Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the North-eastern part of Uganda and is one of the least visited National Parks in the country. It is one of the largest National Parks in Uganda covering over 1332 square kilometers of vast plains which are home to numerous wildlife. Getting to Kidepo National Park is quite easy and you can either use road or air transport.
The National park has great views of its virgin landscape that is both rocky and Mountainous and the vast savannah grasslands making the Eden that every tourist should visit while in Uganda. Self-driving t0 Kidepo Valley is not recommended as it is hard to drive to Kidepo National Park and that is why for every safari that is tailored to Kidepo, an experienced driver guide is provided.
There are several tourist attractions that you should check out while in Kidepo and these include the following:
The Narus Valley
Narus Valley is an extremely important tourist attraction in the National Park and this is because it is the only place in the Park with a permanent water body source attracting numerous wildlife that is animals and birds. Due to the high number of animals in the Valley, the Management of the National park has several tourist trucks that are used to take tourists around the National Park. Game drives around Kidepo are done either early in the morning or late afternoon and animal species that you are bound to see include zebras, buffalos, bush pigs, giraffes, ostriches, Oryx, lions, waterbucks, leopards and elephants among others.
The Kanangorok Hot springs
Kanangorok Hot springs are found about 11 kilometers from the Kidepo River and are one of the top tourist attractions in the National Park that tourists should check out. The trek to the hot springs will take you through thickets and bushy trails and once you get there, you can relax at the hot springs with water that is above 50 degrees Celsius. You will also have clear views of south Sudan and Kenya border while here.
A safari to Kidepo National park will take you to the Lomej hills which are just a short distance away from the Park headquarters. The hills are the perfect place for tourists who love birding and game viewing. The strategic location of the hills makes it the ideal place for tourists to start their safari in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Murongole Mountain is home to the Ik people and the top destination within the National Park for hiking safaris. The Mountain is about 275 meters above sea level and the best time to hike up the Mountain is during the dry season. You will be escorted by a ranger and an experienced tour guide on your hike and when you get to the top, you are rewarded with some of the greatest views of the valleys around, the National park and get to meet and learn more about the culture of the IK people.
The Karamojong and IK people
The local people who live just adjacent to the Kidepo Valley National Park are part of the tourist attractions around the National Park. The Karamjong people and Ik make up the largest part of locals living around the National Park and their unique culture is one thing that you should check out on your visit to the Park.
The Karamojong: the Karamojong are mainly known as warriors who have similar characteristics to the Masai people due to their nomadic nature. They live in houses that are constructed using local materials and these are locally known as Manyattas. Their traditional chance is similar to the jumping dance of the Masai and the Turkana people in Kenya, they have a special meal where they drink blood mixed with milk and they are ever entertaining people. The number of cows that you have will determine how important you are in the community and all the house and community work is mainly done by the women and children.
The IK people: the IK people migrated from the North-eastern part of Uganda and settled around the Murongole Mountains. The most fascinating thing about this is that they consider having beehives as the most precious thing and the more beehives that you have, the more wives you can get because beehives are the ones that are used for bride price. Just like the Karamojong, they are also cattle keepers and believe in polygamous marriages.
Bird species in Kidepo
Kidepo National park is the second top destination for birders after Queen Elizabeth National park with 475 recorded bird species. Birding can be done throughout the different parts of the National Park but the best birding spot is the Lomej hills which have a clear view of the Park. Bird species in Kidepo include the Kori Bustard, Karamoja Apalaia, African grey flycatcher, white Clapperton’s Francolin, Verreaux’s Eagle, fox Kestrel, Purple Heron, ostriches, white crown shrike, little green bee-eater, standard winged nightjar, red-winged lark and the African swallow kite among others.
Birding in Kidepo can be done throughout the year but the best time is during the wet season which is also known as the green/low season. Other places within the National Park where birding is done are the Narus Valley, Apoka Rest camp, and the Namamukweny valley.
Kidepo National Park has unique wildlife and is home to over 75 animal species and 28 of these are only found in Kidepo Valley National Park. The animal species that you should look out for while on a game drive include warthogs, spotted hyenas, buffalos, elands, cheetahs, leopards although rarely seen, zebras, lions, elephants and foxes among other things.
Apoka Tourism Centre
The Apoka tourism Centre is a hub for tourists who visit the Kidepo Valley National Park. The Centre has great views of the Narus Valley where many of the animals converge since it is the only place that has a permanent water body. The Centre is home to rangers who help guide tourists around the National Park and it also has a shop where tourists can get souvenirs, food and other necessities. They prepare meals for tourists at the Centre and for tourists who want to cook their food, gas cookers and utensils are available at a small price.
The Namamukweny Valley
Namamukweny valley is located in the North Western part of the National Park and is one of the tourist attractions that tourists should check out while in Kidepo. It is a top birding spot for tourists with many bird species that include the broad-billed warbler, red-winged pytilias, Kori bustard, Rose-winged parakeet, Red-billed oxpecker, Green pigeon, four-banded sand grouse, yellow-necked spurfowls, chestnut sparrows, and the Clapperton’s Francolin among others.
The Kidepo Valley is a top tourist attraction in Kidepo and one of the best places to check out while you are on a safari. The valley is home to the largest bird in the world that is the ostrich and whereas the Narus Valley has a permanent water source, the Kidepo valley has only seasonal water bodies which dry out during the dry season leaving white sand and forcing the animals to migrate to the Narus Valley. Some of the animals that are found in the Kidepo Valley include Burchell’s zebra, Bohor reedbuck, giraffes, Jackson’s Hartebeests, wolf-eared bats, oribis, cheetahs, waterbucks, leopards, kudus, and elands.
A planned trip to Kidepo Valley National Park will get you in contact with the above-mentioned tourist attractions that can be seen all year round.