Kidepo Valley National Park

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Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo valley national park is a 1,442 square kilometer (557 square miles) national park located in the Karamoja region in northeastern Uganda. It is located near Karenga in Kaabong district. The park is approximately 220 kilometers (140 miles) by road northwest of Moroto, the largest town in the sub-region. It is also approximately 520 kilometers by road northeast of Kampala.

The Ketebo or Mening are the original inhabitants of the land on which the park currently stands and had been there since 1800 until the British Colonial government gazette the land to a game reserve in 1958. The then newly independent government of Uganda under Milton Obote converted the reserve into the Kidepo Valley National Park in 1962 under the leadership of the first warden of the park known as Ian Ross, a Briton. In 1972, Paul Ssali, a Ugandan, replaced him.

Kidepo valley national park consists of two major valley systems of the Kidepo and Narus rivers and also contains a tepid hot spring in the extreme north of the park called Kanangorok located in Lotukei at the south Sudanese boundary.

The Kanangorok, meaning the place of black stones is the only hot spring in Karamoja which is 40 kilometers away from Apoka camp the Kanangorok hot springs located in Kidepo valley near the South Sudan border. The drive to the two main biomes of Kidepo valley national park allows visitors to see zebras, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, ostriches and kudos while embarking on this memorable ride.

The park consists of 86 mammal species (elephants, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, and bush pig), 17 antelope species, and 475 bird species including 56 raptors like a pygmy falcon, ostriches, tawny eagle, secretary bird, and vultures.

The park consists of two valleys; Narus and Kidepo. The Narus valley, which means ‘muddy area’ among the locals, was also formally known as the water provision point, this area was scrambled for by the native tribes, the Napore and the Mening of South Sudan during the dry season. Kidepo valley where the park got its name is known for the Borassus tree plantations stretching approximately 100 meters wide naturally planted by elephant droppings through the years. These also worked as the source of food during the food crisis in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Kidepo valley national park supports a wide diversity of mammal species several of which, like the cheetah, are only found in this park. Among the 86 species of mammals include localized carnivores like the bat-eared fox, striped hyena, and caracal, and as well the park prides of an extensive bird list of over 475 species of birds, a number only second to Queen Elizabeth national park which has a recorded number of 625 species. Highlighted ones include the ostrich, Kori bustard, and secretary bird.

Activities that are carried out in the park

Several activities can be done at Kidepo Valley National Park such as viewing wildlife at locations in the Narus valley west of the park, mountain biking, bird watching, camping, community visits, and cultural performances participation all open for travelers annually.

Game Viewing

Kidepo supports a wonderful variety of animal species in comparison to other parks. Back in 1971, of the 80 mammal species of recorded 28 were not known to be found in any other parks in Uganda. Among the resident carnivore species only endemic to Kidepo and the Karamoja region are the hunting dog, bat-eared fox, cheetah, striped hyena, caracal, and aardwolf. However among the commonly seen species are elephants, oribis, Burchell’s zebras, Jackson’s hartebeests, bush pigs, cape buffaloes, bohor reedbucks, warthogs, defassa waterbucks, Rothschild giraffes, bush duskier and elands, bushbucks, in addition to lions, common zebras, leopards, plus a number of small cats such as the side-striped jackal, Kangoni, black-backed jackal and spotted hyena.

The park has five primate species including the Kavirondo bush baby being the most endemic. There are numerous Oribis within the Narus valley, whereas the dry thorny in the north are habitat to Guenther’s Dik Dik. At night the rest camp is visited by the Senegal Galago and the White-tailed Mongoose however these can best be seen on a night game drive. In addition, Kidepo supports a rich diversity of reptile species.

Chances are high of spotting the tree climbing lions which usually rest in the branches of the sausage trees of the Narus Valley or on the rock just as you drive to the Apoka Park Headquarter.


Hiking is normally conducted just a couple of kilometers from the headquarters of the park on the Lamoji Mountains. The beautiful Kidepo river valley mainly covered by Borassus palm forest, in addition, can be visited. Its broad flatbed is actually dry through most of the year. Just 11 kilometer from Kidepo valley are the Kanangorok hot springs which are as well worth visiting.

The mountain plus the savannah landscape within the park, together with the Narus valley found in the southwestern part of the park (the rocky Napore-Nyagia mountain range marks its western boundary) are splendid attractions within Kidepo. It is delimited by the Natira plus Lkayot hills from Kidepo Valley found in the northeast. The Lotukei Mountains found in south Sudan form the northern and southern boundary of this park well marked by the Morungole range.

Cultural Performance

There is a local cultural group of entertainers who are at all times ready to perform on request. These performers offer a variety of entertainment such as traditional dances including the Emuya of the Napore ethnic groups as well as the Lara karaka and the Aoiti dances of the ethnic Acholi people. The money this group collects is used for their overall welfare and uplifting. Thus you can directly contribute to the livelihood of these projects and their work upon your safari

Nature Walks

Enhance your knowledge of the African culture as you visit the Karimojong homesteads which are locally referred to as manyattas and maybe the kraals to view their traditional costumes, jewelry, stools, bows and arrows, spears headdress plus knives. For those interested, they can purchase some of the local Karimojong traditional items as souvenirs from the tourist offices of the park. We recommend that you make arrangements for these nature walks 2 days earlier. Booking may be done at the headquarters of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Kampala.

When you walk the Soroti-Moroto road certainly you will be mesmerized by the sight of the steep Alekilek volcano which is almost midway Moroto and the town of Soroti. And in case you use the Lira-Kotido road, then the beautiful scenery of Labor hills particularly the huge and uncovered Alerek (Kidi Rwot) rock approximately 55 kilometers to Kotido awaits you.

Bird Watching

Kidepo National Park has over and offers rewarded its visitor’s life memories to its visitors especially birders from all parts of the world particularly because of her great diversity of birds among which are ostriches. At Apoka Rest camp as well as at the park headquarters looking over the superficial southern Narus Valley provides a splendid spot for Uganda birding tour in Kidepo. The Silver bird plus small bands of the Yellow-billed Shrike are some of the stunning species commonly spotted in the thorny trees close to the camp. At the rim of the camp is a tinny permanent water-hole which attracts bird species such as the yellow-rumped Seedeater. This area is frequently visited by the Four-banded Sandgrouse, Buffaloes, plus Elephants, in addition to occasional lions at night.

Close to the usually dry stream not far from the camp along the trail to amok lodge in the level grass, you will find the Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra, and Crimson-rumped Waxbillood, African Mpustached and Clapperton’s Francolin plus the Black Coucal.

These supplement to the total recorded number of over 475 recorded bird species within the park thus be rest assured to view other bird species which include; Superb Starling, Vinaceous Dove, Brown-backed Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Little Green Bee-eater, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, White-bellied Tit, Mosque Swallow, Karamoja Apalis, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Pygmy Falcon, African Grey Flycatcher, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested sunbird, ostrich, Eastern yellow and Jackson’s Hornbills, Red-winged Lark, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Fan-tailed Raven, White-bellied and hartlaub’s bustards, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned rollers, Eastern Pale chanting go-shawk, slate-colored boubou, green-winged, white-faced scoops owl, orange-winged and red-winged pytilias yellow-necked spurfowl, four-banded sand grouse, red billed oxpecker, bruce’s green pigeon, Abyssinian ground, rose-ringed parakeet, rufous and chestnut sparrow, black-headed plover, kori, pygmy and beautiful sunbirds, violet-tipped courser, Ethiopian swallow, foxy and red pate ciscolas, brown-rumped bunting, yellow-spotted petronia, northern white-crowned and yellow-billed shrikes eastern violet backed, white-browed and chestnut-crowned sparrow weavers, mouse-colored penduline tit, steel-blue and straw tailed whygahs, pied, African swallow-tailed kite, isabelline and heuglin’s whea-ters, black-bellied and black-faded waxbill, fox kestrel, grey-capped social and speckle-fronted weavers, clapperton’s and heuglin’s francolins, white-headed and white-billed buffalo weavers, singing bush lark, stone patridge.


The park has several camping sites such as Apoko rest camp. The camps provide camping areas with necessities such as a campfire area, a toilet, a bathroom and water and one is required to travel with their own camping materials inclusive of the tent, beddings and can food or u can hire a tent from the park authorities and travel with only your necessities. Note that it is a must to stay with a guide.

Apoko rest camp which is more like a hostel has 16 self-contained chalets with bathroom and toilet; the beds vary depending on single or double. They also have paper bandas 14 in number that is self-contained, toilets and bathrooms can be accessed outside the bandas.

Best time to visit the Park

The best time to visit Kidepo valley national park is during the long dry season of the year in Kidepo Valley Park is from September to March. It can reach 90 degrees plus here. One reason that we take early morning game drives and then in the late afternoon. The same applies to nature walks and hikes.

The ideal weather is during the months of September, October, and November. While the hottest months in Karamoja regions, which include Kidepo Valley Park from Karamoja regions, which includes Kidepo Valley Park from December to February.

Dry season means fewer mosquitoes in Kidepo Valley Park thus you are required to carry insect repellants for your safety however this does not deter those who come here to see remote Africa, Africa as it was 50 years ago when it comes to lifestyle and the people such as the Karamojong and in tribes which are near the park, it is also the best time to see migratory birds from November to march making it more favorable to combine wildlife encounter alongside bird watching.

Accommodation in and around the Park

Within the camp is the private Apoko rest safaris camp that overlooks the Narus valley which offers sixteen self-contained chalets or rooms at $75 per individual every night (full board). In addition, there is a hotel offering 14 bandas each having two beds although they aren’t self-contained going $22 per individual each night. The Apoka Lodge plus the bandas are run by the park authorities, so reservations are done through the headquarters of the Uganda Wildlife Authority found in Kampala.

For those interested in camping, there are 2 ‘Do it yourself’ campsites, however, you should carry your personal tent as well as additional camping gear.

There is a well Kakine campsite not so far from Apoka at $5 per individual each night. It offers fresh drinking water plus a drop toilet as well as firewood.

The rest camps and the hostel do not stock food and for that reason, visitors are advised to bring enough food plus drinks for their time to stay here. The staff at the rest camp staff can organize and cook for you. Additional supplementary dishes like chicken plus goat meat may be arranged from the close by the village for visitors that plan to stay for a longer time.

How to access Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo valley national park is found in the northeastern part of Uganda and is the most remote park in east Africa thus driving to the park is very rewarding as large areas of Karamoja are beautiful and a wilderness. However, the road conditions are at times challenging and require 4 wheel drive vehicles (4WD). Please keep in mind that the road commonly used is from Kotido to Kaabong through Kanawauat. In case you plan to travel by road contact the Uganda Wildlife Authority to get advice regarding the conditions plus safety of the roads then.

There are chartered flights from Entebbe International Airport to the headquarters of the park. Civil aviation runs an airstrip to the headquarters of the park. The Civil aviation runs an airstrip found at Lomej approximately 3km south of the headquarters of the park.

Things to carry as you visit the park

There are so many necessities one needs to carry for the safari so as to enjoy a memorable experience in the national camp. These necessities of which include not least to the following;

  • Camera
  • Water
  • Food or simple snacks.
  • Heavy-duty footwear.
  • Heavy clothing to provide warmth among others.

Contact Safari Vacations & Travel Services for your planned Vacation to Kidepo valley national park where we are more than willing to help you arrange the best plan in conjunction with our skilled travel consultants given our rating on trip advisor upon the services that we offer to our clients.

Activities in Kidepo Valley National Park

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