Until recently, Uganda’s northeastern region—Karamoja—bordering Kenya and South Sudan was off the radar of even the most adventurous travelers. The isolated region was inaccessible by road and tribal conflicts elevated security concerns. However, the return of peace in 2011, construction of a new paved highway, chartered air service and the opening of an exclusive luxury safari lodge have made this region, one not to miss, according to Tourism Uganda.
Reasons to visit the Karamoja region abound, include the following:
1. A Karamoja Cultural Event Group Safari
The Karamojong people are nomadic agropastoralists known for their love of cattle and their resistance to the trappings of modern civilization. They consist of numerous tribes and clans that migrated from modern-day Ethiopia, including the Maasai and Turkana. Due to years of isolation, the Karamojong people have been able to maintain their ancestral customs dating back thousands of years.
Those traveling to Uganda this summer may plan their visit to coincide with the fifth annual Karamoja Cultural Event, taking place August 28 – September 1. The event brings tribes from this region of Uganda and neighboring countries together to celebrate their past and welcome their future. Travelers are invited to attend the festival and explore the region with a three-night safari that includes:
- A bush camp experience in a Karamoja village where visitors spend the night in a hut, learn to milk cows and how to identify local plants, and experience traditions such as spearing a cow to feed the village
- Game drives and bush walks in Kidepo Valley National Park
Note: The safari allows for a maximum of eight participants.
2. Cycling Through Ancient Lands during the Second Annual Tour of Karamoja
Bike tours in the Karamoja region allow for cyclists to drive over colonial roads, enjoy the views of rolling plains and interact with local communities. From October 6 - 8, former Tour de France cyclist and current CNBC Sports commentator Paul Sherwen will be hosting the second annual Tour of Karamoja bike ride. The event will include bush camping, ceremonial events with the local Karamojong people and more.
3. The Chance to Visit Uganda’s Most Remote Community
In Uganda’s northernmost hills, the Ik tribe makes their home on Mount Morungole. The Ik were displaced from the lower reaches of Kidepo Valley National Park half a century ago and now maintain their way of life on the mountain ridges. Those seeking a true adventure can embark on a day-long hiking excursion to an Ik village. Tourism Uganda says breathtaking scenery awaits hikers, with views into the Eastern Rift Valley of Kenya, South Sudan and beyond.
4. Spotting Wildlife in Kidepo Valley National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park offers remote, rugged African wilderness. Big game including elephant, giraffe, lion, cheetah, zebra, eland, hartebeest, hyena and one of Africa’s largest herds of buffalo call Kidepo home. Vast grasslands extend in all directions toward distant mountain ranges providing an unmatched feeling of solitude.
5. Spotting Some of Uganda’s Most Interesting Birds
More than half of Africa’s bird species can be found in Uganda, and birding opportunities abound in Kidepo Valley National Park. Some of the birds that make the park home are the Abyssinian roller, purple heron, and Clapperton’s francolin, which is found only in Kidepo. In addition, the area’s wetlands are some of the best places in the country to spot the shoebill crane. Excursions allow visitors to trek the shoebills by canoe while viewing ancient rock paintings and keeping an eye out for the African hornbill, fox weaver and more.