is not a commonly used route and this is because even though it’s tarmacked from Kampala to Karuma, the road from Karuma to Lira is full of potholes which will make the journey not a comfortable one. Tourist attractions along this route include Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, Murchison Falls National Park and the dam.
Kampala-Karuma-Gulu-Kitgum to Kidepo. This route is just 10 hours with a distance of 571 kilometers.
The western routes are more exciting and are the most commonly used by tourists. Road transport is generally favoured because it’s more scenic as compared to flying and some of the beautiful sceneries that you get to see while heading to Kidepo include Murchison Falls National Park, Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, and the baboons along the roads and many more others.
Getting to Kidepo by air
Several domestic flights can be chattered to Kidepo National Park for tourists who do not want to take the long drives using road transport. Although expensive, flying to Kidepo saves time and the most commonly used airlines are Aerolink and Fly Uganda. Note that it will take you roughly two hours to get to Kidepo Valley National Park from Entebbe.
Kidepo has both the Apoka airstrip and the Kidepo airport where a safari vehicle will be waiting for you to take you to your accommodation and also start on your game drive around the National Park. Aerolink has chattered flights to Kidepo on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday with the flight from Entebbe at 12:30 pm and the flight from Kidepo to Entebbe leaving at 3:00 pm taking about an hour and a half or two.
Tourists planning on travelling to Kidepo by air should book in advance so that there are no delays or other inconveniences, especially during the peak season. The advantage of using air is that it saves time and is the fastest way to connect to other National Parks that are found in the country like the Murchison Falls Nationals Park, Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi among others.
There are several activities that you can engage in when you get to Kidepo Valley National Park and these include the following:
Birding: Kidepo Valley National Park is home to over 470 recorded bird species and has the second highest number of bird species after Queen Elizabeth National Park. It is home to 60 endemic birds (these can only be found in Kidepo) and these include the Kori Bustard, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Karamoja Apalis, fox kestrel and the pygmy falcon among others. Other bird species that you should look out for include the long-tailed nightjar, white-bellied Bustard, black-breasted barbet, silver bird and the yellow-billed shrike among others.
Nature walks: this is one of the most participated in activities by tourists because it makes you get closer to the animals and get the real feel of the wilderness of Kidepo. The open savannah grasslands are a good place to do your nature walks but note that this is only done in designated areas and with the help of an experienced tour guide.
Game drives: Game drives in Kidepo are best carried out during the dry season although they can be carried out during the wet season. Wildlife that is commonly seen during Game drives include Oribi, lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, pigs and hyenas among others. They are best seen at the Narus River where they gather to cool off from the heat.
Surprisingly, although Kidepo Valley National Park has received a lot of awards for being the best National Park in the country it still is one of the least visited parks and this is because of the past insecurities in the area with the cattle rustling from the Karamojong people and the bad roads.
It does not matter whether you are using road or air transport but the most important thing is for you to get to Kidepo Valley National Park and participate in all the activities that are carried out here like game drives, birding, camping and cultural walks to the surrounding villages.