Uganda isn’t really thought of as a classic safari destination in the way South Africa and Tanzania are, but this well conserved savannah park proves the doubters wrong. Situated in distant Northern Eastern Uganda, it’s game drives and bush walks offer extraordinary diversity in its landscapes and wildlife. It boasts of 475 recorded bird species and 77 mammal species. On the part of predators, these include lions, leopards, cheetahs, bat eared fox, side striped jackals and black backed jackals. Otherwise, herbivores include giraffes, zebras, toppi, Uganda kobs, elands, klipspringers.
It’s said to contain East Africa’s largest concentration of cape buffalos, and you can watch thousands of them at every turn regardless of where you are in the park.
Not only is Kidepo still as pristine as it was over 90 years back, it is blessed with open terrain that makes game viewing easy. Its hallmark feature are two enormous savannah valleys with immense granite boulders. These are Naurus Valley and Kidepo valley, both of which feature pockets of waterholes where both carnivores and herbivores congregate in intervals to drink water.
Slammed into the border with Kenya and South Sudan, kidepo is the most remote park in Uganda. Most nature lovers fly here considering that it is over 500 kilometers from Uganda’s capital, Kampala. However, you can also access it through a well maintained road network that is lined with endearing eco-tourism attractions where you can make stopovers. This will enable you to appreciate its remoteness even more.
The northern part of the park hosts wild ostriches and very localized Jackson’s hornbill. Driving through here, you are likely to see Patas monkeys sitting on high termite mounds. Other specialities here include white-eared kob which is shy and elusive in nature.
If the mission for your visit to Africa is birdwatching, Kidepo deserves a special place on your bucket list. The parks 475 recorded species include 56 raptors. Other specials include Karamoja apalis, Abyssinian roller, Chestnut weaver, Golden pipit, Pygmy falcon, Rufous chatterer, Abyssinian scimitarbill, D’Arnaud’s barbet, Black-breasted barbet, Fox kestrel, Greater kestrel, Jackson’s hornbill, Northern carmine bee-eater, Purple grenadier and White-bellied go-away bird among others.
Night Game drives
Sadly, most visitors come to Kidepo simply come to have day game drives and then leave without sampling the night game drive. You shouldn’t. It is a great addition to your safari experience considering that it doubles your chances of encountering cats in the middle of a hunt. Having been here countless times, our guides know the parks routine and where to find the various species of wildlife at different times of the year.
Best time to visit
In the dry season from September to March, seeing wildlife is as easy as driving to the right spot and you will have them them right beside your car window. On the other hand, the wet season from April to August is big on birdwatching.
During the night game drive, it’s not unusual to see leopards preying on the grazing females or males that love staying in isolation.