When National Geographic recently named Uganda among the world’s top 20 destinations for tourists in 2013, it may have not been the first time a ranking of its kind was in favour of the country. However, CNN Travel’s Picks Kidepo Valley National Park as the Number 3 Park in Africa: Kidepo Valley National Park is a top destination in Africa best known for spectacular landscapes and vast buffalo herds. With sprawling savanna and soaring mountains, Kidepo National Park might be the most picturesque park in Africa.
According to the publication, Africa is regarded as a destination for safari, but Kidepo Valley National Park, covering 1,442 square kilometers is one of the top 10 parks where travelers can find the most outstanding trips. A road trip in Uganda – with the 4×4 rooftop tent jeep road trip to Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls National Parks – gets you up close to the country’s extraordinary attractions. Uganda offers some of the world’s most diverse landscapes, from sparkling lakes and rivers to snow-capped peaks and wildlife-dense savanna.
Sharing borders with South Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo is Uganda’s most beautiful, remote and least-explored park, according to the publication. Regarded as a hard-to-reach place in northern Uganda because of the poor state of the roads, Kidepo gets fewer visitors than any other grassland park in Uganda, but it one of the best routes for road trip.
Kidepo is not easy to get to. Any overland drive from greater Kampala will realistically take two days with an overnight stop somewhere, and the second day from any direction will involve hours bouncing on unpaved laterite ‘murram’ roads.
Kidepo is located in what could be called Uganda’s ‘empty quarter’, where Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan come together. Those who take the trouble to get here are rewarded with phenomenal wildlife sightings and a level of exclusivity that can rarely be got at any cost in neighboring countries.
Kidepo Valley National Park landscapes are never ending and simply take your breath away – and a stillness only broken by the cry from the wild. The sounds of the winds sweeping through the valley, you are amazed that such a place as Kidepo Valley National Park even exists.
The abundant wildlife in Kidepo Valley
At Kidepo you find top class wildlife (that includes Uganda’s only resident zebra and eland) in breathtaking and silent vistas. Sunset and sunrise scenes are uniquely haunting. Apart from huge herds of buffaloes, Kidepo is also endowed with lions, elephants, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, ostriches, stripped hyenas and hunting dogs.
Others are antelopes such as eland, bush buck, bush duskier, Defassa water buck, bohor reed buck, Jackson’s hartebeest and oribi. In addition to the ostriches, it also has plenty of bird life.
The game drive tracks through the park are much less traveled than those at Murchison or at Queen Elizabeth. The accommodation options rival those anywhere in East Africa.
Most any African park destination will meet the expectation framed in the words “once in a lifetime”. A visit to Kidepo just may redefine your whole bucket list.
Those on a road trip to Kidepo Valley National Park can camp at Kakine campsite with clean toilets and bathrooms, the ranger are there to keep the lions away at night. The UWA rangers here ($20/half day) are well worth it, they know the place inside out, and are immensely knowledgeably about routes, animals, habits etc. They deserve to be supported.
Kidepo is home to the legendary trip
Kidepo Valley National Park is home to one the smallest ethnic groups in Africa, a people called the Ik. According to folklore, the Ik have wandered through much of East Africa, and came from Ethiopia hundreds of years ago. Praying to ancient gods, the Ik believe they will one day have to move on from Kidepo Valley National Park. But they are fighting to preserve their unique culture and language, which no rival tribes understand.
The group is unarmed and habitually peaceful, numbering approximately 13,939 people. They have experienced and been affected by various human rights violations, including forced evictions and/or exclusions from ancestral lands and natural resources, with 70% of the land lost to conservation initiatives, as well as violence and destruction of property, which result in continued impoverishment, social and political exploitation and marginalization.
The Ik people live in several small villages arranged in clusters comprising their community. Each village is surrounded by an outer wall tand portioned into family/friend “neighborhoods” called odoks, each being surrounded by a wall.
Each Odok is sectioned into walled households called asaks, with front-yards for community-based interactions, and, in some cases, granaries
Murchison Falls National Park
The most powerful waterfall in the world. By far Murchison falls national park is the most beautiful wildlife sanctuary in Uganda. It combines all the sought-after varieties of the natural world.
It is also the most fulfilling travel destination for people that visit Uganda on a road trip. Mainly because of its distance from Kampala, and the combination of the Ziwa rhino sanctuary completes the traditional big five Africa safari.
Murchison Falls National Park is located 305km north of Kampala. The drive to the southern entrance gate takes 4 to 5 hours and coming from the southwest, the 280km drive from Fort Portal takes at least 6 hours.
Plus allowing another hour or 2 from the entrance gate to most of the lodges and campsites. Park activities include, a visit to top of the Falls, Game Drives, Boat Cruises, Nature Walk, Community Tour and Birding,