Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park
It is over 500 kilometres from Kampala but many have been re-visiting it since the first time they discovered it delivers much at scenery level, in terms of landscape and wildlife. Thanks to its isolation, the park, which borders Kenya and Sudan, comes across as the most remote Ugandan park and perhaps the only one here in a semi-arid setting. It measures 1,442 square kilometres (557 sq. miles).
Better known for being one of the two parks in Uganda where one can find both the Rothschild giraffes and zebras, there is a lot more to it, from the small squirrels to the grandly large elephants and everything in between. It is impossible not to come alive at Kidepo National park as it is located in a place that’s ideal for soothing and stimulating even the inner being.
For an extraordinary experience, a guided night game park drive is a must, as it offers an opportunity for catching up with all the drama in the park. The night life in the park is totally captivating and edgy. Predators like lions, leopards and cheetahs take advantage of their prey’s poor night vision to aggressively hunt for a meal. Usually, the targets are ‘tasty’ herbivores like antelopes, buffaloes and bushbucks. Watching them chase after these frightened prey the Tom and Jerry style, you are bound to laugh yourself senseless, or else cry quietly in sympathy.
In the event that your night vision isn’t strong enough to watch the night drama, a morning or afternoon game drive is almost as equally rewarding for the long journey from Kampala. While at it, brace yourself for the trumpets of elephants as they exclaim in disbelief at the sight of the huge concentration of buffaloes that abound in the park. (A whopping 10,000+).
For a more intense experience, nature walks are a must, as the park’s explosive landscape is endowed with a tapestry of colours. Truly photogenic.
Checklist of birds
Kidepo is home to over 470 bird species. This status ranks it as the second best place to go birding in Uganda after Queen Elizabeth National Park which has over 600 species. It is hard to miss especially if you love birds in the raptor family – over 56 species have been recorded in the park. Migratory birds are mostly found in the park’s valleys, usually from November to April.
Kidepo is the furthest park from Kampala, roughly a 12 hours’ drive away. It is advisable to tag along with enough fuel and supplies as the park is located in a remote setting without modern shopping amenities.
The dry months from November to February provide the best wildlife viewing encounters.
While budget accommodation in the park costs roughly 50,000 UGX, high end accommodation costs roughly $400. It is advisable to pre-book accommodation prior to departure because the park has few options.
In a bid to strike a balance between the population of predators and prey, UWA trans located 100 kobs into Kidepo in mid-2017, a population expected to have doubled by the end of 2018. This offers food security for the park’s cats especially for the lions (rougly 40). The big news with this development is that it lessens the possibility of cats hunting cattle of the neighbouring community (Karamajong) for food. In turn this prevents inter human-wildlife conflicts.