Kidepo National Park in Uganda
Kidepo National Park is Uganda’s distant National Park and one of Africa’s wildernesses. The park occupies the rocky semi arid basins of Karamoja district situated along the remote border with Sudan in the north and Kenya in the east.
The park was gazetted as a national park in 1962 with various populations of wildlife (77 species) and only takes one about 700 km from Kampala to reach this destination. All visitors that have made it here enjoy this wilderness due the presence of very beautiful mysteries of nature like the terrain, wildlife, birds etc.
From the middle of the park at Apoka is a savannah terrain that stretches far beyond the gazetted area to horizons sketched by isolated mountain ranges. The park has more than 475 species of birds which makes it second after Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Among these are the rare species in East Africa which include the Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apallis. The wetlands and residue pools in the large Narus valley close to Apoka become the only permanent sources of water during the dry season. These and the open savannah grassland area offer exceptional sightings of wild game.
Activities at Kidepo National Park in Uganda
Birding at Kidepo National Park usually begins at the Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overseeing the retracted Narus Valley in the south. While camping, you will have an opportunity to spot the lively Silver bird and candid groups of Yellow-billed Shrike because these are very common around trees in this area. There are also other bird species like the Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. The candid stable water hole along the rim of the camp charms birds into drinking water as well as those that eat seeds like the Yellow rumped Seedeater. This is also visited by the four banded Sandgrouse in the night, elephant, buffalo and lion. The clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached, Broad tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson rumped Waxbill can be spotted within the grass along the dry stream patch bed next to the camp/Apoka lodge.
Birding can also be done in the peripheries of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys and the birds you will see include the Abyssinian Roller, pygmy Falcon, Varreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin and these are located only in Kidepo. This activity can be done both in the morning and evening hours.
A game drive around Kidepo National Park involves driving around the park to spot various wildlife animals in their habitat. Some of these live in the wild Narus Valley and one is advised to move with a ranger and visit this area during the early mornings at 6:00 am and late afternoons at 4:00 pm.
The rangers will help you see the lions that sit on the various rocks of the valley. You will also spot various other animals like the bushbuck, bush pig, ostrich, leopard, elephants, bush duiker, jackal, buffalo, etc. One can also embark on a scenic game drive where they will spot the magnificent terrain along with wildlife in the arid valley.
The drive will take about an hour to the Kanangorok hot springs which go into the mountains across the border with Sudan an area full of Ostriches. You will also transfer to the northern part of Apoka through various rock projections, hills before going down into the Kidepo valley and traversing the Kidepo Sand River.
Thre are various wildlife animal species you will spot within the park and these include the Hunting dog, Bat-eared Fox, Cheetah, Striped Hyena, Caracal, aard Wolf, elephants, oribi, burchell’s zebras, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush pigs, bohor reed buck, warthogs, roths child giraffes, defassa water bucks, cape buffaloes, elands, bush duskier, bush bucks, lions, side-striped jackals, leopards, black-backed jackals, small cats, spotted hyenas.
Hiking and Nature walks
Hiking and nature walks in the park is carried out along the magnificent Lomej Mountains and these involve walking via the Narus Valley where you will encounter people that belong to the endangered IK tribe in the Morungole Mountains outside the park. And while here, you will spot the magnificent river valley between the borders of borassus palm forest. Hiking in the park can also be carried out on the Lamoj Mountains situated a few kilometers from the Headquarters of the Park.
After here, one can visit the hot springs in Kanangorok situated just 11 kms from Kidepo river valley. The park also includes the Savannah terrain which is extra ordinary due to its beautiful vegetation as well as the wildlife species, the Narus valley located in the south western part of the park, the rocky Napore Nyagia mountain range which forms the border in the west. Astonishing Natira and Lakayot hills can also be spotted in the north east and were separated from the Kidepo valley. One can also proceed further to southern Sudan where you will spot the Lotukei mountains and the Morungole range located in the south of the park.
You will also involve yourself in visiting the close local communities where you will be entertained through various dance, song performances from the people who will be delighted to have you around. The performers act very many different traditional dances which make the guests very excited hence giving them a taste of nature in Uganda. Some of their performances include the Emuya of the Nyangia, Naporre ethnic groups with Larakaraka as well as the Apiti dances which are usually presented by the natives of Acholi land.