Kidepo is one of Uganda’s most spectacular parks (1,442 sq km). It harbours scenery unsurpassed in any other park in East Africa. Tucked into the corner of Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya, the park offers breathtaking savannah and mountain landscapes, which end in a rugged horizon.
A huge altitudinal range, correspondingly wide climatic conditions have evolved an extremely diverse flora. As a result the variety of animal species in the park is equally diverse including many which are found nowhere else in Uganda.
The vegetation can best be described as open tree savannah which varies much in structure and composition. Dry mountain forest dominates some of the hills, while areas along the Lorupei River support dense Acacia geradi forest. The park harbours a greater diversity of animal species than other parks in Uganda. Of the 80 species of mammals listed in 1971, 28 were not known to occur in any other Ugandan park. Carnivore species unique to Kidepo and Karamoja region include the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, caracal, cheetah and hunting dog.
The Park can be reached by road and air. Driving is more rewarding, as vast parts of Karamoja are scenic and total wilderness. However, road conditions are sometimes difficult and 4 wheel drive vehicles are highly recommended. Visitors should note that the road mainly in use from Kotido to Kaabong passes via Kanawat not via Losilang as indicated in most maps. Inquire from Kotido. Visitors intending to come by road are advised to contact UWA headquarters to seek advise about conditions and safety on the roads.
There are three routes by road:
Kampala via Karuma – Lira – Kotido – Kidepo 705 km
Kampala – Mbale – Soroti – Moroto – Kidepo 792 km
Kampala – Mbale – Sironko – Kotido – Kidepo 740 km
Chartered aircrafts are available from Entebbe International Airport to the park headquarters. The Civil Aviation Authority has plans to make Lomej an International airport which will permit visitors to fly in direct from other countries. The flight from Entebbe takes about two hours. Chartered flights may be arranged with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), United Airline, Eagle Aviation or KAFTC.
Kidepo valley has many accommodation facilities fitting all classes like Apoka lodge for luxury, campsites for budget, Apoka hotel for midrange and others.
ATTRACTION AND ACTIVITIES IN KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK
In addition to supporting huge diversity of endemic species, Kidepo is the only park in Uganda where visitors can view both the giraffe and zebra. Most of the wildlife is concentrated within Narus valley. From the verandah of Apoka Rest camp, visitors may view a variety of wildlife.
At least 60% visitors that come to the park in the dry seasons, enjoy good views of lions (that sometimes climb trees). Other animals of interest include buffaloes, elephants and giraffes. A number of game drive loops direct visitors to prime wildlife viewing locations in the Narus valley. Hiking can be carried out on Morungole Mountain just some few kilometers from the park headquarters. Lonyili Mountain is another possible hiking place. Visitors can also go to view the splendid Kidepo valley dominated by borassus palm forest; its wide flat riverbed is dry for most of the year. Visitors may enjoy a picnic on the sand and the sound of palm leaves in constant motion in the wind. From the Kidepo valley, visitors may also visit the Kanangorok hot springs which are located only 11 km from Kidepo river valley. The mountain and savannah landscape of the park is spectacular. The Narus valley is situated in the southwest of the park; the rugged Napore – Nyangea mountain range forms its western boundary. Separating it from the Kidepo valley in the northeast are the Lokayot hills. To the north, in the Sudan, are the Lotukei Mountains and the Morungole range marks the southern boundary of the park.
Visitors can be entertained by the traditional dances such as the Emuya dance of the Napore and Nyangea ethnic groups and the Lara karaka and apiti dances of the Acholi. Interested visitors may be able to visit Karamojong manyattas (homesteads) and probably kraals to see traditional customs, stools, spears, head dresses, knives, bows and arrows and jewelry, some of which may also be obtained from the park tourist office. It is better to arrange the visit two days in advance either from the park headquarters in Apoka or from UWA headquarters in Kampala. Along the Moroto – Soroti road visitors will be able enthralled by the view of the steep volcano of Alekilek, about midway between Moroto and Soroti. Visitors who take Kotido – Lira road will enjoy the scenery of Labwor hills and in particular the massive and bare Alerek (Kidi rwot) rock about 55 kilometers from Kotido. Throughout Karamoja, visitors will encounter colourful Karamojong costumes worn by the women and men (similar to Masai).
Hiking and Scenery viewing
Hiking can be carried out on Lamoj Mountains just a few kilometers from the Park Headquarters. Visitors can also go to view the splendid Kidepo River Valley dominated by Borassus palm forest; its wide flat bed is dry for most of the year. From Kidepo Valley, you may also visit the Kanangorok Hot Springs, which are located only 11 km from Kidepo river valley.
The mountain and Savannah landscape of the park is spectacular. The Narus valley is situated in the South West of the park; the rugged Napore-Nyagia mountain range forms its western boundary. Separating it from the Kidepo Valley in the northeast, are the Natira and Lokayot Hills. To the north in the Sudan are the Lotukei Mountains and the Morungole range marks the southern boundary of the park.
To add flavor to your visit to Kidepo River, take time and visit the picnic site located on the sand and you won’t also miss the sound of palm leaves in constant motion in the wind.
If you are interested in increasing your knowledge on African culture, visits to the Karimajong manyattas (homesteads) and probably kraals to see traditional costume, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows and arrows and jewelry can be arranged. Some of the above mentioned items can be purchased from the park tourist office. It’s advisable that you make arrangements for the nature walk two days in advance. This booking can be done from the park headquarters in Apoka or from Uganda Wildlife Authority Headquarters in Kampala.