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Kidepo Valley Safari & Tour

KIDEPO VALLEY SAFARI & TOUR

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AUTHENTIC SAFARIS & PERSONALIZED TOURS IN KIDEPO VALLEY WITH AFRICANMECCA

What Safari Attractions & Tour Activities To Experience During Your Kidepo Valley Visit?

Kidepo Valley is a wilderness park that captivates visitors with its seemingly endless plains, grazing animals, and gorgeous birds. As you explore the park on game drives, you will have the opportunity to view the amazing creatures that roam the park’s green and gold savannah grasslands, dotted with trees and rocky crags. Your AfricanMecca assigned tour guide will ensure that you visit the Narus Valley, where much of the game concentrates because the area has more water reserves that remain wet throughout the year. In addition to game drives, you will want to visit other parts of Kidepo Valley National Park on foot, following nature trails.  

Key Takeaways

  • Captivating landscape with green and gold savannah plains teeming with grazers and predators
  • Fabulous sand river beds, broken by swamps and pools where wildlife flocks to drink
  • Walking along the trails looking for some of 475 species of avian life, some of which are endemic only in Kidepo
  • Kanangorok Hot Springs and Lomej Mountain explorations
  • Namamukweny Valley, yet another prime location for sighting beautiful birds, and hiking up Morungole Mountains for cultural interactions with the Ik tribal people
As you stroll along the trails, you can enjoy photographing some of the more than 475 species of birds you’ll find on your travels here, some of which are not found in any other park in Uganda. Most trails take you from the park headquarters into the Kidepo Valley. Along the way, you’ll be treated to vistas of the brown-sand bed of the seasonal Kidepo River, which dries up during the dry season. Close by are the Kanangorok Hot Springs, another scenic spot. You will also be exploring the Lomej Mountains. You can also go on drives in the valley and, perhaps, spot ostriches foraging for food in the semi-arid conditions of Kidepo. 

If you are an avid birding enthusiast, your guide will recommend spending time in the Namamukweny Valley, the park’s prime location for viewing various species of avian life. In addition, you could trip out to the Morungole Mountains for stunning views and interactions with the native Ik people, who follow a unique way of life. 

On your cultural tour in Uganda, you can visit the communities close to the lodge to experience their traditional dance and music performances. You can expect to be regaled by performances such as the Emuya dance-song of the Nyangia and Naporre ethnic groups, and the Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi people.

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Our Top 4 Safari Activities In Kidepo Valley - Things You Can Do & See

Page Content - Start Here

1. Game Drives To View The Diverse Wildlife Of Kidepo Valley
2. Birdwatching Safaris In Kidepo Valley
3. Hikes, Treks & Walking Safaris in Kidepo Valley
4. Karamojong & The Ik Cultural Safari- The Tribes Of Kidepo Valley
Our Top 4 Safari Activities In Kidepo Valley & Things You Can Do & See In Kidepo Valley

1. Game Drives To View The Diverse Wildlife Of Kidepo Valley

Key Takeaways

  • Game drives in the mornings and afternoons to look for wildlife including four of the Big Five of Africa
  • 77 species of mammals, 28 of which can be spotted only in Kidepo in Uganda
  • View nocturnal creatures that come out to feed in the cover of twilight
Going on game drives in the Kidepo Valley National Park is a rewarding activity that you’ll cherish in your memories long after you return from safari vacation in Africa. The park hosts some 77 species of mammals, 28 of which are not present anywhere else in Uganda, in addition to more than 475 species of birds. Game drives generally are best done in the early morning and late afternoon when it is cooler. As you travel around the park, be prepared to see lions sprawled on the crags or on tree branches, relaxing in the daytime heat, or perhaps a leopard guarding a meal in a tree. You will also have the opportunity to view two more of the Big Five of Africa, such as the elephant and buffalo, among the herbivores. Rhinos are not present in Kidepo.

Also look for the other ungulates and grazers that live in Kidepo Valley (best time to visit): species such as the bush duiker, bushbuck, oribi, eland, bush pig, Defassa waterbuck, Bohor reedbuck, Rothschild giraffe, Jackson’s hartebeest, Burchell’s zebra, klipspringer,kongoni, and warthogs. Among the smaller predators, you will see the side-striped jackal, caracal, striped hyena, cheetah, bat-eared fox, hunting dog, spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, and aardwolf, along with various smaller cats. The Narus Valley is known for sightings of Guenther’s dik-dik, Senegal galago and Kavirondo bush baby. The white-tailed mongoose is often seen on twilight drives.
Game Drives To View The Diverse Wildlife Of Kidepo Valley

2. Birdwatching Safaris In Kidepo Valley

Key Takeaways

  • Park is famous for sightings of 475 species of avian life
  • Narus and Namamukweny Valleys known for fabulous birds that are a photographer’s dream
  • Rare birds often spotted around the watering holes and swamps of the reserve
Located on the northernmost corner of Uganda, between the borders with Sudan and Kenya, the Kidepo Valley National Park is a fabulous region for spotting birds of Uganda. The reserve is the third largest in the country and boasts of hosting more than 475 species of birds. Should you travel to the Narus and Namamukweny Valleys, you will see species like the Clapperton’s francolin, purple heron, Abyssinian roller, ground hornbill, red-cheeked cordon-bleu, little weaver, mosque swallow, Ruppell’s and superb starlings, hoopoe, vinaceous dove, Nubian woodpecker, scarlet-chested sunbird, yellow-billed shrike, and silver bird. 

Among the rarer birds, you might spot the Karamoja apalis and black-breasted barbet, along with other commonly seen species like the crimson-rumped waxbill, marsh tchagra, African mustached and broad-tailed warblers, black coucal, yellow-rumped seedeater, four-banded sandgrouse, and various swallows. Many of these are often spotted around the watering holes of Kidepo.

Below is a list of some of the birds of Kidepo Valley National Park

  • Abyssinian Crimsonwing
  • Abyssinian roller
  • Abyssinian Scimitarbill
  • African Grey
  • African Hill-babbler
  • Baglafecht Weaver
  • Black-bellied Firefinch
  • Black-breasted Barbet
  • Black-rumped Waxbill
  • Black-winged Pratincole
  • Bronze-tailed Starling
  • Brown Warbler
  • Brown Woodland-warbler
  • Brown-rumped Bunting
  • Chestnut weaver
  • Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver
  • Cinnamon Bracken-warbler
  • Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
  • D’Arnaud's barbet
  • Dusky Turtle-dove
  • Eastern Chanting-goshawk
  • Eastern Violet-backed
  • Eastern Yellow-billed
  • Emin's Shrike
  • Fox Kestrel
  • Foxy Cisticola
  • Golden Pipit
  • Greater kestrel
  • Grey Cuckooshrike
  • Grey Firefinch
  • Grey Wren-warbler
  • Hartlaub's Turaco
  • Heuglin's Francolin
  • Jackson's Hornbill
  • Karamoja Apalis
  • Karamoja apalis
  • Little Rock-thrush
  • Magpie Starling
  • Montane Nightjar
  • Mountain Buzzard
  • Mountain Yellow
  • Mouse-coloured Penduline-tit
  • Northern carmine bee-eater
  • Northern Double-collared
  • Nyanza Swift
  • Piapiac Ptilostomus
  • Purple Grenadier
  • Pygmy falcon
  • Red-and-yellow Barbet
  • Red-pate Cisticola
  • Red-throated Bee-eater
  • Red-winged Lark
  • Rose-ringed parakeet
  • Rufous Chatterer
  • Scarce Swift
  • Sharpe's Starling
  • Steel-blue Whydah
  • Straw-tailed Whydah
  • Tacazze Sunbird
  • Taita Fiscal
  • White-bellied Canary
  • White-bellied go-away bird
  • White-bellied Go-away-bird
  • White-crested Turaco
  • White-eyed Slaty-flycatcher
  • White-headed Buffalo-weaver
  • Yellow-bellied Waxbill
  • Yellow-billed Shrike
  • Yellow-necked Francolin
Birdwatching Safaris In Kidepo Valley

3. Hikes, Treks & Walking Safaris in Kidepo Valley

Key Takeaways

  • Nature walks to spot small reptilian species hiding in the undergrowth
  • Choice of walking trails according to the particular interest and fitness levels of visitors
  • Range of landscapes and altitudes from valleys and savannahs to highlands
Going out on foot, whether on a longer hiking trip or a walking safari, offers a glimpse of the hidden denizens of the Kidepo that you might otherwise miss on game drives—for instance, the reptilian species that take refuge in the thorny undergrowth. Should you plan a trek to the Lomej Mountains, you can cover the distance in four hours, using the park headquarters as a base. The Narus Valley walking safari, combined with birdwatching, is shorter, at about 5 kilometers (3 miles), starting from the Apoka Tourism Centre. Bird lovers must make it a point to visit the Namamkweny Valley, which takes an hour to reach from Apoka.

A walk to the Kidepo Valley will treat you to spectacular panoramas of light brown sand riverbed meandering among forests of Borassus palm. If you walk further, you will be able to reach the Kanangorok Hot Springs, a distance of 11 scenic kilometers (7 miles)  from the valley. Yet another trekking tour can take you to the Morungole Mountains in the outskirts of Kidepo Valley National Park (where to stay), home of the Ik people. Given that the park is contained within highlands, you can spot the rocky Napore Nyagia mountain range standing on the west, while to the northeast are the Natira and Lokayot Hills. The Lotukei Mountains in Sudan are also visible from the park on the north. 
Hikes, Treks & Walking Safaris in Kidepo Valley

4. Karamojong & The Ik Cultural Safari - The Tribes Of Kidepo Valley

Key Takeaways

  • Visit Uganda’s most remote tribes near the border of Kenya and South Sudan
  • The Karamojong tribe are cattle herders, and have a similar culture to the Maasai tribe
  • The Ik tribe are farmers who live up the Morungole Mountains. They sustain themselves through goat keeping, honey harvesting, and subsistence maize farming. Only 10,000 exist in the world.
The northeastern region of Kidepo Valley National Park is home to two tribes that have maintained their ancient living styles and continue to practice their traditions. Although similar in many ways, the Ik people and the Karamojong have several traits that set them apart from each other. Add a cultural trip to their village on your safari vacation itinerary in Uganda, and you will have a delightful cultural experience. Enjoy this rare opportunity to understand how people lived in Uganda before the modern world made its mark.

The Karamojong are nomadic cowherds, and their entire livelihood is centered on their cattle. Most of their food comes from the blood and milk of the herds they own. When you visit their village in the outskirts of Kidepo Park, you can meet the people and take part in their daily activities. Hike up the Morungole Mountains for an introduction to the Ik people. In contrast to their brothers, the Karamojong, the Ik tribe practice farming as their main occupation and typically venture out of their villages only to exchange the grain they grow for other essentials. 

The Karamojong Tribe

The Karamojong traveled to Uganda from Ethiopia sometime around 1600 and occupied the area around Mount Moroto. Today there are close to 1.2 million people living in Kidepo Valley National Park. Nomads and cattle-herders, the Karamojong belong to the Nilotic group, meaning from the Nile region. History says they acquired the name Karamojong, or Ngkaramojong, which translates to “the old tired men who stayed behind,” because they opted to settle on the borders of South Sudan and Kenya while their counterparts moved on. 

Warriors by nature, the Karamojong people have resisted urbanization and modern education and prefer to keep to their traditional beliefs and religion, which worships the god Akuj. They have always believed that their cattle are a gift from Akuj, which led to clashes over stolen cows with neighboring tribes living in the region of Kidepo Valley National Park who are also pastoralists. Before the peace agreements between the tribes, the clashes became violent and bloody because of the availability of weapons during the Uganda reign of Idi Amin.

As you will note on your cultural tour, in the Karamojong culture, cattle are considered wealth and the person owning the most cattle is considered the wealthiest. The male members of the tribe spend their time looking for greener pastures and fresh water for their cows, while the women stay home in the manyattas in Kidepo Valley Park. The manyatta is a permanent home where the women and girls grow a few crops, make sorghum flour, and produce traditional beer. Democracy prevails, with the younger warriors called Ngigetei meaning gazelles and the village elders are called Ngimoru meaning mountains.

When you tour the Karamojong village, you will note that the manyattas are simple structures with low doors that you may have to crawl into. Almost devoid of furniture and smeared with mud and cow dung, the homes offer respite from the intensely hot weather conditions of Kidepo Valley National Park. It is not uncommon for the men to have several wives, and they pay the bride price with cattle. Extended families live together in close-knit families, helping each other. To ease the heat, the women and children don’t wear much clothing. They also sport unique tribal markings. 

The village elders, dressed in tunics, will welcome you on your vacation excursion and relate tales of yore. Spending time with them is an eye-opening experience that will make you feel like you have taken a trip to a part of Kidepo Valley Park that time forgot. And, while you are here, do take part in their jumping dances, which are lively and energetic. 

The Ik Tribe

The Ik people, who speak the Teuso language, live in the Morungole Mountains of Uganda, on the northwestern border of Kenya in Kidepo Valley National Park. Also called the Mountain people, the Ik number fewer than 10,000 individuals today, and primarily practice subsistence farming. The Ik were among the first people to travel to Uganda from Ethiopia and thus earned the name “Ik,” which means “leaders of migration.” Because of their common origins, they share many characteristics with the Karamojong people. History has it that they were also originally cattle herders, but after losing their livestock to raiders from the neighboring tribes, such as the Tuposa of South Sudan, the Karamojong, and Turkana and Pokot of Kenya, they moved on to goat keeping, honey harvesting, and subsistence maize farming for a livelihood.

The Ik also practiced hunting and gathering for food, but after the establishment of reserves such as the Kidepo Valley Park in the 1960s, they were barred from areas where they traditionally foraged for food. To protect their culture and survive in peace, they chose a spot in Mount Morungole where they now live, segregated from the rest of the tribes and communities. Should you opt for an authentic African cultural vacation expedition to their village, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscape and its natural beauty. 

Similar to the Karamojong, the Ik men have several wives and pay the bride price in livestock such as chickens, goats, and beehives. All the mothers and grandmothers collectively care for the children. Modern education is rarely given, though this factor could change in the coming years. Although shy people, the Ik are now welcoming tourists to their village in Kidepo Valley National Park for the additional income they can make. This income does help them preserve their ways and prevent the tribe from becoming extinct. 

The Ik people welcome visitors warmly with traditional dancing, often in their tribal dress. But getting to their village may present a bit of a challenge. The U.S. Forest Service has marked a trail that you can follow, and there is even a vehicle track that can shorten the trek. Keep in mind that you have to be in top physical shape for the 16-kilometer (10 miles) round trip since the climb is strenuous and steep. Even so, a visit to these unique people of Kidepo is a memorable experience, and will change your perception of the tribes and the culture that they preserve. 
Karamojong & The Ik Cultural Safari- The Tribes Of Kidepo Valley

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KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK GUIDE
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KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK GUIDE

The beauty of Kidepo Valley Park is bound to take your breath away, despite its generally arid conditions. A desolate wilderness that hosts 77 species of mammals including four of the Big Five of Africa.

WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KIDEPO VALLEY
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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN KIDEPO VALLEY

Kidepo Valley has limited quality camps and lodges. AfricanMecca only recommends Apoka Safari Lodge that affords a a rustic luxury Premier Tier 1 Safari rating. It offers a pleasing, hospitable ambiance.

BEST TIME TO VISIT KIDEPO VALLEY PARK
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BEST TIME TO VISIT KIDEPO VALLEY PARK

The typical weather conditions at Kidepo Valley are different from the usual in Uganda. This is primarily due to the hot semi-arid climate based on its location. September to February are the best times to visit.

AFRICANMECCA REVIEWS

What are our Customers saying about us? READ MORE REVIEWSfive star africanmecca safaris reviews

  • AfricanMecca Safaris offers incredibly knowledgeable and skilled services! Our travel arrangements for 2 months of volunteering with TEACH Rwanda in country were made quickly and economically. Honored to work with Raza!
    Janet Brown - TEACH Rwanda Founder - United States
  • I just returned from a month in Africa, specifically Rwanda & Kenya. I am left breathless with my experience. AfricanMecca Safaris coordinated the entire trip for me and left no detail, nothing for me to do.
    Carol Bobb - Pennsylvania, United States
  • AfricanMecca Safaris created a remarkable honeymoon tailored to our interests and desires. The quality of service and delivery of experience was unsurpassed. I highly recommend AfricanMecca Safaris to honeymooners, families, or any traveler.
    Noorin & Jason Nelson - Maryland, United States
  • I booked my safari holiday through AfricanMecca. They were the most helpful company I have ever dealt with and I work within the travel industry. I had the most amazing time. The holiday went as clockwork with no hitches anywhere.
    Shelley Roberts - Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom
  • This is to let you know my guests, The Bryant's, had a wonderful time on the trip Samburu, Masai Mara/Kenya, Chobe/Botswana & Victoria Falls/Zambia. Everything was perfect! Thank you.
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  • We have returned from our African adventure and would like to thank you very much for your part in making this such a wonderful experience. We were lucky enough to time the Great Migration from the Serengeti, which was amazing.
    Denise Paterson - Belmont, Australia
  • Rwanda was amazing. The accommodations, food, and guides AfricanMecca arranged were great. Raza also helped us through the complicated process of getting permits for gorilla trekking. AfricanMecca is a fantastic company to work with.
    Stephanie Weir - United States

EAST AFRICA SAFARI BOOKING TRIP IDEA FOR KIDEPO VALLEY IN UGANDA

When visiting Kidepo for your wildlife safari, we recommend combining it with Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.

You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki or Lake Mburo for an offbeat wildlife tour.

You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.

Best Safari Planning Ideas & Trip Experiences For Uganda

Below are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.

1. How To Plan Uganda Safari Trips? (Summary)

2. Wildlife Safari Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

3. Private & Tailor-Made Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

4. Honeymoon Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

5. Family Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

6. Luxury Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

7. Photo Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

8. Cultural Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

9. Gorilla, Chimpanzee & Primate Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

10. Hike, Trek & Bush Walk Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

11. Birding Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

12. Wedding Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

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