Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with south Sudan in the north west and only 5km from the eastern border of Kenya, some 700km from Kampala. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species.
Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park, but the few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja would agree that it is also the most magnificent, for Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a Savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.
Two valleys (Kidepo Valley and Narus Valley) on either side of predominantly mountainous terrain dominate the park. There are wide, sweeping views of the Narus Valley from many vantage points. Open grassland is interspersed with acacia trees, desert dates and rocky outcrops.
During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, Savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location especially with its dense populations of Lion, Buffaloes, Elephant and many similar ungulates.
The park has a very impressive mammals list. Twenty species of predator are resident, and several don’t exist in any other Ugandan park (including cheetah and black-backed jackal). Lion is common and leopard also occurs. Elephant, Burchell’s zebra, buffalo and Rothschild’s giraffe are all regularly seen, but black rhino has recently become extinct. Twelve antelope species are present – some of which don’t occur anywhere else in the country.
Kidepo’s elephant population has surged from around 200 in the mid 1990’s to between 650 and 1000 today. The African Buffalo population is now estimated at 10,000-15,000.The Rothschild Giraffe is very notable ,breeding more than 50 individuals from the bottleneck of the mid 1990’s population of three and supplemented several from translocation.
The bird checklist of over 476 species with the common Ostrich, secretary bird,northern carmine bee eater, little green bee eater, Abyssinian scimitar bill and many more colorful and visible species
Sunny days and thin vegetation make the Dry season (September to March) the best time to go wildlife watching in Kidepo. This is also when animals go searching for a dependable source of water. An advantage of exploring Kidepo when the rains come is that the dust and heat tend to get washed away, and the birding is better.
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Kampala – Uganda
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