Kidepo Valley National Park

From a landscape point of view, Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in Africa. You will find open savannas, acacia forestland, river forests, borassus palm trees, cups (rocks), hot springs, hills and mountains. Kidepo Valley National Park is fast becoming one of Uganda’s new highlights. Here you can admire the most diverse animals, often a short distance away. Fortunately, this pearl in northeastern Uganda has not really been discovered by mass tourism.

Kidepo Valley National Park is over 1,400 square kilometers in size. It is just over 500 kilometres drive from the Ugandan capital Kampala. To the north, it borders South Sudan. The border with Kenya is a little further east. With an altitude of 2,750 meters, Mount Morungole overlooks almost the entire area. The park is crossed by the Kidepo River and the Narus River. Around the park live tribes such as the Karamojong, the Acholi and the Me. In the park you can find animal species that can’t be found anywhere else in Uganda.

The history of Kidepo Valley National Park

The name ‘Kidepo’ comes from the Dodoth verb ‘akidep’ which means ‘pick up’. In the past, the Dodoth came to this area to pick up the ripe borassus fruit that had fallen from the palm trees. The Dodoth are related to the Karamojong and inhabited the park before the British settlers turned it into a game reserve in 1958. The different ethnic tribes that lived in the area had to move for this, this led to a huge famine, with the I tribe almost dying out. When Uganda gained independence in 1962, Kidepo was granted national park status .

A savannah park with a diverse landscape

The landscape of Kidepo Valley National Park is very diverse. In the south you will find acacia forests. These slowly turn into densely overgrown mountain slopes. Especially along the Kidepo River you will find many borassus palms. However, most of the park consists of savannah grassland.

In the south of Kidepo Valley National Park you can find the Morungoleberg chain. It is possible here, under the guidance of a ranger, to take a long, but beautiful walk to the top. During this walking tour you will get to know the I people. This is the smallest ethnic group in Uganda with its own culture.

Most of Kidepo Valley National Park consists of the Kidepo Valley and the Narus Valley. The Narus Valley has water all year round, so there is always wildlife to spot. The views and the view of the Morungole chain make it a special place. The Kidepo Valley, on the other hand, is dry for most of the year. Yet there are plenty of animals to spot here too. Kanangorok Hot Springs are located in the north of the Kidepo Valley, near the border with South Sudan. Here you can enjoy a fantastic view.

The Namamukweny Valley is located in the northwest of the park and is named after a Karamojong word meaning ‘lonely place without birds’. As for birds, however, the opposite is true. For bird lovers, this is a true paradise: there are countless species to be found, general, but also special.

Just outside the national park, on the border with South Sudan, lies the Lonyili mountain which is largely covered with mountain forests. Primates such as eastern fringe monkeys and red-tailed lake cats live here.

Weather and climate

Kidepo Valley National Park has a rainy season from April to September. That seems like a long period, but there is relatively little precipitation. Furthermore, temperatures can sometimes reach up to 40 degrees! Due to the heat and drought, the soil is sandy and the vegetation makes a barren impression in the dry season. During the rainy season, the vegetation is much greener. The fresh green then attracts a wide variety of animals. Most of the park has open vegetation, making the wildlife easy to spot.

Biodiversity in Kidepo Valley National Park

In terms of biodiversity, Kidepo Valley National Park is unmatched. There are more than 80 different mammals, more than 450 bird species and almost 700 plant species in the park. Some mammal species can’t be found in any other national park in Uganda, including caracal, aardwolf, large and small kudu, klipspringer and Günthers dikdik. African wild dogs also occasionally cross the border from South Sudan. Animals that you can normally expect in a savannah park can of course also be found in Kidepo Valley National Park. For example, it is possible to spot savannah elephants, steppe zebras, African buffalo, waterbucks, hart beast, elk antelopes, Rothschild’s giraffes, cheetahs, lions and leopards. Primates found in Kidepo Valley National Park include the green baboon.

Bird lovers are also at the right place in Kidepo Valley National Park. With the addition of Queen Elizabeth National Park, it has the most bird species in Uganda. One of the special bird species that occurs here is the ostrich. The park is also known for its many birds of prey. There are more than 50 species including black eagle, fighting eagle, bateleur, fox falcon, dwarf falcon, white-headed vulture and Rüppell’s vulture.