Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park has been nominated under the category of Africa’s Leading National Park 2022, in the World Travel Awards set to take place on October 15th 2022. Here the park is competing with some other high ranked African destinations such as Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, Etosha National Park in Namibia, Kruger National Park in South Africa, Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The event will take place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Here Uganda has been nominated in the category “Africa’s Leading Destination” alongside Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania in 2022. The World Travel Awards serve to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel and tourism industry.
Kidepo valley national park is one of the Uganda’s gem parks with hidden treasures which makes it beautiful to the travellers who visit the area. Kidepo being located in North Eastern part of Uganda sharing boarder with South Sudan and some parts of Kenya.
Background & Wildlife of Kidepo Valley National Park
This park was formed in 1962 and currently hosts over 80 mammal species and 470 birds species. Of which all these fall in a prime gem-viewing location. The park occupies the North Eastern district of Kaabongo and Moroto. Kidepo National Park is apparently one of the most isolated parks in Uganda and still stands as one of the most beautiful areas every traveller can visit while on a trip to the Pearl of Africa.
Way back in 2017, Kidepo valley was ranked 3rd by CNN among the best areas for travellers in Africa. This has really provided a great insight for the visitors who have been longing to visit the park. The park offers very many exciting safari features which include culture, Nature walks, Hot springs visits, mountain climbing, game drives all of which would make your trip beautiful and amazing.
Kidepo is one of the remaining national parks in Uganda today with the largest population of Buffaloes and also remarkably having all the big 5 species which can be seen easily while on a game drive within the park. A tour to Kidepo also allows offers visitors a chance to experience exclusive cultural encounter such as the Karimojongo warriors and the Ike people who all live in the area around the park.
Why you should visit Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park sits on 1,442 square kilometres of open Savannah terrain, vast plains and mountainous landscape. Some of the key attractions that should compel travellers to visit Kidepo include the famous cultures i.e predominantly the Karamojong and the IK community. The unique land scape, Karangok hot spring, the 450 birds species and of which 50 species are endemic to Karamoja region, wildlife and flora.
Visiting Kidepo Valley National Park would add an ounce of description to every category of wildlife mentioned above. Lions will not just be lions but tree climbing lions poised in sausage trees or sprawled on rocks at the entrance of Apoka Park. You will not just tell a story of a crocodile but that of unique crocodiles adapted to the arid conditions of the park measuring 2.5 meters as opposed to the usual 4 metres. Visiting Kidepo not only gives you a chance to check the box against sights, sounds, wildlife species and birds, but leaves you with a story to tell about each bird, animal, tree or rock.
Best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo valley National is situated in a semi -arid region having two seasons both dry and wet season. Dry season are in the month between December to March and June to August. In this period water becomes scarce and this makes wildlife viewing is easier as animals tend to seek out reliable water sources and vegetation thins.
The wet season is in the month of April to May and September to November; here after seeing wildlife in a decent way during the dry season here you will see an amount of wildlife and other migratory birds can be found and the scenery is lash and green and the air is crisp, and the heat is less oppressive.
What to do while at Kidepo
Visit to the Karamojong herdsmen
It’s an indigenous community in habiting the Karimojongo region and these people traditionally live a nomadic lifestyle roaming through the vast plains of Karamoja with the herds of Cattle, sheep, Goats, and chicken. They live in a traditional homestead commonly known as “Manyatta” for they alert the family in form of intruding wildlife species.
While on a safari to this community, you will be able to visit some community members which will enable you see the their cultural way of life and this would be in form of traditional Dancing, food preparation and also listen to some of the traditional stories from the Karimojongo elders as they brief you on their daily lives and also take you through some historical moments and beliefs of the area.
Famous visit to the Ike people
This is an indigenous community unlike the Karimojongo. The Ike community is one of the communities that inhabit the Mount Morungule range areas as their sacred home. According to UNESCO, the Ike people are considered to be numbering to a thousand of individuals as severely endangered after losing their ancestral land to pave way for wildlife conservation. The Ike people traversed the Karamoja plains in search of wildlife animals to hunt, gathering edible fruits for their families. The Ike people love honey and bees are legendary with which each individual has special skills to detect colonies of bees for honey harvesting. Traditionally the Ike people are polygamous and look at childbearing as a sign of blessing from ancestors and they look at marriage partner as the ability to provide family with basic needs of survival.
Visit to Kidepo Valley
This is one of the famous areas at Kidepo where Kidepo attains its name from. The indigenous dialect Kidepo loosely translates “to pick from under”. The Kidepo valley is famous for scenic borussus palm trees. A delicacy for elephants as well as indigenous communities, which are beautifully scattered all through the valley. Possibly the name was coined from the many communities who wander in to the valley to pick fallen ripened borussus palm fruits for domestic use during dry season. In Kidepo Valley there is a seasonal river that flows from North in to South Sudan where Narus River supplements it before pouring in to the White Nile. In a rainy season the Kidepo valley floods and Kidepo River becomes a threat to some wildlife species to cross. Here vegetation is lush and there is a presence of large mammal species in all corners. Most wildlife species congregate here and creates possibilities of sporting any gem that reside in the Kidepo National Park. During the dry season here the vegetation withers to bare white sand dunes. The Kidepo River slumbers and snores until the next rainy season. Most wildlife species depart the Kidepo valley to Narus valley searching for pastures to survive on.
Visit to Narus Valley
Narus valley in the Local Karimojongo dialect means muddy or soggy ground. Karamoja being a semi-arid region with high temperatures and low rains, with semi -arid vegetation that gets bare ground after prolonged drought. Here the soil texture is soggy and holds water a bit longer after the rain season creating a temporary swamps, bushes and oases. The Narus River floods during the rainy season and flows northwest of Kidepo valley National park, through the valley. This valley is more important to the Karimojongo nomads who move through the Karamoja region in search of pasture and water for their livestock.
A game drive to Kidepo Valley National park, this is very popular among Uganda’s parks and often exposes up to 28 Mammals which are endemic to Karamoja region. The gem drive exposes traveller with a wide viewing destination with a wide range of animals. While in the valley there are high opportunities of sighting them in the valley. Much of the Kidepo land is flat terrain with ragged hills scattered in few spots with all these conditions preferably make it a success for game viewing.
Kidepo valley national park is unique from other parks in Uganda thus marking the Karamoja region as an extreme with arid conditions. Here the North African meets the grassland of East Africa and this place is an intersection where unique birds from different geographical sections meet. Kidepo valley National park in an Important Birding Area (IBA) in Uganda with a close range of up to 450 birds species which include the famous Ostriches, Abyssinian roller, Verreaux eagle, Yellow billed hornbill, and the great Karamoja Apalis which is endemic to the Karamoja area thus making it a unique birding destination in Uganda.
Visit to Karangok Hot springs
The Karangok hot springs are located in Kidepo Valley National Park in the far north eastern part of Uganda. The springs are situated in the Northern part of the park beyond Kidepo River bordering Southern Sudan, here it’s one of the sites where a person can sit and view the wilderness at its best. The Karangok hot spring is about 50⁰c temperature hot that can boil an egg. The locals believe that some healing powers or spiritual cleansing, here visitors can find local people bathing there in some visit the Karangok hot spring to find healing they have had about. All this attributes to the natural beauty of the park as it boasts over 80species of mammals, 500 birds and 600 plants species.
In conclusion Uganda should be one of the destinations on you checklist as it was once named as the pearl of Africa by Sir Church Hill Winston a British member of Parliament, was quite enthused about what he found in Uganda. He wrote, “For magnificence, for variety of form and color, for profusion of brilliant life bird, insect, reptile, beast for vast scale Uganda is truly “the Pearl of Africa.” In 1907 in his book entitled My African journey.
Having also being ranked number one among the top 10 destination in the world by lonely planet in 2012 and the most recent is Uganda has been nominated in the category “Africa’s Leading Destination” alongside Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania in 2022.