​Expert Reviews – Kidepo Valley NP

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Expert
Tim Bewer   –  
United States US
Visited: August

Tim is a travel writer who has covered 10 African countries for Lonely Planet's Africa, East Africa and West Africa guidebooks.

11 people found this review helpful.

Blissfully remote and stunningly gorgeous
Overall rating
4/5

My favorite park in Uganda, Kidepo is by far the most difficult to reach (unless you fly) but absolutely worth the time and effort to get there. Ringed by mountains, this short-grass savannah-filled valley in the far northeast of the country is one of the loveliest places in not just Uganda, but all of East Africa; yet it is seldom visited, allowing a primeval wilderness vibe that can’t be topped elsewhere in Uganda. Wildlife watching is good year-round with healthy populations of the Big Five (except for a lack of rhino) and many species not found elsewhere in Uganda such as cheetahs, aardwolves, ostriches, and greater and lesser kudus. While I didn’t get to see the tree-climbing lions in the Narus Valley I did get really near some buffalo on my bush walk and had two up-close encounters with the park’s famously fearless elephant (named Bull Bull) who routinely hangs around the headquarters area. As with the mammals, there are plenty of birds exclusive to this park and with nearly 500 species on the checklist, it should be a must visit for birdwatchers.

Expert
Stephen Cunliffe   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

9 people found this review helpful.

A Long Forgotten Eden
Overall rating
4/5

Imagine a place that looks like the Mara-Serengeti but surrounded by jagged mountains; a place full of wildlife but without another person in sight and you’re on the right track. Kidepo is Uganda’s slice of quintessential East African savanna. The Narus Valley teems with wildlife in the dry season and it’s not uncommon to see buffalo gatherings numbering in their thousands and elephants in their hundreds. I have often seen lions climb the koppies or lie in the park’s shady sausage trees from where they spot their quarry. This is also Uganda’s only park where cheetah can be seen. I love this place: it’s a true African wilderness of extreme beauty with large concentrations of wildlife still enduring. It is also the definition of remote; and the reason there are so few tourists here is that it is a hard place to reach and security can be an issue at times in this volatile region.

Expert
Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Dry season

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

6 people found this review helpful.

Uganda’s remote valley
Overall rating
4/5

Kidepo Valley National Park is by far the most remote park in Uganda. Most people fly here, but we drove the long bumpy road north, which made us appreciate its remoteness even more. The open grassland surrounded by mountains makes a stunning setting for a wide variety of animals including cheetah, which doesn’t occur in other Ugandan parks. We were welcomed by a large herd of slightly nervous elephants when we entered the park and we saw lions on several occasions. We stayed in Apoka Safari Lodge and there is a constant stream of animals coming to drink at the waterhole in front of the lodge. Waterbuck would even come up to drink from the lodge swimming pool. Patas monkeys can often be seen sitting on termite mounds and are a real specialty of the park. All in all, there was a lot more wildlife here than I expected. I was prepared to enjoy true wilderness with a few animals, but animal numbers are more than healthy. One oddity was the white-eared kob which seemed slightly lost outside its distribution as it must have crossed over from South Sudan.

Expert
Philip Briggs   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Dry season

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

5 people found this review helpful.

Uganda’s forgotten savannah reserve
Overall rating
4/5

Nestled up against the remote South Sudanese border in the far northeast of Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park has long been a byword for inaccessibility and remoteness. This is partly due to geographical distance from Kampala and the southwest safari circuit, an isolation exacerbated by the risk associated with road travel in the north during the reign of terror wrought by the the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) between 1986 and 2005. However, this sensationally scenic national park is now relatively easy to reach from Kampala, and the presence of a good lodge and adequate rest camp make it a thoroughly viable safari option. It’s more than worth the effort of getting there. Visiting in 2015, we were blown away by the wildlife viewing. On most game drives, we saw herds of 20-plus elephant marching to or from the Narus Valley, while other highlights included a 1,000-strong herd of buffalo and lions lounging up on one of the immense granite boulders that characterize the Narus River Valley, which is the main wildlife viewing circuit. Other wildlife associated with the Narus Valley includes Rothschild’s giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, Bohor reedbuck and oribi, while characteristic birds with a very limited distribution elsewhere in East Africa are Clapperton’s francolin and rose-ringed parakeet. Game viewing is less reliable in the more northerly Kidepo River valley, but this is a good place to look for Uganda’s last wild ostriches and the very localized Jackson’s hornbill and Karamoja apalis. Overall, while game densities are not quite on a par with Murchison Falls or Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo offers an excellent balance between good wildlife-viewing and the genuine wilderness atmosphere craved by most repeat safari-goers.

Expert
Alan Murphy   –  
Australia AU
Visited: May

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

4 people found this review helpful.

Kidepo Valley – Wildlife stronghold of the north
Overall rating
4/5

Slammed into the northeast corner of Uganda, and jutting up against South Sudan, Kidepo Valley is unique in Uganda. It’s probably my favourite park in the country and in my top 5 in East Africa. Two enormous savannah valleys enclosed by rows of jagged mountains are often shrouded by thunderclouds. And in the valleys is plentiful wildlife including four of the Big Five (no rhino – although white rhino may be re-introduced).

I got some fantastic lion photos in Kidepo and saw more buffalo than I ever have – some a bit too close for comfort. On a morning walk we startled some old generals (aged males kicked out of the herd as they become old and weak) behind a thicket we walked past. Fortunately, our presence seemed to confuse the reputed ill-tempered beasts, and they thundered off in the opposite direction! Denis, the ranger leading the walk, was filled my head with tales of derring-do in the bush, normally involving
enraged buffaloes or hungry cats…I was quite glad to be surrounded by the metal of our vehicle once we returned to it…

Average Expert Rating

  • 4.2/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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