Visiting Kidepo Valley National Park (1)
The Kidepo Valley National Park is home to over 80 species of animals. PHOTO/UWA

There are plenty of reasons why you should visit Kidepo Valley National Park, so here are a few to get you motivated for your next Uganda trip.

Miles from the city’s hustle and bustle, in Uganda’s north-eastern region, sits a national park so isolated that it is well worth the hours of travel; Kidepo Valley National Park

It is one of Africa’s most coveted and little-known places. 

The park was established as a national park in 1962 and was ranked by CNN as the third-best safari park in Africa in 2017. 

It spans 1442 square kilometres of open Savannah terrains, vast plains, and mountainous landscape, with sights quenching an adventurous spirit and satiating a soul in search of solitude. 

If you are wondering why you should visit Kidepo Valley National Park, here are some reasons to make your next trip to Uganda more memorable.

Kidepo and Karamoja’s People and Culture

The park is located in the Karamoja region, which is home to two distinct ethnic groups: the Ik and the Karamojong. To the latter, all cows on the planet are their property. 

Their culture, cuisine, rituals, and way of life are all centred on this wonderfully elegant creature. Both tribes are communal. 

Exploring their beliefs, striving to comprehend their culture, enjoying their traditional foods, and witnessing or participating in their folklore or dance is an experience worth travelling kilometres to Kidepo Valley National Park for.

Vegetation

The park’s vegetation is diversified, including grey-haired acacia (acacia gerrardii), savannah woodland that transitions to a fire-climate grassland in the south, as well as trees and shrubs that gradually transition to bush areas with forest on the mountain slopes. 

Borassus palms are abundant along the Kidepo, Lopirpir, and Kulao rivers. Much of the park is open grassland, dominated by acacia and other perennial grass species such as Themeda, Chloris, Panicum, and Setaria. 

Additionally, dry thickets composed of numerous small trees and plants are common. 

This vegetation is typically dry for more than half of the year, and antelopes such as Guenther’s dik-dik (Madoqua gentheri), which is found nowhere else in Uganda, are frequent visitors to these environments.

The Magnificent Landscape

The park’s environment is peppered with small hills, rocky outcrops, and inselbergs from which visitors can enjoy panoramic views in all directions. 

Dirt roads winding through the woods, reminding you of the visitors who came before you to explore Kidepo’s splendour, serve as a welcome sign for a game drive. 

Vast plains that allow your vision to travel well beyond the limits of your feet; Mt Morungole, which rises above the plains; and the open, rough Savannah that covers the park’s topography are just a few of the sites your camera should not miss.

The Thermal springs

The effervescent Kanangorok Hot Springs, generally translated as “place of black stones,” simmers away near the South Sudan border and is thought to have curative properties for skin problems. 

The drive to the hot springs takes you past the seasonal Kidepo river.

Birds

birds at Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda (1)
Birdwatchers will delight in the Kidipo Valley National Park in Uganda, especially those who are fascinated by Africa’s raptors. PHOTO/UWA

Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda is a birdwatcher’s delight, particularly for those interested in Africa’s raptors. 

In this lonely yet beautiful park, 475 bird species and many more that have not been formally recorded thrive, placing the park second only to Queen Elizabeth national park in terms of bird species. 

Certain birds in Kidepo, such as the Karamojong Apalis, are exclusive to the Karamojong region. 

Additional species include the Lammergeyer, Verreaux’s Eagle, Pygmy Falcon, Egyptian Vulture, Neophron, Black-Breasted Barbet, and Ostriches, as well as five species of hornbills.

Fauna

Kidepo Valley National Park hosts over 80 animal species

Here’s a sneak glimpse at some of the creatures that may cross your path and attract your eye: Zebras, Duikers, Jackson’s hartebeests, Elephants, Lions, Elands, Bat-Eared Foxes, Guenther’s Dik-Diks, Jackals, Rothschild Giraffes, Striped Hyenas, Klipspringer, Mountain Reedbucks, Buffalos, Defassa Waterbucks, Cheetah, Kongoni, Kobs, Pata Monkeys and Bush Pigs. 

To assert that the list is exhaustive would be an exaggeration.

Visiting Kidepo Valley National Park would give each of the above-mentioned animal types an extra ounce of description. 

Lions will not simply be lions; they will be tree climbing lions poised in sausage trees or sprawled on boulders outside Apoka Park’s entrance. 

You will not only relate the story of a crocodile but of special crocodiles adapted to the park’s arid circumstances, measuring 2.5 metres rather than the standard 4 metres. 

Visiting Kidepo not only allows you to cross off sights, sounds, wildlife species, and birds from your bucket list, but also provides you with a tale to tell about each bird, animal, tree, and rock.

Nature Walks

Leave the groaning motor behind and enter the wild savannah.

Step onto a trail and note the sensation of vulnerability that pervades each trek. Convinced by your guide’s wisdom, you may encounter the wilderness in all its splendour.

The majority of the walking paths take between two and three hours to complete and weave through the Narus Valley. 

The Narus Valley walk is extremely popular because of its short 5km radius, which is comfortable for the majority of visitors. 

It provides enough opportunities to observe a variety of amazing creatures and birds against the backdrop of breathtaking terrain.

Birders frequently comb the outskirts of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys in search of the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, and the Kidepo-exclusive Clapperton’s Francolin.

A 15-kilometre course follows the ridgeline into the highlands for those seeking a bigger challenge. While there are numerous potential trails, some may have been inactive for an extended period and will be temporarily closed.

Accommodation at Kidepo Valley national park

Kidepo National Park uganda accomodation (1)
A few luxury, midrange, and budget accommodations are available in Kidepo Valley National Park. PHOTO/UWA

There are few luxury, midrange and budget accommodation facilities in Kidepo Valley National park including:

  • Budget accommodation facilities like Apoka Rest camp. 
  • Mid Range accommodation facilities like Nga’moru Wilderness Camp and Kidepo Savannah Lodge.
  • Luxury accommodation facilities like Hotel Africana Moroto, Adere Safari lodge and Apoka Safari lodge.

A note to the upcoming traveller: As you set out to visit Kidepo Valley National Park, bring light cotton clothing for the daytime heat and layers for the nighttime and dawn chill. 

A camera to capture your experience for posterity, sunscreen to protect your skin, and enough water to quench your thirst in this desert region are just a few of the items you should not forget to include in your luggage. 

Check out our guides to Murchison Falls National ParkLake Mburo National ParkKibale National Park, and Semuliki National Park for a complete Ugandan experience.