Exploring Kidepo National Park – Uganda’s last frontier

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High in the rocky cliffs looking over the Narum Valley of Kidepo Valley National Park sits the shell of a half-constructed and abandoned hotel. Taking a walk around the hotel, one gets an idea that the hotel must have been the brain-child of a man with serious ambition.

Imagine spending a whole day traveling by road to the most north eastern remote corner of Uganda. What is it about the Kidepo experience that keeps the average tourist away?

Tucked away in the northeast corner of the country, along the Kenyan and Sudanese borders, Kidepo boasts the highest game-density of all Uganda’s parks. When it comes to awe-inspiring beauty, the landscape of the Kidepo Valley National Park rivals Kenya’s famed Masai Mara National Park.

Although, in terms of acreage, Kidepo Valley is smaller than the national parks of Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth , the landscape makes it feel much larger. The entire park stretches over a lush valley; standing almost anywhere in the park offers the same expansive vista: yellow grass dotted with green acacias, surrounded on all sides by craggy mountains. Herds of ear-flapping elephants seem to be everywhere and every visitor I met while at Kidepo had seen a lion.

How to Get There

As in much of Northern Uganda, the low numbers of tourists may have less to do with the quality of the park and much more with the long-standing underdevelopment of the region. As of right now, tourists have two options when it comes to visiting Kidepo: they can fly or drive. At the price of 550 USD per person to fly to Kidepo, driving is the much more affordable option.

Where to Stay

Tourists have more options about where to stay while in Kidepo Valley National Park:

the Apoka Lodge, a luxury hotel that can cost up to 400 USD per night

For budget travelers, you can stay in the charming but rustic bandas run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, which can cost between eight and 15 dollars.

Many conservationists and wildlife lovers tell me that they find Kidepo to be the most beautiful of Uganda’s national parks. With the end of regional violence and cattle rustling on the wane, Kidepo Valley seems to be benefiting from renewed drives to attract investment in tourism.

But because tourism relies on some level of regional development even before it can provide the income to perpetuate that development, the question of tourism actually reflects the questions of the region.

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