Discover Kidepo Valley National Park: Uganda’s Hidden Gem

Kidepo Valley National Park is a must-visit destination on Uganda safari holiday. The Park is remotely located in the extreme Northeastern Uganda and it is undoubtedly the Africa’s finest wilderness area. Think of a destination that guarantees authentic wilderness experience and think not beyond the charming Kidepo National Park in Uganda.

Location of Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo National Park lies in the remotest Karamoja region, Kaabong District Northeastern Uganda. Kaabong is located close to Uganda border with South Sudan, a rugged savanna area with hills and breathtaking valleys. The Park’s border is marked by Mount Morungole. In 1958, Kidepo was gazetted as a Game Reserve under the colonial government. In 1962, Kidepo N. Park became a National Park in Uganda and this was the year when Uganda attained its independence.

Kidepo N. Park is comprised of 2 main valleys –the Kidepo and Narus. These valleys have rivers inside them and during dry season, some dry out leaving a pool of water where most of the park’s animals gather to drink water. Kidepo Valley National Park is set within the Semi-arid sub region and its landscape has savanna grasslands, mountains, plains and faunal species. Kidepo by nature has similar conditions like the Maasai Mara National Reserve and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

Kidepo National Park is Uganda’s 3rd National Park, spanning over It is dominated by the rugged savannas, rising on an altitude of 2750 meters and has woodland. The Park’s diverse habitats support huge population of wildlife and include more than 77 species of mammals, 475 bird species and others.

Main Attractions within Kidepo Valley National Park

Wildlife within Kidepo

Kidepo National Park is home to 77 mammal species of visitor interest on a safari in Uganda. These include zebras, reedbucks, lesser & greater Kudus, dik-dik, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, lions, Uganda Kobs, side-stripped jackals, buffaloes, bat-eared fox, hartebeest, elands, oribis, aardwolf, giraffes, caracals, klipspringers and many others.

Kidepo Valley National Park - Zebra
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Bird Species in Kidepo Valley National Park

More than 475 species of birds reside within the various habitats and include pygmy falcons, red-throated bee-eaters, chestnut weavers, Kori bustards, Jackson hornbill, red & yellow barbets, black breasted barbet, Karamoja apalis, ostriches, secretary bird, African hoopoe, Ruppell’s super starling, red-billed oxpeckers, red-cheeked cordon bleu, Abyssinian ground hornbill, clapperton’s francolins, Sandpipers, little bee-eaters, white-bellied buffalo weavers, singing bush lark, broad-tailed warblers, mosque swallow, four-banded sand grouse, yellow-necked spur fowl, slate-colored boubou, rufous-crowned rollers, hartlaub’s bustards, white-faced scoops owl, white-bellied tit, African grey flycatchers, and more. During a birding tour, the spots to explore include Apoka Rest Camp, Namamukweny Valley, Narus Valleys and more.

Remarkable Sites in Kidepo Valley National Park

Apoka tourism Centre

Apoka is Kidepo N/Park’s tourism hub overviewing the great Narus Valley. The Park’s activities are conducted starting at this centre and most of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is found here. This is where tourists can begin their wildlife/game viewing tours, camping, guided nature walks, or birding expeditions on Kidepo Valley National Park safaris.

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The Narus Valley

The word “Narus” is derived from the Karamojong word meaning muddy/soggy ground. At the valley, there is a scenic River and rolling savanna grassland. During the dry season, the river dries up and small pool is left and the Narus Dam serve as the main source of water for the wildlife during such a season. This makes it an incredible location to encounter the park’s animals including hartebeest, lions, reedbucks, giraffes, cheetahs, oribis, and others.

Kidepo Valley

Kidepo Valley is a treasured wildlife viewing spot in Kidepo. Unlike the Narus Valley, the Kidepo Valley has very scarce water sources, especially during the dry season. The River Kidepo dries out and the valley remains with a long trail of white sand. This is an area that is ideal for watching ostriches.

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Kanangorok hot springs 

Kanangorok hot springs are found in the far border of Uganda and South Sudan. The hot springs are situated in the area overviewing the nearby mountain ranges.

Namamukweny Valley

Namamukweny valley lies in the Northwestern side of park and it is a special birding area. The common birds to identify here include the eastern paradise whydah, Abyssinian rollers, green wood hoopoe, common bulbul, white-crested turacos and more.

Mount Morungole

Mt. Morungole is the highest point of Kidepo and lies along the park’s boundaries. It sits on an altitude of 2750 meters and at its summits, there is the IK community. To interact with the IK people, guests can hike. Lomej hills and Lonyili Mountain are the other areas of interest on Uganda safari.

Game viewing

Game Drives in Kidepo Valley National Park

Game drive is the most famous safari experience in Kidepo. There are 2 sessions of a game drive; the morning and afternoon. The Narus Valley offers excellent game viewing in the park and expected wildlife to observe include the elephants, bushbucks, zebras, buffaloes, cheetahs, hyenas, lions, giraffes, among others.

Birding in Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo has many birding opportunities and include Namamukweny, Narus and Apoka Rest Camp. The birds to watch on birding expedition include ostriches, African grey flycatchers, red billed oxpeckers, black breasted barbet, verreaux’s eagles, pygmy falcons, Egyptian vulture, Dark chanting goshawk, long-tailed nightjars, Karamoja, black coucal, superb starling, Abyssinian ground hornbill, purple grenadier, four banded sand grouse, crimson rumped waxbill, and others.

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Nature walks and Hiking in Kidepo Valley National Park

If you are interested in on-foot walk experiences, then guided nature walks or hiking should be a must-do on safari in Kidepo. Various hiking trails are available leading to the Narus valley and Mount Morungole and for birders, don’t miss the Namamukweny valley.

Cultural Tours in Kidepo National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is surrounded by the Karamojong and Ik communities. These are areas of interest for cultural tourism. The Karamojong are renowned nomadic pastoralists and a cultural visit can be done in the Manyatta village and the IK live in the summits of Mount Morungole.

Best Time to Visit Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo National Park like other Uganda National Park can be visited at any time of the year. However, the dry season is the most favorite time and this is during the long/short dry months. The long dry months run from June, July, and August or December to March.

Where to stay on a safari in Kidepo

Safari accommodation facilities in Kidepo are available in budget, midrange and luxury. These include Apoka Safari Lodge, Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp, Apoka Rest Camp, and Kidepo Savannah Lodge.

Getting to Kidepo N. Park for safari tour

Kidepo Valley National Park is set in the extreme Northeastern Uganda and reachable by road and air. From Kampala through the Eastern route (Jinja-Mbale-Moroto route) -12 hours’ drive or Kampala via the Northwestern route (Gulu-Kitgum route), 13 hours’ drive. By air, leave Entebbe International Airport/Kajjansi airfield to Apoka Airstrip and you can connect to the park lodges by road.