The most isolated Park in Uganda, Kidepo lies in a rugged semi-arid valleys amid Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya. It’s about 700 km from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.
It was gazzeted as a National Park in 1962 and it is now teeming with a diverse range of Wildlife including 77 species of mammals and over 475 bird species.
Its fauna is one of the most exciting and includes species that are rarely found in any other Ugandan Park. These unusual species include elands, cheetah, greater and lesser kudu.
Kidepo’s luxuriant habitats are as well home to carnivores such as black-backed and side-stripped jackals, spotted hyenas, leopards and lions.
On top of that expect to behold larger species like Burchell’s zebra, bush pigs, Rothschild’s giraffe, Cape Buffalos, Bush bucks, elephants, Bush duikers, Defassa waterbuck, Oribi, Jackson’s hartebeest and Bohor reedbucks.
Its large numbers of bird species totaling to 475 species is the reason why it’s listed among Uganda’s prime birding hotspots.
You can sight unique species that are only found in this Park, these include Kori bustard, Karamoja Apalis and Ostrich.
Kidepo is also known for its birds of prey. Out of the 56 recorded species, 14 are endemic to the Park (Egyptian Vulture, Verreaux’s Eagle and Pygmy Falcon).
Unique Spots in Kidepo
Apoka Tourism Centre
Apoka is a tourism hub in the park. It is home to the UWA cottages and a luxury lodge “Apoka Safari Lodge” and set overlooking the Narus Valley.
This is the places where you will find the ranger guides to escort you on your game drives or nature walks around the Park.
Within this locality, there is a craft shop with books and different art works that are sold as Souvenirs. You can as well buy drinking water, alcoholic beverages and sodas from this shop.
This is a rolling grassland plain engulfed by distant mountains. Its permanent waters in the ponds is the motive why the Park’s wildlife congregate here all year round mostly in the dry seasons. Therefore it is a great zone in the Park where you can sight a lot of animals.
It is well provided with game tracks and four loop circuits you can follow while exploring its suburbs.
You can sight animals like buffaloes, giraffes, oribis, reed bucks, lions and more. During the dry season, you are most likely to sight the rare Cheetahs and leopards near the Narus dam.
At the southern end of Katurum loop and Katurum kopje, views across the valley towards Morungule mountain range are awesome.
Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs
Though in the dry season, the Kidepo valley is limited with Wildlife species it’s worth a drive to visit the Kidepo River. You can stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sands between the banks.
The Kanangorok hot springs is the other unmissable spot while in the Park, it lies 11km beyond the Kidepo River towards the Sudan border.
At 2750 m high, Mountain Morungule is crossed by the Narus and Kidepo Rivers that supply water to the Park’s Wildlife.
This mountain marks the southern boundary of the Park, rises from the plains just a few kilometers north east of Apoka.
You can explore this region on foot while on guided nature walks and grants a visit to the smallest ethnic group in Uganda “IK people”.
Namamukweny word is a Napore word and in local language it means a place with no birds and largely with few people. It is located in the north-western part of the Park.
If its bird species, the name is really the opposite of the area because it fully packed with different bird species.
Some of the species you can see in the valley are White-crested Turaco, Common Bulbul, Abyssinian Roller, Green Wood Hoopoe, Eastern Paradise Whydah and more
Just from the Park headquarters, you drive shortly up to Lomej Hills. This area awards best views of different bird species and Wildlife.
Largely covered girdled by montane forest, Lonyili Mountain lies between the Sudan border and Kitgum town. This area is home to some primates like Colobus monkeys.
You can get to this Park by two options (Road and air transport means). If you are a kind of person who like adventure, driving to Kidepo is more rewarding then going by plane.
The jaw dropping drive rewards panoramic views of road side natural sceneries such as rolling hills, stretching vegetation, towering mounts, and more.
There are mainly four routes to follow from Kampala up to Kidepo by use of a 4x4 vehicle. Highlighted below.
Routes passing west of Lake Kyoga through Acholi
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 – Kabong – Kidepo => 792km (13 hours)
The usual and favorite route (shortest) used by travelers pass through Gulu and Kitgum, therefore it’s advised to spend an overnight in one of these towns after a long day of driving. Then next day continue with the scenic drive up to the Park.
Additionally, for those using the road from Kotido to Kaabong, it passes via Kanawat not Losilang as it is indicated on the maps.
To those who hate long distance drives, you can go by the plane. Private charters are arranged daily but on request from Entebbe airport or Kajjansi airstrip up to Lomej airstrip near Apoka Safari lodge.
Top Activities in the Park
Birding – Kidepo Valley Park
Without doubt Kidepo is a destination not to miss for incredible birding excursions. It’s home to over 475 species of birds. Most birders like it for its species of Ostrich that are only found in this Park.
You can sight other species like Pygmy falcon, Egyptian vulture and more. Birders are advised to be in for the excursions either in the morning or evening time.
Game driving is often involves driving around the Park suburbs following the permanently established trails with interest of sighting different Wildlife species from the pop up roof of the Safari vehicle.
This is the very best way to uncover Kidepo’s stock of Wildlife. This Park is very large and you can do several game drives exposing you to its varied species such as Wild animals.
This is the main highlight for all trips to this Park, expect to see plenty of animals like elephants, Buffalos, Zebras, Giraffes, Bush bucks, hartebeests and more.
Off tracking in need of getting closer to the animals or to behold the ones hiding is illegal, if caught you are to pay fines.
Nature – Bush Walks – Hikes
Kidepo features plenty of great places where you can do the nature walks. There is nothing more breathtaking than taking in African Wildlife on foot and Kidepo is one of those great localities to have the best Nature walk experience.
Outside of the Park, you can do several hiking expeditions to impress you like a hike up to Idi Amin’s dream lodge he built during his time but died before finishing it.
Moreover, you can hike Mountain Morungole to visit the Ik people. To let know, all nature walks in the Park are guided by rangers from Uganda Wildlife Authority.