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Kidepo Valley National Park

By Sean Mahon

Posted: 16th April 2015 10:11

Choosing which of Africa’s many stunning and diverse parks and conservation areas to visit is a daunting task.  The sheer size of the continent and the different attractions each reserve has to offer – ranging from pulse-raising mountain bike treks to tranquil bird watching tours – means the inquisitive visitor is often spoilt for choice.  However, for those looking to spot rare species in one of the most unspoiled regions of Africa, the Kidepo Valley National Park is a must see. 

This vast, 1,400 square kilometre area of rugged savannah is situated in the extreme north-east corner of Uganda.  It is one of nine national parks in the country and, is far and away the most remote, being around a 650km drive from the capital, Kampala.  This does, however, lead to a level of exclusivity and quiet elegance rarely matched by any of the continent’s other reserves.  Indeed a large part of Kidepo’s charm lies in its isolation; separated from the rest of Uganda by the endless plains that lie to the north of Mount Elgon, the park ranks amongst Africa’s finest and yet least-explored wildernesses.    

Fittingly for such a pristine and visitor-friendly reserve, Kidepo is home to one of the most exciting and diverse ranges of fauna found anywhere in Africa.  Here again the seclusion of the park contributes to a unique safari experience; out of the 80 species of mammal found in Kidepo, 28 of those are endemic.  Exotic species exclusive to the valley include the greater and lesser kudu, the black-backed jackal, the aardwolf and the bat-eared fox.  Kidepo is also one of only two parks in Uganda where zebra and giraffes can be spotted, and is also famed for the herd of buffalo that numbers around 1,000 beasts.  Alongside these magnificent creatures visitors will regularly see lions, elephants, leopards and cheetahs.  For bird-lovers, the park boasts 475 species of bird including ostriches, woodpeckers, owls and parakeets.    

In order to help you make the most of your visit, there are a variety of activities on offer designed to give you access to the truly astonishing range of wildlife and the stunningly picturesque views that the park has to offer.  Game drives accompanied by a ranger bring you face-to-face with Uganda’s animal population, whilst a variety of hikes and shorter walks will lead you to the towering Lomej Mountains or along the dramatic valleys that dissect the park.  There is also the opportunity to take a guided walk to visit the native and endangered IK tribe.  Accommodation is provided by the luxurious Apoka Safari Lodge and Rest Camp, or, if you fancy something a little more rustic, there are a number of camp sites to choose from. 

For those looking for a truly exceptional, thoroughly exotic and remarkably unspoilt safari experience, Kidepo Valley National Park offers the perfect retreat.  Unending skies, mountain-dominated backdrops and golden green plains await those who make the worthwhile effort to visit.  Take advantage of the chance to get close to both nature and humanity in a way that the other parks simply can’t match.