Kidepo National Park
Sudan Border/ Karamoja Region, Karamoja, Uganda
Kidepo National Park Karamoja Reviews
Kidepo National Park Sep 19, 2014
Kidepo National Park is in the extreme north of Uganda, nestling against the South Sudanese border. It is in a more arid, savannah like climate zone than the lusher parks to the south, and has a different mix of wildlife.
It is the only park in Uganda where you can see Ostriches and Cheetahs, if you are lucky (I saw neither as it was the wet season and they are hard to spot when the vegetation is high), and the only park to have giraffes and zebras at the same place (there is one other park to have zebras, but it has no giraffes, and many parks have giraffes but not zebras).
The park suffered badly in the LRA insurgency and the civil unrest in the Karamajong region. Both allowed large supplies of small arms to fall into the hands of poachers, both local subsistence poachers who had lost their livelihoods and needed meat, and the more organised commercial poachers. By the late 1990s game stocks had fallen to a fraction of their 1960s level. But they are now rising slowly again, and there are large herds of buffalo, and many giraffes, zebras, lions, jackals, waterbucks, oribies and other gazelles and deers. There are also elephants, and smaller animals like patas monkeys and rock hyraxes, the small, groundhog like creatures that are also the closest relative of the elephant. The bird life is spectacular, and although we didn’t see any ostriches we saw superb starlings with their metallic sapphire backs and neon orange stomachs, 3ft tall Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, enormous lappet vultures, eagles and a lot more.
In terms of landscape, Kidepo is the head of the eastern Albertine rift valley, and the views from escarpments are spectacular. You can see the mountains of South Sudan (and if you take a guide up to the border you can clearly see the line where the decent tarmac donors have provided South Sudan abruptly ends and the bad murram of the park road starts at the border). The Kidepo itself is a sand river; dry most of the year, apart from sudden flash floods that can sweep cars away. It’s astonishing to see what is clearly an absolute torrent some of the time, as a sort of inland strip of fine beach. There are hot springs at the border - although not that impressive in themselves it is a nice trip to go up and see them.
The roads in the park are poor, especially in wet season - you can self drive but you would need a four by four and to be familiar with driving on rough terrain. Accommodation inside the park is the park authority bandas, which are actually very recently refurbished and when we looked at them seemed really nice, and the astonishingly expensive Apoka lodge. Personally I cannot imagine that it is worth $900 a night. But you can stay outside the park; there is a campsite and a wilderness camp with permanent cottages (Nga Moru) outside the perimeter fence, and options are likely to expand now that the road is safe.
Some websites still advice guests to fly in and not risk the road. However, the road up from Gulu is now safe, open and recently graded, and driving up is finally an option - check ahead of time that none of the bridges are flooded out. The fact that it used to be unsafe has kept visitor numbers down and the park is quiet in the rainy season.
Part of the Uganda 2014 travel blog
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The most Remote and Adventurous Wilderness Dec 29, 2010
From Kampala to Kidepo is one of the longest drives to a National Park in Uganda. Located right by the border of Sudan, in the arid and wild region of Karamoja, the park is as far north as one can go in Uganda. The enormity of the park is in it's rolling grass plains as far as the eyes go in every direction. It's wildlife population is enormous; dotted with numerous Kopjes, large herd of elephants, buffaloes, cheetahs, lions, giraffes and hartebeest. It's variation of animal habitation makes it the perfect destination for a safari.
Through the years, the marketing of Kidepo as a toursit destination has been undermined by the insistent northern war that made it unsafe for many, including locals to go to the region.
Recommended accommodation within the park: Apoka Rest Camp with bandas. It has been a while since I was in Kidepo, much might have changed.
PS: Why leave for tomorrow what you can accomplish today?
Part of the Uganda Travels! travel blog
Part of the list Uganda's National Parks
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
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