Wereldreizigers.nl
A zebra in Kidepo National Park

East Africa on a scooter | Part 14 | Kitgum – Kidepo Valley National Park

Who dares to drive more than 3.000 kilometers on a scooter through East Africa? Visiting mountain gorillas? Scooter safaris (does this word exist?) in five National parks† To admire lions, buffaloes, hippos and elephants up close, among other things. My name is Eric and I like to travel around on a scooter. Read here part 14 of the unique report of an amazing scooter adventure Uganda, Rwanda en Kenya. In this part I travel almost 150 km from Kitgum to Kidepo Valley National Park on the border with South Sudan. This is a chronological report based on 25 beautiful photos.

A trip for your bucket list
Tour Uganda | Discover the pearl of Africa

Uganda has stolen our hearts more than once and as far as we are concerned it is a travel destination that belongs on the bucket list of every world traveler. Find out why Uganda is called the pearl of Africa.

A trip through Uganda will be one you will never forget. Spot the tree-climbing lions, meet thousands of elephants, come face to face with Mountain Gorillas in the jungle and get to know the beautiful culture.

View individual trips View group trips
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase via our link(s), at no additional cost to you. Win win!

From Kitgum to Gwere (30 km)

Just outside Kitgum I notice that another project is underway. This time it concerns maintenance on the road to Orom. Incidentally, I will drive the more than 140 km to the national park on a reasonably to well-maintained murram road (red clay sand).

Road works on the 90 km Kitgum - Orom route
Road works announcement on the 90 km long route Kitgum – Orom

By eleven o'clock I have covered 30 km. Time for a stop in Gwere. I buy a few oliebollen from a saleswoman along the road. I treat the children to a delicious tomtom (Swahili for lollipop).

Delicious oliebollen for sale in Gwere
Delicious oliebollen for sale in Gwere

Just outside Gwere I can already clearly see the contours of the Morungole Mountains in the distance. The mountain range is located in the south of Kidepo and reaches up to 2.750 meters.

The contours of the Morungole Mountains more than 140 km away in the southern part of Kidepo
The contours of the Morungole Mountains more than 140 km away in the southern part of Kidepo

There is no getting lost today, because the mountains are my compass. In the fertile landscape I regularly discover huts where the residents are busy with their garden. Equally beautiful are the miles of fields full of sunflowers.

Miles of fields of sunflowers near Namokoro
Miles of fields of sunflowers near Namokoro
Traditional hut with vegetable garden and residents
Traditional hut with vegetable garden and residents

Kidepo is very isolated. Tourists traveling to the national park almost all take this tiring route. The alternative is even more exhausting. That route leads through the land of the Karamojong. Many roads there are hardly maintained. Of course you can also charter a plane in Kampala. There is a landing strip in the park.

In Gwere, the distance to Kidepo is still 115 km
In Gwere, the distance to Kidepo is still 115 km

From Gwere to Namokoro (34 km)

I arrived in Namokoro around one o'clock. Kidepo is now 81 kilometers away.

orom5 | Kidepo Valley National Park | Wereldreizigers.nl
East Africa by scooter | Part 14 | Kitgum - Kidepo Valley National Park 36

It's time to stretch your legs again and meet the eyes of all those astonished villagers. In the center the young men who serve as boda boda drivers sit on a bench in the shade. A little one of a few years crosses the road with a bottle of water on her head.

Water Transportation in Namokoro
Water Transportation in Namokoro

Further in the village a number of children pose at the water pump. In the background the traditional Acholi huts are visible.

Children fetch water in Namokoro
Children fetch water in Namokoro

Around two o'clock it looks like the remaining 70 km to Kidepo Valley National Park can be covered in a straight line.

Straight road 70 km from Kidepo
Straight road 70 km from Kidepo

The road continues to be good. I reached Orom at half past two. There I have my tank filled with petrol. As is customary in these regions, the petrol is poured into the tank from a Coca Cola bottle. After four liters I can go again for more than 60 km.

Gasoline from Coke bottles in the tank in Orom
Gasoline from Coke bottles in the tank in Orom

I take a moment to admire the shops of the local middle class. That's how I meet the hairdresser in a KLM blue wooden loft. It's drawn on it while working on a customer with clippers. His hair salon also serves as a charging station for mobile phones. The electricity for this comes from three solar panels.

A sustainable hairdresser annex charging station for mobile phones in Orom
A sustainable hairdresser annex charging station for mobile phones in Orom

For meat I have to go to a corrugated iron hutch painted blue-red. "YES, CUSTOMER THIS IS JERUSALEM 3 CORNER BUTCHER OROM."

The butcher in Orom
The butcher in Orom

The sun continues to do its utmost. I'm lucky with that, because I really can't use rain on these roads. In no man's land I am once again applauded. This time by five guys. They're lucky, because today I'm treating everyone to a delicious tomtom.

A tomtom treat from a mzungu on a crazy scooter
A tomtom treat from a mzungu on a crazy scooter

It is almost half past four and time for the rush hour. Traffic on the so quiet road suddenly increases significantly. Two goat herders lead their flock home.

Traffic congestion on the way to Kidepo
Traffic congestion on the way to Kidepo

Barely five minutes later, a herd of goats blocks the entire way.

Traffic congestion on the way to Kidepo
Another traffic jam on the way to Kidepo

The tiredness starts to play tricks on me around five o'clock. My legs are made of wood and my fingers are shaking from the many times I have had to accelerate and brake. Fortunately, the gate to Kidepo is near. Another 22 kilometers I read on a signpost. A couple of women walk in front of me with buckets on their heads. They are apparently on their way home.

Women on their way home near Kidepo
Women on their way home near Kidepo

And then it's time. At ten to six I stand in front of the entrance gate to Kidepo Valley National Park. The park ranger writes out a permit and reports that it is forbidden to go on safari in the park on my scooter. I nod as a sign that I will abide by this prohibition.

The Apoka camp is located more than twenty kilometers in the park. It seems clear to me that I will drive there on a scooter. But according to the park ranger, that is not a safari. Only when I deviate from the main road can there be talk of a safari. 'We sometimes have boda boda drivers here who take a passenger to Apoka on their motorcycle. They are allowed to drive to Apoka, but they are not allowed to drive the passenger around the park for a safari. That's the big difference!'

I totally get it, but I don't understand it. It's Ugandan logic, which I like, by the way. Because how else do I get to the camp?

Kidepo Valley National Park Welcome Sign
Kidepo Valley National Park Welcome Sign

I have not yet passed the barrier before the first topper runs for my scooter. It's a hussar monkey. Yes, that monkey with sunglasses. He turns out to be in the company of a contractor named Alfred. We take a picture together. Alfred immediately invites me to visit him tomorrow. He is working on the completion of a luxury lodge, which is located on a mountain.

'The lodge was owned by the government of Idi Amin. Sometime in the 1970s they started building it. However, when Idi Amin was ousted in 1979, construction was halted. Now we are almost done with its completion. Come and have a look tomorrow, because the view of the Kidepo Valley is simply breathtaking.'

In good company in Kidepo Valley National Park
In good company in Kidepo Valley National Park

And why no safari? 22 km is the distance to the Apoka camp. In those 22 km I see herds of elephants and buffalo. The moped makes an appearance and many more animals from this distant animal forest! That bodes well for the next few days…

A herd of elephants on their way to Apoka in Kidepo Valley National Park
A herd of elephants on their way to Apoka in Kidepo Valley National Park
Impalas on a rock near the camp
Impalas on a rock near the camp
A bromine in Kidepo
A bromine in Kidepo Valley National Park

Reach the camp at half past seven. A number of children are playing a game of football on a football field. Manager Betty greets me most warmly. She frowns at the sight of my scooter. "Did someone at the entrance tell you not to go on safari?" she asks. 'Yes, of course. I am aware of that.'

The soccer field at the Apoka camp in Kidepo
The soccer field at the Apoka camp in Kidepo

Then it's high time for dinner and some cool stories around the campfire.

Tough stories by the campfire in Apoka restcamp
Tough stories by the campfire in Apoka restcamp

My experiences in Kidepo Valley National Park

The rest of the blog is about my own experiences in Kidepo Valley National Park. For a lot of general information and interesting facts about this fantastic park, I refer you to the blog that I will write about Kidepo soon. This following two visits to the park in 2017 and 2018.

Buffalo at a sausage tree in Kidepo Valley NP
Buffalo at a sausage tree in Kidepo Valley NP

So keep an eye on this website.

Click here for the Uganda Wildlife Authority's Kidepo Valley National Park website.

A national park in a conflict zone on the border with South Sudan

The isolated location of Kidepo Valley National Park in northern Uganda offers tourists a unique wildlife experience. Kidepo is home to an enormous diversity of flora and fauna. In addition to lions, elephants and giraffes, large herds of buffalo and elephants live in the park. The panoramas over the vast plain are simply breathtaking.

About half of the nature reserve is located across the border in South Sudan. There are also the mountains that can be seen in many photos. Unfortunately, the Kidepo Game Reserve in South Sudan is closed. The civil war in South Sudan has been raging in this area for some time.

During my stay in 2018, a truck with an open bed arrived every other day at the camp in Apoka. The body was filled to the brim with about 60 refugees from South Sudan. The camp offered the refugees shelter for the night. The next morning the journey was resumed towards refugee camps in the Kitgum area.

Lots of game in and around Apoke rest camp

Actually, you don't have to go on safari at all to see game in Kidepo. In the two days that I stayed there, a lot of game just came to report to the camp. I myself saw hussar monkeys, jackals, buffalo, impala, elephants, warthogs and many birds.

Hussar monkeys on the camp site
Hussar monkeys on the camp site

A British wildlife photographer told me that in and around the camp he managed to capture almost all the game species in Kidepo within a few weeks. He showed me beautiful pictures of wild dogs, spotted hyenas and cheetahs. "Not a single tourist got to see it on safari."

According to him, you might as well sit or walk around the camp's viewing platform all day. 'Most tourists simply don't have the patience to wait quietly. They think they have a much better chance of seeing game during a safari. And they paid for it.'

A colorful visitor to the Apoka camp
A colorful visitor to the Apoka camp
A warthog reports to the Apoka camp
A warthog reports to the Apoka camp

Idi Amin's private lodge in Kidepo

In the 1970s, Kidepo National Park was the private hunting ground of dictator Idi Amin. He welcomed many international guests and went hunting there regularly. In 1971 Idi Amin chose the Katurum rocks as the location for the construction of his private lodge. From those rocks, the view of the Kidepo valley is simply breathtaking.

View of the valley from the lodge
View of the valley from the lodge

In 1979 the dictatorship of Idi Amin came to an end. It is said that construction of the lodge had not yet been completed. The highly controversial lodge was left entirely to the whims of Mother Nature over the next 35 years. In 2014, the government of President Museveni took the decision to raze the lodge. A local businessman managed to change the president's mind. He submitted a plan to revive the lodge. Museveni eventually gave permission to build the Katurum Lodge.

The lodge seen from the valley
The lodge seen from the valley

In August 2017, I noted that much progress had been made. Together with Alfred, who invited me for a visit the day before, I walk around the complex. In the meantime the Russian monkey steals a lollipop from my pocket and eats it. Alfred and I then enjoy the unbelievably beautiful view from the nearly completed penthouse. wow!

The hussar monkey munches on a tomtom stolen from me
The hussar monkey munches on a tomtom stolen from me

Postscript: The Katurum Lodge is now called Adere Lodge. Click here for the Adere Lodge website.

A herd of buffalo in the valley in front of the Katurum rocks
A herd of buffalo in the valley in front of the Katurum rocks
A trip for your bucket list
Tour Uganda | Discover the pearl of Africa

Uganda has stolen our hearts more than once and as far as we are concerned it is a travel destination that belongs on the bucket list of every world traveler. Find out why Uganda is called the pearl of Africa.

A trip through Uganda will be one you will never forget. Spot the tree-climbing lions, meet thousands of elephants, come face to face with Mountain Gorillas in the jungle and get to know the beautiful culture.

View individual trips View group trips
Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase via our link(s), at no additional cost to you. Win win!

Plan your holiday to Africa here

Avatar picture

Eric

What is it like to drive more than 10.000 kilometers in Madagascar on a locally bought scooter? Or on a pikipiki (scooter in Swahili) through East Africa? In more than 20 years I have visited more than 100 countries. This has resulted in a lot of priceless travel experiences, which I would like to share with you.

ERIC – OVER 100 COUNTRIES
– Likes to travel on scooters
– Share unique travel experiences.
– Favorite destinations: Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, India and Colombia.

1 comment

Would you like to receive great travel tips and benefits every month?

logo-world travelers-grey-1
Translate »
2 Shares
2 Shares
Copy link