Set in the far north of Uganda, at the very end of the nation’s territory, Kidepo Valley National Park covers 1442 sq km between the towns of Karenga and Moroto. It was founded in 1958 in order to both stop deforestation and protect animals. Local tribes used to clear the bush to stop the spread of tsetse fly infection, but they had ruined most part of the natural territory, that way. The population had to leave the land and move to nearby regions, which caused protests and troubles for the government.
Between 1962 and the 1980s most part of the problems with the local people had been solved, the population accepted the Park as a precious part of their economy and tourism is one of the “engines” making it move.
About Kidepo National Park
Kidepo – or Kidepo Valley – National Park consists of river Kidepo and river Narus which lie both at high altitudes. The two rivers are not always flowing, it depends on the season. The only permanent water source of the territory is the tepid water spring of Kanangorok. The existance of this spring proves the soil – mostly chalky and clayey – has ancient volcanic origin.
Kidepo Valley is a wide bushy plain dotted with palm trees and mainly crossed by groups of elephants. Narus Valley is grassy, sometimes covered in small woods in the drier parts and is home to the majority of the animals of the Park. Most safaris are organized in this area of the Kidepo Park which also offers charming views.
Wildlife at Kidepo National Park
Narus Valley is the real animals sanctuary in Kidepo National Park. Over 86 species of mammals live here, plus 500 species of birds. You will certainly meet lions, leopards, zebras, hyenas, cheetahs. This is also home to buffalos, zebras, elephants, foxes and a few monkeys. In 1962 over 400 giraffes lived in Kidepo, but crazy hunting had reduced the number to 3 by the 1990s. Recently, the Park’s board has started a repopulation with giraffes taken from nearby natural parks. The results are not encouraging, so far. But if you are lucky you might see at least 4 of them.
When you book your safari at Kidepo Valley National Park you will certainly have a short stay in one of the two towns belonging to the Park’s economic system. Karenga is a small farmers town, the main “gate” to the Park. It is lively and colourful, with tradition and culture more similar to the Sudanese ones, since it is very close to the border. Karenga is the seat of Kidepo Airport, the most important connection to the rest of Uganda.
Moroto is a larger town (14.000 inhabitants) set in a green area not far from the entrance of Kidepo National Park. This is another important town for organizing safaris but there are also interesting places to see: the local market, the local Council Palace, the cathedral of the Catholic Diocese. Not far from Moroto you will also visit a special place: Karamoja, the “fossils sanctuary” of Uganda!
How to get there
To get to Kidepo National Park you can both use airplanes, by landing at Kidepo Airport in Karenga, or choose to come by car or bus. In that case you will enter the Park from Moroto, thanks to the modern regional streets connecting the town to Soroti and Nakapiripirit and to Kampala as well.