Kidepo Valley National park
Kidepo valley national park 1442 sq km is Uganda’s most remote and isolated protected area found in the far North east bordering Kenya and South Sudan. The sparsely populated semi arid Karamoja land with difficult roads make it one of the least visited park in Uganda yet it is one of the most alluring destination in the Country boasting a strong wilderness atmosphere, rugged mountain scenery and exceptional game viewing and bird watching.
The highest point in the park is 2797m on Mt Lutoke and the lowest point is in the Kidepo in the North east at 914m. Other higher points are at Mt. Morugole 2750m this terrain is also broken by the Narus valley in the south west of the park.
FLORA AND FAUNA:
The dominant habitat is open or lightly wooded savanah,interpersed with patches of montane forest, riparian woodland, Thick miombo woodland, Borassus palm and rocky koppies. 77 mammals are listed and 463 birds’ species with about 60 species recorded nowhere else in Uganda. Five primates including the localized Patas monkey.
The predators are well represented with 20 species resident in the park.The black –backed Jackal, Bat eared fox,Aardwolf, Cheetah and Caracal are found in no other park in Uganda- other predators include; lions, leopard, spotted hyenas, mongoose, Genets, and small cats. Localized antelopes like greater kudu, lesser kudu, Guenther’s dik dik, mountain reed buck are some of Kidepo’ specials. Large mammals like Elephants, Buffalos, burchell’s zebra , giraffe are quite common.
Out of the 463 birds species listed some of the Kipedo special include; Ostric, kori bustard, fox and white eyed kestrel, carmine, little green, and red throated bee eaters, Abyssinian scimitar bill, Abyssinian roller, Karamoja apalis, White headed buffalo weaver, Northern brown bull, Golden pipit purple grenadier white bellied go away bird,black breasted barbet.
The park is surrounded by mountains but its area is dominated by broad valleys of Kidepo river in the North and the popular Narus river in the south. The Kidepo river valley is having fewer animals due its proximity to the porous Sudan boarder that made poaching to thrive in there.
Narus valley that can be seen from Apoka camp is the prime game viewing area and is well serviced by three game tracking loops; the Kakine, Katurum, and Nagusokepire circuit.
Birding is excellent and given that this park is less visited with less tourist traffic.
Visit to the hot spring at Kanatorok and the Kidepo River which mostly dry with about 50 mtrs wide white sand.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE:
The north east is home to Uganda’s most singular ethnic group the Karamojong. They are Nomadic pastoralist obsess by love for cattle like the Masai of Tanzania and Kenya. The Karamojong preserve their culture and still leave like the pre colonial Africa in most part of the region. Little or no crop farming, hunting and gathering of wild fruits, stems and roots are a common means of survival.
Cattle rustling is still common and in most cases violently conducted with no respect for international boundaries of Kenya or Uganda. The raids mainly target livestock though the casualties include killing of innocent women and children that is of great concern to government in the region.
Unlike the Masai the Karamojong Culture is less explored by other people including Ugandans.
Though security has improved greatly, it is advisable to keep updated of situation when visiting this part of the country especially by road.
Upmarket option is Apoka lodge.
Budget is the Apoka Rest Camp (Self Catering Service) No Food provided.
By chattered flight.
By Road with an overnight stop in Soroti or Moroto.