Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya, some 700km from Kampala. Announced a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species.
Birding at Kidepo National Park usually begins at the Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overseeing the retracted Narus Valley in the south. While camping, you will have an opportunity to spot the lively Silver bird and candid groups of Yellow-billed Shrike because these are very common around trees in this area. There are also other bird species like the Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. The candid stable water hole along the rim of the camp charms birds into drinking water as well as those that eat seeds like the Yellow rumped Seedeater. This water hole is also visited by the four banded Sandgrouse, in the night, elephant, buffalo and lions visit this place as well. The clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached, Broad tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson rumped Waxbill can be spotted within the grass along the dry stream patch bed next to the camp/Apoka lodge.
Birding can also be done in the peripheries of the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys and the birds you will see include the Abyssinian Roller, pygmy Falcon, Varreaux’s Eagle, Egyptian Vulture Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin and these are located only in Kidepo. This activity can be done both in the morning and evening hours.
You will also involve yourself in visiting the close local communities where you will be entertained through various dances and song performances from the people who will be delighted to have you around. The performers act many different traditional dances which make the guests very excited, giving them a taste of nature in Uganda. Some of their performances include the Emuya of the Nyangia, Naporre ethnic groups with Larakaraka as well as the Apiti dances which are usually presented by the natives of Acholi land.
A game drive around Kidepo National Park involves driving around the park to spot various wildlife animals in their habitat. Some of these live in the wild Narus Valley and one is advised to move with a ranger and visit this area during the early mornings at 6:00 am and late afternoons at 4:00 pm. The rangers will help you see the lions that sit on the various rocks of the valley. You will also spot various other animals like the bushbuck, bush pig, ostrich, leopard, elephants, bush duiker, jackal, buffalo, etc. One can also embark on a scenic game drive where they will spot the magnificent terrain along with wildlife in the arid valley. The drive will take about an hour to the Kanangorok hot springs which go into the mountains across the border with Sudan an area full of Ostriches. You will also travel to the northern part of Apoka through various rock projections and hills before going down into the Kidepo valley and traversing the Kidepo Sand River.
There are various wildlife animal species you will spot within the park and these include the Hunting dog, Bat-eared Fox, Cheetah, Striped Hyena, Caracal, aard Wolf, elephants, oribi, burchell’s zebras, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush pigs, bohor reed buck, warthogs, roths child giraffes, defassa water bucks, cape buffaloes, elands, bush duskier, bush bucks, lions, side-striped jackals, leopards, black-backed jackals, small cats, spotted hyenas.
Hiking and Nature walks
Hiking and nature walks in the park is carried out along the magnificent Lomej Mountains and these involve walking via the Narus Valley where you will encounter people that belong to the endangered IK tribe in the Morungole Mountains outside the park. And while here, you will spot the magnificent river valley between the borders of borassus palm forest. Hiking in the park can also be carried out on the Lamoj Mountains situated a few kilometers from the Headquarters of the Park. After here, one can visit the hot springs in Kanangorok situated just 11 kms from Kidepo river valley. The park also includes the Savannah terrain which is extra ordinary due to its beautiful vegetation as well as the wildlife species, the Narus valley located in the south western part of the park, the rocky Napore Nyagia mountain range which forms the border in the west. Astonishing Natira and Lakayot hills can also be spotted in the north east and were separated from the Kidepo valley. One can also proceed further to southern Sudan where you will spot the Lotukei mountains and the Morungole range located in the south of the park.