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Kidepo Valley National Park

Magical remote and arid wilderness

This seldom-visited wilderness is the only wilderness safari park in Uganda to offer sanctuary to the country's cheetah population. One of Uganda's most spectacular African safari parks its offers some of the wildest and most magnificent scenery to be found in East Africa. The park is in the far north-eastern horn of the country, near to Kenya and bordering Sudan. Primarily watered by the Narus River, which attracts a stunning selection of wildlife, especially during the dry seasons, it is secreted on Uganda's borders with Kenya and Sudan. Scenically, this remote Ugandan safari park offers glorious mountain and savanna landscapes, while offering a degree of tranquility and seclusion that is seldom found elsewhere in Uganda.

Fact File
Altitude: 914 - 2,749 m above sea level.
Area: 1,442 sq km.
Location: Kotido, northern Uganda bordering Sudan and Kenya, between the Nageya Valley and the hills of Karamoja.
Distance from Kampala: 840km north of Kampala.
Gazetted: gazetted as a National Park in 1962.
Climate: there is only one rainy season, which usually begins in April and ends in September. The best time to visit is during the dry season (December and early April).
Vegetation: a variety of habitats include; montane forest, grassy plains, open tree savannah, dry thorn bush, thick miombo-like woodlands; borassus palm forest and kopjes (rocky outcrops).
Wildlife: includes 80 species with a wide diversity. Animals one can expect to see include zebra, large herds of elephant, eland, lesser kudu, dik-dik, and buffalo.
Birds: more than 462 species have been recorded.
Roads: 4WD is recommended, especially during the rainy seasons.

The geography of the park
The Kidepo Basin lies in mountainous country encircled by wooded hills and is dominated by 2,750-metre Mount Morongole (on its eastern flank) and by the forested slopes of Mount Lotuke in Sudan (2,700m). This unique African safari park consists of two shallow valley systems, which divide a rugged dry mountain terrain. In the south-west of the park is the Narus Valley, bordered by the Napore range to the north-west. High ground separates this alley from the Kidepo Valley in the north-east.

African safari wildlife
The park supports a uniquely adapted range of animal species, which exhibit a fairly high level of endemism. Such mammals include the endangered mountain gorilla, golden monkey, giant forest hog and golden cat. A surprising 28 of the total 80 species do not exist in any other parks in Uganda, such as the cheetah, greater kudu and Bright's gazelle.
Wildlife safari highlights include large of herds of elephant (around 350 remain) and buffalos, and smaller numbers of common elands, plains zebras and Rothschild's giraffes, all of which can be easily spotted amid the thorny savanna scrub of the Narus River valley and around Apoka. Antelopes include Jackson's hartebeest, defassa waterbucks and bohor reedbucks, while oribis and both Kirk's and Gunther's dik-diks shelter in the dense thickets that surround the stony ridges. Bright's gazelles (a race of Grant's) have recently been seen near Moru Apol and black rhinos are thought to exist around Mount Zulia. Olive baboons and patas and vervet monkeys forage over the savanna. The predator list includes Nile crocodiles in the Narus River; lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and bat-eared foxes. Caracals stalk striped ground squirrels and ground birds, while packs of very rare hunting dogs have been reported.

Wildlife rhythms
Mammals and water birds tend to congregate near the pools that form in the Narus River during the dry season.

African birdlife
The official checklist includes 462 species, with kopjes and forest patches providing refuge for interesting species. Two birds not to be found elsewhere in Uganda are the ostrich and kori bustard, Birds of prey include Verraux's eagle, lammergeyer and Egyptian vulture. Bird watching is sensational; piapiacs and oxpeckers tend to follow the grazing herds; secretary birds, helmeted guinea fowl and five specs of bustard including Denham's bustard patrol the plains. Abyssinian rollers, yellow-billed shrikes, Clapperton's francolins and black coucals live in the grasslands around Apoka; and fox kestrels, white-shouldered cliff chats and various swifts frequent the cliffs at Katurum. The woodland along the Narus River valley attracts northern carmine bee-eaters, rollers and rose-ringed parakeets; while the Kidepo River valley itself offers exceptional dry-country birding, with pygmy falcons, white-bellied go-away-birds and little green bee-eaters. Stone partridges inhabit a rocky outcrop at the Imilliny Ranger Station. Karamoja Apalis (an endemic warbler) occurs on the Kanatorok Plains north of the Kidepo River.

The people of the park
This part of the country is generally referred to as the Karamoja district, where the famous pastoralists, the Karimojong graze their cattle across the plains. There are six different groups of Karimojong: the Jie, Ik, Nyangia, Napore, Teuso and Dodoth. Relatively recently, the Napore and Nyangia have become involved in agriculture while the Teuso remain as hunter gatherers speaking a different dialect from the other Karimojong. The Dodoth continue to maintain their strong pastoralist way of life.

Wildlife list: black rhino, elephant, buffalo, giant forest hog, Rothschild's giraffe, Bright's gazelle, Jackson's hartebeest, defassa waterbuck, Apoka waterbuck (a local species) bohor reedbuck, oribi, Kirks' and Gunther's dik-dik, black-fronted duiker and bushbuck. Primates include: mountain gorilla (very rarely), olive baboons, golden monkey and patas and vervet monkey. Predators: crocodile, leopard, lion, cheetah, serval cat, golden cat, spotted hyena, bat-eared fox, caracal, striped ground squirrels, hunting dog, Senegal galagos, side-striped jackal, Egyptian mongoose, white-tailed mongoose.

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