Located in the far northeast of Uganda Kidepo Valley National park, isolated from the rest of the country by the sparsely populated, arid badlands of Karamoja region. Kidepo is rarely visited by tourists, largely due to the expense and difficulty of getting there. It is nevertheless one of the most alluring destinations in the country, boasting a strong wilderness atmosphere, rugged mountain scenery, and exceptional game viewing and bird watching.
The park covers an area of 1,442km2, and it has an altitude range of between 914m and 2,750m above sea level. The highest point in the park is mount Morungole (2,750m) on the southeastern border. The slightly higher mount Lukote(2,797m), which lies just within the Sudanese border, his visible from several points in the park. The mountainous terrain is broken by the Narus Valley in the southwest and the Kidepo valley in the northeast. The dominant habitat is open or lightly wooded savannah, interspersed with patches of Montana forest, riparian woodland, thick miombo woodland, borassus palms, and rocky koppies.
Kidepo Valley National park protects one of the most exciting faunas of any Ugandan national park. The total of 86 mammal species recorded is only the third highest in Uganda, but Kidepo protects a far greater variety of large mammals than any other national park, including 28 species found nowhere else in the country. The bird checklist of 463 confirmed and 26 unconfirmed species is second only to Queen Elizabeth National park, and more than 60 of the birds listed have been recorded in no other smaller creatures is far less than in the forested national parks of western Uganda.
Five primate species have been recorded in Kidepo, including the localized patas monkey. Predators are particularly well represented, with 22 species resident. Of these, the black-backed jackal, African hunting dog, bat-eared fox, striped hyena, aardwolf, cheetah and caracal are found in no other Ugandan national park. Other predators recorded in Kidepo are the side-striped jackal, spotted hyena, leopard, lion and a variety of mustelids, genets, mongooses and small cats. A remarkable 17 antelope species occur in Kidepo Valley National park . Seven of these species are found nowhere else in Uganda: namely Grant’s gazelle, greater kudu, lesser kudu, roan antelope, Beira oryx, Guenther’s, dik-dik and mountain reedbuck. Other antelope species found in Kidepo Valley National park are Jackson’s hartebeest, topi, eland, bushbuck, common duiker, klipspringer, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, Uganda kob and Bohor reedbuck. Kidepo also supports populations of elephant, Burchell’s zebra, warthog bushpig and buffalo. The black rhinoceros recently became extinct in Kidepo, and giraffes are threatened with extinction.
Kidepo Valley National park bird checklist is made even other impressive by the fact that as many as 100 of the birds listed are either dry-country species which within Uganda are practically confined to Kidepo, or else northern or eastern species which have been noted elsewhere only in the north of Murchison falls national park or in the mount Elgon area. Raptors are particularly well represented: 56 species in total, of which the most commonly observed are the dark chanting goshwak, pygmy falcon, tawny eagle, bataleur, secretary bird, and several types of vulture. Other birds which must be regarded as Kidepo specials, at least within Uganda, include the ostrich; kori bustard; fox and white-eyed kestrels; white-bellied go-away bird; carmine, little green and red-throated bee-eaters; Abyssinian roller; Abyssinian scrimitarbill; d’Arnauds, red-and-yellow and black-breasted barbets; red-billed, yellow-billed and Jackson’s hornbills; Karamoja apalis; rufous chatterer, northern brownbul; golden pipit; chestnut weaver; red-billed and white-headed buffalo weavers; and purple grenadier – to name only a few of the more colorful and/or visible species.