Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is not only Uganda’s most remote park, it is also considered by those in the know to be its finest. The varied terrain of this little-known wilderness teems with wildlife – the park supports 77 species of mammal and 476 bird species – much of it concentrated in the Narus Valley, making for superb and completely uncrowded game viewing and birdwatching.
For a wildlife safari without the crowds, look no further than the remote and rugged wilderness of the Kidepo Valley National Park. This less-explored gem in the far northeast of Uganda is a superb destination for the adventurous traveller. Over 77 mammal species (including big cats) and 476 bird species can be found in this isolated park, which covers 1 422 square kilometres. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the park itself towards the mountain ranges on the horizon.
Dramatic mountains and rocky outcrops surround the unspoilt savannah and forest expanses, and two rivers – the Kidepo and the Narus – cross the park. Much of Kidepo’s wildlife congregates in the lush Narus Valley, with its year-round water sources. In the dry season, the wetlands of the Narus Valley and large pools that remain of the Narus River attract game, which congregates here in numbers, making this the park’s prime game-viewing area.
Exceptional wildlife sightings include spotted hyenas, lions, cheetahs and leopards, elephants, Rothschild’s giraffes, zebras, greater and lesser kudu, eland, oribis, reedbucks, Jackson’s hartebeest, bat-eared foxes, and vast herds of African buffaloes. The bird checklist includes the common ostrich, secretary bird, northern carmine bee eater, little green bee eater, Abyssinian scimitar bill and 470-plus other species.
Mount Morungule, at an elevation of 2 750 metres, rises out of the Morungule Range on the southern boundary of the park. The mountain slopes are home to the IK people. The smallest ethnic group in Uganda, they have a unique hunter-gatherer culture and their survival is threatened. Another local community surrounding the park is the pastoral Karamojong people, similar to the Maasai of Kenya. Cultural visits offer insight into the lifestyle of these ancient communities.
Other highlights include the Kanangorok Hot Springs, just 11km beyond the Kidepo River. The springs are a reminder of the area’s volcanic history and are believed to have healing powers; they also have glorious views to the mountains in the distance.