Top 6 Best Things To Do In Kidepo Valley National Park In Uganda
The following are the top 6 best things to do in Kidepo Valley National Park and they include game drives, nature walks, community interactions, bird watching, hiking and photography.
Kidepo Valley National Park situated on 1442 square kilometers Karamoja region in Kaabong district between the Uganda and South Sudan border is one of Uganda’s notable National parks known as the Masai mara of Uganda. Covered by savannah vegetation, the park is a habitat to more than 80 mammal species and 480 bird species. Despite its isolation, it has numerous international nominations and the recent being the Coveted world Travel Awards 2023. The best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park is during the Dry season since most of the wildlife is concentrated near water points. The rainy season is good for bird watching.
Below is what you can do in Kidepo Valley National park.
1. Game Drives in Kidepo National Park
What’s an African safari without a game drive. Game drives is one of the many thing that you can do in Kidepo Valley National park. With over 80 mammal species, its a home to four of the big five animals that is lions, buffaloes, elephants and leopards. Other mammals include antelopes like oribis, elands ,waterbucks among others, giraffes, Uganda kobs and cheaters though scarce. Sectioned in to two that is the Narus Valley that harbors the highest population of wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park. The Kidepo section where we find the Kidepo seasonal river , a few wildlife and its mainly common of its beautiful ostriches.
The beauty about Kidepo is that you can do both morning and evening game drives with competent tour guides , professional drives and 4×4 wheel safari vehicles available to take you discovering the great fauna and flora of the park thus giving you a remarkable lifetime experience that will leave you amazed by wildlife.
As you are coming for a safari, don’t forget to carry along your cameras(no flash)so that you can share pictures and videos with your friends and family when back to your home country.
2. Nature walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
The extending savannah plains will capture your curiosity to wonder and wander the park in admiration of its beauty. The duration of the nature walks in Kidepo is highly determined by the weather condition. You will start your journey at the Apoka tourism office and with a guide, you will discover the beauty of this isolated park.
During the guided tour, you will encounter numerous wildlife that is elephants, buffaloes among others in large numbers. You will also be able to spot different bird species not forgetting the beautiful vegetation.
Well, nature walks are not only fun and relaxing but also help you discover the little details you didn’t while on a game drive.
3. Community interactions in Kidepo Valley National Park
Community tourism is one of the richest forms of tourism due to its authenticity. During your safari in Kidepo Valley National Park , you will visit the Lorukul Village and have an opportunity to interact with the Karamojong people.
These are nomadic pastoralists whose main economic activity is cow grazing and subsistence farming. Its only during those interactions that you get the feel of the African culture since most of the culture norms and heritages have been washed away with the colonial era. Its an edutainment event which is aimed at foster learning. You will get to know the origin, culture, way of life of the Karamojong people and you will also get to know about their traditional homes (Manyattas).
You will then proceed to the different handmade works of art souvenirs like beads, shoes, stools ,art paintings among others. The day will come to an end with an interesting traditional dance you wouldn’t want to miss since it involves both the guests and the host. In the dance, the man must go after the girl he wants and when he gets ahold of her, she becomes his wife. It gets interesting seeing people of different worlds bonding. The traditional dance is the most interesting part when it comes to community interactions.
The Ik tribe is also one of the community interactions to be done while on a safari in Kidepo Vallley National Park. It happens to be one of the smallest tribe in the Karamoja region and living in the Morungle mountains. This is one of the tribes that was never affected by the colonial era. These are mainly hunters and grow a few crops for home consumption. During the community interactions, you will have interpreters so you can be able to engage in the community affairs.
4.Bird watching in Kidepo Valley National Park
Bird watching also known as Birding is one activity you will enjoy doing while at the park. Kidepo Valley National Park is the second leading birding site in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth National Park with about 480 bird species recorded. Located in the semi arid part of the country, bird watching can be done throughout the entire year though the best period is from March to April and November which is awesomely good for raptors with over 50 species on record and over sixty birds traced no where else in Uganda makes its it a notable national park.
Birds recorded include African king fisher, purple heron, African hoopoe, falcons, owls, merlin, little bee eater among others.
With the assistance of the park guides, you get an opportunity to see appealing bird species in the Narus Valley and Namamukweny Valley where they are most concentrated. Bird watching in Kidepo Valley National Park can be done both in the morning and evening hours. You will also be able to spot a few animals and also get to know how the birds survive in the park.
5.Hiking in Kidepo Valley National Park
The flat Plains with an extending savannah grassland of the park makes Kidepo one of the most wonderful Parks in Uganda. There is no better way to discover the wilderness of Kidepo Valley National Park than by a hike .Hiking is one of the activities you must do while at the park. Its a full day activity and you will hike with the company of a park guide. Being in a semi arid part of the country, hiking activities are done in the early morning before the scorching sun and it requires a lot of patience and determination as it takes about 5 to 9 hours according to your stopping point.
While going for a hike, you need to be equipped with a walking stick, insect repellant, enough drinking water, first aid kit, binocular, camera, guide book, sunscreen and some packed lunch. You are also advised to wear safari clothing when going for a hike, sunglasses and hiking shoes to ensure safety from insect and snake bites.
You will start your hike at the Apoka tourism Centre going through the Morungole mountains which is a habitat to the minority Ik community. During the hike you are able to spot the unfinished dream lodges which were constructed by the then president of Uganda Idi Amin Dada which acts as a tourism attraction in the region and while there the history of Idi Amin is told. Since you will be in the wilderness, expect to see different animal and bird species.
You will conclude your hike with a visit to the Ik community. Its one of the tribes that has stayed true to its culture, norms and traditions. The Lomej hills is also one of the hiking spots in Kidepo Valley National Park . Hiking the hills will give you the best view of the Narus Valley.
6. Photography in Kidepo Valley National Park
Photos connect us to the past and remind us of the places we have been to, the bitter sweet memories and give inspiration to whom we have become. Travel with no photos is incomplete. There is a lot of beauty in the wilderness from the well laid savannah plains to the seasonal rivers ,from the endangered wildlife to the beautiful bird species make Kidepo Valley National Park a wonderful place for both photography and documentary.
Though photography tourism is still rare in Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park stands out to be one of the best spot for Photograhy and documentary for the enitre year due to its flat savannah plains in the dry season and wonderful grass during the rainy season.
During your safari , you are allowed to create lifetime memories like taking pictures and making videos in the park surrounded by nature at its fullness for they are the only tangible memories the you will share with your family and friends on return to home from a thrilling vacation.
Different routes can be used to get to Kidepo Valley National Park when using road transport.
- The first western route is from Kampala via Lira, Kotidi ,Kaabong leading you to the Park. It takes about 705 kilometers to get to the Park that’s 12 hours of travel though you can have an overnight stay in Kotido town and resume the journey the next morning. This route gives you an opportunity as you can make stop over for rhino trekking at Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Karuma falls.
- The other western route is from Kampala via Gulu, Kitigum then Kidepo .this is the shortest route to get you to the park. you will travel for 10hours covering a distance of 571 kilometers. Along the way, you will pass by the magnificent Murchison Falls National Park
- The eastern route is from Kampala via Soroti, Moroto, kotido, kaabong then kidepo Valley National Park. using this route you can choose to make a stop over at the Nyero rock paintings, spend the night in Soroti and participate in rock climbing before you proceed to your final destination. This route is a bit longer covering about 792 kilometers however you get to participate in more activities along the way.
- The other eastern route is from Kampala via Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Kotido, Kaboong and then finally connecting to the park. It will take you 740 kilometers which is 13 hours to get to the park. You will view the local people and different homesteads on your way to the park
You can also access Kidepo valley national park by Air. Air transport is conducive for people who don’t like to travel long distance and its less tire and little time is consumed. The Aero link domestic company offers air travel services that’s is scheduled and chartered flights to Kidepo Valley National park. Aero links operates Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with flights departing Entebbe at 12:30pm and arriving at 2:45 landing in Apoka airstrip in Kidepo. while the return flight is departs at 3:00pm and arrive to Entebbe at 4:30pm. When you get to the park, you will realize its worth all the time spent on the journey. The Aero link company also conducts flights to other National park in Uganda.
The above are the activities in Kidepo Valley National Park which you cant miss out. Kidepo National Park may be isolated from all the national parks of Uganda but it harbors great wildlife. All you need to do is book a safari to Uganda and explore this amazing National Park. With all that said, Kidepo Valley National park still stands out as a one stop incredible Park for an African Safari.
Accommodation in Kidepo National Park
There are a number of lodging facilities in Kidepo Valley National Park ranging from budget, midrange and luxury. The park also has favorable grounds for camping. These lodging facilities can be access inside and outside of the park.
Entrance fees in Kidepo National Park
- East African Residents shs 20,000
- Foreign Residents $30
- Foreign non Residents $40
- East African Residents shs 5,000
- Foreign Residents $10
- Foreign non Residents $20
- Pupils/Students shs 3000
- University shs 5000
- Wildlife Club shs 2000
Frequently Asked Questions About Kidepo Valley National Park
1. Which season is best for Kidepo?
- The dry season is the best time to visit Kidepo valley National Park.
- The transit period when the park is transitioning for the wet season to dry season.
2. Is Kidepo worth it?
- Kidepo is worth it all , its the reason it holds international recognitions due to its diverse and rich wildlife