Gazetted in 1962, Kidepo valley national park is the most isolated of the seven national parks found in Uganda. It is located in the extreme north-eastern horn of Uganda more than 700 kilometers from the capital Kampala.
The journey to this remote, semi-arid region is an enduring one but the beauty of flora, fauna and landscape there is a worthy reward. Kidepo valley national park boasts of approximately 77 wild animals’ species some of which can be best sited here. It is also a birding haven with hundreds of estimated birds’ species. The relief is even characteristic of most arid and semi-arid areas. It is mainly covered with grassland savannah often brown due to the prolonged droughts. The plain relief and short vegetation of the park renders it a favorable place to view animals unlike in other national parks with thick vegetation.
Some of the most common animals not to be missed in Kidepo valley national park include elephants, lions, giraffe, huge buffalo herds, hyenas, waterbucks, warthogs, zebras, hartebeest antelopes, kobs, porcupines and leopards among others. Of the birds, kidepo valley is the only wild place to spot an ostrich and some birds of prey in Uganda. These include Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Pygmy Falcon.
The park is neighbors with Karimojong and Masai people. They are pastoralists who still live a nomadic life largely dependent on their cattle. The Karimojong in Uganda have been among the most primitive but this is changing with the increasing frequency of social programs targeting developing them. They are tall, dark skinned people famous for wearing ornaments, skin tattooing and numerous body piercings. Society has for long regarded them as warriors ready to lay their lives on the line for the sake of their cattle’s safety. They live in large homesteads made of intricately designed huts locally known as “manyatta”. Land is communally owned for grazing. The Karimojong people also have interesting marriage traditions and cultural dances that one can get to understand through community visits.
Kidepo valleys national park is also a good setting for nature walks, walking safaris and night game drives. A night game drive gives a different perspective of night life in the wilderness. It is also very easy to spot nocturnal animals and birds foraging or hunting while the diurnal one resting away the nights. Walking safaris are perfect to get up-close with the variety of game and birds in the park.
The best accommodation facility is Apoka lodge located in the heart of the park. Often animals congregate at waterholes near the lodge making it an ideal viewing point.
Kidepo valley national park is one true wild destination whose beauty has been shrouded by its remoteness. This though cannot deter a spirit of an adventurer daring to delve deep in the mysterious beauty of Africa, its people, its jungles and its features. It is right time to add memories to the outstanding Ugandan wildlife gallery by visiting Kidepo Valley national park-The true African wilderness.