Are you a tourist interested in visiting a remote destination that is greatly unexplored? Then visit Kidepo valley National Park. Kidepo Valley National Park is a remote Park nestled on the jagged semi-arid Valleys, in North-eastern Uganda on the border with South Sudan and Kenya. It was gazetted in 1962 hence the third Park to be gazetted in Uganda. Covering an area of 1442 square kilometers, Kidepo Valley National Park is the third largest Park in Uganda after Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
This Park boasts of the most spectacular landscapes in Uganda but in undeniably the most isolated National Park in the country. Tourists who endure this lengthy and tiring journey to this Park will totally agree that Kidepo Valley National Park is the most spectacular and was ranked as the third best destination in Africa by CNN. Visiting this Park is not an ordinary wildlife safari but it’s a safari to a true African Wilderness experience like no other experience. The savanna landscape expands from Apoka (the heart of the National Park), far beyond the gazetted area to the horizons demarcated by distant mountain ranges.
Because this area is a semi-arid region, the only permanent water during the dry season is noticed in wetland and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley next to Apoka. These seasonal water holes/oases together with the open savanna terrain make this Narus a perfect and principle game viewing site within Kidepo Valley National Park.
What to see and do in Kidepo Valley National Park
The vegetation of this Park is characterized by four ecosystems including the Savanna woodlands and the Narus Valley with grey-haired acacia (acacia gerrardi) among others. There are over 86 species of mammals, about 475 species of birds and more than 692 species of plants (second after Queen Elizabeth National Park) in this magnificent National Park. The interesting thing about visiting Kidepo Valley National Park is that over 28 of the mammals species cannot be sighted in any other National Park in Uganda. This is why you should not miss exploring this Park while for a safari in Uganda. Some of those wildlife species only unique to KVNP include Aardwolf, Striped Hyenas, African wild dogs, Greater and Lesser Kudu, Caracal, Cheetahs, Dik-dik, Beisa Oryx, Klipspringer, Bright’s gazelle and the Roan antelopes among others. Other wildlife species sheltered in this Park include African Elephants, Buffaloes, Giraffes, Zebras, Jackals, Lions, Jackson’s hartebeest, waterbucks and Lions among others. Of all the 475 species of birds, there are 58 recorded species of birds of prey and some of them include pygmy falcon, lammergeier and Egyptian vulture among others. There are also 14 species of raptors that are only unique and native to this Park and five species of hornbills are found in KVNP. This Park will never stop impressing tourists because even some of the world’s rarest and most desired species of birds are found here and they include Black-breasted barbet, Karamoja apalis and Ethiopian swallow. Other species you are likely to encounter include Red billed Oxpecker, Clapperton’s francolin, Hartlaud’s bustard, Ostriches (only found in this Park), and the Nubian woodpecker among others. Therefore some of the activities tourists participate in include game drives, birding nature walks, visit to Karamajong Village, and visit to the Ik people of Mount Morungule
Where to stay while at Kidepo Valley National Park
Few but comfortable accommodation facilities exist in this Park to make your stay memorable and they include Kakine Self-catering campsite (budget), Apoka Safari Lodge (Luxury), Nga’ Moru Wilderness (mid-range), Buffalo Base, Apoka Rest Camp (a budget facility managed and run by Uganda Wildlife Authority) and Kidepo Safari Eco-lodge.
How to Access Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is located in a strategic position in that it can be accessed through several routes. Please note that it is about 10 to 13 hours from Kampala and Some of the routes tourists can use to reach this Park include those through Eastern Uganda like; Kampala to Mbale to Soroti to Moroto then finally to the Park. This takes about 13 hours going and is about 792kms. Another one is Kampala-Mbale-Sironko-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo (740km/12 hours).
Tourists going through Northern Uganda commonly use Kampala to Karuma to Gulu to Kitgum to Kidepo (571km/10 hours) and Kampala to Karuma to Lira to Kotido to Kaabong to Kidepo (705kms/12 hours). These Northern routes are the most commonly used to access Kidepo Valley National Park. You can avoid the long hours and fatigue involved in using road transport. Charter flights can organized by Eagle Aviation or Kampala Aeroclub from Entebbe or Kajjansi to Apoka Airstrip. This even reduces on the number of days you would spend, or the hours that you would spend on road would be used to enjoy the beauty of Kidepo Valley National Park.
Therefore, Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the must visit laces in Uganda because of the unique wildlife species like Cheetahs, Greater and Lesser Kudu and Caracal am0ng others and unique bird species like the Karamoja Apalis. Because it is remote and receives few tourists, most of its attractions are unexplored; hence is a perfect destination for tourists interested in wildlife viewing in an African wilderness.