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09 April 2021

Wildlife found in Kidepo Valley National Park

YZ expert Linda details the wildlife she encountered during her safari to Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park, from Big Five members to the land-dwelling patas monkey.

Arriving into the Kidepo Valley National Park in the far, far north of Uganda is a little like discovering a secret garden, somewhere known only by a select few who speak about it in hushed tones so that it does not become popular and ruin their secluded escape from the world.

Kidepo Valley was gazetted as a national park in 1962 and still only has one luxury camp, Apoka Safari Lodge with only 10 cottages. With only a couple park rest camps in the area, seeing other vehicles in the park is very few and far between. After spending time in the busier safari parks of East Africa, this is a wonderful exclusive experience. The wide, golden, grass plains form the valley between the distant mountains in Kenya on one side and the Imatong Mountains in South Sudan.

This beautiful lush valley with its grassy plains, rocky outcrops and swampy depressions, sits just below the South Sudan border, so it is for the more adventurous traveller but being in this peaceful place you would never know without looking at a map how close you are to its turbulent neighbour.

If you want to discuss a safari to Kidepo Valley or another Uganda wildlife safari, you can give us a call or send our experts a message here.

Kidepo Valley National Park Wildlife

Spotting patas monkeys in Kidepo

 

My arrival into the reserve headquarters was greeted by a troupe of patas monkeys, rare in East Africa and not a monkey I had previously encountered. While I waited for my guide to complete the formalities of entry into the park (I arrived by road from eastern Uganda), I watched them playing with each other and foraging for food on the nearby bushes, their little moustaches twitching as they eat the berries off a bush nearby.

 

Where do patas monkeys live?

  • These ground-dwelling monkeys are common in the northern reaches of Uganda and can be seen here in Kidepo Valley and Muchison Falls National Park.
  • Patas monkeys are only spotted through northern central and west Africa, so for someone, like me, who has spent most of their safari’s in southern and east Africa, this is a rare treat!
  • Patas monkeys are all around the Apoka Safari Lodge. It was delightful to watch them running around whilst having breakfast.
Patas monkey, Uganda wildlife guide
Kidepo Valley National Park Landscape, Uganda

Identifying huge herds of buffalo

Kidepo national park, arguably, has some of the biggest herds of buffalo in Africa with numbers in one herd reaching over a thousand! They tend to spend most of their time grazing and mud bathing on the green swamps in the central valley but there are a number of individuals, mostly older males known as ‘dagga boys’, who spend their time in and around the Kidepo savannah lodge. The manager at the lodge took time to introduce me to each individual by name (from the safety of the main deck and told me to look out for them when walking to my room..), identifying them each by distinguishing features like a bent horn or a clipped ear.

Other wildlife encounters in Kidepo lodge

Wildlife, Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda

Much of the wildlife is very relaxed around the camp, walking back to my room I encountered waterbuck, warthogs, hartebeest, and zebra.

For a photographer, just sitting on your private deck can be well worth a few hours, warthogs routinely seek the relative safety from predators that the camp surrounds offer and I had a very happy afternoon watching a warthog family chasing each other around right in front of my deck while a whole herd of zebra wandered past and around my suite.

Lions in Kidepo valley

The lions here somehow seem more rangy and a little more weather beaten than the often fat and glossy lions you often see in the likes of the Maasai Mara. They look like they have seriously had to work hard for their meals. I was lucky enough to encounter a young male and his mother who had just killed a zebra and were enjoying their meal on the side of the road while seeing off the approaches of the resident African golden jackals. The older female had a satellite collar around her neck, the lions in this unfenced reserve move freely across the borders with the nearby countries and sadly sometimes fall victim to poaching. The park authorities track a number of individuals now to find out where they go when they leave the relative safety of the valley.

Male lions, Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda
 

Activities to enjoy beyond game drives

The swimming pool at Apoka Safari Lodge is carved out of an enormous rock looking over the valley and in the heat of the day this is welcome refuge! Walking safaris are also possible from the lodge with your experienced guide. Particularly for a seasoned safari-goer, this wildlife reserve should be very high on your list! If you have ever experienced the busyness of a number of popular reserves and thought about spending time in a wildlife-rich, remote, lesser known reserve then you should look no further than Kidepo Valley. It also combines beautifully with gorilla trekking and Uganda wildlife in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where you have the option of staying at Apoka Safari Lodges sister camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge.

To find out more details about Kidepo Valley or to incorporate this national park into your Uganda safari, contact one of the East Africa specialists here at Yellow Zebra. Alternatively, take a look below for more inspiration: