Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda, Wildlife Safari Uganda, Kidepo Valley Park Safari in Uganda
Located in the far northeast of Uganda, Kidepo valley National park is one of the hardest parks to visit, but one of the most spectacular prime game viewing destination in Uganda where one gets a real feeling of the wilderness. It lies along the border of Uganda with South Sudan in the North and Kenya in the East. Kidepo Valley National park is located in Kaabong district, which is about 840Km² northwest of Kampala capital. It covers an area of about 1,442Km² with an elevation that ranges from 1,350 and 2750m altitude.Two great valley systems divide the park into two equal parts; The Naurus Valley in the south and west of the park occupying one third of the park, and is home to most of the wildlife in the park due to permanent availability of water. The Kidepo valley system in the east and north-east occupies the remaining two thirds of the entire park. The park derives its name from a karamajong word ‘Kidip’, which literally means picking. During the colonial period, the colonial administrators added an ‘O’ at the end of the word and it became kidipo.
ATTRACTIONS IN KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Naurus Valley in Kidepo Valley National Park
The word ‘Naurus’ is derived from a Karamajong word which means Mud. It is in this area that the parks headquarters are laid. The valley is a water catchment area, with permanent water in wetlands and pools which are near the parks headquarters in Apoka. The most amazing feature about the valley is the ever green vegetation which always stands out even during the dry season. This is primarily because of the Naurus river which never dries out even during the dry season. The river flows northwest of the park through the southern portion of the Kidepo valley, joining Kidepo River at Komoloich. Though seemingly dry and covered in sand, the river’s water always hides beneath the sand, making it the reason as to why the vegetation keeps green. During the dry season, the river attracts a large number of wildlife which digs holes to reach the water beneath the sand, making it a prime viewing area in the park. However, when the rain season begins, the wildlife migrates back to the Kidepo valley. The valley is characterized with open savannah terrain.
It is a sand river which only flows visibly for a few days in a year during the rainy season. However, during the dry season, the water hides beneath the sand at a depth of a few centimeters or meters. This explains why the apparently dry river has green vegetation during the dry season. The river stands out with a lining of Borassus palm trees that make it look like an oasis in the Sahara desert.
Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
There are about 77 mammal species in Kidepo National Park. They include the elephant, lion, Zebra, warthogs, Buffalo, Cheetah, Leopard, Rothschild’s giraffe, spotted hyena, Cheetah, Bat-eared fox, a wide range of antelopes including the kuduand dik-dik,Kavirondo bush baby endemic to the Naurus valley; and many more mammal species.
Birds in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park is a prime bird viewing destination with a minimum of 475 bird species. Some of the bird species include the ostrich, kori bustard, Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin and many more species.
Vegetation in Kidepo Valley National Park
Vegetation in the park is majorly composed of open savannah grassland dominated by acacia and perennial grass such as themeda, panicum etc. However, it varies in the two valleys of the park. The Naurus valley has savannah woodland in the south, grassland, shrub and transforms in the Kidepo valley with a bushland intercepted with a forest on the high mountain slopes of Mt.Morungole.
Mt.Murongole in Kidepo Valley National Park
The mountain lies wholly in the park and is the 38th highest mountain in Uganda at an elevation of about 2749m altitude. The mountain is home to the Ik people, a Nilo-saharan ethnic group which is believed to be the origin of the Karamajongs in Uganda.
Communities in Kidepo Valley National Park
The community totals to about 10 thousand people who are living in the mountains of the park that border Uganda and Kenya, Morungole Mountains. It is believed that they the group was the first to migrate into Northeast Uganda, migrating from Ethiopia and first settled in Kenya; later migrated to Uganda to look for water and pasture for their livestock. On arrival in Uganda, they settled in the lowlands before the Karimojong began suspecting them to be informers of their rivals, the Pokot in Kenya; with whom they had a long history of cattle rustling.
As a result, the Ik became insecure and decided to move to the mountains. They gave up cattle herding and opted for subsistence farming, goat keeping and honey production. The tribe belongs to the Nilo-saharan ethnic group and with people speaking the Teuso language, which has some words similar to those of Spanish.
The IK people live in clustered small villages. Each village is surrounded by an outer wall and sectioned off into neighborhood walls called Odoks. Each odokis also walled off into households called asaks, with front yards and some cases granaries.At the age of 3 or 4, a child is sometimes permanently expelled from the household and sent to form a group called age-bandswhich consists members of the same age group. The first consists of children from the ages of 3 to 8, and the second consists of those between 8 and 13. No adults look after the children; the children have to teach each other the basics of survival.
The tribe belongs to the Nilo-saharan ethnic group and is believed to have migrated from Ethiopia in 1600 A.D. They split into two groups, one group that had the Kalenji and Masaai of Kenya; and the second group known as Ateker which migrated westwards and further split into Turkana of Kenya; Iteso, Dodoth, Jie and karamajongs of Uganda. The karamajongs settled Northeast of Uganda, in the southern part of the present day Kotido/ Kaabong district. The name Karamajong is derived from the word ‘ekarngimojong’ which means ‘the old men can walk no further’. Karamajongs are mainly large herd cattle keepers, moving from place to place in search of pasture and water for their cattle. This is because of the un-favourable semi-arid climate in Kotido that doesn’t allow growth of plenty of vegetation, and availability of water.
They move 3 – 4 months every year away from their homes to neighbouring districts hoping to find pasture and water for their animals. Any male to be regarded a man, as well as a requirement of engagement; he is required to wrestle the woman he desires to marry. If he wins the match, he is eligible to marry her and dowry negotiations are allowed to begin; but if he loses the match, he is considered weak and can’t be able to take care of her. He will also be barred from getting any female in the community.
Women carry out most of the activities which are related to permanent settlements. With the exception of some milk products; food consumed only in permanent settlements is generally the product of women’s agricultural efforts.The staple crop grown is sorghum, which is planted with cucumbers and marrows. Other crops cultivated include beans, gourds, maize and millet. Men primarily carry out cattle herding which involves attaining milk and blood which is drunk as a food supplement. Cattle are literally wealth; they are used to establish families, acquire political supporters, achieve status, and influence public affairs. Cattle is also used as bride price paid to girl’s family, as an essential step to arranging a marriage.
ACTIVITIES IN KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Hiking can be done on the Lomej Mountains, a 4Hrs walk from the parks headquarters at Apoka; and at Mt.Morungole. There are also Short guided walks that last about 2Hrs maximum, stretching about 5km from the parks Headquarters at Apoka, and cutting through the Naurus Valley. Walks in Kidepo Valley run along banks of attractive borassus palm forest and the Namamkweny Valley can be reached in 1hr from Apoka. During the nature walks, you may encounter the Karamajong Communitie which lives near the park.
Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park
The Naurus Valley near the parks headquarters at Apoka, is the prime birding place in the National Park. This is because of the ever existing water in the Naurus River. Birds present in the valley include the ostrich, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Roller, Purple Heron, Clapperton’s Francolin which is only found only in Kidepo; and other bird species. Bird watching can be done all year round in Kidepo valley national park, but the best time for bird watching is during the months of March and April.
The Naurus valley is the prime game viewing area in the park. This is because of the presence of abundant wildlife during the dry season. Wildlife migrates to the valley during the dry season in search of water and vegetation. The Naurus Valley constitutes of a river, Naurus River, which primarily never dries out while the rest of the park is out of water due to extremely hot temperatures. Water hides beneath the sand in the river; so the wildlife has to dig holes to access the water beneath the sand. An early morning drive is suitable because you will be rewarded with viewing the wildlife as it comes out to the open land to feed and search for water. Some of the wildlife easily spotted in the Valley species such as crocodiles, buffaloes, giraffes, lions, hyenas and many others. You will be able to view the wildlife mostly along the banks of the Naurus River. The drive usually lasts for a maximum of 2hrs. You will also have a drive through the magnificent landscapes near the Kanangorok hot springs, where the amazing ostrich specie can be viewed.
- Hiking up the mountain Murungole to the summit at an elevation of about 2,749m altitude, where the Ik people live. The hiking is done on the US forest service trail which stretches about 16Km² round trip. You will be able to have a view of the a magnificent scenery at higher altitude.
- Get ready to be entertained by the locals of the community as they display their Traditional dancing and singing upon arrival.
- You will get involved in the economic activities such as cultivating crops like maize and other crops.
- You will be taught how to make local local beer.
You will have Community walks which will be guided by one of the locals in the community. Different sites within the community are visited. The tour offers an unusual and unforgettable insight into the everyday life of the community.
Accommodation in Kidepo Valley National Park
Upscale/Luxury hotels in Kidepo Valley National Park
APOKA SAFARI LODGE
The lodge is situated in Apoka near the parks Headquarters. It has 10 spacious grass thatched en-suite rooms with canvas walls, built out of wood. The rooms can host up to 28 people. 4 of them are twin rooms, each accommodating 2 to 4 people; the rest of the rooms are double bed rooms accommodating 2people each room. It has facilities such as a swimming pool, living and dining areas.
|P e a k s e a s o n US$01 Jan to 29 Feb 201601 Jun to 31 Dec 201601 Dec to 31 Dec 2016||L o w s e a s o n01 Mar to 31 May 201601 Oct to 30 Nov 2016|
|PER PERSON PER NIGHT||Sharing||Single||Sharing||Single|
NB: All rates include a Full Board meal plan, 2 game activities per day, laundry, local airstrip transfers and non-premium brand drinks.
APOKA REST CAMP
The camp is situated in Apoka near the parks headquarters. It 16 en-suite chalets, 14 bandas and a camping ground where one can carry use their own camping gear. However, the camp doesn’t provide food to guests. Therefore one is required to carry enough food and drinks to sustain them throughout the period they are going to stay in the park.
How to Get to Kidepo Valley National Park
Chattered flight from Entebbe airport, Kajjansi airport or Aero club to Lomej Airstrip near Apoka. 2Hrs
By road (4×4 vehicle required)
Passing west of Lake kyoga through Acholiland
Kampala – Karuma – Gulu – Kitgum – Kaabong 571km (10hrs)
Kampala- Karuma-Lira-Kotido-Kaabong- Kaabong 705km (12hrs)
Passing East of lake kyoga through karamoja (via lokumoit gate)
Kampala – Mbale – Sironko – Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong740km (12Hrs)
Kampala-Mbale-Soroti-Moroto-Kotido-Kaabong-Kidepo 792km (13Hrs
KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
The area was home to the Dodoth pastoralists and IK tribe. However, in 1958, , the colonial administrators declared the area a game reserve. The purpose of transforming it into a game reserve was to prevent poaching and clearing vegetation as a remedy to control tsetse flies. When Uganda got its Independence in 1962, Milton Obote, who was president by then, declared the reserve a National park. He appointed Ian Ross, a Briton, as the first chief warden of the park and was assisted by a Ugandan known as LogweAtuk. In 1972, Ian was replaced by Paul Ssali, a Ugandan, as the new chief Warden of the park. The handover was the subject in the 1974 American documentary, ‘The wild and the Brave’
Kidepo has a semi-arid climate with temperatures that range from 21 to 34°C in the dry season. The dry season is characterized by oppressive heat in the months of December and February, dominated by very hot north-easterly monsoon winds which results in extreme drought with no green vegetation, apart from the Naurus valley. Predominantly, the park’s soil is generally composed of clay although in the Kidepo valley, there is black chalky clay and sandy clay loam soil; while in the Naurus valley, there is free draining red clay and loam soils. The rain season is in the months of April to August, with annual rainfall of about 890mm.
MAP OF KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
PLACES TO VISIT IN UGANDA
UGANDA WILDLIFE SAFARIS
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Uganda Safari Tour Destinations | Uganda Safari Tour Attractions
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