Kidepo valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi arid valleys between Uganda’s border with Sudan and Kenya. Some 700km from Kampala . It was gazetted as a National Park in 1962 ,it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species . kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wilderness , from Apoka , in the heart of the national park , a Savannah landscape extends in all directions ,far beyond the gazetted area of 1442 km2 , towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges .
The park has a semi –arid climate with just one rainy season per year ( April- September) and the rainfall is light .The valley of the Narus River in the south of the Park receives some 890mm of rainfall /year while just 635mm of rain /year falls in the Kidepo Valley to the north. Both Rivers are seasonal , and dwindle and disappear in the dry season .
During these months the only permanent water in the park is found in the wetlands and remnant pools along the southern Narus valley near Apoka and as a result , wildlife is contracted in this area . This consideration , combined with the valley’s open savannah habitat , makes it the parks prime game viewing location . indeed it is possible to sight a good variety of wildlife simply by scanning the valley with binoculars from the comfort of Apoka lodge .
The parks altitude ranges between 914m and 2750m above sea level. The park has two rivers Kidepo and the Narus River which disappear in the dry season.leaving just pools for wildlife.
The local communities around the park include pastoral karamajong people similar to the Masai in Kenya , and the Ik a hunter gatherer tribe whose survival is threatened .
ATTRACTIONS IN THE PARK
The park contains one of the most exciting faunas of any Ugandan National Park . along with the neighbouring Karamoja region , it houses many species found nowhere else in Uganda, including the greater and lesser Kudu , Eland and Cheetah . carnivores here include the Lions, spotted hyena and black backed and side striped jackals .
Other large species here include the Elephants ,Burchell’s Zebras , bushpigs warthogs , Rotschild’s Giraffes ,cape Buffallos, bushbucks, bushduiker, defassa waterbuck , Bohor reedbuck,Jackson’s hartebeest and Oribi.
The park boasts an extensive birdlist of around 475 species , making it second only in Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park . A few species of note are the ostrich ,kori Bustard and karamoja Apalis.
Kidepo National Park is notable for its birds of prey , of the 56 species recorded , 14 including Verreaux’s Eagle and pygmy falcon are believed to be endemic to this Park and the karamoja region .
AREAS OF INTEREST
Apoka Tourism Centre
Overlooking the gamerich Narus Valley and home to an upmarket lodge and simple Uganda Wildlife Authority-run cottages, Apoka is the park’s tourism hub . Ranger guides are stationed at Apoka to escort tourists on game drives and walks . for those without their own transport , park trucks can be hired .
There is a craft shop with books and souvenirs , bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages can also be purchased here. Food is cooked on request and cooking gas and utensils can be hired by individuals who wish to cook for themselves.
Narus valley is a rolling ,grassland plain enclosed by distant mountains . The valley has permanent water, and for much of the year the Park’s Wildlife congregates here . Thus , the area is well provided with game tracks , with four loop circuits exploring the valley of Apoka . Many creatures such as lions, jackson’s hartebeest ,buffaloes , giraffes ,oribis and reedbucks can be seen in the valley .
Less commonly seen are cheetahs and leopards . The Narus dam and the water hole near the Tourism Centre are perfect observation points for game, especially during the dry season . At the southern end of the katurum loop, katurum kopje is an attractive destination with superb views north across the valley
KIDEPO VALLEY AND KANANGOROK HOT SPRINGS
For most of the year , a lack of surface water means that little wildlife is found in Kidepo Valley , though it is still worth the drive to visit the dry kidepo River to stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with borassus palms. Kidepo means to pick from below and the valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer. T he kanangorok Hot springs lie 11km beyond the Kidepo River on the Sudan border. This is a glorious place to sit and view the mountains beyond the frontier.
Mount Morungule stands at 2750m and is crossed by the Kidepo and Narus Rivers that nourish the park’s Wildlife and this natural habitat as a whole. The morungule Range marks the southern boundary of the park and rises from the plains a few kilometers northeast of Apoka . this region can be explored on foot with a ranger . the mountain slopes are home to the Ik people , the smallest ethnic group in Uganda, with their own unique culture.