cultural tour to kidepo valley national park

Kidepo Valley National Park , Africa’s finest wilderness-Uganda safari

Background of Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda

There still exists a true representation of ancient Africa in its old golden times, far east in Uganda’s border with South Sudan. Africa just like you imagine though not common in the 21st century only remained existent in this one Uganda safari destination-Kidepo. The word Kidepo comes from a Dodoth verb “akidep” meaning “to pick up” which can literally be described as telling you to come and pick up the true African savanna wilderness during your safari in Uganda.

In today’s Kidepo Valley national park, it was formerly occupied by the Dodoth pastoralist and IK farmers. The area was gazetted as a game reserve in 1958 during the British colonial government which decided to “leave this place alone.” This was purposely to protect the animals from hunting and prevent further clearing of the bush for tsetse fly control. The game reserve was later converted into a national park in 1962, the year Uganda gained her sovereignty. The first chief warden of the park was Ian Ross a Briton and later replaced by a Ugandan named Paul Ssali in 1972.

Location of Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda.

Kidepo Valley National Park described as Africa’s hidden gem by CNN is located in the district of Kaabong in North eastern Uganda between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya. The park is situated in the Karamoja region covering about 1,442sqkm (557sqmi) dominated by the 2,750m(9,020ft) mountain Morungole. From Uganda’s capital-Kampala, the park is about 705km with an estimate drive time of 12-hour, only those who safari Uganda to this wilderness can explain the uniqueness of this journey.

The Scenery and landscape of  Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo area features a rugged savanna with red thorn acacias dominated by the 2,750m(9,020ft) mountain Morungole. This most isolated park in Uganda has an altitude ranging between 914m – 2,750m above sea level transected by the seasonal Kidepo and Narus rivers. The open savanna terrain makes the Narus valley the parks best viewing position.

The vegetation of kidepo valley national park

The vegetation of kidepo valley national park

Communities that occupy Kidepo

The communities that occupy the areas within the park include the Karamojong people similar to the Masai in Kenya. Kidepo National Park is home to one the smallest ethnic groups in Africa, known as the Ik. They are believed to have wandered through much of East Africa’s region, and came from Ethiopia hundreds of years ago. The IK group is one you will meet on your hiking safari to Mountain Morungole. The IK are fighting to preserve their unique culture and language, which no rival tribes understand.

A Uganda safari welcome by the people of kidepo

A Uganda safari welcome by the people of kidepo

Why Kidepo Valley National Park is the best Uganda safari destination

CNN stated that;

There’s a reason Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa. It’s been a top tourist destination for a few years now because of its stunning scenery and wildlife.

One of its best treasures, however, remains hidden.

Off the beaten track, Kidepo National Park is nestled among the rugged hills and valleys of northern Uganda. It’s a place so hidden away its beauty has mostly gone unnoticed — until now.”

Kidepo is unique and it’s hard to find such a fine wilderness in Africa. Don’t miss the experience of a wilderness without commotion only during a Uganda tour.


cultural tour to kidepo valley national park


A cultural visit to the Karamojong people on a Uganda Safari to the vast open plains of Karamoja is a remarkable adventure. In this region, beautiful rocky mountains emerge through plains, making it an arid land of amazing scenic beauty. Mount Moroto, that stands at a height of about 3400 meters above sea level, giving a challenging climb to the mountain climbing enthusiasts. This region is a highly traditional area of the pastoralist Karamojong people.

Here you will have an opportunity to visit the Nakipelemoru which is the largest Manyatta or group of rural housing across the East Africa region. A cultural tour to the Karamojong in Uganda takes you closer to the way of life of the traditional Karamojong people. The Karimojong are one of the ethnic group of agro-pastoral herders. And they are Nga Karamojong speakers blessed with a rich heritage.


They are known to have a polygamous marriage system, and in most cases the number of wives being limited solely by a man’s financial strength. Though no boy is allowed to have a wife, not until he has been admitted by the elders to the status of manhood. And when that time comes, a father gives the son a bull, for which the young man  kills and shares with his male relatives. Then smears himself with dung from the entrails and gives his mother the ribs, head, hump, neck, hump and stomach.

Also traditionally when their hair grows for the boys, it is usually moulded back into two buns, with one on top of the head and one at the back, and coloured with clay. When a youth attains manhood he may seek a wife. Though it is usual that he will already have at least one lover and, if the father goes ahead to approve, his lover may be taken as the wife.

karamajong people kidepo valley national park

In this Karimojong tradition a woman giving birth is assisted by her female relatives, and the umblical cord is tied with fibre and cut near to the body, and if it is a baby boy the cord is cut with the arrow used for bleeding cattle though it’s different with the baby girl where a knife is used. And this cord is later buried in the cattle enclosure.

Another fascinating thing about the Karimojong people is the way they bury the dead, with the body wrapped up in a hide and buried in a goat enclosure. And when one dies poor without friends, the body is simply thrown outside the kraal and left to the wild animals.

One can say, the rich cultural experience of the Karimojong people is endless, but worthy the journey. And this region is also the window to the raw Kidepo Valley National Park which is one of the least explored game park in East Africa.

kidepo valley national park


A cheetah experience at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center often times attracts multitudes of visitors that are looking forward to get up close these amazing cats. There is ex-situ conservation and conservation education passed on to people about the plight of the elusive cats. The Cheetah experience is satisfying and unforgettable.

The guides at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre are cautioning the visitors regarding the Cheetahs’ reaction to colours and call upon the visitors not to go extreme and touch their tails, stomachs and even their feet. There are two big cats at the Wildlife Center; Pian and Upe, and these are brought in an open space with collars for those interested in taking photos of the Cheetahs and on request their collars are put off for a sprint.



Cheetahs are popular cats in Kidepo Valley National Park in the North Eastern part of the country. This game park was recently recognized and shortlisted by CNN among Africa’s 10 best safari parks. The park is truly a wilderness haven; dry, hot and remote, yet spectacular and still virgin, waiting to be discovered.

Covering 1,442 square Km located in the Karamoja region, Kidepo Valley is the perfect place that you can encounter Cheetahs in the wild on a Safari to Uganda , with their only remaining population here currently estimated at 20. Cheetahs are categorized among the endangered species that are facing extinction and are recorded under the Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

Uganda Safari Tour

Racing with the fastest creature on land is not a simple task. The Cheetahs are simple and gracefully fast animals at a speed of 120Km/hr and can accelerate from zero to 110km/hr in a remarkable three seconds, faster than most of the modern super-fast cars. The pair of the big cheetahs at UWEC will bring a unique experience of Kidepo Valley out of the wilderness.

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) was opened in 1952 by the colonial government as a home for wild animals that were found injured. UWEC is under the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities in Uganda and is recognized as a success. It is an attractive place for education and tourism for leisure.


When it comes to adventure, Kidepo Valley National Park truly stands out, this precious natural resource has been visited and returned to and the extra-ordinary features on it offers shape its exceptional beauty, which remains a myth to those who have not visited and a secret to those who have taken an effort to visit the beautiful remote Kidepo.

Kidepo Valley National park is Uganda’s best safari destination for taking wildlife safaris / game viewing tours on a Uganda Safari tour. Giving you an opportunity to see carnivores, ungulates, and some primates which are commonly encountered on a Gorilla trekking safari in Bwindi Forest National Park for the mountain Gorillas and chimpanzees tracking in Kibale National Park for the chimps.

Safari to Uganda

There are also high chances of spotting tree climbing lions that always sit on sauces trees along Narus valley or on the rock just as you get into the Apoka Park Headquarter, though these rare tree climbing lions are most common in the Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth National Park in the south west of the country. Starting from Apoka Rest Camp other animals that can be seen include elephants, leopards, buffaloes, bush duikers, jackals, bush bucks, bush pigs, kavirondo bush babies and much more.

The Park boasts of an extensive bird species too with over 465 species recorded. Birds that standout include the ostrich and the Kori bustard which are principally associated with arid regions. The park also has quite outstanding numbers of birds of prey. In this regard, 58 species of birds of prey have been recorded and amongst these 14 are believed to be endemic to Kidepo and the Karamoja region.

With Apoka Rest Camp offering amazing accommodation in chalet, here you will get  food and drink stocks that are basic and often very limited so it’s advisable to carry an extra on your own. There are also other several campsites located near Apoka.

Kidepo Valley National Park can be accessible either by road or by air. The most commonly driven Safari route from Kampala is via Gulu and Kitgum, a 600km journey taking a minimum of 12 hours and it’s advisable to use a 4×4 Safari Landcruiser on this journey.

Uganda Safari Tour

This national game park is 1,442 square kilometers. Kidepo Valley National Park harbors scenery that cannot be easily found in any other parks in East Africa. Those few who make the journey north of the country through the wild frontier region of Karamoja to visit it, would very much agree that it is among the most remarkable in Africa’s finest wilderness.

The only two rivers in the national park; Kidepo and Narus, are seasonal rivers, which decrease and disappear in the dry season; with the only permanent water in the park seen in wetlands and remnant pools along the southern Narus valley near Apoka, and as a result most of the wild animals can be easily spotted in this area.

Kidepo’s expansive landscape, largely uninhibited by woodland and forest, are a result of the open tree savannah habitat that dominates the park. Hills have been covered by the dry mountain forest while some water courses support acacia forests.

The less common ungulates in the park involve the greater and lesser Kudu, Chandlers, Mountain Reedbuck, klipspringer and Guenther’s dik-dik.

And be sure to spot one of the most amazing animals in Kidepo is Bull Bull a huge male Elephant, such a huge animal weighing over 6,000kg, he remains the darling of Apoka. “He is a true gentleman. A star.” That is how the residents at Apoka Lodge describes him.

Uganda Safari in Kidepo


From the incredible Buffalo herds across endless plains to prides of lions gathering at water holes, the wildlife of Africa is the absolute most diverse and sought after on this planet earth. Without a doubt, everybody appears to need a slice of the safari experience. As the popularity of wildlife holidays keeps on growing, and the popularity of game-viewing spots become awash with jeeps and camera focal points, it’s quite easy to feel like those picture-perfect grasslands are a thing of the past.

Kidepo National Park Uganda

A Uganda Safari in Kidepo National Park Uganda is a remarkable exception. Stunningly beautiful yet rarely seen in the average tourist itinerary, its rugged mountains and sprawling plains paint Africa in its purest wildest form. Located 700km north of Kampala City, its remote location implies that few endeavor to take up this journey (although those who do always claim it was worth it!). not only is the scenery stunning, the park also boasts of incredible biodiversity, with over 77 species of mammals and over 475 types of birds.

Into the wild

A big thank you to its unique wildlife and natural surroundings, Kidepo is quite different to other Ugandan National Parks. The landscape is dominated by the park’s twin valleys, Kidepo and Narus, and the panoramic grasslands are ringed by mountains and dotted with oases. The resident cheetahs, mountain reedbucks and Patas monkeys cannot be seen anywhere else in the country, making it Uganda’s most biodiverse nature reserve.Uganda safari in Kidepo

Unlike its more popular sister parks-Queen Elizabeth National Parks and Murchison Falls National Park-Kidepo Valley National park has not yet been adapted to cater for high tourist numbers. Named a protected reserve in 1962, it is still wild and raw, home to a mere handful of lodges and tented camps (so you won’t be sharing the plains with hordes of 4X4s). It is perhaps one of the most authentic wildlife strongholds still on offer in Africa, and sure to leave you stunned during any safari trip.

 Exploring Kidepo

Uganda safaris in KidepoBest experienced over a couple of days, there’s no shortage of expeditions on offer in Kidepo. For starters, a dawn game drive safari is a great way to get acclimatized. Watching the reserve come to life, and seeing the colours of the sunrise behind the park’s mountain peaks, you’re sure to feel a million miles from the frantic pace of modern life. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for photographers to capture gorgeous scenes during ‘magic hours’ when the light is at its softest. From herds of elephants to darting cheetahs, early morning is the best time to see the wildlife at its most active.

In terms of classic game drives, few places boast better viewing opportunities than the Narus Valley. Its rolling grass plains are home to a year-long water source, meaning that much of the park’s wildlife congregates here during the dry season. With the Mrungule range silhouetted against the horizon, it’s arguably one of the most picturesque safari spots in Africa. Lions, wildebeests and buffaloes can be seen in the valley, most commonly in the afternoon when the heat drives them to the water’s edge to cool down.

Also on offer at Kidepo, and slightly rarer among African Parks in general, is a walking safari. Far more immersive than your classic jeep option, Kidepo’s on-foot offerings are something of a unique selling point. Guided by a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger, visitors can walk alongside grazing zebra, herds of antelope and towering giraffes. The distance kept in a safari jeep doesn’t apply here-the park’s lack of footfall has kept its wildlife bold and curious, allowing you to get up close and personal with nature.

Uganda Safari in Kidepo Valley Unmissable among Kidepo’s wildlife experiences is its large populations of ostriches. Living in flocks, they group together in the Kidepo river basin during the dry season. Generally fearful of humans, these magnificent birds are best viewed from afar as they stream across the plains. Slightly further north, close to the border with South Sudan, are the Kanangarok hot springs. The thermal water is believed to have healing powers and, still relatively untouched by tourism, there are no signposts or footpaths guiding visitors to the springs. With a Ugandan Wildlife Authority ranger on hand, the network of dirt tracks becomes a lot easier to navigate. The clear, carbonated waters are the perfect place to sink and unwind, as you take in the incredible surroundings and spot the odd lion in the distant savannah.

Uganda is fast emerging as a wildlife hotspot to rival the likes of Tanzania and Kenya – and Kidepo National Park is, perhaps, its last frontier. Still raw, still remote and still waiting to be explored by those adventurous enough to embrace its endless plains.

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