There are several reasons why Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa. Tourists flock to the country because of the stunning scenery and wildlife mist the gentle giants-Mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. But one of Uganda’s best treasures, however, remains less visited. Away from the jostle and bustle in the capital-Kampala, 571km in the northeastern corner of Uganda is the country’s most beautiful park- Kidepo Valley National Park.

The park is nestled among hills and mountains of Northern Uganda. It is one place when you are inside Africa, you wouldn’t want to miss though most have gone minus noticing it. The endless savanna plains here have an abundance of what to be explored and to delight travelers. This is why we give you reasons why you should visit Kidepo Valley, National Park.

The people and their culture. 

Kidepo Valley National park neighbors communities of the Karamajong and one of Africa’s smallest ethnic groups called the Ik. These are some of the tribes in Uganda that have stacked to preserving their culture and have not been so much filtrated by civilization. The Ik are said to have moved from Ethiopia and wandered before settling in Kidepo Valley. They were hunter-gatherers and later in 1962 when the park was gazetted, they were forced to move out to the Morungole Mountain which is the highest point in Kidepo standing at above 2700m. The Ik has preserved their culture and language and even the communities around don’t understand their language. A hike to their home will give you ecological, historical, and cultural information about their past.

On the other hand, the Karamajong, live a warrior, nomad, and pastoral life. The Karamajong have clung to their culture, beliefs, and have rejected much of the western world influence like religion and some still believe in “Akuj” as the god of their faith. The out warded appearance of the Karamajong resembles that of the Masai Pastoralists who move around in search of new grazing areas though it has now reduced. They also shun the western style of dressing and unlike other Ugandans, they instead dress traditionally in a blanket-like shawl, elaborated beadwork, and sandals made from old car tires. They live in communal life and their homes are called “Manyattas” and are very unique. The culture in the region displays the real ancient Africa and it is the best-preserved in the whole of Uganda.

The exquisite Wildlife.

Kidepo Valley National Park has 77 mammals and 28 of these are only found here in Uganda. Travelers with a passion for rare and uncommon wildlife flock here for a glance at these exclusive animals. Animals like the Thomson gazelle, cheetah, striped hyena, Aardwolf, Golden jackal, caracal, among others are not seen in any other park in Uganda. The park is also rich in numbers and hosts the biggest population of Buffaloes on the continent. It has 4 of Africa’s big 5 what only misses here are the rhinos these among others like giraffes, zebras, elands, Jacksons Hartebeests make it a perfect place for game watching. Kidepo is also one of the few places that harbor the diminutive species of the Dwarf crocodile whilst other parks like Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo, and Queen Elizabeth host the Nile crocodile.

The birdlife 

Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the important birding areas in Uganda and its checklist has 480 bird species. This is the second biggest checklist after Queen Elizabeth National Park’s 600 species. The park hosts 28 of the Somali-Masai and Sudan-Guinea biome species and has some of the rarest species in Uganda like the Karamoja Apalis, the Black-breasted Barbet, Rose Ringed Parakeet, and the largest number of raptors. It is the only park with ostriches. The Narus wetland is a permanent water source and hosts some of the water birds like the White-faced Whistling ducks, African Jacana among others. This makes the park a paradise for bird watchers.

The landscape and sunsets.

The network of tracks in the park goes through the plains that are ringed by hills and mountains, with a variety of rock formations in the park that offer prime views of the park. A fusion of these and the African golden evening sun forms the most beautiful sunsets in Uganda. They are also good for photography.

The Park also hosts the bubbling Kanangorok hot springs north of the park boiling at 50o C. These are just a short walking distance from the Uganda-South Sudan international border.

A trip to Kidepo Valley National park will grant chances of an exclusive blend of nature’s best wildlife and culture which I think is the best of Uganda.  

Rwanda Gorilla trekking