Considered one of the most remote safari parks in Africa, Kidepo Valley National Park is most notable for harboring a number of animals found nowhere else in Uganda, including cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, caracal, and greater and lesser kudus. Amazingly, most of the animals, including even the occasional lion, are content to graze and lounge right near the park accommodation, so you can see a whole lot without going very far – a kind of armchair safari.
Kidepo National Park Entry Fees 2021/22
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KEY:FNR – Foreign Non-Residents, FR – Foreign Residents, EAC – East African Community
Kidepo National Park
Nestled in the extreme northeastern corner of Uganda among rugged hills and valleys and off the beaten track, Kidepo National Park is a destination hidden so far away that its beauty has mostly gone unnoticed. Sprawling with expansive savannah plains, soaring mountains, spectacular landscapes, and great buffalo herds, Kidepo Valley offers one of Africa’s most attractive picturesque safaris. It sits on a massive 557 sq mile (1,442 sq km) rocky semi-arid Karamoja province.
Of all the top ten destinations in Uganda, Kidepo Valley is the most remote and unusual. It is crammed in the northwestern corner of Uganda’s border with Kenya and South Sudan, which would take approximately 10 hours to drive 292 mi from Kampala to Kidepo on the newly paved road.
Kidepo National Park offers breathtaking savannah scenery that ends on a rocky horizon. The park harbors outstanding landscape scenery unrivaled by any other national park in the whole of East Africa. It features a wide latitudinal array that offers a variety of climatic conditions that support remarkably different vegetation.
The diverse vegetation facilitates the different assortment of animal species within the park which are equally plentiful, not seen in other parts of this country. The wildlife and vegetation in the park are rather more characteristic of Kenya than Uganda.
Wildlife in Kidepo
Over 77 animals inhabit Kidepo National Park. Among the resident Carnivore species only endemic to Kidepo are the hunting dog, bat-eared fox, cheetah, striped hyena, caracal, aardwolf, Beisa Oryx, Lesser Kudu plus Grant’s gazelle, elephant, Orbis, Burchell’s zebras, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush pigs, cape buffaloes, bohor reedbucks, warthogs, defassa waterbucks, Rothschild giraffes, bush duskier and elands, bushbucks, in addition to lions, common zebras, leopards, plus several small cats such as the side-striped jackal, Kongoni, black-backed jackal spotted hyena, lions are seen to rest on the rocks.
The park has five primate species, including the endemic Kavirondo bush baby, numerous Orbis within the Narus Valley, Guenther’s Dik Dik, the Senegal Galago, and the White-tailed Mongoose. However, they comfortably come out on an excellent show on a night game drive.
Kidepo Valley has the second-highest population of birds than any of the top destinations in Uganda, showcasing an impressive bird list of over 470 species, led only by Queen Elizabeth National Park. Sixty of the bird species on its list haven’t been recorded anywhere else in Uganda. Kidepo is especially good for spotting raptors, with 56 species on record. You can spot migratory birds in Kidepo from November to April.
People & Cultures
Kidepo National Park is home to one of the minor ethnic groups in Africa: the Ik. With a population of just above 10,000, the small tribe struggles to preserve their unique culture and language, which no rival tribes understand. A visit through Kidepo will immerse you in their raw cultural practices that even a historian would marvel at. You’ll learn about their fascinating way of life, meet the village elders and enjoy a fun-filled activity with the community children.
Hike into the Morungole Mountains within the park to engage with the enchanting Ik people. This remote community of subsistence farmers has kept to their traditional way of life, with villagers only traveling to the lowlands to trade grain.
Not far from the Ik are the interesting Karamojong pastoralists. Initially, it isn’t easy to distinguish between IK people and Karamojong due to their similar lively jump dancing, specific hut building, and unique dressing. The difference between these two tribes is that the Ik people speak the Teuso language and practice subsistence farming, and are not nomadic pastoralism, like the Karamojong.
The Karamojong people are also an intriguing tribe that has seen much attention from tourists due to their authentic cultural experiences and activities. They are a Nilotic tribe for whom cattle form an essential part of their culture. The cattle are assembled collectively and provide cow blood and cattle blood for food, just like the Maasai in Kenya.
Now that UNRA has paved major roads further north of Uganda, it comfortably puts Kidepo Valley National Park on the top 10 destinations in the Uganda list. Have the honor to visit this outstanding destination.
The park has an incredible African wilderness and is less crowded with scenic beauty alongside abundant wildlife, a perfect Africa safari destination for savannah game drives.
Game viewing in Kidepo Valley is one of the most rewarding on the top 10 destinations in Uganda. In Kidepo, you’ll easily see the big cats (Cheetah, Leopard, and Lion) at their best in the whole of Uganda. The abundance of antelope, buffalo, and zebra on the valley’s plains attracts the presence of cat dram. Set out on an early morning or evening game drive in Kidepo tracks to catch the savanna drama.
Apoka game drives are the best way to explore the park’s far reaches within a short time. Most drives follow two 12mi (20 km) tracks through the wildlife-rich Narus Valley. Here, small puddles that stay even through the dry season attract large buffalo herds, thirsty elephants, and antelope. A gathering of herbivores attracts predators for an action-packed savannah scene.
The drier Kidepo Valley has less wildlife, but it has a wild beauty and is well worth discovering. Visit the Kanagorok hot springs, 18.6 mi (30 km) north of Apoka. Drive slowly, crossing the Kidepo River – a wide sand bed in the dry season – and meander across plains framed by the mountains. This is the best place for ostrich and secretary birds, while kudu enjoys protecting the thicker bush.
Stay for 2-3 days and explore more of Kidepo’s exotic wildlife. A short visit will deprive of Kidepo’s most stunning rewards.
Hiking & Nature Walks
Let your fear dissolve into the warm winds of Kidepo’s savannah plains. Guided by a knowledgeable guide, take a nature walk into Kidepo’s wilderness. Popular walking trails walk you 3mi (5km) through the Narus Valley and take about 2 to 3 hours. It is the most rewarding trail in Kidepo, showing off magnificent mammals and birds within the backdrop of the valley’s stunning landscape.
Birders will often patrol the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys’ fringes, looking for the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, and Clapperton’s Francolin, which is found only in Kidepo.
The 9mi (15km) route that follows a ridge-line into the hills is the most challenging trail. You can visit the beautiful Borassus palm-covered Kidepo river valley for most of the year. Hiking starts just a short distance from the park’s headquarters on the Lamoj Mountains alongside the Kanangorok hot springs.
Accommodation in Kidepo
A small number of accommodation options exist around the park boundaries, including the most popular luxury wilderness lodge, Apoka Safari Lodge. Apoka promises the Mara-kind of wilderness luxury in this remote game-rich park. The park does not have many options, so you are advised to book in advance while the rooms last.
Apoka Safari Lodge: Apoka Safari Lodge offers views of wild animals at your doorsteps as you are in the middle of beautiful wonders. Apoka Safari Lodge has established a heaven experience and class encompassed you in the middle of this African Wild.
Kidepo Savannah Lodge: Placed on the edge of the park, Kidepo Savannah Lodge offers unparalleled vistas of the expansive Narus Valley, Mount Morungole, and the distant mountain ranges which form the border with Southern Sudan.
Apoka Rest Camp: The lodge blends in rather than stick out, with 16 self-contained chalets. Concerning visitors who choose camping, this park has ‘Do it yourself’ camping grounds, where you have to carry your own tent and other camping gear.
Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp: Nga’Moru is found at Kidepo Valley National Park’s border with amazing views of this isolated savannah and semi-arid escarpment. Many wild animals that often visit the camp include Elephants, Lions, Hyenas, Zebras, and Waterbucks.
Getting to Kidepo & Away
The park is situated 320 kilometers north of Kampala, taking you on an exciting drive through the Gulu to Kitgum road in 10 hours. Driving to the Park is very rewarding and scenic with a beautiful wilderness. However, the road conditions are at times challenging and require 4 wheel drive vehicles (4WD).
If you travel to kidepo through the Soroti-Moroto road, you will be mesmerized by the sight of the steep Alekilek volcano, which is almost midway Moroti, and the town of Soroti. And in case you use the Lira-Kotido road, brace yourself for the beautiful scenery of Labwor hills, particularly the vast and uncovered Alerek rock.
You opt to fly up to Kidepo from the international airport in Entebbe, lasting 2 hours. There are chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport to the park’s headquarters, where the Civil Aviation Authority runs an airstrip found at Lomej approximately 3 km south of the park’s headquarters.
Kidepo Valley National Park shares borders with Sudan and Northern Kenya, not very popular at present. Still, with road improvement and the availability of flights to the park, the park is becoming more popular. It is likely to become frequented like its counterparts in western and southern Uganda.
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