Cultural Encounters in Kidepo Valley National Park
The visit to the Karimojong home steads is one of those encounters that would deepen your understanding of the cultures of Africa especially in this primitive part of the land. The locally built Manyattas similar to those of the Masaai of Kenya and Tanzania along with impressive vast cattle kraals as they are famously known for their nomadic pastoralism, the range of traditional instrument including costumes, jewelry, stools, spears, bows, knives, arrows, beads among others bring out the typical African cultural experience. The Karimojong community has got a range of arts and crafts and the park entrance, a gift shop is located there to enable travellers on safari to Uganda to get a souvenir from there.
The local community has a group of cultural entertainers who present the heritage cultural performances to the Uganda safari undertakers in the area. The range of dances in the area which include the Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, ethnic groups and Lara karaka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are quite thrilling. The groups that perform earn some money to support them in their community livelihood.
SAFARI ACTIVITIES IN KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
The Park has proven a life time memory to great birders, internationally due to her unique -diverse list of birds it has to offer to visitors. The most interesting viewpoints are Apoka Rest Camp and park headquarters which are overlooking the shallow and southern Narus Valley. The small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike and the Silver bird are most of the attractive species that frequent the thorny trees around the camp. At the extreme end of the camp one can find a small outstanding water hole that attract various seed eaters and also attracts swallows Seedeater this appears to be Yellow-rumped. This spot in most times is explored at night by the Four-banded Sand grouse, occasionally the Lion and Elephants, Buffaloes.
Along the dry stream bed which is adjacent to the camp and also the tracks to Apoka lodge in the rank grass, the African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbillood and on a good may be seen.
The park harbors a great diversity of animal species compared to other parks. From the total of 80 species of mammals highlighted in 1971, twenty eight of them could not be found in other protected areas in Ugandan. The Carnivore species which are unique and only found Kidepo and Karamoja region include the bat-eared fox, caracal and precious striped hyena, aardwolf, cheetah and hunting dog. Kidepo suffered the problem of poachers during the reign of president Amin, but the park is just trying to recover from the terrible years of poaching that left most animals dead. There are number of animal species which have been considered to be locally extinct. For example the Elephant, bush pig, burchell’s zebra, warthog, cape buffalo, Rothschild giraffe, eland, bush duiker, bush buck, defassa water buck, jack son’s hartebeest, bohor reed buck, and oribi among other herds of wild game. The prides of lion, solitary leopard, several small cats, spotted hyena, Kangoni, side-striped jackal-commonly seen and black-backed jackal.
The range of five primate species thrive in the park- the Kavirondo bush baby being endemic. Oribis are many in the Narus Valley while the dry thicket marked with thorns in the north contain the counts of Guenther’s Dik always encountered on game drives while on a safari tour in Uganda. The Senegal Galago can be sighted at the Rest Camp at night and the common White-tailed Mongoose but are more likely to be found on a night drive. The park has diverse and rich reptiles.
Tourists have many opportunities of viewing tree climbing lions, that always sits on rock just as you enter the Apoka Park headquarter or on sauces trees along Narus valley.
Wildlife is most active in the Narus Valley during early mornings and late afternoon – 6am and 4pm are optimum times to set off on game drives. You are advised to use a ranger at all times; they will help you spot some of the park’s lions that may be sitting on the valley’s various rocks. Other wildlife includes elephants, leopard, bush duiker, jackal, bushbuck, bush pig, Kavirondo bush baby, buffalo and much more though wildlife is scarce in the arid Kidepo Valley; the hour-long drive to Kanangorok Hot Springs passes some magnificent landscapes.
North of Apoka, beyond the river crossing, the road passes between rock outcrops and hills before descending into the Kidepo Valley, crossing the Kidepo Sand River and traversing open plains that extend past Kanangorok Hot Springs towards mountains across the Sudanese border. This is the part of the park where ostriches are most commonly seen.
Hiking is usually carried out a few kilometers from the Park Headquarters on Mountains Lamoji, The magnificent Kidepo river valley occupied by Borassus palm forest which can be viewed by interested visitors. It`s wide flatbed which is dry for most of the year is just only 11km from Kidepo Valley lies the Kanangorok hot springs one may visit too.
The mountain and savannah park’s landscape, the south east lying Narus valley, the western rugged Napore – Nyagia mountain range combine to form a great attraction and sight-seeing encounters. The Natira and Lokayot hills separate it from the valley of Kidepo lying in the north-east. The South Sudan Lotukei Mountains form the northern boundary of Kidepo National Park.
Hiking/Nature Walks the Lomej Mountains can be reached on foot in four hours, the hike starts at 7am. Shorter guided walks of around two hours can be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre.
Visitors can also wander along the splendid Kidepo River Valley between banks of attractive borassus palm forest. Namamkweny Valley can be reached in one hour from Apoka. Visitors can also meet members of the IK tribe during prearranged hikes to the Morungole Mountains outside the park.
The Kidepo River Picnic site which is perched on sand of the Kidepo River present a thrilling visit with the sound of palm leaves in constant motion as blown by the wind is a great ingredient to your Uganda tour in Kidepo National Park.
ATTRACTIONS IN KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Kidepo National Park has a great diversity of animal species compared to other protected areas in Uganda. In the year 1971, almost an estimate of 80 species of mammals was stated and 28 of which were not identified to occur in any other Ugandan park. The Carnivore species which are said to be unique and only found in Kidepo in Karamoja region include the striped hyena, cheetah and hunting dog, bat-eared fox, aardwolf, caracal. Kidepo for long suffered illegal hunting during the Amin regime and it’s trying to recover from years of poaching that affected most of the wild animals.
For instance the Lesser Kudu, striped Hyena, Grant’s gazelle and Beisa Oryx are not sited in these present times and are assumed to be locally extinct. Elephant, bush pig , Rothschild giraffe, Burch ell’s zebra, warthog, cape buffalo, eland, jackson’s hartebeest, bush duskier, bohor reed buck, and oribi are few of the other game herds species a long with the cat family species i.e. leopard ,lion, common zebra, Buffalo, and a range of small cats, spotted hyena, Kangoni, side-striped jackal-commonly seen and black-backed jackal. Five species of primate are also got in the park for example the Kavirondo bush baby being endemic. Guenther’s Dik Dik. Senegal Galago may be also got in the rest camp at night and the common White-tailed Oribis is common in the Narus Valley, while the dry thickets marked with thorns are present in the north with counts of mongoose which is always encountered on night game drives while on safaris in Uganda. Kidepo also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna. The park also provides high opportunities of watching the tree climbing lions that always sits on the rock just as you enter the Apoka Park Headquarter or sit on sauces trees along Narus valley
The park is blessed with numerous bird species and some of these include Vinaceous Dove , Abyssinian Ground, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Mosque Swallow, Eastern Yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills, Nubian Woodpecker, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Pygmy Falcon, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Little Weaver, White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Orange-winged, Green-winged, and Red-winged Pytilias.
Others include: Yellow-necked Spur fowl, Eastern Pale Chanting Go-shawk, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin’s Whea-ters Ethiopian Swallow, Singing Bush lark, White-bellied Tit , Heuglin’s and Clapperton’s Francolins, Violet-tipped Courser, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Black-headed Plover, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Red-winged Lark, Ostrich, African Grey Flycatcher, Fan-tailed Raven, Slate-coloured Boubou, Little Green Bee-eater, Black-breasted and Red-fronted Barbets, Superb Starling, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Karamoja Apalis, Red billed Oxpecker, Red pate and Foxy Cisticolas among others.
Apoka Tourism Centre. The Centre is overlooking the game-rich Narus Valley which is rich wild game and habitat to an upmarket lodge called Apoka lodge and also simply -run cottages, by UWA and this form tourism hubs.
Most of the ranger guides are found at Apoka these escort tourists on interesting game drives and scenic view. The tourists who use public means always hire park trucks. The center also has a craft shop fully packed with books, souvenirs; and besides there is place where one can get bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages. For most cases food is prepared upon visitors’ request and also things like cooking gas, utensils can be hired by individuals who are prepared to cook for themselves.
Kidepo Valley is dry for most part of the year which makes it to have a lesser wildlife concentration compared to Narus Valley. However, one can note that it is thrilling to drive along the valley exploring the dry Kidepo valley with its 50m wide white sand bed lying amidst banks that are covered with borasus palms. Kidepo literally translated as picking from below and the valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer. The Hot Springs known as the Kanangorok is estimated to be lying 11km over the Kidepo River which is on the Sudan border. This is a favorable view point where one can sit and view the mountains beyond the frontier.
Narus Valley is grassland rolling plain amidst the shield of overlooking distant mountains. The Narus Valley is gifted with permanent water sources which pulls great concentrations of wildlife to keep with the valley for the most of the year. No wonder the area is equipped with game tracks including the four loop circuits that stretch to enable valley exploration round Apoka. A range of wild life including lions, Jackson’s hartebeest, giraffes, buffaloes, reedbucks and oribis can be explored around the valley. The cheetahs and leopards are not easily encountered. The water hole near the Tourism Centre and the Narus dam present ideal observations points for the range of game most especially during the dry season. Towards the southern stretch of Katurum loop, the Katurum kopje is an enchanting site that offers the impressive views to the north across the Narus valley heading to the Morungule mountain range.
Mount Morungole is located at 2,750m above sea level and is crossed by the Narus and Kidepo Rivers that supplies the park’s wildlife as well as natural habitat as a whole with water. The Morungole Range forms the southern corners of the park and rises from the plains a few kilometres northeast of Apoka. This special region can be visited on foot with a ranger and the mountain slopes are home to the IK tribe which is the smallest ethnic group in Uganda, with their specific –unique culture.
Namamukweny Valley Namamukweny is a word derived from Napore people and it means a lonely place with few people mostly in regard to the birds the valley is inhabited by a large number of bird species such as the White-crested Turaco, Common Bulbul, Abyssinian Roller and Eastern Paradise Whydah, Green Wood Hoopoe among others. It is situated in the north-west of Kidepo Valley Park and can be reached by car or on foot.
Lomej Hills the Lomej Hills are a short drive from the headquarters. They are best viewing point for wildlife and birds with even the mountain reedbuck.
Local people. Kidepo valley National park is surrounded by the Karamajong pastoralists and the indigenous Karamajong who are cultivators that were occupying the park before it was gazetted into park. The pastoralist communities around are well known for their nomadism though they have started to copy up new farming mechanisms which needs to settle on one place. They have a lot of historical heritage that can be of interest even to a second time traveler including their Manyattas and their art and craft.
Murchison Falls National Park was established in 1952 and it is Uganda’s largest national park. Located in the north west of Uganda at the tip of the western rift valley also known as the Albertine rift, Murchison Falls National Park is in a distance of 311km about 5 hours’ surface drive from the city of Kampala. The national Park covers a surface landscape of 3,440km2 while the wider Murchison Conservation Area which embeds Karuma and Bugungu wildlife reserves combine to cover 5,308km2. . The Murchison Falls National Park is closer to Masindi town 85km about 2- 3 hours’ of surface drive. The Park is bisected by the River Nile which is the longest river in the world as it makes its way from Lake Victoria to Mediterranean Sea leaving a natural wonder famously known as Murchison falls which is the most powerful waterfall in the whole world. The feature derives its nomenclature after Sir Roderick Murchison who was the president of the Royal geographical society at the time of its discovery by Sir Samuel Baker. This feature is among the hotspots in Murchison National Park thus should not be missed while on safari in Uganda as it squeezes its self to make the way through an 8m ravine before plummeting 43m Read More About Murchison Falls Park
First established as Kazinga National Park in 1952, Queen Elizabeth National Park is situated in the west of Uganda nearing the Rwenzori Mountains with snowcapped peaks towering at 5,109m above sea level. The National Park of Queen Elizabeth covers a cross section of the western rift valley floor stretching for1, 978km2 land coverage. Queen Elizabeth National Park is currently the most visited park in Uganda and is listed as a world biosphere reserve. It has rich biodiversity concentration with 95 species of mammals, 600 species of birds which makes it the first in Uganda regarding the bird populations, ten (10) species of primate and 20 predator species. Queen Elizabeth is also a habitat for the tree climbing lions dwelling in its sector of Ishasha, the famous Kazinga channel stretching to 45km long connecting Lake Edward and Lake George, the amazing Kyambura gorge with counts of Chimpanzees not forgetting the range of explosion craters some of which are salty lakes while others contain sulphur. This conglomerate to make Queen Elizabeth National Park an ideal destination that can be encountered while on safari in Uganda. Read More About Queen Elizabeth Park
Located in the south west of Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park stretches for 321km2 at an altitude of 1,160 – 2,607 m above sea level. The area is among the East African areas with largest tract of Afromontane forest which existed since the pre historic era and endured through the last ice age forming the ground for great biodiversity concentration with highest number of trees in relation to other areas of its altitude stature. The park has enormous numbers of butterfly species some of which are endemic to the park and it is also holding great concentrations of mammal numbers. Containing about 400 out of 880 mountain gorillas that apparently thrive in the wilderness with none existing in captivity, the impenetrable forest of Bwindi holds the mantle as a great gorilla trekking safari destination. Surrounded by high population density with great agricultural attachment, it’s very interesting that Bwindi still has great biodiversity concentration including; 163 species of trees, 104 species of fern alongside other taxa. 16 species of trees are restricted to the Uganda’s south western region including Lavoa swynnertonii which is globally threatened. Read More About Bwindi Impenetrable Park
Gazetted in 1991, the park covers an area of 33.7 Sq.km making it Uganda’s smallest national park. It is a second refigium of the endangered mountain gorillas after Bwindi. It is also known for its golden monkey. The park has a strong cultural attachment to the pygmy community that inhabits the area. It has three conical features of extinct volcanoes which is part of the spectacular Virunga area. It shares boundaries with Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mgahinga is located about 15 kilometers, by road, south of the town of Kisoro and approximately 55 kilometers, by road, west of Kabale, the largest city in the sub-region. The entire park is located in Bufumbira County, Kisoro District the extreme south western corner of Uganda thus among the secluded destinations that a traveler can visit while on Uganda Safari. Read More About Mgahinga Gorilla Park
Kibale National Park is found in Western Uganda sharing the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, approximately 320 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Fort Portal in Kabarole District is the nearest large city to the national park. It covers an area of about 795Sq.km and it one of the last surviving tropical forests in Uganda with over 351 tree species some of which are 200 years old and over 55m tall, 70 mammal species, 13 primate species including chimpanzee and over 375 species of birds. The park was gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large area of forest previously managed as a logged Forest Reserve. The park forms a continuous forest with Queen Elizabeth National Park creating a 180 km wildlife corridor. It is a significant eco-tourism and safari destination, well known for its populace of habituated chimpanzees and 12 other species of primates. It also acts as the location of the Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS). The park is surrounded by two major tribes, the Batooro and Bakiga who rely on the park for food, fuel, and other resources with the assistance of the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Read More About Kibale Forest Park
Traditionally, two brothers settled on the land that the park currently occupies. These were Mburo and Kigarama. One night, Kigarama dreamt of an area flooding and cautioned his intimate brother to relocate from the area. His brother (Mburo) disregarded the dream and refused to relocate to the adjacent hills like what Kigarama had done. Unfortunately, the dream came true and Mburo was drowned by mass floods the filled the valley to form the lake that was later named Lake Mburo while the adjacent hill was named Kigarama in reference to these two brothers. Before the gazettion of Lake Mburo as National park, the place acted as royal grazing area for king of Ankole vis-à-vis other Bahima pastoralists who refer the area to “Nshara – ensinungyi erikwera”. Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda. The park is situated about 30 kilometers, by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometers, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. At 260 square kilometers, the park is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more Read More About Lake Mburo National Park
The fabled mountains of the moon as described by Ptolemy in 150AD present the most exciting treasure that a visitor on a Uganda Safari would live to remember in his journey memoir. Gazetted as a national park in 1991 covering an area of about 996 Sq.km, received a designation status by UNESCO as World Heritage Site in 1994 because of its outstanding natural beauty with Margarita peak standing over 5,109m above sea level and without forgetting its coverage by snow throughout the year despite its closeness to the world latitude (Equator) makes it an attraction worth of encountering. Being a mountain range, it was once described as one of the challenging mountains to climb in the Africa travel magazine. The glaciers like Nyamwamba add spice to its scenic view and the park status assures the wild life of their safety making it their closest habitat. The park shelters 70 mammal species, 217 bird species including 19 Albertine Rift endemics as well as some of the world’s rarest vegetation that differ in its five zones including; montane forest zone, bamboo forest zone, tree heath vegetation zone and Afro-alpine moorland zone. Read More About Rwenzori National Park
Kidepo National Park is positioned in the north western part of Uganda in Kaboong district 220km north West of Moroto the biggest town in the sub region and 700 km from Kampala – the Uganda’s capital city. Kidepo National Park was established in 1962 and it covers 1,442km2 of land surface providing habitat to 77 mammal species along with 475 bird species which makes the second in ranking after Queen Elizabeth National Park. Interestingly to note is that 60 of these bird species are endemic to Kidepo on Ugandan standards. Besides Birds, Kidepo also contain 5 primate species including the including the localized patas monkeys; 20 predator species which include the Kidepo endemics such as the aardwolf, bat eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal and cheetah. Kidepo National Park has 12 species of Antelope which include the Kidepo endemics namely; lesser kudu, greater kudu, mountain reedbuck and Guenther’s dik-dik. Other wildlife also exist in the park including; elephant, lions, buffaloes, lions, bush duiker, leopard among other wildlife. Formerly, the area where Kidepo National Park belonged to Dodoth pastoralists and indigenous Karimojong who practiced cultivation before the establishment of wildlife reserve in 1958 to ensure the protection of wild animals from poaching. The park is the most remote of all Uganda National Parks which Read More About Kidepo Valley Park
The park covers an area of over 1,121 Sq.km with the fourth tall mountain in East Africa which was the once the highest mountain in Africa far from Kilimanjaro but only to be reduced to 4,321m due to denudation forces. With the last eruption occurring 24 Million years ago, Mt. Elgon can be considered oldest and largest solitary volcano not only in Uganda but East Africa in general. It houses one of the world’s intact largest caldera stretching to over 42Sq.km supported by 4,000 Sq. km base which is the largest volcanic base in the whole world.It was first gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1929 and in 1940 the area became the Mt. Elgon Crown Forest while in 1951 it became a Central Forest Reserve. Due to encroachment by the Benet-Ndorobo people, the government alloweda 6000 hectare portion of the Reserve for settlement in 1983 though more 1500 hectares were settled illegally and in 1993 the area received a national park status thus can currently be incorporated in your itinerary while planning your Safari to Uganda. Read More About Mount Elgon Park
Semuliki National Park Uganda is located in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District in western part of Uganda. Semliki National Park was recognized as a Uganda safari destination national park in the month of October 1993, and it happens to be one of smallest and newest national parks. Semuliki National Park lies on border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park boarders Semuliki park Uganda on the south-eastern part and Lake Albert on the northern extreme. The park is found within the Albertine Rift and in the western arm of the East African Rift. It is lying on a gently flat land escape which ranges from 670 to 760 m (2,200 to 2,490 Ft.) above sea level. Historically from year 1932 to year 1993 when this Uganda safari park was gazzetted, the area current occupied by Semuliki National Park was protected and managed as a forest reserve by the colonial government before being taken over by the Ugandan government’s Forest Department. It created and gazzetted into a national park by the Ugandan government in October 1993 and the main aim was to protect the forests as an integral part of the protected areas of the Western Rift Valley. The park receives an estimated average rainfall of 1,250 mm (49 in) with its rainy season being from the month of May and from September to December. During this rainy season various areas in the park are un accessible due to the floods and the temperatures at the park keep changing from 18 degrees to 30 degrees. Semiliki National Park is located in the boarders of the two rivers i.e. Semuliki and Lamia rivers, These Rivers are have for so long acted as watering places for the various fauna and flora in the park.