Kidepo Valley National Park is located near Karenga in the Kaabong District, in northeast Uganda and lies in the rugged valleys between Uganda’s with Sudanese and Kenyan borders. In the dry season, the two main rivers (the Kidepo and Narus) disappear and most of the remaining permanent water in the park is found in the broad Narus Valley.
The seasonal changes in Narus valley make this area the park’s prime game viewing location.
Kanangorok is a lukewarm hotspring in the extreme north of the park at the South Sudanese boundary and is another permanent source of water.
The park plays host to some 77 mammal species, namely: the ostrich, maneless zebra, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, Jackson’s hartebeest, buffalo, caracal, bat-eared fox and African Bush Elephant.
There is also reputedly almost 500 bird species, such as the Dark chanting Goshawk, Kori Bustard, little bee Eater, red-and-yellow barbet, D’Arnaud’s barbet, greater kestrel, rose-ringed parakeet, purple grenadier and pygmy falcon.
Over 86 mammal species can be spotted in Kidepo Valley National Park including the spotted hyena, lion, cheetah,
leopard, wild dog, elephant, giraffe, zebra, African buffalo, bat-eared foxes, Rothschild’s giraffe, and Black-backed and side-striped jackal.
Twelve antelope species are present, notably Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, eland and klipspringer. One hundred Uganda kob were transferred into the park (from Murchison Falls) in 2017.
As well as this, the park can boast close to 500 individual bird species.
Some of the less common ones to be found include the Abyssinian roller, Abyssinian scimitarbill, Black-breasted barbet, Chestnut weaver, D’Arnaud’s barbet, Fox kestrel, Golden pipit, Greater kestrel, Jackson’s hornbill, Karamoja apalis (NE), Northern carmine bee-eater, Purple grenadier, Pygmy falcon, Red-throated bee-eater, Rose-ringed parakeet, Rufous chatterer and the White-bellied go-away bird.
Activities and Culture
The area is well provided with game tracks, with four different circuits exploring the valley. Many creatures such as lions, Jackson’s hartebeest, buffaloes, giraffes, oribis and reedbucks can be freely seen in the valley.
Less common are the majestic cheetah and beguiling leopard. 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, the site of a derelict lodge (Katurum kopje) is a unique destination with superb views north across the valley towards the Morungule mountain range.
Apoka Tourism Centre
Apoka is the park’s tourism hub; it sits overlooking the game-rich Narus Valley in the far South of the park.
Ranger guides are stationed at Apoka to escort tourists on game drives and walks. For those without their own transport, park trucks can be hired.
Food is cooked on request and cooking gas and utensils can be hired by individuals who wish to cook for themselves, and a craft shop can be found here too.
The overlooking Mount Morungole is crossed by the Kidepo and Narus Rivers. The mountain region can be explored on foot with a ranger.
These slopes are home to the Ik people, the smallest ethnic group in Uganda, with their own unique culture.
Kanangorok Hot Springs
One of the premium highlights of Kidepo National Park is the Kanangorok Hot Springs. Perhaps the biggest point of interest comes from the well-known health benefits experienced by those that use the springs.
Many who immerse themselves in the water testify that it has remarkable healing properties for many ailments and illnesses, short and long-term.
A hundred metres away from the springs lie two rivaling rocks confronting each other, from where the hot springs first become visible.
Being shallow, you have a magnificent view of the spot. In the centre of the water lies a spot about 60 degrees celsius, hot enough even to boil food. This point is about three metres in length but not as clearly visible as some points as it’s become shrouded in plant cover over many years.
The place derives it name from a Karamojong word to mean a place with no birds but ironically, it is one of the best areas to spot birds within the park.
The valley is inhabited by a large number of species such as; Eastern Paradise Whydah, White-crested Turaco, Common Bulbul, Abyssinian Roller and Green Wood Hoopoe.
It is located in the north-west of the park and can be accessed by car or on foot.
The Lomej Hills are a short drive from the headquarters. They are a good viewing point for birds and wildlife, including the mountain reedbuck.
A road trip to kidepo is an exciting adventure with various roads conditions so a sound 4WD vehicle is required . the quickiest and most popular route from runs via Gulu and kitugum (571km)
If travelling via kitugum ,try to return to kampala through the vast ,undeveloped karamoja region(661km) passing through pian upe wildlife reserve and close to mount elgon national park
Charter and scheduled flights fly to kidepo airstrip from kajjansi and /or Entebbe