Kidepo Valley National Park Speaks to the Soul

Lions in Kidepo Valley National Park
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

“When you close your eyes and think of Africa, the landscape you imagine – the jagged hills, the golden grasses, the plains dotted with wildlife, the soft glowing light – is likely to be Kidepo.”

Tucked into the corner of Uganda’s border with South Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley National Park is truly one of Uganda’s spectacular parks.

It is an area of classic beauty with vast and myriad herds of wildlife roaming freely through untamed nature. Dare go there: it will really astound you! The park can be reached from Kampala either by air (via Apoka Airstrip) or road.

Although it’s a long drive from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city; the diverse landscape enroute makes the journey worthwhile.

There are four routes that can be used by road and these include the route via Karuma, Lira and Kotido which is approximately 705 kilometres; the route via Mbale, Sironko and Kotido that is around 740km; while the 792km route takes you via Mbale, Soroti and Moroto on to Kidepo. The fourth route from Kampala – Gulu-Kitgum-via Orom to Karenga is lately the best route. A 4×4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended for any of the routes to Kidepo.

In as much as the drive to Kidepo is exciting, most visitors arrive at the park’s headquarters at Apoka by charter flight.

Gazetted in 1962, this 1442 square kilometre park does offer a kaleidoscope of memorable images. There is something wild and starkly beautiful the traveler goes to feel in Kidepo.

That something extends beyond the open tree savannah, Acacia Geradi forest, scenic landscapes, vast herds and Karimojong manyattas (huts): it’s something that speaks to the soul.

Whatever your idea of a real Africa, Kidepo will match it as the park offers a tantalizing glimpse of Uganda’s unique wildlife.

The feel of Kidepo stems from the wide variety of things to do and see. For those interested in wild game, Kidepo Valley National Park provides a wealth of wildlife including 86 species of mammals of which 28 are not found in any other Ugandan park. Some of the wild game includes the dik-dik, cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant, large herds of buffalo, zebra, eland, Bright’s gazelle and greater kudu.

Giraffe in Kidepo Valley National Park

Game drive loops through Narus Valley and around Kanangarok hot springs across Kidepo River will most likely enable you get the opportunity of seeing the eland, zebra and giraffe feeding together.

For the ornithologist, over 462 bird species have been recorded among which are the ostrich, kori bustard and the giant ground hornbill.

All that can be said of Kidepo is that not only does its terrain alternate between seducing inselbergs and small hills but also from rocky outcrops to open tree savannah.

The trip can also be spiced up by attending either the ekaharo or emuya dance of the Napore and Nyangea ethnic groups. These traditional dances are some of those few experiences that you will surely live to remember.

Opportunities abound for construction of new hotels in Katurum and other areas of the park. However, if you simply want to relax and enjoy your holiday, here are five recommendations.

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Apoka Safari Lodge

Apoka Safari Lodge

Located right in the middle of Kidepo Valley National Park, Apoka Safari Lodge rooms have been built with comfort in mind. The lodge has 10 expansive rooms with natural canvas walls surrounding a rocky kopje with endless views across the savannah.

With inside sitting rooms and private verandas there are plenty of places to relax, read and sprawl.  Big hand-hewn beds with soft duvets are draped with mosquito nets, hand-woven woolen carpets, extra-large plush towels, over-sized dressing gowns…you may be as far away from the city as you’ll ever be, but you won’t miss a thing.

The swimming pool at Apoka Lodge – deep and cool – has been carved out of the big rock. This is the kind of pool that makes you want to jump in, splashing and yelling, feeling like a kid again.

Reservations can be made directly from Uganda Lodges head Office Office at Plot 5, Binayomba Rd, Bugolobi, Kampala or alternatively call +256 (0) 772 489 497/ Email [email protected]

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Adere Safari Lodge

Adere Safari Lodge

Nestled above rocks, Adere Safari Lodge lies on the rugged, semi-arid Kidepo rocks that spread like a white sheet in Kalukudo village, Lokori sub-county in Karenga district.

The Lodge boasts 20 self-contained rooms with a conference Hall, Board Room, a restaurant, a bar, swimming pool and a magnificent compound overlooking Kidepo valley national park.

Reservations can be made by email to [email protected]  or alternatively call +256 (0) 707 340901

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Kidepo Savannah Lodge

Kidepo Savannah Lodge

Being just 500 mt away from Kalokudo gate, Kidepo Savannah Lodge is literally on a stone’s throw from the park. It offers unparalled vistas of the expansive Narus Valley, Mount Morungole and the distant mountain ranges which form the border with Southern Sudan.

The lodge, inspired by its savanna surroundings, wide grasslands, rocky outcrops, and manyatta architecture of the local Karamajong people, sits on a slope.

It boasts twelve beautifully appointed safari tents on raised decks. Each of the tents have a private verandah offering splendid views of the mighty savannah. Modestly furnished with 1 double or 2 single beds, all safari tents have an ensuite bathroom with 24 hours’ hot showers, running water for hand-basins and a flushing toilet.

Bookings can be made by email: [email protected] or alternatively by phone: +256770532881

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Nga Moru Wilderness Camp

Nga Moru Wilderness Camp

Nga’Moru Camp is situated at the border of Kidepo Valley National Park, only 4 km from the Katarum Gate. This modest camps accommodation is provided either in Safari Tents under thatch or in two Cabanas with spectacular views of the Narus Valley and the savannah plains stretching all the way to the Morungole Mountains.

The Cabanas can accommodate one to four single beds, and have en-suite bathrooms with hot water.

For reservations; send an email to; [email protected] or call +256754500555

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Apoka Rest Camp

Apoka Rest Camp

Situated in the westerly Narus valley of Kidepo Valley National Park, Apoka Rest Camp has 16 self-contained chalets and 14 bandas with two beds each though not self-contained. Visitors intending to camp have to carry their own tent along with other camping gear.

Reservations can be made directly from Uganda Wildlife Authority head office located at Plot 7, Kira Road, Kampala or call Tel: +256 312 355000

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