Kidepo National Park

Kidepo National Park location

Kidepo National Park is located in the semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with South Sudan and Kenya. Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it is Uganda’s remotest safari destination, sitting in the extreme northeastern corner. Kidepo park has a rugged mountain landscape and periodic rivers (Kidepo and Narus – which disappear in the dry season, leaving just pools for the wildlife) making it have a profusion of big game and bird species.

Kidepo valley national park occupies an area of 1,442km2 while sitting at an altitude between 914m and 2,750m above sea level.

With Kidepo valley park being Uganda’s most isolated national park, the few who make the long journey north through the wild frontier region of Karamoja would agree that it is also the most magnificent, for Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.

During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location.

Animals in Kidepo National Park

Kidepo boasts of 77 different species of mammals. The national park has the highest concentration of animals of all wildlife found in Ugandan national parks.

The common animals include Elephants, Zebra, Bush Pigs, Rothschild Giraffes, Eland, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Buffalo, Oribi, Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Black-backed and Side-backed Jackal.

Kidepo usually offers excellent lion and elephant sightings. The African bush elephant found in Kidepo valley is the largest and heaviest land animal on earth with a height of 13ft and weigning 10.4 tonnes.

Kidepo is the best park in Africa for great buffalo herds boasting of up to 1,000 buffalo herd encounters.

The park also has a number of rare ungulates including the Greater and Lesser Kudu, Chandlers Mountain Reedbuck, Klipspringer, Dik-dik, Bright Gazelle, Beisa Oryx, and Roan Antelope. Also found in Kidepo national park are animals that are not in any other national park in Uganda. These are: cheetahs, aardwolf, caracal.

Birds of Kidepo Valley Park

Kidepo valley is also quite rich with bird life, with 463 bird species recorded, second to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Some of the bird species include; the Kori bustard, Abyssinian ground hornbill, secretary bird, ostrich, carmine, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills, Karamoja Apalis, rufous chatterer, northern brownbul, golden pipit, chestnut weaver, red-billed and white-headed buffalo weavers, and purple grenadier.

The park has a record of 56 species of birds of prey, 14 of which are endemic to Kidepo valley and the Karamoja region. These include the dark chanting goshawk, pygmy falcon, tawny eagle, bateleur eagle, secretary bird, and many types of vultures.

Kidepo Nation Park Accomodation

View from Apoka Safari Lodge. Photo © Wild Places

Apoka safari lodge offers the best accommodation facilities for anyone visiting Kidepo valley national park Uganda. It overlooks the game rich Narus valley offering scenic views of the vast wilderness.

Other accommodation options include; Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Apoka Rest Camp, and Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp.

What is the best time to visit Kidepo national park Uganda?

Kidepo is open to visitors and tourists pretty much all year round. The perfect time to visit however is September to March which is the dry season and catching sight of wildlife is much easier.

Between April and August, Kidepo experiences both dry and wet periods. You can still see a good number of animals. It is also the best time for birding, as it is easy to spot migratory birds.

The driest months between December and February offer the best time for wildlife viewing as water sources dry up, making it easy to see animals congregated around available water sources or in search of water when animals.

How to get to Kidepo national park Uganda?

The park can be reached by both road and air. Driving is rewarding, as much of Karamoja, like Kidepo itself, is a vast and unspoiled wilderness. However, road conditions are sometimes poor and a 4WD vehicle is essential.
There are four possible routes by road as listed below. Optimum driving times are given below.

Routes passing west of Lake Kyoga through Acholiland

  • Kampala – Karuma – Gulu – Kitgum – Kidepo = 571km (10 hours)
  • Kampala – Karuma – Lira – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 705km (12 hours)

Routes passing east of Lake Kyoga through Karamoja

  • Kampala – Mbale – Sironko – Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 740km (12 hours)
  • Kampala – Mbale – Soroti – Moroto – Kotido – Kabong – Kidepo = 792km (13 hours)

Alternatively, if you have the bucks for it, take a scheduled fly-in or chartered small aircraft from Entebbe to Kidepo airstrip near Apoka. Check with your operator to find the best times to take the flight.

Tourist attractions and activities in Kidepo national park

    • Apoka tourism centre
    • Nature Walks
    • Bird watching and game drives
    • Kanangorok hot springs
    • The Sand bed along River Kidepo
    • Climbing Mount Morungole & Visit the IK tribe
    • Karamajong Community tour

Kidepo National Park Safari Packages

East and Northern Uganda Safari