Kidepo Valley National Park is a captivating region of semi-arid savanna, seasonal rivers, and low mountains. Kidepo is situated in the far northeast of Uganda, near the borders of South Sudan and Kenya. It is stunning and easily accessible. The terrain of Kidepo Valley National Park is 1,442 km2. The valley floor is 914 meters above sea level, and Mount Morungole’s 2,750-meter peak dominates the horizon.
In the wet season, the Kidepo and Narus rivers flow through the savannah environment, and they vanish in the dry. The most solitary national park in Uganda is Kidepo because of its isolation. The sparse number of visitors has helped to preserve the wilderness’ distinctive atmosphere.
Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
Only Queen Elizabeth National Park has a higher biodiversity than Kidepo Valley National Park. Kidepo Valley National Park is Uganda’s third-largest national park, offering more than 77 different mammal species, and there are many opportunities to see game there. There are 20 different types of predators, including lions, leopards, and spotted hyenas.
Kidepo Valley National Park’s numbers of animals have been increasing over the years, including the aardwolf, black-backed jackal, cheetah, caracal, and bat-eared fox, which are native to Kidepo in Uganda. The number of elephants has increased to over 650 (from 200 in the middle of the 1990s), the number of buffaloes is thought to be over 10,000, and there are over 50 Rothschild’s giraffes, a population that is significant on a global scale. Both larger and smaller kudu roam the dense woods while zebra graze on the plains. Adventurers in luck might even spot a white-eared kob, which is more frequently spotted in South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Kidepo Valley National Park now has more than 470 species of birds on its list. Not a single other national park in Uganda has 60 of these records. Only in Kidepo can one find Clapperton’s francolins and rose-ringed parakeets in East Africa. There are 56 different raptor species in the area, and the vultures are thriving. In addition, bird aficionados can only see the majestic Common Ostrich at Kidepo in Uganda.
Game Drives in Kidepo Valley National Park
The best option to quickly explore the farthest areas of the park is with apoka game drives. It is an incredible experience to encounter enormous beasts and predators up close while being safe in your car. Typically, cars take one of two 20-kilometer paths through the abundantly vegetated Narus Valley. Large buffalo herds, thirsty elephants, and antelope are drawn to this area where a little amount of water persists even during the dry season. When herbivores congregate, predators are drawn to the area, and you can observe a variety of stunning creatures.
Game drives leave in the early morning and late afternoon during the hot, dry season. This enables you to watch the animals in their most animated form and record memories within the optimum photo-taking lighting conditions. Less species can be seen in the drier Kidepo Valley, but it is nevertheless well worth seeing because of its untamed beauty. Focus on the Kanagorok hot springs, which are located 30 kilometers north of Apoka, but avoid becoming naive. Drive gently, meandering past plains flanked by mountains and across the Kidepo River, which in the dry season has a vast sand bank. Ostrich and secretary birds thrive here, and kudu benefit from the heavier bush’s shelter.
Nature Walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
Observe the feeling of vulnerability that permeates every walk when you head out onto a trail. With the wisdom of your guide at your side, you can experience the wilderness in all its splendor. The majority of the two- to three-hour walking routes wind through the Narus Valley. Given that the short (5 km) radius makes it comfortable for most tourists, the Narus Valley stroll is particularly well-liked. It provides you with plenty of opportunities to view a wide variety of gorgeous creatures and birds in a breathtaking environment.
Travelers searching for the Abyssinian Roller, Clapperton’s francolin, Purple Heron, and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, which is exclusively seen in Kidepo, frequently scour the edges of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys. A 15-kilometer route that follows the ridge line into the hills is available for those seeking a more difficult challenge. There are a lot of potential trails; however, some may not have been used in a while and may even be temporarily closed.
Getting to Kidepo Valley National Park
By road: driving from Murchison Falls often takes 7 hours or less due to the sealed road. Some travelers decide to take a break from the adventure by staying the night close to Sipi Falls. Kidepo is 571 kilometers away from Kampala. Few people prefer the rigorous 10-hour drive through Gulu and Kitgum from Kampala since it is a difficult road.
By air: A few light aircraft firms that fly into the airport nearby Apoka serve Kidepo Valley National Park. These flights are expensive for couples or small groups traveling alone because they only operate on specific days and require a minimum number of passengers, but they are not too pricey for families or larger groups. But don’t let that deter you there is something quite magical about taking off from Entebbe and circling over the dramatic Murchison Falls before continuing on to the vast Kidepo.
When to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is open every day of the year. Its general climate does, however, differ from that of the rest of Uganda. Despite the fact that June used to be dry, it is now generally acknowledged that a lengthy wet season will last from April through the end of November. There won’t be an eight-month downpour, but most days will likely have some rain. From December to March is considered the dry season. During this season, the temperature soars, frequently reaching 40 degrees Celsius. Since the park’s sandy soils can’t hold water, they turn parched between the middle and end of the dry season (November to February), which increases the likelihood of seeing wildlife.
During the dry months, animals gather around dependable water holes since there are fewer available water sources, increasing the likelihood of sightings. Additionally, this is the ideal opportunity to witness cheetahs hunting on the short-grass plains. Animals leave the lowlands during the wet season (April to August) in favor of higher ground, where sightings are less frequent, making it harder to find them.