Discover Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda

    Written by cazenove+loyd

    One of our Destination Experts travelled to Uganda with cazenove+loyd. Below, she describes her amazing experience there:

    When most people think of Uganda, they think of gorillas, chimps and tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls. Kidepo Valley is a little-known national park on the border of South Sudan and what a hidden gem it is. It is Uganda’s most remote park, far away from city life, and is constantly named as one of the most beautiful parks in Africa. As we flew through the mountains into the valley, I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of this area.

    Cara Uganda
     
    Access to the park is pretty restricted with only two scheduled flights a week. Otherwise, it is a private charter. There are two camps in the park, Apoka Safari Lodge and another campsite run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, so you have all 1,500sq km of untouched wilderness completely to yourself.    
     
    I was staying at Apoka Safari Lodge, which I instantly fell in love with. As we drove into the lodge, we were met by our welcoming party, four side-striped jackals and lots of bushbuck who didn’t even notice that we had arrived. From my suite’s private terrace, it was the same story: buffalo, zebras, warthogs and even more jackals.  

    Cara Uganda

    Cara Uganda
     
    The service and food was brilliant (they pitch themselves as the best in Uganda) and I was thrilled to hear that most of the staff were from the local village and had been there for more than 10 years. My guide was called Julius and he is certainly one of the best guides I have ever had. What a character he was!

    Cara Uganda
     
    Game is not as abundant as in the Mara or the Serengeti but herds of 300-odd Cape buffalo, tree climbing lions, and healthy numbers of antelopes were present. 

    Cara Uganda
     
    During my stay, we visited the local Karamojong Village. I learnt from Julius that, for years, this area was the Badlands of Uganda and the Karamojong tribe murdered each other with their AK47s for cattle. After a government disarmament programme that started in the early 2000s, the guns have disappeared and if I had not been told this before the visit I would have been none the wiser. It was the most authentic village visit I had done in Africa.    

    Cara Uganda

    Cara Uganda
     
    During game drives, you are haunted by a half-finished building that sits on a rocky escarpment inside the park. When I asked Julius what this was, he told me it was where Idi Amin started to build a private lodge. It doesn’t surprise me that Idi Amin chose to build his lodge in this stunning park and although this was never completed and is only occupied by leopards, the skeleton of the lodge remains as a reminder.

    Cara Uganda

    When I returned home, I was sharing my experience of Apoka with a client who had been the year before and he described the park as feeling like the Mara before it became popular and crowded. He is right. Few places in Africa remain so untouched and who knows how long Kidepo Valley will stay this way, especially now that Uganda is firmly back on the map.

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