Best national park in Africa for specular landscapes and great buffalos herds
CNN travel 2013
Kidepo valley national park is remotely situated in the extreme north eastern corner of Uganda, in kaabong district. It is tucked at the tip where the three countries of Uganda, Kenya and south Sudan meet. Its northwestern boundary is separated from the border with Kenya by a narrow strip of land only 5km wide of its most narrow point.
Sprawling across 1442 sq.km of the jagged, semi-arid valley of remote karamoja province, kidepo valley national park is Uganda’s 3rd largest national park after Queen Elizabeth national park and Murchison falls national park.
In spite of its remoteness, kidepo valley national park is arguably the most beautiful national park in Uganda.it possesses such unique & unadulterated wilderness you will not experience anywhere else in eastern Africa let alone Africa.it is Africa’s true unspoiled wilderness with its serenity, unique flora and fauna, jagged hills, inselbergs, expansive semi-arid plains, rocky outcrops, plenty of wild scenery setting every traveler imagines of a true African wilderness. The narus valley, a short wet season occurs between the month of April and October, and a long dry spell for the remainder and much of the year’s .during this dry spell there is almost no green vegetation in sight and temperature rise beyond 40oc and average to 30oc.wateris temporary phenomenon that flows during the wet season. Only the narus valley contains water during the dry season .harsh as the condition may seem but it such that have stayed away human interest and occupation enabling the park maintained an instability that rocked the region since the 1970s to the early 90s.
Kidepo is only region in Uganda located in the Somali – Masai regional center of endemism (white 1983), because of this unique photographic zone, there many spices of plants that are restricted to the kamajongo region and occur nowhere else in Uganda.
Kidepo valley support multiple habitants. the nares valley is dominated by acacia gerradii savanna woodland that emerges in the south and into afire climax grassland, tree, and shrub steppe and slowly graduates into bush land with forest on the high mountains. Dry Montana forest are quite common at altitude 5000ft and a mixture of grass and form canopies as altitude with water and sand alluvial soils. There are many along rivers of kidepo, lopirpir and kurao.
Spices richness & uniqueness
The diversity of wildlife in kidepo valley national park is quite considerable.at a glance, the park harbor 86 mammal spices,472 birds spices and 692 plants spices, second only to queen Elizabeth national park in terms of its known plate diversity and third to queen Elizabeth and Murchison falls national park for its mammal and birds diversity.
While Uganda’s other park support a great biomass of mammals, kidepo support a wider diversty.it is part of the trans-boundary ecosystem that provides migration of wildlife across borders.
28 of 86 mammals were not found in any of Uganda’s national parks, and these include: striped hyena, Aardwolf, bat-eared fox, caracal, cheetah, greater and lesser kudu, klipspringer, Dikdki, Bright’s gazelle, chandler’s mountain reedbuck, African wild dogs, beisa Oryx, roan Antelope.
However some of these are feared extinct ,including African wild dog, beisa oryx and roan antelope.
Many others large animals also found elsewhere in Uganda include elephants, zebra, buffalos, waterbucks, Jackson’s hartebeest, lion, leopards, spotted hyena, Rothschild giraffe, Uganda kob, Eland, common duiker.
Kidepo is only park where are lucky to see both zebra and giraffes in the same park. Lake mburo national park has only the zebras while Murchison falls national park has only the giraffes.
Kidepo also host the rare tree-climbing lions that are found only in queen Elizabeth national park in the Ishasha plains.
Living in a seasonally extreme habitat, the crocodiles of kidepo valley national park are usual for their diminutive size with maximum length of 2.5 meters (Nile crocodiles found elsewhere in Uganda regularly exceed 4 meters).
Apparently this small size is attributed to the limitation food availability and probably the small and shallow water bodies during the along dry season.
Kidepo valley national park boasts an extensive birds list of 475 spices, second only to queen Elizabeth national park with 625.it is particularly renowned for its outstanding birds of prey, at the moment 58 have been recorded,14 of which are unique to this park. Notable raptors include verreaux’s eagles, lammergeyer (beared vulture),Egyptian Vulture, secretary birds and pygmy falcon.
Some of Africa’s rarest and most after birds are found in kidepo valley national park ,such as black-breasted barbet and karamoja apalis. It is also the only park in Uganda harboring the massive.
This means ‘’the place of black stones’’ in local language are a small collection of natural hot spring located near the south Sudan border in kidepo valley, about 40km from Apoka camp. Locally called ‘’maji moto’’(which translates magic water) they are the only hot spring in karamoja region. The native holds an interesting myth about the hot spring produce magic water that can heal skin diseases such as scabies.
The trip to the hot spring cuts through the two main biomes of the park. Savanna/acacia grassland of the narus valley changing into a semi-arid short areas of kidepo valley.
The famous kidepo valley sand rivers is especially a huge highlight. There is a lots of possible wildlife sighting along the way including zebra, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, ostriches, and kudus. while at the springs one can enjoy picnics and breakfast just next to the spring.
River kidepo is an intermittent sand rivers situated in the northern region of the park. Its dry during the long dry spell and flows periodically when the rains comes. What makes it stand out are lining of borassus palms making it look like an oasis in the sahara.it is common with lots of birds.
The sand bed experiences during the dry season can very fascinating, as one is treated to the beautiful wilderness and the melody of various bird songs.one however has to take serious caution and ensure there are no rains especially in the Sudan as the river can flow any time.
Travelers once crossed the dry sand bed early in the day, however on returning later in the day the water has filled and the river flowing ,hence getting trapped on the other side.
A tour of the neighboring native communities is a fascinating of the diverse cultures. You get to enjoy their different traditional dance such as emuya dance by napore and nyange and the tribes and the neighboring acholi famous laka raka dance.
You could also visit the IK, a very unique of the most reclusive tribe in Uganda that still live the ancient hunter-gatherer lifestyle.