Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda (For Wildlife Safaris)
Kidepo Valley National Park – You will leave this 1,442km² park very impressed by the plethora of animals that live in it; 77 mammal and 475 bird species. Situated in the North-Eastern corner of Uganda, its open savannah plains are extensive and dotted with jagged mountains, towering Borassus palm trees, and clear blue skies. Before this semi-arid park was gazetted in 1962, it used to be a hunting ground for the Ik, a tribe of nomadic pastoralists.
Due to its 700km distance from Kampala (Uganda’s capital), it comes across as the least-explored wildlife estate, and that’s the beauty about visiting it. There won’t be game viewers blocking your view at a sighting.
Most unique aspect
Kidepo is the only Ugandan park where you are assured of finding wild cheetahs, greater and lesser kudu, Guenther’s dik-dik, caracal, mountain reedbuck, and aardwolf.
Of the five primate species found here, the patas monkies and olive baboons are the easiest to see. Despite their ability to camouflage with the savannah, they are so playful and restless.
What it’s like to be in Kidepo Valley National Park
For much of your stay here, you will feel like you are on a planet that God specially created for the fiercest fighters among the Big 5, Cape Buffaloes. The park has over 10,000 of them, a reason why it’s nicknamed the Buffalo Capital of East Africa.
Ironically, many as they are, these huge herbivores can’t stand the sight of the park’s estimated 120 lions. One loud roar from these Kings of the jungle is enough to make them flee at 57kilometers per hour (35 miles). The same can’t be said about the park’s other predators like bat-eared-fox, side-striped jackal, leopard, and black-backed jackals.
Their relatively small size makes it easy for these 800kg beasts to knock them out. This explains why they prefer at night, a time when the buffaloes are also taking advantage of the cool weather to feed. Being large animals, they spend the day resting as their body can easily overheat and shutdown.
You can’t go wrong with a night game drive if you wish to discover how predators with extraordinary senses hunt. Imagine watching fierce, fast, and furious leopards as they leap 6m forward through the air while chasing their target prey at 58km/h. It could be any of the 12 antelope species to which the park is home; Jackson’s hartebeest, oribi, klipspringer, Uganda kob, and eland, all of which have more tender meat compared to huge browsers like buffaloes.
Anytime you visit this multi-award-winning destination, you are assured of encountering the huge herds of elephants. Brace yourself to watch the match in one direction like soldiers headed for a parade. Our driver-guide will go the extra mile to help you find one standing on its two hind legs—in an attempt to harvest tamarind fruits in distant branches. In the wet seasons, you are likely to find them playing at a seasonal river after which the park was named A kidep. It’s a word in the Nyakarimojong language that means picking. It is in reference to how this neighboring tribe used to harvest ripe coconuts from the surrounding forest of Borassus palm trees.
At the waterholes found along Narus valley, you will find warthogs enthusiastically wallowing in the mud to cool off the heat. On the other hand, the giraffes have a preference for zones with their favorite delicacies in abundance, acacia trees.
To be exact, zones in open savannah where they can catch sight of any lions preparing to ambush them. Thanks to this vigilance, their population hasn’t dropped below 34 in over a year. In an effort to facilitate their re-population, 10 Rothschild giraffes were recently translocated to it from Murchison falls national park.
On the part of bird watching, Kidepo knows how to impress without trying so hard. It has 77 species inclusive of the biggest bird species on earth, ostriches. Kidepo’s notables include Abyssinian roller, Rufous chatterer, Jackson’s hornbill, Northern carmine bee-eater, Abyssinian scimitarbill, Purple grenadier, Chestnut weaver, Golden pipit, Pygmy falcon, D’Arnaud’s barbet. Kidepo is a dream-come-true destination for spotting raptors, with 56 species on record. The best time to see migratory birds is from November to April.
Best time to visit Kidepo Valley National Park
The dry season from November to February offers the biggest wildlife sightings. During this time, the park undergoes controlled burning. This makes it easy to see animals that are miles away. During this time, they mostly stay in valleys with water holes, like Narus and Kidepo valley. In the wet seasons from April to August, they prefer to stay on higher ground and rocky outcrop.