NATIONAL PARK OF KIDEPO VALLEY
The Kidepo Valley National Park is the least visited national park in Uganda, but a tourist who visits the park will never regret it because it is the only virgin park in the wilderness areas of Africa because it has some of the animal species that cannot be found in other parks and the cultural activities done by the locals surrounding the park are so interesting and educative.
Though the accommodation in Kidepo Valley National Park is found outside the park, and this includes Apoka Safari lodge and Kidepo Savannah lodge, among others, the park is blessed with an abundance of wildlife.
The park, which is located in Kabong district in Northern Uganda, was gazetted as a national park in 1962, the same year Uganda received its independence from the colonial masters. The park has 75 mammals and 470 bird species. It is about 510 kilometers from Kampala, Uganda by road.
Due to the various attractions in the park and the activities carried out by the locals around the park, it is the 3rd best national park, which makes it a place to visit during your safaris.
Kidepo Valley National Park receives rain once a year, that is from April-September. It is the longest rainy season ever. Since the Karamojong are herdsmen, the vegetation in the park is always untouched, which makes the livelihood of the animals there so peaceful.
The Karamojong are the indigenous community that lives near the park. They are nomadic pastoralists who move from one place to another, and it is believed that a person with lots of cattle is the wealthiest person in the community, so this makes them value cattle more than anything else. Due to their movements, they value dogs because they help them detect danger that is coming to attack the herds of cattle. That is why you will find dogs at each homestead.
During a visit to Kidepo Valley National Park, tourists can visit the permanent homes of the Karamojong, who still practice their forefathers’ traditional and cultural beliefs, such as moving cattle from one location to another, drinking milk directly from the cattle, and eating meat.In such cultural beliefs and customs, the tourists will also participate in them, especially by dancing, singing, telling stories, and also dressing in their traditional attires, which are almost like the Masai from Kenya.
Since Kidepo Valley National Park is a semi-arid area, during the rainy season, the rainwater collects itself in Narus Valley, where animals come and gather there to cool off the heat and also drink water. The valley is also a blessing to the Karamojong because they take their herds of cattle for water and fresh pastures there. The Narus valley is a good hideout for the animals. That is why on a game drive you are advised to pick a ranger who will guide you to the animal’s hideout. Animals spotted there include; Lions, Buffalos, Zebras, Hartebeests, Giraffes, Cheetahs, Leopards, Waterbucks, among others.
On a nature walk via the Katurum track, which has a magnificent view of the Narus valley, is where you can appreciate the nature of Uganda and the river joining the Kidepo river into South Sudan, which later joins the White Nile.
Kidepo Valley is a popular game viewing destination since it is on flat terrain where tourists are able to view the different animal species in the park. Kidepo has over 28 mammal species that are endemic only to the park. It is always advised to use a customized car to drive within the park, and the game drive starts at 6:00 am, where you can have a chance to view the nocturnal animals when coming from hunting, and also at 4:00 pm for the evening game drive. The number of animals in the park was reduced in the 1980s due to the civil war, which led to the poaching of animals for food.
Tourists who have a chance to go to Kidepo Valley National Park always have an opportunity to view Lions, Cheetahs, Leopards, Mane fewer Zebras, waterbucks, Uganda kobs, Kudus, Buffaloes, Orgx, Gazelle, Elephants, Giraffes, Elands, Roan antelopes, Striped Hyenas, Jackals, Reedbucks, Nile crocodiles, and Duikers.
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve is located in the southeast of Kidepo Valley National Park and the reserve is 1,520sqkm in Moroto District. The place in Matheniko wildlife is not too developed like the other reserves, but the beauty and population of wildlife species in the reserve are so amazing. Game drives in the reserve are so magnificent because you are able to see the Cheetahs, Leopards, Buffalos, Roan antelopes, Lesser Kudo, Elands, Serval cats, and mountain reedbuck, Topi, Wildcats, Bright’s Gazelle, Blue duikers, Bohor reedbuck, and Striped Hyena. Waterbucks, Jackals, Oribi, and Patas monkeys, among others.
There is also the opportunity to see various bird species such as Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Ethiopian Swallow, Pygmy Falcon, Clapperton’s Francolin, Abyssian Ground Hornbill, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Hartlaub’s Turaco, red-billed Ox-pecker, black-headed plover, and others.
Accommodation in the reserve is limited to self-catering camping in the wilderness, which runs through Moroto and Kotido.