Kidepo Valley National Park

Travel Guide Africa Uganda Kidepo Valley National Park

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Introduction

Kidepo Valley National Park is a 1,442 square kilometres national park in the Karamoja region in northeast Uganda. Kidepo is rugged savannah, dominated by the 2,750 metres Mount Morungole and transected by the Kidepo and Narus rivers.

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Geography

Kidepo Valley National park is located in Kaabong District, in the northeastern corner of Uganda. The park is approximately 220 kilometres, by road northwest of Moroto, the largest town in the sub-region. It is approximately 520 kilometres, by road, northeast of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city. The northwestern boundary of the park runs along the international frontier with South Sudan and abuts against its Kidepo Game Reserve.

Most of the park is open tree savannah. Because of differences in rainfall - with annual averages of 89 centimetres in Narus and 64 centimetres in the Kidepo basin - vegetation and animal populations vary between the two valleys. Primary grasses in the Narus Valley are the shorter red oat grass and taller bunchy Guinea grass and fine thatching grass. Common trees in the drier areas are red thorn acacias, desert dates, and to a lesser extent drumstick trees. The iconic sausage trees and fan palms line the water courses. Euphorbia candelabrum and the shorter monkey bread (or camel's foot) and Buffalo thorn trees are also found. Perennial water makes River Kidepo an oasis in the semi-desert which hosts over 86 mammal species including spotted hyenas, Congo lions, Tanzanian cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, giraffes, zebras, Cape buffaloes, bat-eared foxes, Rothschild's giraffes - as well as almost 500 bird species. Streams in the Kidepo Valley are likewise dotted with palms. Higher areas have whistling thorn acacias bush.

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Sights and Activities

Game viewing is possible by vehicle on dirt roads that crisscross the southern and western parts of the park. A few trunk roads are improved with murram and are passable in all weather.

The park contains unusual, not often sighted predators such as the aardwolf, bat-eared fox, caracal, cheetah, hunting dog and striped hyena. the park also contains the usual plains animals such as lions, leopards, giraffe and other common herbivores. Small cats are also found within the park.

Herbivores include elephant, rothschild giraffe, nile buffalo, burchell's zebra, oribi, klipspringer, uganda kob, greater and lesser kudu, warthog, bush pig, topi, grant's gazelle, eland, bushbuck, common duiker, bush duskier, roan antelope, beisa oryx, dik dik, Defassa Waterbuck, jackson's hartbeest, Chandlers Mountain reedbuck and Bohor reedbuck. Carnivores include lion, cheetah, leopard, carcal, serval, spotted hyena, stripped hyena, aardwolf, african hunting dogs, black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal and bat eared foxes. Primates found in the park include the endemic (found nowhere else) Kavirondo bush baby. 465 species of bird have been recorded in the park and 58 of these are birds of prey and 14 of these are endemic to the region.

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Getting There and Around

Kidepo Airport is an airfield near the old park headquarters and is served by several charter companies, including Eagle Air and Ndege from Entebbe and Kajjansi Airport. Otherwise it's a long drive (700 kilometres) from Kampala.

Kidepo is remote area with little infrastructure and many hazards. Roads are poor - many routes may have sand, mud, washboards, stream crossings and deep ruts that require vehicles with 4-wheel drive and or significant ground clearance. During the rainy season expert off-road driving skills are required to navigate the deep, slick "black cotton" mud of all but the main tracks. Localized heavy tsetse infestations make closed vehicles with sealable windows preferable.

Driving off-track is prohibited and hazardous. Driving anywhere North of the reintroduction boma, including into the Kidepo valley, requires a ranger escort.

The presence of dangerous game dictates that most travel within the park is by vehicle. Walking tours are possible with an armed ranger escort. Escorts can be arranged through the lodges or UWA offices.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

Two campsites can be booked through UWA. A ranger escort is required. A water tank, pit latrine and two open rondavels are provided at each site.

NgaMoru Wilderness Camp is a nice midrange option, while the Apoka Lodge is the luxurious option in the park.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 8:07 on Jul 20, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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