Kidepo national park is found in the north eastern region of uganda in kaabong district bordering Kenya and Sudan. The national park has an area cover of 1,442 square kilometers and was gazette in 1962. It comprises of the mountain forest, savannah grasslands, woodlands and acacia forest.
The national park has over 86 mammals such as buffaloes, bush pigs, leopards, elephants, giraffes, zebras, cheetah, African hunting dogs, jackals, waterbucks as well as bird species such as ostriches, Kori bustard, Karamoja apalis and many more.
ATTRACTIONS IN KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK
APOKA TOURISM CENTRE
The Apoka is the parks tourist hub hence the rangers are found there to guide the tourists on game drives as well as guided walks. The place has a craft shop that has books and souvenirs, water, sodas, and beverages. Food is as well cooked on a request.
The narus valley is a rotating, grassland plain that is enclosed by distant mountains. The valley has got permanent water throughout the year and all wildlife in the park gather at the valley. Therefore, the place has various game tracks with four loop circuits that explore the valley. Animals such as buffaloes, giraffes, oribis, Jackson’s hartebeest, lions and reedbucks are spotted at the valley. During the dry season the narus dam and the water hole next to the tourism Centre are good places for game drives.
KIDEPO VALLEY AND KANANGOROK HOT SPRINGS
Though the national park lacks enough water, its still worth a visit because the kidepo valley runs 50meters wide with white sand in between the banks that are covered with Borassus palms. The kanangorok hot spring lies 11km past the kidepo river on the border of Sudan.
Mount morungole elevated at 2,750m and is cut across by the kidepo and narus rivers that maintain the wildlife and natural habitat as well. The morungole range traces the southern boundary and rises from the plains that are near northeast of apoka. The mountain slopes are a home to the IK people known to be the smallest ethnic group in uganda. The mountain can be toured on foot with a ranger.
The namamukweny is a napore word which means a place with no birds or a lonely place with few people. But the reverse is true because the place is full of a number of birds such as the eastern paradise whydah, white-crested turaco, Abyssinian roller and green wood hoopoe and many more. The valley is found in the north-west of the park.
The hill is found a few meters from the park headquarters and are good at spotting wildlife species, bird species including the mountain reedbuck.
The mountain is found in kitgum and the border of Sudan which is covered within the montane forest. The mountain is a home to primates such as colobus monkeys.
ACTIVITIES IN KIDEPO NATIONAL PARK
Game drives within kidepo national park are conducted in a 4WD safari vehicle with an experienced guide to help tourists spot the various animals in the park. Game drives are categorized into 3 phases. That is morning game drives, evening game drives and the night game drives.
Morning game drives; these are carried out in the morning hours at 6am. Tourists during the game drives have an opportunity to spot a variety of animals when they are very active. Animals such as elephants, zebras, buffaloes, uganda kob, reedbucks, greater and lesser kudus on the savannah plains. During game drives tourists can as well tour the kanangarok hot springs as well as the amazing views of the mountains.
Evening game drives; these start at 2pm and while on the game drive tourists will be able to visit the narus valley that has waters that most wildlife congregate during the dry seasons. Tourists will be able to spot animals such as reedbucks, buffalos, giraffes, oribi, Jackson’s hartebeest as well as bird species.
Night game drives; these are done in the night after dinner and tourists are escorted by the park ranger to help them see the nocturnal animals with spotlight torches for better views. Tourists spot animals such as caracal, hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, among others.
The tourists during nature walks in kidepo national park tend to explore the park on foot. Nature walks are conducted in areas such as narus valley, namamukweny valley, kidepo plains that leads to morungole mountains. The guided nature walks start at 7am at Apoka office and tourists get the chance to spot wildlife species such as waterbucks, zebras, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, reedbucks, buffaloes that be grazing, bird species such as ostriches, yellow-rumped seedeater, black coucal, verrreaux’s eagle, broad tailed warbler among others. Tourists tend to enjoy the cool breeze as they listen to the sweet sounds of birds.
The national park is a habitat for over 475 bird species which include endemic birds, savannah birds, migratory birds which makes the national park the best birding destination in uganda. The birding safari can be done during game drives as well as nature walks. Bird species that are spotted within the national park include grey capped social weaver, purple heron, scarlet chested sunbird, African swallow, white billed buffalo, speckle fronted weaver, black breasted barbet, African grey flycatcher among others.
Tourists get an opportunity to interact with the local people such as the Karamojong and the IK people who live on mountain morungole. During the visit the tourists get a chance to learn about the lifestyle, culture, history, the locally built manyatta homesteads, learning their traditional instruments like stools, spears, beads, cultural entertainments inform of music, dance and drama.