Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Uganda's Kidepo N.P. home to lions, leopards

East Africa: Kidepo National Park Speaks to the Soul
Geoffrey Bakulu
7 March 2009

Tucked into the corner of Uganda's border with Sudan and Kenya, Kidepo Valley National Park is truly one of Uganda's spectacular parks.

It is an area of classic beauty with vast and myriad herds of wildlife roaming freely through untamed nature. Dare go there: it will really astound you! The park can be reached from Kampala either by air or road.

Although the journey can be tough, taking up to two days, the diverse landscape enroute makes the journey worthwhile.

There are three routes that can be used by road and these include the route via Karuma, Lira and Kotido which is approximately 705 kilometres; the route via Mbale, Sironko and Kotido that is around 740km; while the 792km route takes you via Mbale, Soroti and Moroto on to Kidepo. A 4x4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended for any of the routes to Kidepo.

In as much as the drive to Kidepo is exciting, most visitors arrive at the park's headquarters at Apoka by charter flight.Gazetted in 1962, this 1442 square kilometre park though less frequented does offer a kaleidoscope of memorable images. There is something wild and starkly beautiful the traveler goes to feel in Kidepo.

That something extends beyond the open tree savannah, Acacia Geradi forest, scenic landscapes, vast herds and Karimojong manyattas (huts): it's something that speaks to the soul.

The best time to visit Kidepo is during the dry season that runs from December to late March. In the rainy season from April to September travel is often not easy and game is not easy to locate as a result of the overgrown grass. Whatever your idea of a real Africa, Kidepo will match it as the park offers a tantalizing glimpse of Uganda's unique wildlife.

The feel of Kidepo stems from the wide variety of things to do and see. For those interested in wild game, Kidepo Valley National Park provides a wealth of wildlife including 86 species of mammals of which 28 are not found in any other Ugandan park. Some of the wild game includes the dik-dik, cheetah, lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, zebra, eland, Bright's gazelle and greater kudu.

Game drive loops through Narus Valley and around Kanangarok hot springs across Kidepo River will most likely enable you get the opportunity of seeing the eland, zebra and giraffe feeding together.

For the ornithologist, over 462 bird species have been recorded among which are the ostrich, kori bustard and the giant ground hornbill.

The trip can also be spiced up by attending either the ekaharo or emuya dance of the Napore and Nyangea ethnic groups. These traditional dances are some of those few experiences that you will surely live to remember.

If you simply want to relax and enjoy your holiday, the luxurious Apoka Lodge provides the perfect setting.

With the ever increasing visitor numbers to Kidepo, there is need for more accommodation facilities to supplement Apoka Lodge.

Opportunities abound for construction of new hotels in Katurum and other areas of the park.

All that can be said of Kidepo is that not only does its terrain alternate between seducing inselbergs and small hills but also from rocky outcrops to open tree savannah.



Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

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