Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda Wildlife safari tour in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda Wildlife safari tours in Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda wildlife safari game drives, cultural encounters, nature walks, when to visit, how to get there & where to sleep in Kidepo National Park. Strategically situated in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of the remote Karamoja region on the extreme border with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley is Uganda’s most splendid national park, for it ranks among Africa’s finest Wildernesses. The Park was Gazetted as a national park in 1962, it has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species.
Spanning on 1,442square kilometers of land, Kidepo is Uganda’s most isolated national park and its seclusion lends the park a certain air of peace and tranquility in which to enjoy its majestic scenery. Kidepo’s exorbitant vistas, largely unrestrained by woodland and forest, are the sequel of the open tree savannah habitat that covers the largest portion of the park. Hill top areas of the park have been occupied by dry mountain forest while some watercourses support Acacia forests. Many of the hilltops are capped by rock kopjes which provide habitats for klipspringer and give panoramic 360 degrees views.
The park has arguably the most diverse fauna of any park in Uganda.With over 77 species of mammal, several of which are restricted to the Kidepo and Karamoja region, the park also has circumscribed carnivores such as the bat-eared fox, cheetah, striped hyena as well as caracal and aardwolf. Other carnivores accommodated in the park area are lion, leopard side-striped jackal, spotted hyena, and black-backed. The rarely ungulates species include the lesser and greater kudu, chandlers Mountain reedbuck, klipspringer and Guenther’s dikdik among others. Other large ungulates include elephant, Rothschild’s giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, bush pig, warthog, Capped buffalo, eland, bushbuck, hartebeest and oribi, Defassa waterbuck, Bohor reedbuck, Jsckson’s hartebeest and oribi. Five pronounced primate species are recorded in the park including the endemic Kavirondo bush baby.
The park has unique record of 475 bird species, making it second only in Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park. A few species of note, at least in Ugandan standards include the Ostrich, Kori Bustard and Karamoja Apalis, secretary bird, carmine, little green and red-throated bee eater, Abyssinian scimitarbill, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills and the Karamoja apalis. Kidepo is also notable for its birds of prey. Of the 56 species recorded, 14, including Verreaux’s eagle, Egyptian vulture and pygmy falcon, are believed to be endemic to the Kidepo and Karamoja region.
The park has a semi-arid climate with one long rainy season which runs from February to June and short rains last from September to December, leaving just three dry months. The rains are rather erratic, though the wettest months are usually April and November. July and August are the hottest months. The average temperature is 27.5°C with daily variations from 21.5°C to 34°C. The valley of the Narus River in the south of the park receives some 89mm of rain per year while just 635mm of rain per year falls in the Kidepo valley to the north. Both rivers are seasonal, and dwindle and disappear in the dry season. During these months, the only water source in the park is situated in remnant pools and wetlands along the southern Narus valley near Apoka and as a result, wildlife is concentrated in this area. This concentration, amalgamated with the valley’s open, savanna habitat, makes it the park’s prime game viewing location. Indeed it is possible to sight a wide range of fauna simply by scanning the valley with binoculars from the comfort of the Apoka lodge.
The park is surrounded by Karamojong and Masai people who are pastoralists survive on nomadic life style entirely depending on Cattle. However, these are adapting slowly to changes to their traditional way of life. Interested tourist may be able to explore Karamajong manyattas (homesteads) to see traditional customs, spears, stools, head dresses and knives, bows as well as jewelry.
KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK AT A GLANCE........!
KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Welcome to the “True African Wilderness” experience
Park at a Glance
Name: Kidepo valley national park
Location: continent- Africa, region- east African region, country- Uganda, district-Kaboong, direction- northeastern from Kampala city
Geographical co-ordinates: 03o54’ N 33o51’ E.
Size: 1442sqkm Year of designation: 1962
Responsible Governing body: Uganda Wildlife Authority
Elevation of kidepo valley National Park: highest elevation is Mungole mountain at 2349m while lowest elevation is Narus valley at 999m above sea level.
Climate of Kidepo valley National Park: semi-arid climate with low rainfall amount of 20mm during dry season and high temperatures of 30-35o C and 650mm of rainfall during the wet season between April- May.
Attractions in Kidepo valley National Park 4 out the big 5 game i.e. lions, leopards, buffaloes and elephants with only the black rhino missing here other animals Zebras, Kiplisnger, Hippos, Gazelle, Greater and Lesser kudus, Rothchild’s giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, Oribis, Elands, now the Uganda kob is also present here though rarely sighted after a transfer of 100 Uganda kobs from Murchison falls national game park in 2017. There are also over 475 bird species including the Karamoja apalis, white turaco, Pygmy falcon, Clapperton’s and Heuglins francolins, Kidepo valley national park also prides itself as the only park in Uganda to be the home of the biggest bird on the planet the ostrich and also hosting the fastest animal on the planet the Cheetah. Communities of the Karamojong and Ik people are found on the fringes of this park.
Activities in Kidepo valley National Park: game drives, nature walks, birding, cultural encounters
Accommodation in Kidepo valley National Park: Apoka safari lodge, Nga’ moru wilderness camp, Kakine self-catering camp, Apoka bandas and camping grounds
Access to the park: can accessed by both road and air
Travel distance and time to Kidepo Valley National Park: About 600km or a 14-hour drive away from Kampala city Uganda’s capital
Best time to visit Kidepo valley National Park: September- march during the dry season when all murram leading to and within kidepo are easily navigable.
Location and historical background of Kidepo valley National Park
Kidepo valley national park is found in Uganda which is found in East African region on the African continent on the geographical co-ordinates of 03o54’ N 33o51’ E. Located in the north eastern corner of Uganda in Kaabong district, Kidepo valley national park lies about 600km or 14-hour drive away from Kampala city Uganda’s capital and its bordered by South Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east and Kotido district in the south and Kitgum district in the west. Kidepo valley national park, is one of the jewels that make Uganda truly the Pearl of Africa as per the words of Sir Winston Churchill in his book entitled “My African Journey” in 1906, due to its beauty and splendor and that’s why its commonly referred to as the “True African Wilderness”. This park covers about 1442sq kilometers of land that is mainly dominated by the Mungole mountain and it further sprawls down into the Narus and Kidepo valleys with its lowest elevation being 999m or 3,278ft found in the Narus valley and the highest elevation being 2340m or 7707ft above sea level. The Narus valley is very essential to the existence of this park because it has the permanent Narus river which provides a constant water source to the wild game in this park all year round and also nourishes the grass in this valley hence ensuring the continued survival of game in the harsh semi-arid conditions of Karamoja sub region.
Kidepo valley experiences a semi desert climate pattern with relatively long winter or dry seasons that are characterized by very little or no rain fall received during this period between September- March that experience relatively high temperatures of between 30-34oC and short summer or wet seasons characterized by 650m -1000m of rainfall received during this period of April-August with relatively low temperatures of 28-30oC.
Kidepo valley national park has a myriad of attractions ranging from wild game like 4 out the big 5 game i.e. lions, leopards, buffaloes and elephants with only the black rhino missing here other animals Zebras, Kiplisnger, Hippos, Gazelle, Greater and Lesser kudu, mountain Reedbucks, Rothchild’s giraffes, Jackson’s hartebeest, Oribis, Elands, now the Uganda kob is also present here though rarely sighted after a transfer of 100 Uganda kobs from Murchison falls national game park in 2017. There are also over 475 bird species including the Karamoja apalis, White bellied go-away bird, Great white turaco, Pygmy falcon, Clapperton’s and Heuglins francolins, Giant hornbill. Kidepo valley national park also prides itself as the only park in Uganda to be the home of the biggest bird on the planet the ostrich and also hosting the fastest animal on the planet the Cheetah. Kidepo valley has also won the international accolades such as CNN’s park with the best buffalo herds in Africa in 2015, 2016 listed among the top destinations of Africa in safari category, CNN 2nd best safari park in 2017 out of 8 safari parks in Africa.
Kidepo valley national park has its name stemming from the Mening or Kitebo tribe which occupied these lands as early as 1800. The meaning of the verb Kitebo is “HELP US”. The Mening people were predominately hunters-gatherer community and as a result carried out massive hunting escapades of wild game. This community got infected with sleeping sickness due to presence of tsetse flies in this region, they carried out massive bush burning in an attempt to control tsetse flies, this in turn forced the colonial government to relocate these people to areas such as Birra and Kulo-kudo in South Sudan in 1958 to have the Kidepo valley area gazetted into a national wild reserve, this resulted into many of these communities to die as a result of famine in areas where they were relocated. Kidepo valley national park is one of the earliest game reserves to have been designated a national park as early as 1962 by the post-colonial Ugandan government of Milton obote with Ian Ross a British national as its 1st warden who later handed over to Kidepo’s 1st Ugandan warden Paul Ssali in 1972.
Tourists Attractions in Kidepo Valley national park
Kidepo valley national park offers a variety of species of mammals and birds to see to anyone who dares to take the tedious journey to Kaabong and these include: 4 out the big 5 wild game of Africa ie Lions, Leopards, Buffaloes and Elephants with only the black rhino missing here other animals Zebras, kiplisnger, hippos, gazelle, greater and lesser kudu, mountain reedbucks, rothchild’s giraffes, jackson’s hartebeest, Oribis, Elands, now the Uganda kob is also present here though rarely sighted after a transfer of 100 Uganda kobs from Murchison falls national game park in 2017. There are also over 475 bird species including the Karamoja apalis, white bellied go-away bird, great white turaco, Pygmy falcon, Clapperton’s and Heuglins francolins, Giant hornbill.
Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
The park contains one of the most exciting faunas of any Ugandan national park. Along with the neighboring Karamoja region, it houses many species found nowhere else in Uganda, including the greater and lesser kudu, eland and cheetah. With over 77mammal species, Kidepo’s wildlife includes 28 that are found in any other Ugandan National park. Amongst these include the circumscribed carnivores such as the bat-eared fox, cheetah, striped hyena as well as caracal and aardwolf. Other carnivores accommodated in the park area are lion, leopard side-striped jackal, spotted hyena, and black-backed. The rarely ungulates species include the lesser and greater kudu, chandlers Mountain reedbuck, klipspringer and Guenther’s dikdik among others. Other large ungulates include elephant, Rothschild’s giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, bush pig, warthog, Capped buffalo, eland, bushbuck, hartebeest and oribi, Defassa waterbuck, Bohor reedbuck, Jsckson’s hartebeest and oribi. Five pronounced primate species are recorded in the park including the endemic Kavirondo bush baby.
The cape buffalo is also referred to as the African buffalo and they are a very common sight throughout this park. It is usually mistaken to be a close relative to domesticated cattle but its rather related to actually other bigger bovines. Buffaloes have a coarse black coat unlike their close relatives the forest buffaloes which have a reddish coat. As the male buffaloes grow older, the bases of their horns grows closer and it can even unite forming a feature called a “boss” which is very had to penetrate even with a gun bullet of less 16mm. you can differentiate a male buffalo from a female one by observing the structure of their horns, the male buffalo horns grow while curving outwards while the ones of the female grow while curving inside. The African buffalo is a big animal with a shoulder height of 1.0-1.7m or 3.3-5.6ft. it has a body length of 1.7-3.4m or 5.6-11.2ft and its tail has a length of 70-110cm or 28-43in. An adult male African buffalo can weigh as much as between 500-1000kg but the females usually weigh less than this. Cape buffaloes are usually found in the great plains of African savanna like Murchison falls park.
Buffaloes usually stay in large herds that consist anywhere from 5-100 individuals and this is primarily for protection purposes from their predators. Although buffaloes have a very poor eye sight, this is compensated by possessing an acute sense of smell coupled with a keen sense of hearing, in fact, the buffaloes can stop whatever they are doing and stand still for many minutes or sometimes even hours just to listen even to the tiniest of sounds that may be made by any predator that may be stalking them. when buffaloes are attacked they male buffaloes form defensive wall by being at the flanks of the herd while the females and calves are within the inner part of the herd. the male buffaloes can even sometimes turn and chase the attacking predators They have a gestation period of 11.5 months and a life span of over 25 years in their natural habitats.
African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world with a male elephant weighing in at 4,700-6,048kg or 10,362-13,334Ib and a shoulder height of 3.2-4.0m or 10.5-13.1ft while their female counterparts weigh in at 2,160-3,232kg or 4,762-7,125Ib and a shoulder height of 2.2-2.6m or 7.2-8.5ft. these land giants have 24 teeth in their mouths and usually lose their teeth 4-6 times in their life time which lies between 60-70 years. What sets these land giants apart from the rest of crowd is their elongated tusks which are in fact their second set of incisors. This means that the tusks are very strong as they are used to up root trees and also as weapons they use while fighting. The tusks weigh between 23-45 kg or 55-99Ib with a length of 1.5-2.4m or 5-8 ft. elephants usually live in groups called families which comprise of 10 or more closely related females with their calves and each of these families is led by an older female called a matriarch.
Elephants have the ability to distinguish and communicate with each other using low frequency infrasonic calls. With a body mass that is compared to nothing else on land, African elephants have to feed on an average of 450 kg or 992Ib of foliage to sustain their huge bodies and also drink to over 50 liters of water per day. In fact, these elephants have the ability to smell water to up to 20 km or 12miles away. Elephants have an exposed skin so in order to control over heating of their body, they flap their big ears so as to carry away the heat or bathe in water ponds. It is believed that when an elephant flaps its ears, it can lose about 10oF of heat hence always staying cool even in the hottest temperatures. They also employ their elongated trunk to carry water and pour it over their ears to try and cool themselves.
These land giants have very thin hairs around body parts such as eyes and noses and these are mainly for ensuring that germs and other bacteria don’t find it easy to enter the elephants body through these parts. The elephant trunk is a master piece of creation as it is equipped with 40000 muscles which is way more than an entire human body has at only 639 muscles. This makes the trunks a very strong and agile part of the elephant that can do many things. The elephant trunk is also used for breathing, snorkeling and also as an extended arm for holding, lifting or pushing anything they want to carry. A female elephant reaches sexual maturity at the age of 10-12 years and can reproduce after every 3-6 years throughout its lifetime.
All elephants have a very poor metabolism and that’s why they eat a lot of food but ¾ of it will come out of the elephants undigested as dung. Due to the poor metabolic system, elephant calves have been recorded doing something bizarre and that is eating dung that has been passed out by their mothers but this is all because elephant calves can’t process raw grass hence have they have to resort to eating pre-processed food that has been passed out as dung. They have a gestation period of up to 22 months being the longest in all land mammals. Just like humans and apes, elephants are also highly intelligent species with a brain that weighs about 5kg or 11Ib which about 4 times heavier than that of human making it the heaviest brain of any land mammal. With such a brain, these land giants are believed to exhibit character traits like grief, learning, sense of humor, compassion, self-awareness, a very strong and vivid memory, play and use of tools and possibly a language.
Kidepo valley national park has the Rothschild’s giraffe species which is commonly sighted. The giraffe can easily be identified from its long neck and legs and also from its horn like structures the ossicones. The name giraffe originated from the Arabic world who called this animal “zarafah” which means fast walker. The giraffe has dark patches of orange or chestnut or brown color and these are separated by light hairs which are usually white or cream.
The giraffes have a unique walking pattern where as they have the ability to move both the front and hind limbs of one side of the body at once and then counter balance it by moving their long neck in the opposite direction. The adult male giraffe has an average height of 4.3-5.7m or 14.1-18.7ft and weighs in at 1192kg or 2628ib while an adult female weighs in at 828kg or 1825ib hence showing sexual dimorphism amongst giraffes. The giraffe also has a long tongue that is measured at an average of 45cm or 18in and its has a purplish black color which is believed to protect it from sunburns. Giraffes also have the ability to sleep while standing and even when they lie down, they will put their long neck on their hip. The giraffe has a gestation period of 14-15 months and can live up to 25 years in their natural habitat.
Zebras are black and white striped pattern animals that belong to the equine tribe which they share with their close cousins the horses and donkeys. Each of these zebras has a unique pattern of stripes that is used to identify it alone just like finger prints do in humans. Originally, it was believed that zebras were white animals that had developed black stripes due to presence of white underbellies but this was disproved by further research on the animals as it was revealed that these animals were rather black originally and the white stripes came in later on.
Various theories have been forwarded to explain the occurrence of stripes in these animals and the most common theories state that the stripes are a defensive mechanism that zebras use to elude their predators like lions but this theory has been highly contested as it’s known that the lions eye sight is poor especially during day from long distances hence they highly rely on their hearing and smell senses during daytime zebra hunting missions. The other theory believes that zebras use these stripes to protect itself from horseflies and tsetse flies by creating a blurred vision. Zebras have a shoulder length of 1.2-1.3m or 47-51in and the body length of zebras ranges between 2-2.6m or 6.6-8.5ft. Their average weight is 350kg or 770Ib and they have sexual dimorphism as males are usually larger than females. Zebras have a gestation period of about 13 months with a 20-30year lifespan.
The Jackson hartebeest are very numerous in this park so you won’t finish you game drive without sighting one I guarantee you. The Jackson hartebeest can also be referred to as the African antelope. The Jackson hartebeest has an elongated forehead, short neck and oddly shaped horns which are 45-70cm or 18-28in in length and are slender in females, the Jackson hartebeest coat color ranges from sandy brown to chocolate brown. This animal has a shoulder height of 1.0m or 3.3ft and its body length is 200-250cm or 78-98in weighing between 100-200kg or 220-440Ib. This animal has This animal has a gestation period of 240 days and a life span of 11-20 years.
Leopards are some of the big cat family predators that roam the plains of kidepo valley national park and they are at the top of the food chain together. Leopards are usually taken to be the same with cheetahs but they are completely different as cheetahs have tear marks on their faces small round spots while leopards have no tear marks on their faces and have larger rosettes on their body. The skin color of leopards ranges from pale yellow to golden or yellowish brown with rosettes and this enables these super predators to camouflage perfectly within the surrounding and this enables these super predators so to stalk their prey without ever being noticed in the savanna plains.
Male leopards are muscular with short limbs and a broad head, the males have an average shoulder height of 60-70cm or 24-28in and weigh in at 37-90kg while the females have an average shoulder height of57-64cm or 22-25in and weigh in between26-60kg. the cheetah has a very long tail that’s white tipped with a length of 60-100cm or 24-39in and this enables the leopards make quick sharp turns at high speed while on a chase. Leopards can sometimes have black color and this is caused by melanism which is a recessive gene in these animals and when a leopard is having this phenomena, it turns from being called a leopard to a black panther. Leopards are usually solitary animals, they have a gestation period of 90-105 days and can live in their natural habitat for 12-17 years.
In kidepo valley national park, hippos are found wondering around narus valley areas. Hippos are large animals only behind the African elephant that can weigh anywhere between 1300-1500kg or 2870-3310ib for both sexes. The hippos are semi aquatic as they both live on land and in water. Hippos are herbivores animals can come on land in the evening to graze, they can be easily identified basing on barrel shaped body, short legs and long muzzles or mouths, their body is hairless with a purplish gray to blue black color which is also thick about 2in or 6cm.
Due to lack of body hairs, hippos secret an element that is reddish orange to brown to act as a protective layer both from the scotching sun and bacterial infection. This phenomenon is referred to as “blood sweating” hippos have a very powerful jaw which can open as wide as 180o and its filled with monstrous teeth with their incisors growing up to 40cm or 1ft4in and canines growing up to 50cm or 1ft8in. despite their short legs and big sizes hippos can burst to 30km/hr in short distances. Hippos are highly territorial while in water but not on land, they have a gestation period of 243days and can live up to 40-50 years.
Lions can be occasionally sighted in Kidepo valley National Park. Lions are part of the big cate family and are muscular, deep chested with rounded heads. Most of the African lion males can distinguished from their females by the presence of a mane around the necks and heads of male African lions which is clearly absent in females but there quite many cases in Africa where the males also don’t have a mane or have a very short and thin one. The male lions are usually bigger than the females but their sizes vary according to location. In east Africa, adult female lions have a body length of 160-184cm or 63-72in weighing in at 119.5kg or 263Ib on average while the adult males have a body length of184-208cm or 72-82in weighing in at 174.9kg or 386Ib on average. Lions are social animals who live in groups called prides.
A pride is always led by a dominant male and their highly territorial animals controlling vast expanses that are strategic with a lot of prey and water. Male dominant lions are responsible for protecting the pride and they will fight off other male invaders, in case the dominant male is defeated by the invading lions, the victor lions will kill off all the cubs that are off springs to the defeated dominant male as a way of ending its blood lineage. Lions are carnivores and are at the top of the food chain feeding on almost all browsers and grazers within their domain due to their ability to hunt as a pride and carry out well coordinated and planned attacks which enables them to take down prey that can even be between 2-4 times bigger than them such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes.
Lions usually hunt at night because of their well-developed sense of sight especially at night where their vision is almost 6 times better than that of humans due to the presence of white patches around their eyes which enable them to absorb even the smallest amount of light available during the cover of darkness. Hunting among lions is an affair carried out by female lions mostly and juvenile males and when a kill has been made by the lionesses in a pride, it’s always the dominant male lion who will eat first up to his fill then the rest of the pride will feed on what has remained after the he has finished eating. They have a gestation period of 97 days and a life span of about 10-14 years
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest animals with the ability to accelerate up to 100-120km/hr in short circuits of about 100m or 330ft and this is all possible because the cheetah has its body built for speed in the following ways: the cheetah has a slender body, small rounded head which makes it perfectly aero dynamic with low air resistance, and long thin legs to give it big and quick strides and long tail for stability during high speed chase. The cheetah is the smallest of all big cats and its usually confused with the leopards but here are some striking and distinctive features that separate the 2 cats from one another; the cheetah has small solid black spots on its body unlike the leopard which has large rosettes, the cheetah has black eye streaks or tear marks on its face but the leopard lacks these features on its face.
The leopard has a body length 112-150cm or 44-59in with an average shoulder height of 70-90cm or 22-28in and an average body weight of 21-72kg or 46-159Ib. This therefore makes a cheetah taller and heavier than a leopard in terms of body size. The cheetah has its coat colored in a yellowish or rufous greyish white with nearly 2000 solid black spots. The leopards can be distinctively identified using the pattern of their black spots which is unique to each cheetah just like finger prints are in humans. Cheetahs have a set of 8 teeth with mostly canines which makes them a perfect predator for crushing the wind pipes of their prey which usually consists of aniamls like gazelles, Uganda kobs, kiplisingers and impalas. The cheetahs have a gestation period of about 95days and a life span of 10-12 years in their natural habitat.
Apoka Tourism Centre
Overlooking the game-rich Narus Valley and home to an upmarket lodge and simple UWA-run cottages, Apoka is the park’s tourism hub. Ranger guides are stationed at Apoka to escort tourists on game drives and walks. For those without their own transport, park trucks can be hired. There is a craft shop with books and souvenirs; bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages can also be purchased here. Food is cooked on request and cooking gas and utensils can be hired by individuals who wish to cook for themselves.
Narus Valley is a rolling, grassland plain enclosed by distant mountains. The valley has permanent water, and for much of the year the park’s wildlife congregates here. Thus, the area is well provided with game tracks, with four loop circuits exploring the valley around Apoka. Many creatures such as lions, Jackson’s hartebeest, buffaloes, giraffes, oribis and reedbucks can be seen in the valley. Less commonly seen are cheetahs and leopards. The Narus dam and the water hole near the Tourism Centre are perfect observation points for game, especially during the dry season. At the southern end of the Katurum loop, Katurum kopje (the site of a derelict lodge) is an attractive destination with superb views north across the valley towards the Morungule mountain range.
Birdlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
The park boasts an abroad bird list of around 475 species, making it second only in Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park. A few species of note, at least in Ugandan standards include the Ostrich, Kori Bustard and Karamoja Apalis, secretary bird, carmine, little green and red-throated bee eater, Abyssinian scimitarbill, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills and the Karamoja apalis. Kidepo is also notable for its birds of prey. Of the 56 species recorded, 14, including Verreaux’s eagle, Egyptian vulture and pygmy falcon, are believed to be endemic to the Kidepo and Karamoja region.
White bellied go-away bird: It has a body length of 50cm with a long tail of 24-25cm. They have reversed sexual dimorphism with males weighing 170-225g while females weigh 225-250g. the adult bird is grey with a white belly and under tail coverts are also white. They have a stiff pointed long grey crown of about 60mm. this bird is quite vocal making mainly short nasal calls.
The black eagle: The black eagle has a body length of 65-80cm and weighing between 1-1.6kg with a wing span of 148-182cm. These birds are large almost similar to kites. They have broad paddle shaped wings, long tail, small head and bill with a large gape. These bird are usually silent but in breeding season they make repeated call which is sounds like a horse.
Karamoja apalis: This bird has a body length of 12cm and weighs between 8-11g this bird is grey just like many apalis bird species but it can be distinctively identified basing on its white wing panel and a relatively long bill. Male karamoja apalis are ash grey on their upper body parts. These birds make voice calls in pairs while perched on a tree usually acacia tree 2-3m up.
Pygmy falcon: The pygmy falcon has a body length of 18-21cm with an average body weight of 44-72g and a wing span of 34-40cm. Adult pygmy falcon white below and on their face grey above with white eye spots on the nape. These birds make a voice call of repeated fast series of 3-4 staccato yelps in a “kri!kikik”
Clappertons francolins: This bird species has a body length of 32-35cm with the male weighing 450-607g while 300-530g. size and streaked appearance just like p. ileucoscepus. This bird makes its voice calls in the morning and late afternoon.
Egyptian vulture: An adult Egyptian vulture has a body length of 47-65cm or 19-26in. The adult is white with black flight feathers. They have black bill. The facial skin is yellow and un feathered down to the throat. The young Egyptian vultures are blackish or chocolate brown with black and white patches.
Ostrich: The ostrich is the biggest bird on the planet and in Uganda its only found in Kidepo valley national park. Ostrich feathers are usually black with white primaries and a tail. Their heads have thin hairs which makes them seem bare when observed from a distance. The ostriches’ heads are small in relation to their enormous body size the legs of ostriches are long and strong capable of producing a stride of 3-5mand can reach a top speed of 70km/hr making them the fastest running birds on ground. These birds have a wing span of about 2m or 6ft7in and a wing chord of 90cm or 35in. Ostriches have a body weight of 63-145kg or 139-320ib. Mature male ostriches can have a body height of 2.1-2,8m or 6ft11in-9ft2in while the female ostriches average height ranges between 1.7-2.0m or 5ft7in-6ft7in. The chicks of ostriches have the ability to grow by 25cm or9.8in per month during their 1st year of growth. Ostriches have long legs and neck to give them that outstanding body height of 2.8m or 9ft. Ostriches live in herds of between 5-20 birds, the male ostriches compete for mating rites by building ground nesting, dancing and display of their feathers, the females will only allow to mate with the alpha male. The main female ostrich lays between 6-11 eggs will other females in the herd lay about 6 eggs and these are the biggest eggs in the world with an average diameter of about 15cm and an average weight of 1-1.5kg per egg. The female and males take turns to incubate the eggs which do hatch after about 40 days of incubation. ostriches have a life span of about 40-45 years
Mount Morungole straddles at 2,750m and is traversed by the Kidepo and Narus Rivers that nourish the park’s wildlife and this natural habitat as a whole. The Morungole Range marks the southern boundary of the park and rises from the plains a few kilometers northeast of Apoka. This region can be explored on foot with a ranger. The mountain slopes are home to the IK people, the smallest ethnic group in Uganda, with their own unique culture.
Namamukweny is a Napore word literally meaning a place with no birds or a lonely place with few people – though regarding the birds, quite the opposite is true! The valley is inhabited by a large number of bird species such as the Eastern Paradise Whydah, White-crested Turaco, Common Bulbul, Abyssinian Roller and Green Wood Hoopoe among others. It is located in the north-west of the park and can be accessed by car or on foot.
Kidepo Valley and Kanangorok Hot Springs
For most of the year, a lack of surface water means that little wildlife is found in Kidepo Valley, though it is still worth the drive to visit the dry Kidepo River to stroll along its 50m wide bed of white sand between banks covered with borassus palms. Kidepo means to pick from below and the valley was visited by people coming to gather fallen borassus fruit for fermenting to make palm beer.
Kanangorok meaning “the place of black stones” in the local language, are a small collection of natural hot springs located near the South Sudan border in Kidepo Valley, about 40km from Apoka Camp and 11km beyond the Kidepo River on the Sudan border. Locally called “Maji Moto” (which translates “Magic Water”) they are the only hot springs in Karamoja region. The natives hold an interesting myth about the formation of the springs and believe the hot springs produce magic water that can heal skin diseases such as scabies.
Taking tour to the hot springs leads you through the two main biomes of the park: savanna/acacia grassland of the Narus Valley turning into a semi-arid short grass area of the Kidepo Valley. The famous Kidepo Valley sand river is especially a huge highlight. There is a lots of possible wildlife sightings along the way including Zebras, Elephants, Giraffes, Cheetah, Lions, Ostrich and Kudus. While at the springs one can enjoy picnics and breakfast just next to the springs.
The Lomej Hills are a short drive from the headquarters. They are a good viewing point for birds and wildlife, including the mountain reedbuck.
The mountain is lying between Kitgum and the Sudan border, Lonyili Mountain is largely covered in montane forest and home to primates such as colobus monkeys.
Tourist’s Activities in Kidepo Valley national park
Games drives are mostly done along the Narus Valley as most of the game congregates here for it is the only area with water during the lengthy dry spell. The area is well optimized with trucks for ease of navigation and game viewing at close encounter. The Katurum kopje provides superb views north across the valley towards the Morungole Mountains. The Kidepo Valley is also great for game drives especially for the sand bed experience during the dry season.
Game drives along the Narus Valley are highly rewarding early in the mornings and late afternoon – 6am and 4pm. You are advised to use a ranger at all times; they will help you spot some of the park’s lions that may be sitting on the valley’s various rocks. Other wildlife includes elephants, leopard, bush duiker, jackal, bushbuck, bush pig, Kavirondo bush baby, buffalo and much more.
The park has developed various tracks within it to enable game drives occur. The Narus valley is a darling sight for game drives specially during dry seasons as most of these animals come in this valley to find drinking water since all the other drinking spots are seasonal and dry up when the dry season sets in. While on these drives look out for sight of animals likes the herds of Buffaloes, Zebras, Giraffes, Waterbucks, Jackson hartebeests. The park recommends early morning and night game drives for tourists who would like to maximize their chances of sighting predators like Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs as during these hours these predators busy stalking their unsuspecting preys.
You can hire a game drive vehicle which costs 30$ for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents per person and 30000ugx for East African residents per person during day time, for a night game drive this vehicle costs 40$ per person for both foreign residents and foreign nonresidents and 40000ugx for east African residents, this vehicle requires a minimum of 3 persons for it to be hired out. Private daytime drive costs 20$ for foreign nonresidents, 20$ foreign residents and 20000ugx for East African residents. while private night drives cost 100$ foreign nonresidents, 100$ foreign residents and 100000ugx for East African residents. Night game drives require you to go with a UWA ranger.
Kidepo national park is safe haven for birds in Uganda safaris. The Park Headquarters and famous Apoka Rest Camp overlooking the swallow, southern Narus Valley is a perfect spot to start your Kidepo birding experience. The attractive Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around camp, as do a number of other widespread species such as Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Nubian Woodpecker, Mosque Swallow, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Little Weaver and Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu. A small permanent water hole at the edge of camp attracts swallows and a variety of seedeaters including Yellow-rumped Seedeater and is visited at night by Four-banded Sandgrouse, Elephant, Buffalo and occasionally Lion. Clapperton’s Francolin, Black Coucal, African Moustached and Broad-tailed Warblers, Marsh Tchagra and Crimson-rumped Waxbill may be seen in the rank grass along the normally dry stream bed adjacent to camp or along the track to Apoka lodge
Hiking and Scenery viewing
Hiking can be made on Lamoj Mountains situated few kilometers from the Park Headquarters. Visitors can also go to view the fabulous Kidepo River Valley dominated by Borassus palm forest; it has a large flatbed that is dry for most of the year. From Kidepo Valley, you may also visit the Kanangorok Hot Springs, which are situated only 11 km from Kidepo river valley. The mountain and Savannah scenery of the park is fantastic. The Narus valley is situated in the South West of the park; the rough Napore-Nyagia mountain range forms its western frontier. Separating it from the Kidepo Valley in the northeast, are the Natira and Lokayot Hills. To the north in the Sudan are the Lotukei Mountains and the Morungole range marks the southern edge of the park.
The hike on Mountain Morungole is an exciting activity leading to the Ik people. The great Morungole expedition which involves a day’s hike through varying vegetation and rocky mountain terrain commanding spectacular views of Kidepo Valley National Park. The hike shall reward you with dances from the Ik people, their lifestyles, and unique settlements and also learn about their unique migration history.
The Lomej Mountains can be reached on foot in four hours, the hike starts at 7am. Shorter guided walks of around two hours can be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5km radius from Apoka Tourism Centre.
Nature walks are done during any time of the day. One of the good spots is around Apoka camp; it offers an opportunity to encounter game like Zebras, and Reedbuck. Another good and established spot is the eastern Kakine circuit, especially very early morning. Lots of wildlife are within 50-70meters range. The Rionomoe hill trail too is an established nature trail and offers views of the lower side of the Narus Valley.
Kidepo valley national park offers you nature treks that will not only leave you feeling fitter than before but will also engage all of your sensory senses as you get on a journey to discover the beauty of Kidepo plains. A hike to the Lomej mountains will lead on a trek through the spectacular Narus valley giving sweeping views of wild game as it comes to graze on the fresh pastures of the valley and also drink from its water ponds, the Borassus palm will be there to give you the much needed shade from the Karamoja heat, don’t miss out on sighting some of Karamoja finest bird species as they take to the skies to give you company.
The Lomej nature trek begins from Apoka park center at about 07:00hrs lasting for about 4 hours. This walk will take you to the Ik communities giving you a one on one opportunity to relive the amazing village life of these incredible people. There is also a nature trail that leads you to the Kidepo valley via the Namamkweny valley which you will be able to reach in an hour journey. You can also visit the hot springs of Kanangarok. Nature walks in Kidepo valley national park go for 30$ for foreign nonresidents, 15$ for foreign residents and 10000ugx for East African residents during day time and night time walks cost 40$foreign nonresidents, 20$foreign residents and 15000ugx East African residents.
Cultural and Community Walks
Among the Kidepo local community tours includes visiting the Karamajong who have such unique lifestyle and traditions. The Karamojong are traditionally cattle raiders and hunters and thrive on raiding cattle from their neighboring tribes. To the Karamajong, all cattle is theirs by right. However through community conservation and education, they are gradually changing most of their ruthless ways. Communities near the park stage cultural dances and performances. Dances like Emuya of the Naporre and Nyangia, Larakaraka and Apiti dances of the Acholi are common and worth seeing or participate in if you so wish. Cultural visits and community walk to the Karamajong manyattas (homesteads) can offer you chance to see kraals local communities’ livestock, traditional costume, stools, spears headdress, knives, bows, arrows and jewellery. On the outskirts of this park are the Karamojong and IK people who have a unique culture and way of life.
Historical background and current status: The Karamojong people are believed to have migrated from Abyssinia or Ethiopia in the 17th and 18th century AD. They are believed to have migrated south wards in large groups but broke into 2 smaller groups which settled in different areas of Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. One of the group moved and settled into Kenya and this comprised of the Kalenjin and the Kenyan Masaai, the other group where the Karamojong were, broke down further to form tribes like the Turkana of Kenya, the Karamojongs Iteso, Dodoth and Jie of Uganda, Jiye and Toposa of South Sudan. During the migration, a group of old people of the Jie tribe decided to stop and settle in the north eastern Uganda current day Kotido, Kaabong and Moroto districts because they were too tired to continue with the trek further south. This led to the younger generation of the Jie tribe to them using the phrase “ekaranjimojong” which means “the old men can walk no further” hence giving birth to the current day Karamojong tribe of Uganda.
Marriage and courtship among the Karamojong: There was nothing like courtship among the Karamojong culture, if a man wanted to marry a girl, he had to wrestle her until he defeated her completely, please don’t be mistaken into a believe that this was an easy or just a walk over fight for the man because the Karamojong girls are some of the toughest and finest warriors you will ever find on the African continent so the man had to make advance preparations for the fight and give it his utmost best shot for him to stand a chance of winning. If the man won the fight, then he was allowed to marry the girl because he had proved beyond reasonable doubt that he could take care and protect his to be wife. Bride price was negotiated and this usually measured in numbers of cattle that were to be exchanged for the bride.
Politics and social status among the Karamojong: The political set up of the Karamojong is based around age groups. Elders of the society provide leadership because it’s believed that they are divine with divine authority. Anyone who disobeys orders or counsel from the elders is punished by younger aged men who are loyal to the elders and sometimes he might even be killed. This leadership is demonstrated through leading rituals, leading public gatherings, settling disputes among community members. Instructions from the elders’ council are passed down and implemented by the subsequent age groups below the elders. The Karamojong are also organized by close family ties, social status is acquired depending on the number of cattle one possesses.
Social life of the Karamojong: The Karamojong stay in fairly small communities comprising of a number of home steads called the manyatas. Each manyata is a family compound that has been enclosed off by a barrier of reeds and thorny bushes. Inside the manyata, are many huts of various family members with that of the head of the family in the middle.
Economic activities of the Karamojong: The Karamojong are primarily cattle herders who live and die for cattle as it is the measure of an individual’s wealth. These people are seasoned cattle raiders and since time immemorial, they have been engaging in these raids raiding neighboring cattle keeping tribes like the Itesot, Nandi of Kenya, Jiye of south Sudan and the Kalenjin. From the 1950s to the early 2000s guns especially AK47s found their way into Karamojong hands from Sudan, Kenya and Somalia and this escalated these raids even further but since 2005 up until today the government of Uganda has undertaken a deliberate strategy to disarm these people to create calmness in the region
The IK people: The Ik people are sub group of people found in the north eastern part of Uganda. It’s a minority group of people which suffered from extreme famine after being relocated from their ancestral lands where Kidepo valley national park is found today. They are sand witched between the Turkanas of Kenya and the Karamojong of Uganda. The Iks are mainly agriculturalists and grow sorghum which is their main staple food. Researchers like Archie Tucker have tried to come up with the ethnology of the Iks but it has always proved to be difficult as these people speak a language that’s isn’t similar to any of the known current ethnic languages like the bantu or Sudanic languages but it can only be nearly related to the classical middle kingdom Egyptian language.
The Ik people are organized in groups basing on their ages. Children as early as at the age of 3 or 4 are expelled by their parents to go join groups of their age mates and look for their own food. There is a junior age group of children between age 4-8 years and a senior age group of children between ages 8-14 years. IK parents have no kind of regard for their kids and never look after or care for them, so every kid must find an age group to belong to so as to find food and learn how to survive the harsh reality. These groups are formed as a survival technique to protect themselves from the attacks of the older groups who want to steal their food. It isn’t known whether this disregard of children by the Ik parents is as a result of extreme starvation they suffered during their displacement from the Kidepo valley at the creation of the national park in 1962 or it has always been embedded in their cultural and social norm to do so.
How to get to Kidepo Valley National Park
The park can be reached by both road and air. Driving is rewarding, as much of Karamoja, like Kidepo itself, is a vast and unspoiled wilderness. However, road conditions are sometimes poor and a 4WD vehicle is essential.
There are four possible routes by road as listed below. Optimum driving times are given
Routes passing west of Lake Kyoga through Acholiland
- Kampala – Karuma – Gulu – Kitgum – Kidepo = 571km (10 hours)
- Kampala – Karuma – Lira – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 705km (12 hours)
Routes passing east of Lake Kyoga through Karamoja
- Kampala – Mbale – Sironko – Moroto – Kotido – Kaabong – Kidepo = 740km (12 hours)
- Kampala – Mbale – Soroti – Moroto – Kotido – Kabong – Kidepo = 792km (13 hours)
The most usual route passes through Gulu and Kitgum Ideally, travellers should plan to stay overnight in one of these towns or at Chobe, near Karuma in Murchison Falls National Park.
Visitors should note that the road mainly in use from Kotido to Kaabong passes via Kanawat not via Losilang as indicated on most maps.
Prospective visitors should contact us to obtain up-to-date advice about road conditions and identify the preferred route, particularly if considering an approach through Karamoja.
Charter flights to Kidepo may be arranged from Kampala (Kajjansi), Kampala Aeroclub, or Entebbe with Eagle Aviation. Flights take about two hours.
Accommodation places in Kidepo Valley National Park
There are few safari lodges or hotels where one can stay and have a decent meal while n his or her Uganda safari tour to Kidepo. The recommended lodges include,
Apoka Safari Lodge-Luxury
Apoka Safari Lode is luxury lodge positioned on splendid kopje overlooking the Narus River valley in the remote and Magnificent Kidepo Valley National Park. Apoka contains ten separate cottages, each self-contained and including indoor showers and outdoor bathtubs, as well as a veranda for relaxing and enjoying the view. The other feature found in the rooms include the Big hand-hewn beds with soft duvets with mosquito nets, hand-woven woolen carpets, extra-large plush towels, over-sized dressing gowns .The lodge’s cottages are suitable for visitors on honeymoon safaris to Uganda. The rooms have been built in the way that they offer comfort and memorable experience to the visitors on Uganda safaris.
The lodge had a swimming pool which has been carved out of the big rock and it’s the kind of pool that makes you want to jump in, splashing and yelling, feeling like a kid again.
At Apoka, everything is capacious and handmade by local craftsmen.
Apoka is the best lodge you can base to explore the unique wilderness of Kidepo national park. The lodge organizes activities such as Cultural tour to the Karamojong villages to learn about their traditional way of life, Enjoy a sundowner in the arms of a massive fig tree, Game drives to watch a breeding herd of elephant frolicking in the mud among others.
Nga’moru Wilderness Camp-Mid-Range
Nga’Moru Camp is situated on the border of the Kidepo Valley National Park, only 4kms from the Katarum Gate. Located on a hill, Nga’Moru camp offers spectacular views of the Narus Valley and the savannah plains stretching all the way to the Morungole Mountains. Elephant, Hyenas, Waterbuck, Zebra and Lion are frequent visitors to the Camp
The lodge has comfortable accommodation in the lodge’s Safari Tents and in Cabanas. The lodge’s has 2 “Cabanas” each with its own unique and private view of the Kidepo Valley National Park. The Cabanas can accommodate 1 to 4 single beds.
Nga ‘Moru Camp site contains 3 Safari Tents each with its own unique and private view of the Kidepo Valley National Park. Tents can accommodate 1 or 2 single beds.
Nga’Moru Wilderness Camp is the best lodge to stay while exploring the beautiful Narus Valley or the Kidepo Valley with its Hot Springs or local Karamajong Manyatta.
|Room Type||Rates in USD|
|Single -Both Cabanas &Tents||$160|
|Double –Both Cabanas &Tents||$120pp|
|Children-Both Cabanas &Tents||$60pp|
Apoka Rest Camp-Budget
Apoka Rest Camp is basic/budget facility that offers wonderful budget facilities and services to budget travellers on Uganda Safari tours to Kidepo National Park. The lodge has sixteen self-contained chalets and Fourteen Bandas each having 2 beds. The Bandas are actually not self-contained. For those interested in camping, you are encouraged to carry your own tent along with other camping gear.
Uganda travel health Advice, Uganda Travel Information
Uganda travel health Advice – Uganda Travel Information
Vaccinations and Immunizations
Vaccine recommendations are based on the best available risk information. Please note that the level of risk for vaccine-preventable diseases can change at any time. The following information was obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Uganda.
Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications
The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.
Routine- Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)- Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.
Hepatitis B-Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).
Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug.
Meningococcal (meningitis)- Recommended if you plan to visit countries that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June.
Typhoid- Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in East Africa, especially if staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where exposure might occur through food or water.
Polio- Recommended for adult travelers who have received a primary series with either inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) or oral polio vaccine (OPV). They should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.
Rabies – Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites
Yellow Fever- Recommended for all travelers from 9 months of age. Uganda requires travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10-year intervals if there is ongoing risk. Find an authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccination clinic.
How to stay healthy while on Uganda Safari, Uganda Travel Information
Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
In developing countries like Uganda, drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites: Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors. Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide). If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
What you are supposed to do while on your Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.
Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
Do not drink beverages with ice
Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
Getting There and Around Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Getting There and Around Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
There are both international and regional flights to Uganda being offered by various airbuses including British Airways, Kenya Airways, Brussels and so much more. You can as well charter a flight but this can be damn expensive. Uganda has all means of transport although the most accessible is by bus; it’s cost effective and safe when it comes to traveling. Bus companies for instance Regional Coach, Link and Scandinavian Express and Akamba have strict departure time if travelers can’t adhere to this, they are often left behind.
The Min buses usually go for shorter journeys. Transport in Uganda has been improved with well-maintained roads, speed governors as well as seat belts to ensure the safety of all passengers. The buses assemble in the new taxis park and some may be got along the public roads. The bus fares are fixed but cheaper to all the passengers. In the villages, there are motorcycles, bicycles, taxis for hire that can take you to your destination and remember to get small denominations of money to ease on transport. Ugandans are friendly people and are so willing to give directions when required. A visa to Uganda guide has also been put here.
Flights in Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
There are 12 airports in Uganda and the 4 biggest are
Entebbe Airport (Entebbe, Uganda)
Right now, 31 airlines operate out of Entebbe Airport.
Entebbe Airport offers nonstop flights to 22 cities.
Every week, at least 49 domestic flights and 490 international flights depart from Entebbe Airport.
Arua Airport (Arua, Uganda)
Arua Airport offers nonstop flights to 2 cities.
Every week, at least 28 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Arua Airport.
Gulu Airport (Gulu, Uganda)
Gulu Airport offers nonstop flights to 2 cities.
Every week, at least 14 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Gulu Airport.
Kasese Airport (Kasese, Uganda)
Every week, at least 14 domestic flights and 0 international flights depart from Kasese Airport.
English is the national language. There are other local languages like luganda, runyankore, lusoga, luo, runyakitara, lugisu, lugbara and many more spoken by different tribes in Uganda. For those who can only communicate using languages like Chinese, Germany, French, Arabic and others, we can organize special interpreters for them while taking their tours in Uganda.
Uganda’s climate is humid; it combines hotness and coldness in some parts. Uganda has dry spells from June-September and rains from November to mid-January and many rains from March-June but at times such seasons change unexpectedly.
Uganda travel clothing/dress
Carry along lightweight, washable clothes plus a coat, jacket or sweater for morning wildlife game drives or any cold as a result of any weather changes. Items like sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen etc. are also important. Trousers or long sleeved shirts save you from dangers of insect bites. Any other form of dressing by one’s preference is good as long as it isn’t offensive for public displeasure. Women travelers need to carry a wrap to cover legs in the village and towns. At Lodges and hotels with swimming pools, better to carry a swimsuit along with you.
Baggage on safaris
Baggage on safari is limited to one bag, plus one small piece of hand baggage per person (excluding a camera bag). In total this should not weight more than 20kg. Suitcases and other heavier items can be stored in town hotels whilst clients are on safari.
Uganda tour and travel photo shots
To make your tour unforgettable, its better you carry along with you a video and a digital camera with enough charged batteries for shooting anything that interests you throughout your trip. Keep cameras from dust, sunshine or rain. It is advisable to seek permission first before photographing anyone or anything.
Uganda travel security
Uganda is a very safe and sound country in African continent .The country presently has no rebel activity going on inside of Uganda. Even the north of Uganda is enjoying a state of peace and rebuilding since the LRA has signed a cease-fire in the summer of 2006.
Hence Uganda is a very safe country to visit, work and stay, but still precautionary measures have to be ensured while traveling. Below are some guides on how to be cautious so as to keep safe.
Money should be hidden:
The best way to carry your money is when you keep it at your front pocket where you can put your hand over it rather than a back pocket where it can easily be stolen. Do not flash money or count it in public, pull out what you need and pay, never carry large amounts with you. Keep money and any other valuables in your hotel safe.
Carrying Passports and Return Tickets:
It’s very risky carrying your passport on you, it’s best to make a copy of your travel documents and leave the originals at your hotel safe. If you are traveling on a safari, keep it all such things in a small backpack that you can easily carry with you. It is best to carry that small Backpack even if you go on a game drive while on safari. It is always best to be on the safe side of life instead of having later sorrow.
Keep your Jewelry at home or hotel safe:
Take inexpensive jewelry with you (you can buy some lovely items here in Uganda at a low price). Gold chains and jewelry can be torn off you. Avoid expensive watches and if you are wearing one, have one preferably with leather strap that can be tightened and safely worn.
Buy some local Ugandan crafted jewelry and support a local artisan and their families and you will safe-keep your expensive items at home and at the same time make a difference in Uganda through your purchase of local hand-crafted items.
Keep your Mobile Cell-Phone in your pocket and do not carry it in your hands. If you carry it in your hands, someone may take a cigarette burn your hand and you drop the phone when pain strikes and it is gone.
Do not put in on a table in a restaurant or bar since again someone might just come and grab it – Stay on the safe side. Mobile phones are stolen daily in Uganda – hold on to it tightly.
Walking at night:
Do not walk alone on your own in most neighborhoods to be on the safe side – what you would do at home, do here while visiting Uganda. You do not hear of many cases where Visitors to Uganda are robbed or harmed but it is best to be wise and smart.
Visits to Slums:
Slums in Kampala happen to be a place of misery and where you can find quite a few people who would not have the best intentions in mind when it comes to dealing with you. Most slum-dwellers are there not because of choice but because of circumstances in life.
Visiting a slum unless you are visiting a school, an NGO, a charitable work such as an orphanage is ill-advised. We do not offer slum tours as is the fashion in Kenya in order to make money and once company does here in Kampala. We believe in the dignity of all human beings and do not want to benefit off another person’s misery.
Gay Travelers Safety:
In February of 2014 President Museveni signed the stronger anti-gay bill into law. 97% of Ugandans concurred with his decision. Uganda had been in the news for five years regarding the anti-gay bill and it had an effect on Uganda’s image in the world even though it is one of 38 African Countries and over 80 worldwide with strong anti-gay laws.
What does it mean to a gay traveler wanting to come to Uganda? In Uganda there is no public affection between any gender. No promotion of homosexuality and simply discreet behavior that does not draw attention to a visitor to Uganda. The traditions of held values of Uganda and most African Nations are simply different.
The law is there – the choice is up to the gay visitor to Uganda whether to come or whether to stay away – the previous anti-gay law was hardly enforced since in Uganda personal relationships are kept private.
Statement from Stephen Asiimwe -Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board “no gay visitor to our country will be harassed or not welcome for the only reason that he or she may be gay. Cultural policies are important in Uganda. We ask visitors to respect them. They include touching in public for example or engaging in sex with children.”
Is it safe for single travelers?
It’s very safe for tourists to travel solo on safari in Uganda. It’s always best to travel with a reliable tour company like Africa Adventure Safaris Ltd to run your safari in Uganda.
Uganda Currency, Uganda Travel Information
Uganda Currency, Uganda Travel Information
Major foreign currencies – like the US$, Pound Sterling and Euros, South African Rand and currencies for the Uganda’s neighboring countries can be exchanged in the local forex bureaus and banks. Travelers’ cheques are accepted in Uganda and are exchangeable at banks and forex bureau in Kampala City and other major towns and hotels. Credit cards are getting common and are acknowledged in some shopping and banks. Majority of banks have ATM facilities. In some national parks or tourist centre, visitors can pay using foreign currencies if they didn’t get time to convert into local money. It is not suitable to exchange money on the streets from individuals as you may be given fake notes of Uganda shillings.
Bank and money transactions in Kampala Uganda;Where to get and how to make money transactions in Kampala.
Uganda Banks, Money exchange, Forex rates, in Uganda
The simplest way to acquire money on your initial arrival is using a Visa ATM card (MasterCard is more challenging; do not bother using anything else). The ATMs are scattered across Uganda, beginning at the airport, and nearly all of them offer the favorable Visa logo. It is a good idea to talk to your bankers back at home and inquire about any kind of deals they offer within Ugandan banks – for example, as I write this, in case you use your Bank of America ATM card in any of Uganda’s Barclays ATMs, you will not be charged that annoying ATM fee. Western Union is as well an alternative for quick cash from foreign countries, although the fees are somewhat large. On the other hand, if it is a better option for you, there are several Western Union places throughout Kampala.
Do I need my International Banking card While in Kampala Uganda?
The majority of properly-ATMed banks are Barclays plus Stanbic that appear to have ATMs almost anyplace you would require one. A properly-informed friend informed me that Barclays, regardless of its international name, is pretty short on service, and that its competitor Stanbic could be a better choice. Additional alternatives include Centenary bank whose ATMs and branches can be accessed in most of the rural parts of the country plus Standard Chartered, that has fewer branches as well as ATMs although fairly good service.
How do I make mobile money transactions with my cell phone in Kampala Uganda?
One new and expanding approach to handle money within Uganda is using cell phones commonly known as Mobile money. You can Sign up with any of the local carrier and then send and also receive money directly on your phone, obtainable almost any place across the country. But of course, you need to have some money deposited on it.
Shopping in Uganda
From jammed but fascinating markets filled with collectable handicrafts, to glitzy malls in our big city with the latest must have name brands, more so because our favorable exchange rate makes your retail therapy last longer too. Uganda’s shopping centers provide world-class shopping, plenty of entertainment, the latest movies and delicious food in conveniently situated and safe surroundings. Whether you are looking for something specific, have time on your hands to browse around or just love to shop, the boutiques, chain stores and specialist shops in the country’s malls have it all. The quality, cost and variety of goods on offer along with the safe, sophisticated environment provided by Uganda’s shopping centers should not take visiting international holidaymakers and business people by surprise.
Uganda’s malls are famous for their excellent shopping and entertainment facilities. When you leave the country after your holiday or business trip, you will lament the baggage restrictions of the international airlines and wish that you could take more of Uganda home with you! Vacationers can choose from dining and enjoying a drink at local or hotel bars and restaurants, seeing a movie at the cinema, attending a theatrical production at the cultural centre or gambling at one of the two casinos in town. Some bars host live music sessions at weekends. Uganda is known for their woodcarvings, handcrafted jewellery, textiles and attractive basketry – all make a memorable souvenir of your trip.
Nightlife in Kampala
From a night of fine dining to raucous all-night party in Kampala city Ugandans love to have a good time. Let your hair down and live it up in our clubs, pubs, late-night bars, theatres and live music venues. You won’t just find the best wildlife in our game parks…come on, the party’s starting! Experience a sundowner. Sip a cool drink and enjoy a glorious sunset at the end of a satisfying afternoon game drive. In the tourist towns of Kampala, there are a handful of restaurants, cinema and a clutch of places to grab a cold beer with fellow travelers and the friendly locals.
Casinos in Uganda
Bet on having a good time around Uganda. From our most famous Kampala casino for high-rollers to family entertainment venues– we’ve myriad casinos where you can take chance with Lady Luck. Ugandan casinos, including several large entertainment complexes, can be found countrywide. These entertainment destinations are typically designed around a specific theme and include a large range of activities for the whole family. Many are also geared towards business tourism, providing hotels and conferencing facilities as well.
Uganda’s casinos can be found on the fringes of most major centers. The emphasis is on being a one-stop leisure destination, with access to both indoor and outdoor entertainment. In Uganda, casinos are designed around a specific theme, offering a vision of life somewhat different from the run of the mill expectation of Africa. Nor are they typical casinos, most offering entertainment that goes beyond the usual slots and gaming tables. Among the most popular casinos in Uganda is the famed Kampala casino, in the city centre. Garden city is as famous for its golf course, game drives and outdoor activities as it is for gambling.
Uganda offers a wide variety of hotels lodge’s guesthouses, safari lodges available for travellers ranging from budget, midrange and high-end accommodation that are distributed in all parts of the country. For any destination you want to travel to, there accommodations that you can book at. Feel free to contact us for any of your travel accommodation plans and you will find all answers for Uganda accommodation.
Uganda Public Holidays
Below is the list of Uganda’s public holidays that are officially noticed by all citizens: Liberation day(26 Jan),Women’s Day (8 March),New Years’ Day (1 Jan),Independence Day (9 Oct),Labor Day(1 May),Heroes Day(9 June),Martyrs Day(3June),World Aids Day (1 Dec),Boxing Day (26 Dec),Christmas Day (25 Dec),Human Rights’ Day (10 Dec),Africa Day (25 May)
What are the interesting activities I can Do while in Uganda?
What are the interesting activities I can Do while in Uganda?
Tours and Adventures in Uganda
There are so many activities and adventures on a Uganda safari that it is difficult to stick to the details on your plan. Here are some of the top interesting tourist activities in Uganda that most tourists have come to love through the years.
Gorilla Trekking Safari, Uganda Travel Information
This ranks as the most important part of any Uganda safari itinerary. The once-in-a-lifetime experience takes you through the dense forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National park on the slopes of the Rwenzori ranges in search of the gentle giants. Groups of 8 people launch every day into the forest canopy behind the lead of a trained and armed ranger! It is surely exciting and a challenge that may take you up to eight intense hours of trekking. Without mountain gorilla trekking expeditions, Uganda safaris are not same!
Chimpanzee tracking and the Primates of Uganda
Uganda’s forests are home to an estimated 13 or more species of primates include the black & white colobus, red tailed monkeys, bush babies, olive baboons, gorillas and the habituated chimpanzees. Chimpanzee tracking is a fascination in Kibale Forest National park but there are also a few of these primates in Semliki National Park and Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria.
Wildlife safaris and National Parks in Uganda
There are 10 National parks and 12 game reserves in Uganda gifted with a wide range of flora and fauna. The most visited include Murchison Falls Park (which is the largest) and the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Take a game drive or a guided safari walk in the wilderness and encounter Uganda’s best kept mammals like the tree climbing Lions, zebras, Uganda kob, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Harte beest and many more. Unique safari experiences take you to Lake Mburo National park for a canoe ride for sights of Uganda’s birds and animals visiting the vast lake.
Lake Bunyonyi tours
Lake Bunyonyi is found in South Western Uganda in the district of Kabale. It is Africa’s second deepest lake dotted with a few islands that are historically important to the people in this area. The lake is named after the birds that nest on the lake’s shore and surrounding swamps such as kingfishers, malachite eagles, sun birds, bee eaters, the rare shoebill stork and a few of the Albertine endemic species. Take a canoe ride to the island, nature walks around the lake or go swimming – Yes…the lake is Bilharzia free and good for swimming!
Bird watching safaris
If you are a nature enthusiast, then Uganda must have a special place in your heart. Over 3,000 species of birds are recorded to have nests in papyrus swamps, forests, lakeshores and national parks all over the country. Some of the best birding destinations like Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi forest park, Kazinga channel in Queen Elizabeth Park and also in the different cities. Kampala city also has a few swamps with notable species like the stork and sun birds among others.
Hiking is not a popular sport In Uganda but you can be among the few tourists to reach some of the peaks of Uganda’s skyline. The ‘mountains of the moon’ popularly known as the Rwenzori mountain offer great hiking experiences often challenging but worth when you reach the glaciated peak. Mount Elgon, an extinct volcano in Eastern Uganda is also good for hiking and at the same time discovers some unique plant species that grow on the slopes of this fertile rock.
River Nile Adventures
It is the world’s longest river with its source on Lake Victoria in south central Uganda. The river has a number of rapids and water falls on its course to the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. Bujagali falls is particularly good for kayaking and water rafting with class I, II and IV rapids while Bungee jumping is also done near the falls. You can continue pursuing the river to the spectacular Murchison Falls on the Victoria Nile in the west and so on
Kampala City Tours, Uganda Travel Information
Kampala is the capital city of Uganda and the busiest town in the country. It is Uganda’s largest town and an important centre for business, industry, transport and administration. There are also many interesting things to note and tour about this friendly town such as the independence monument, Uganda Museum & art galleries, Makerere University, Kabaka’s palace, the National theatre, Uganda Martyr’s Shrine at Namugongo and the different religious centres around the capital.
Shopping in Kampala
Kampala being the capital city of Uganda, it has plenty of modern and western style shops with a feel of western typical malls with luxury goods and fast food outlets. You can visit numerous local and upscale shopping places like local markets for fresh foods, supermarkets, boutiques and departmental stores. In some parts of the city there are shopping complexes offering designer labels, computer equipment and other wide range of goods available let it be specialist or luxury. From colorful and bustling markets to newly developed shopping malls, Kampala now has it all. There are many upscale hotels that cater to the influx of tourists.
Kampala is famous for its intoxicating overcrowded markets, streets and arcades with upscale goods and services. Very chaotic but with pretty experience, Owino market normally acknowledged as Balikuddembe market is the most admired local market in Kampala. Sprawling around Nakivubo stadium, Owino is well stocked with everything from manufactured goods to traditional medicine. Eminent for its second hand clothes “Ebikadde” in Luganda, new clothes can be made as well by local tailors after making a selection for a piece of cloth material. Visitors are bound to spend much time here not because they are having much fun but once you are inside it’s really difficult to find your way out.
Apart from these local markets, Uganda is endowed with shopping centers with a feel of typical western styles and among the best places for shopping are 5 big shopping centers; if you want luxury goods especially the American and European brands. This is your best bet because you are likely to do your shopping in one place from one of the following malls; Lugogo shopping mall, Acacia mall, Garden city, and Freedom city. Shopping places indoors include; big supermarkets like Nakumatt, Capital shoppers, Uchumi, Game and Payless, departmental stores, fast food outlets, jewelry and book shops.
Looking out for the best rates for changing large amounts of foreign currency, Kampala is the best way to go. Try out bureaus in Kampala for the best rates this time especially the dollar house and half east all located conveniently next to each other at king Fahad plaza along Kampala road. There are many more bureaus and rates change from time to time but are usually printed in local papers and white boards at the entrance.
There are several sophisticated craft shops around the national theatre and Uganda crafts 2000 limited that sell locally made Arts and crafts. Original and smart local items like bark-cloth clothing, drums, wood carvings, sandals, basketry, beaded jewelry and Muzungu t- shirts plus other items from all over Africa are sold. Look out for many cheaper crafts at park headquarters and the nearby communities, Entebbe airport, Garden city and Lugogo mall. Pieces of valuable handcrafts are available at relatively low prices compared to imported crafts; therefore don’t hesitate to snap a chance. Your purchase of arts, crafts, souvenirs and gifts impact the lives of ordinary Ugandans.
Look out for the best places for English language publications, with the great selection of books like novels and as well as Uganda at very reasonable and affordable prices. The best place is Aristoc, where books are stocked up to satisfy the customers’ needs. Get a reading material before heading on to long road trip. You can also have second hand books with a good selection of novels at a bit cheaper price down town. Bargaining is acceptable and the way to the business. You can bargain for better prices especially on souvenirs and your bargaining power determines what you pay in the end.
Cultural tours and safaris
Uganda is home to many tribes and peoples who live in harmony. Almost every part of Uganda has a tribe that relates to it with a unique heritage and institution called a Kingdom. The most popular kingdom is Buganda in central Uganda with proper institutional structures headed by the Kabaka who is the king. Some of its significant tourist sites include Kasubi Royal tombs, the Kabaka’s palace and lake in Mengo, Sezibwa falls and a host of cultural/spiritual sites dotted around the country. Other kingdoms worth visiting include Toro Kingdom Palace in Fort Portal and Busoga in Jinja among others.
Lake Victoria tours
Lake Victoria is Uganda’s largest lake seen on landing at the Entebbe International Airport. Catch a ferry or hire a charter boat to the spectacular Ssese Islands for a treat of the best beaches in Uganda. Ngamba Island is also another island to visit on the lake, synonymous with the Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary. The best ways to relax on one of these islands is by taking nature walks, forest walks, go fishing or treat yourself to some of the best fish in Uganda’s waters. It is the perfect place to relax after hectic safaris in Uganda before you take your departure flights.
Spot fishing in Uganda
Go fishing in Nile River and in Lake Victoria to explore a world of untouched, mystical beauty. Take advantage of some of the other activities on offer such as gliding along the scenic waterways of the Nile and Victoria on a dug-out canoe. For game fisherman, the Nile River teems with Nile perch one of the biggest fish species in Uganda. Catch your biggest one yet and be amazed at the size that the fish grow to in these areas. Houseboats offer 360 degrees of lush greenery filled with the music of chirping birds and beautiful waterways and absolutely luxurious living conditions. Glide through the Nile and Lake Victoria fringes to find fish-rich water
Lake Mburo national park is one of fewest parks that offer horseback riding in safari Uganda, but for the adventurous this is an experience not to be missed. Uganda is a land of immense natural beauty with diverse terrain and landscapes of which Lake Mburo national park with a lush emerald paradise of swamps and Precambrian metamorphic rocks, rich savannah grasslands is undoubtedly living proof of. On horseback you can truly absorb the magnificence of park like unique spectrum of ecosystems that supports an unbelievable variety of bird, plant and wildlife waiting to be discovered. Venture further into the park and get much closer to the abounding wildlife. Encounter exciting moments along the game trails as your horseback safari ride brings you upon great herds of buffalo, zebra, elands and other antelopes. Be assured that this activity is a magical and humbling experience that will touch your soul and remain in your heart for an eternity.
Flights to Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Flights to Uganda, Uganda Travel Information
Flying to Uganda is simple and affordable. With many direct flights to Entebbe from Europe, Asia and Africa, Uganda can now be easily accessed from any part of the world. Below are the major international airlines that fly to Entebbe International Airport, Uganda:
KLM / Amsterdam – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
Brussels Airlines / Brussels – flights to and from Entebbe 3 times a week.
Emirates / Dubai – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
South African Airways / Johannesburg – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Kenya Airways / Nairobi – flights to and from Entebbe 5 times a week.
Ethiopian Airways / Addis Ababa – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Qatar Airways / Doha – flights to and from Entebbe daily.
Feel free to contact Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd for advice on flights to Uganda and which airline would be most suitable for you.
Domestic Flights, Uganda Travel Information
Prime Safaris and Tours Ltd would be delighted to book your scheduled domestic flights or private charters, providing excellent access to most of the national parks within Uganda. Daily domestic flights are available at affordable rates from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip, flying to Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Bwindi and Kidepo National Park among others.
Contact prime safaris and Tours Ltd for more information and prices on charter and scheduled flights to Uganda’s national parks or regional flights within East Africa.