Kidepo Valley national park is 700kms from Kampala city and it’s found in the rugged semi arid valleys between Uganda –Sudan and Kenya borders. Gazette in 1962, it hosts over 77mammals and 475birds. This is Uganda’s most isolated national park. During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location. It’s second to Queen Elizabeth national park, in terms of its known plant diversity and third behind Queen Elizabeth NP and Murchison for its mammals and bird diversity.
AREAS OF INTEREST
Wide as it is, Kidepo Park has various areas of interest both in and outside the park.
Apoka tourism centre- in his centre, ranger guides are stationed at Apoka to escort tourists on game drives and walks. For those without private transport means, park trucks can be hired. Craft shops with books and souvenirs, bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages can also be purchased here. Food is cooked on request and cooking gas and utensils can be hired by individuals who wish to cook for themselves.
Lomej Hills- These are a good viewing point for birds and wildlife, including the mountain reedbuck and are just a short drive from the headquarters.
Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs - As the saying goes, water is life. These provide water to the wildlife and people in the park and also provide a great scenery for the visitors.
Narus Valley- The Narus valley is blessed with permanent waters and for most of the year, wildlife stages here. It is rolling grassland plain enclosed by distant mountains. This area is well provided with game tracks, for loop circuits exploring the valley around Apoka. Numerous mammals like lions, buffalos, oribis and reedbucks can be viewed in this valley. Rarely seen are the cheetahs and leopards. . The Narus dam and the water hole near the Tourism Centre are perfect observation points for game, especially during the dry season. At the southern end of the Katurum loop, Katurum kopje (the site of a derelict lodge) is an attractive destination with superb views north across the valley towards the Morungule mountain range.
WILDLIFE- Kidepo Valley Park hosts the most exciting and various mammals found nowhere else in Uganda. These include the lesser and greater kudu, cheetah and eland. It also has carnivorous animals like the leopard, mighty lion, black backed and side striped jackals and the spotted hyena. Large mammal species commonly seen are the elephants, warthogs, giraffe, bushbuck, zebras, bush pigs, cape buffalos, bush duiker and oribi.
BIRDS- Kidepo Park hosts about 475 bird species qualifying it second to Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda. These include the kori bustard, ostrich, Egyptian vulture, pygmy falcon, eagles and Karamoja apalis. However, there has been no comprehensive survey of birds in this park.
The greatest bird watching experience is in Apoka rest camp although more birding can be done on the fringes of Narus and Namamukweny valleys. Viewed birds include the purple heron, Abyssinian roller, clapperton’s francolin and Abyssinian ground hornbill found only in Kidepo park. Birding can be done both mornings and evenings.
Hiking and nature walks
This park also hosts the Lomej Mountains which can be reached on foot in about four hours. Hiking to this mountain starts at 7am and shorter guided walks of around two hours can go through the Narus valley to over 5km from Apoka tourism centre. Tourist can also walk along the Kidepo river valley between banks of attractive Borassus palm forest. One hour from Apoka is the Namamkweny valley.
During these game drives, one is advised to use a ranger at all times as they help spot some of the parks lions that sit on the numerous valley rocks. Wild life is more active in this valley during the early mornings and late evenings that’s 6am and 4pm. Other mammals in this park include leopards, bush duiker, bush pig, elephants, jackals, bush baby, buffalo and much more.
Kidepo Valley Park also has amazing scenery as it is that wildlife is scarce in the arid region of the park. An hour’s drive to Kanangorok hot springs passes some magnificent landscapes. Beyond the river crossing the springs north of Apoka road passes between rocks outcrop and hills before descending into the Kidepo valley across Kidepo sand river transverse open plains that extend past kanangorok hot springs towards mountains across the Sudanese border. In this part of the park are ostriches best site.
The rest camps and lodges in this park offer services to suit the visitors. They may offer local foods but at early booking. Inside the park we have Apoka safari lodge, Apoka rest camp and Kakine self catering camp site. Outside the park we have Nga Moru wilderness camp. All these provide accommodation to the visitors.
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