Overview – Kidepo Valley NP
The Kidepo Valley is in a remote corner of the country, which is rarely visited by tourists, due to the expense and difficulty of getting there. The park is a true wilderness destination for the adventurous with jagged mountains, often lost in rain clouds, enclosing the park. It has excellent wildlife viewing during the Dry season, featuring several species not encountered anywhere else in the country. The large, open plains make Kidepo feel more like parks in neighboring countries than in Uganda.
Pros and Cons
- Top wildlife-viewing in the Dry season
- Several antelope and predator species (including cheetah) that don't occur elsewhere in Uganda
- Excellent birding with many birds of prey
- Very exclusive with lots of wilderness appeal
- Growing number of accommodation options
- Spectacular views over the Narus Valley
- Very remote and expensive destination
The park has a very impressive mammals list. Twenty species of predator are resident, and several don't exist in any other Ugandan park (including cheetah and black-backed jackal). Lion and leopard also occur. Elephant, Burchell's zebra, buffalo and Rothschild's giraffe are all regularly seen, but black rhino has recently become extinct. Twelve antelope species are present – some of which don't occur anywhere else in the country.
Two valleys (Kidepo Valley and Narus Valley) on either side of predominantly mountainous terrain dominate the park. There are wide, sweeping views of the Narus Valley from many vantage points. Open grassland is interspersed with acacia trees, desert dates and rocky outcrops.
Narus Valley is where most of the wildlife is located. Kidepo Valley is drier and has suffered from local poaching, although this is improving as the park’s border with South Sudan is now better protected.
Weather & Climate
Kidepo has a semi-arid climate that occasionally invites drought in the Dry season (September to March). Average afternoon temperatures sit around 29°C/84°F, except in the park’s higher-altitude areas where it gets colder. The Wet season lasts from April to August. In these months, keep one eye on the sky in the afternoon, when showers arrive like clockwork.
Best Time to Visit
Sunny days and thin vegetation make the Dry season (September to March) the best time to go wildlife watching in Kidepo. This is also when animals go searching for a dependable source of water. An advantage of exploring Kidepo when the rains come is that the dust and heat tend to get washed away, and the birding is better.
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Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for CNN Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.
Uganda’s secret northern wilderness
With sprawling savannah and soaring mountains, Kidepo Valley National Park might be the most picturesque park in all Africa. Sharing borders with South Sudan and Kenya’s Northern Frontier District, it is Uganda’s most remote and...
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