KIDEPO NATIONAL GAME PARK
Lying in the rugged, semi-arid valleys of Karamoja province on the far northern border with the Sudan, Kidepo Valley is Uganda's most remote national park. Few undertake the pilgrimage to the park but the spectacular beauty of this pristine wilderness impresses all that make it. Kidepo is ideal for Uganda safaris featuring wildlfe. For the visiting birder, Kidepo Valley National Park boasts a bird list of over 475 species, a total second only to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Amongst the host of dry, eastern " specials" not found in any other Ugandan national park are some of East Africa's rarest and most sought after birds such as Black-breasted Barbet and Karamoja Apallis..
HIGHLIGHTS ABOUT THE PARK
Birds Recorded: 475 species.
Timing March-April for all the specials and many transit migrants, although good year - round.
Time required: 4-7 days
Elevation: 914m on Kidepo valley floor to 2749m a top Mount Morungole
Size: 1442 km 2
Habitat: Semi-desert scrub, open thorn-scrub, open thorn-bush, long and short-grass open tree savannas, riparian woodland including Borassus and Kigelia woodland, thick, "miombo- like" woodland, montane forest and granite out-crops..
Status: National Park since 1954
Key Species of Birds
Eastern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, Kori, Ethiopian Swallow, Pied, Isabelline and Heuglin's Wheaters, White-bellied and Hartlaub's Bustards, Pygmy Falcon, Fox Kestrel, Stone Partridge, Clapperton's and Heuglin's Francolins, Violet-tipped Courser, Black-headed Plover, Four-banded Sand Grouse, Ostrich, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, White-faced Scoops Owl, Slate-coloured Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, Long-tailed and Standard-winged Nightjars, Little Green Bee-eater, Abyssinian and Rufous-crowned Rollers, Abyssinian Ground, Eastern Yellow and Jackson's Hornbills, Red-fronted and Black-breasted Barbets, Karamoja Apalis, White-bellied Tit ,Brown-backed Woodpecker, Singing Bush lark, Red-winged Lark, African Grey Flycatcher, Foxy and Red pate Cisticolas, , Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, Northern White-crowned and Yellow-billed Shrikes, Superb Starling, Red billed Oxpecker, Eastern Violet backed, Pygmy and Beautiful Sunbirds, Rufous and Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, White-headed and White-billed Buffalo Weavers, White-browed and Chestnut- crowned Sparrow Weavers, Grey-capped Social and Speckle-fronted Weavers, Green-winged, Orange-winged and Red-winged Pytilias, Black-bellied and Black-faded Waxbill, Steel-blue and Strawtailed Whydahs, Brown-rumped Bunting.
DIVERSITY OF WILDLIFE IN KIDEPO NATIONAL GAME PARK
Kidepo has regestered over 80 species including 28 that are peculiar to only and only kidepo in Uganda. Amongst these are such charismatic African animals as Bat-eared Fox, Carcal, Cheetah and Klipspringer. Unfortunately, Kidepo suffered the same fate as many other Ugandan parks during the Amin era and is still recovering from years of poaching that left game herds depleted. Striped Hyena, Lesser Kudu, Grant's Gazelle and Beisa Oryx have not been seen at all in recent times and are presumed to be locally extinct. Other large mammals have shown a remarkable recovery and there are now healthy population of Elephant, Common Zebra, Buffalo, and Kongoni. Predators are plentiful and Spotted Hyena, Leopard and Lion are frequently seen. Oribis is abundant in the Narus Valley, whilst the dry thorn thickets in the north are home to Guenther's Dik Dik. Senegal Galago and Sidestriped Jackal may be found in the rest camp at night and White-tailed Mongoose is common but more likely to be found on a night drive. The park also has a very rich and diverse reptile fauna.
The Apoka Rest Camp and Park Headquarters overlooking the shallow, southern Narus Valley is a great spot to begin your Kidepo birding. The attractive Silverbird and small bands of Yellow-billed Shrike frequent the thorn trees around camp, as does a number of other widespread species such as Vinaceous Dove, Hoopoe, Mosque Swallow, Nubian Woodpecker, 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 Amok lodge.
Kidepo Valley National Park is accessible either by road or by air. The most commonly driven route from Kampala is via Mbale, Soroti and Moroto, an 840-km journey taking a minimum of 12 hours and a sturdy 4WD to complete.
The privately owned Apoka Rest Uganda safaris Camp overlooks the Narus Valley and has comfortable rooms for $ 75 per person per night with full board.
National Park Bandas at Apoka cost $ 22 per person per night, with bedding, mosquito netting, hot showers, fresh drinking water and firewood provided. It is recommended that you bring all your own food although it can be cooked for you if necessary. Drinks are available from the camp shop.
The Kakine Campsite lies a short distance from Apoka and costs $ 5 per person per night. It has a long drop toilet and fresh drinking water and firewood will be brought to you.
It is recommended that a ranger-guide accompany you at all times whilst at Kidepo Valley National park and this can be arranged on arrival at Apoka. Patrick is an excellent ranger who knows many of the birds. Park officials also suggest that all vehicles travelling north into the Kidepo Valley be escorted by multiple armed guards due to the periodic presence of poachers and cattle rustlers in the area.