Matheniko Game Reserve is found in the northeastern part of Uganda (Moroto District to be precise). The reserve is a major wildlife conservation area in the Karamoja region. Matheniko game reserve covers an area of 590 square miles and has conditions similar to those found in Somalia and Maasai-land in Kenya. The reserve is part of the wider Karamoja wildlife protection zone which includes Pian Upe, Bokora, and the vast Kidepo Valley National Park. It is close to Mount Elgon and has rocks that stretch up to about 6.000 feet. The area has semi-desert conditions but with rains between April and May and in November. The common vegetation is the red spike thorns, Red acacia, Harrisonia abyssinica, bush willows, and shrubs like butterfly pea and woolly caper bush.
Ostriches in Matheniko Game Reserve Matheniko Wildlife Reserve stands out for its beautiful landscape, unique vegetation, mountains, and rocky outcrops. Despite those glowing remarks, Matheniko Wildlife Reserve like the nearby Kidepo Valley National Park is less visited. The main reason for this is the remoteness and poor infrastructure because most influential Ugandans originate from other parts of the country. For a prolonged period, various governments/regimes maintained isolation in this area.
The government employed diverse strategies to suppress the armed Karamojong cattle rustlers. By the time stability was restored to Karamoja and the situation contained, significant damage had been done to the reputation of both the Karamojong and the Wildlife Reserves, though not irreparably. Many individuals, both within and outside Uganda, perceived the Karamojong as hostile and aggressive, primarily driven by their pursuit of cattle. Visiting the region and wildlife conservation areas was generally regarded as unsafe. However, with time, perceptions changed. The government played a crucial role in rehabilitating the image of the Karamojong and in promoting tourism in the area. Following a period of monitoring the peace process, most, if not all, embassies have now granted clearance for their citizens to visit the region.
Karamojong in Matheniko Game Reserve The recent discovery of Gold in Matheniko County has helped put focus on the area and its wildlife. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has taken advantage of this newfound positive publicity to market the Matheniko game Reserve and the entire Karamoja Region as a worthwhile destination in Uganda. With Uganda’s growing Tourism industry, the reserve has become a magnet for those who wish to experience something different. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is stepping up its game in the park.
They are currently revamping roads both within and outside Matheniko Game Reserve and setting up hotels to accommodate the growing number of visitors who are eager to explore this once-isolated part of Africa. In 30 years, they will likely merge Matheniko with Pian Upe and Bokora game reserves to create a larger part of Kidepo Valley National Park.
If this happens, the area would rival the best of Tanzania and Kenya.
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve in Uganda is characterized by a harsh, semi-arid environment with high temperatures and limited rainfall for most of the year. This conditions the types of flora and fauna that can thrive there. While the wildlife population is respectable, it’s dispersed in smaller groups compared to larger game parks like Kidepo Valley or Murchison Falls.
Predators in the reserve include serval cats, wild cats, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs, civets, leopards, and jackals. Primate species include patas monkeys, baboons, and vervet monkeys. The reserve is dominated by various antelope species such as dik-dik, eland, mountain reedbuck, roan antelope, Uganda kob, Oribi, Bright’s gazelle, Topi, duikers, and waterbuck.
Cape Buffaloes are also found in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve. The reptile diversity is impressive, encompassing geckos, skinks, chameleons, puff adders, small lizards, large monitor lizards, water snakes, and large rock pythons. Some of these species, like blue duikers, Johor reedbuck, Bright’s gazelle, elands, cheetah, Lesser kudu, mountain reedbuck, roan antelope, serval cats, striped hyena, Topi, and wildcats, are rare outside the Karamoja region. Additionally, giraffes from Kidepo Valley National Park and Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve visit during specific months of the year.
Like many parts of Uganda, Matheniko Game Reserve is a haven for bird enthusiasts. The reserve is home to various bird species, including the ostrich, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, African hill barbler, Black-throated wattle eye, Black-headed plover, Bronze-naped pigeon, Cattle egret, Clapperton’s Francolin, Dusky turtle dove, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Egyptian Vulture, Ethiopian swallow, Grey cuckoo shrike, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Lemon dove, Mountain Yellow Warbler, Pygmy Falcon, Red-billed Oxpecker, Thick-billed Honey guide, and Verreaux’s Eagle.
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve is open to visitors throughout the year. The Reserve receives most visitors during the dry season – December to January and June to September. There are fewer visitors during the rainy season because of the poor park roads. The roads are few and not well maintained consisting mainly of murram. These become very slippery with some sections impassable after heavy rains.
The best time to visit is shortly after the rains have stopped. This is the time when the park is still very green and extremely beautiful offering amazing photo opportunities of the vast mountains, rocks, valleys, and shrubs.
A giraffe in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve Game Drives and Sport-hunting: As already noted earlier, the reserve is home to a respectable collection of wildlife including large cats and antelopes. Sport-hunting is controversial among wildlife conservationists but has become popular in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve. Large game hunters find the terrain suitable for hunting down antelopes for sport and to help control over population. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has an agreement with Karamojong Overland Safaris and Karamoja Safari to manage sport hunting in the region. Those interested in standard game drives need to first register with the office in Moroto town.
The Karamoja plateau is marked by countless massive rocks and mountains. Climbing one of the large rocks in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve can be an alternative to hiking the more difficult mountains like Elgon or the Rwenzori ranges. This is particularly true for first-time hikers. Climbing to the top of one of the rocks in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve will present you with picturesque views of the vast Karamoja plains and wildlife.
For a more complete safari in Matheniko Game Reserve, one can go and visit the amazing Karamojong people. Their culture, values, and traditions are unique and unspoiled. The Karimojong in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve This is because they have lived in isolation longer than other Ugandan tribes. The Karamojong resisted any attempt at modernization. They have been pastoralists since time immemorial and depend on their animals for most of their dietary and economic needs.
The Karamojong have an intriguing dress code with artificially made facial and body scars that signify beauty. The women put on beautiful beads to enhance their appearance. Like any human society, they have artists and pieces for sale to tourists at reasonable prices. Perhaps the most crowing thing to a Karamojong village is attending a cultural dance show. If you have visited the Maasai people, then you may have an idea of what the Karamojong dance is about.
This project works within the Mount Moroto area just outside the Matheniko Game Reserve. The Mount Moroto forest reserve encloses three tribes: the Turkana, Tepeth, and Matheniko. A project is designed to enhance their local capacities for self-reliance and stop illegal logging for charcoal and firewood. In the past, the three tribes would collect honey in the forest using destructive methods like cutting down cedar trees or smoking out the bees from their hives before harvesting. The project teaches the communities how to use modern bee-keeping methods that are sustainable. It is hoped that these modern bee-keeping methods will help protect the Eco-system while also helping raise income for the community.
Matheniko game Reserve is dominated by rocks. Some of the paintings date back to about 3,500 years ago. While visiting the reserve, an arrangement can be made to go and spot some of these paintings. The Nilotics and Kushites were responsible for these great works of art. The paintings offer an idea of what life was then and what kind of animals roamed the plains then.
The Matheniko Wildlife Reserve is the perfect place for those who want to experience the beautiful African sky and galaxy, majestic sunrise, and romantic sunset. Camping during the dry season offers a clear view of the galaxies and Milky Way.
Camping in Matheniko Game Reserve Transportation:
It is important to use only 4X4 cars especially when visiting during the rainy season. The car should be air-conditioned because the area is hot for most parts of the year leaving behind dusty roads.
There are few good accommodation facilities close to Matheniko Wildlife Reserve. One should expect to sleep in public campsites and cook their meals while within the reserve. If one needs more comfortable facilities, they can choose to stay in the larger hotels in Kotido or Moroto town. From the hotels, one can go for activities in the reserve early each morning. Camping within the game reserve offers a level of privacy and access to wildlife that may not be possible in the larger national parks.
Get in touch with safari vacations and travel services for arrangements to visit Matheniko game reserve, as we can assist you in booking the accommodation, permits, and transport for the game drive in the reserve, to avoid inconveniences after you have finally arrived.