Kidepo National Park

Kidepo National Park is one of the most scenic areas in Uganda ranked the best third national park in Africa. It is one of the best national parks in Uganda located in the northeastern region in the Kaabong district, 57 kilometers from Kampala the capital city of Uganda at the altitude range of 914 meters – 2750 meters. It covers a size of 1,442 kilometers at coordinates of 03°54′N 33°51′E with rugged terrain combined with tiny hills, inselbergs, rocky outcrops, valleys and Morungule Mountains which attract a number of tourists to this destination to thrill while on Uganda Safaris.

Kidepo national park experiences a semi-arid arid climate characterized with one light rainy season of about 890mm of rain annually in the months of April, May, June, July, and August with an average temperature of 27°C and heavy clouds. Sometimes the temperature falls to 17°C in the morning. These climatic conditions favor the growth of long and short grass together with semi-desert scrubs, riparian woodland like Borassus and kigelia woodland, montane forest, open thorn scrub, granite outcrops, and open thorn bush. This less thick vegetation cover favors game drives throughout the park. The Months of  September, October, November, December, January, February, and March are the driest months characterized with clear skies, very oppressive heat and daily temperatures average of 27.5°C with daily variations from 21.5°C-34°C. Sometimes temperatures raise to 40°C.

Northern east region is home to the Ik people who are the fruit gatherers, the nomadic pastoralist, Karamojong, Jie, Tepeth, Kadama, Dodoth, Pokot, Labwor, Mening, Nyangia which makes Kidepo national park a center for cultural tourism as it is filled with portraits to the way Karamojong live their lives. Kidepo national park was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1958 by the British colonial government purposely to protect the animals from the uncontrolled hunting for meat and clearing of bush in the name of controlling tsetse flies in the area. The gazetting process resulted in the eviction of the locals and forcefully relocated to areas of Kalo, Kadu, Namosingo, Loriwo where they faced famine.

After Uganda receiving independence, in the regime of Milton Obote in 1962 the game reserve was declared a national park under the administration of a Briton Ian Ross in 1972 as its warden.

Kidepo national park is currently under the administration of the Uganda wildlife authority and it is slowly becoming a prominent tourist destination with tourist rates increasing daily when compared to recent years when it was less exploited in a tourism sense. Kidepo national park is a home to various mammals approximately 86 mammals which include cheetah, caracal, aardwolf, greater and lesser kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik, lion, zebras, leopards elephant, Lions, black and white and side-stripped jackals, spotted hyenas, the greater and lesser kudu with the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffe is present with five young born in 2016 and rare patas monkey. It is also a home for over 470 bird species which include Abyssinian roller, Abyssinian scimitar bill, Black-breasted barbet, Chestnut weaver, D’Arnaud’s barbet, Fox kestrel, Golden pipit, Greater kestrel, Jackson’s hornbill, Karamoja apalis, Northern carmine bee-eater, Purple grenadier, Pygmy falcon, Red-throated bee-eater, Rose-ringed parakeet, Rufous chatterer, White-bellied go-away bird.

Kidepo National Park
Birding in Kidepo National Park

Attractions in Kidepo national park also include the two major valleys that are Narus valley and Kidepo valley with their floors lying between 910 meters and 1,200 meters above sea level. Narus valley in the south and west part of the park is the most popular valley well known for harboring most wildlife in the park and blessed with fairly draining red clays and loams, wildlife is attracted to this region because it has water even in the dry season. Narus valley derives its name from a Ketebo word meaning people living in the valley. It is covered with short red oat grass, taller bunchy Guinea grass, thatching grass, red thorn acacias, drumstick trees, sausage trees, and monkey bread.

Kidepo valley is found in the east and north-east part of the park and it has streams which are surrounded by palms and whistling thorny acacia bushes in higher areas and black chalky clay and sandy-clay loam predominate type of soils. Kidepo national park has seasonal rivers like River Kidepo and River Narus. These rivers dry up during the dry seasons and it also has the Kanangorok hot springs which are a permanent water source in the north region of the park in Lotukei, on the south Sudan border.

Mountain Morungule is home to the Ik people located at the southern border of the park a few miles from the North East of Apoka. This magnificent creation standing at a height of 2750 meters above the sea level is crossed by river Kidepo and river Narus offering a scenic view.

Lomej hills are adjacent to the park’s headquarters and they are just a short drive away. These hills are a great spot to see wildlife and birds.

Namamukweny Valley is derived from a local word meaning place having no birds or perhaps a lonely place with very few people. This valley is well known for birding safaris. It harbors half of the population of the birds in the park with species which include Eastern Paradise Whydah, Green Wood Hoopoe, White-crested Turaco, Abyssinian Roller and many more

Activities to enjoy while in Kidepo National Park include

Game Drives through the Kidepo valley and Narus valley are the most rewarding and ranked the park as the best national park in Africa. Kidepo National Park is the best destination with countless wildlife species. Kidepo national park has the best game drives in East Africa and during these games drives you will get to watch big herds of buffaloes, giraffes, antelopes, and elephants most especially in Narus valley. On game drives, you also get to enjoy the giant ostrich and the hot springs.

For Nature Walks & wild walks through bushes, the Kidepo national park is the best spot. Nature walks can take the whole day including through wilderness enjoying the wildlife. These nature walks are headed by an experienced guide.

Bird watching in Kidepo national park is ranking second after Queen Elizabeth national park as a paradise in Uganda for bird lovers. The giant ostrich is the major master piece in this park. Kidepo national park has a number of bird species which include Verreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, and Pygmy Falcon which are the only endemic to the Kidepo and Karamoja region, secretary birds, Jackson’s bill, Kori bustard and many more.

Visiting the local Karamojong community a visit through the Karamojong will take you through their untouched culture. In Uganda, the Karamojong region was the only un-colonized place during colonial times. These people take pride in their cattle and they carried out cattle raid in the neighboring places. Up to date they still live an authentic African life which has more resemblance to the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania.

Hike to mountain Morungule (Visit to Ik people): hiking on the slopes of mountain Morungule takes through the IK people community, these people are the tines group of people in Uganda, they are also knowing as mountain people living on the slopes of mountain Morungule and the first habitants of northeast region even before the Karamojong. This hike is not as easy as the slopes are steep.


Kidepo National Park
The IK People

To reach Kidepo National Park from Kampala the capital city of Uganda, you take routes using road transport which includes

  • 705 km  route from Kampala via Karuma-Lira-Kotido-Kidepo
  • 792 km route from Kampala via Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kidepo
  • 740 km route from Kampala via Mbale-Sironko-Kotido-Kaabongo-Kidepo
  • 656 km route from Kampala via Soroti -Katipos via Amuria 
  • 571km route from Kampala via Karuma-Gulu-Kitgum-Kidepo

You can also choose to use a chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport to the Park Headquarters. The Civil Aviation Authority manages an airstrip at Lomej about 3 km south of the Park Headquarters.

To enter Kidepo national park there are different fees

ADULTS 20,000 ug.shs for residents Adults.
30US$ for Foreign residents.
40US$ for Foreign nonresidents
CHILDREN  East African residents pay UGX 5,000
Foreign residents 10US$
Non-foreign residents US$20
Ugandan pupils/students (groups) UGX 3,000
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