THE IK PEOPLE OF KIDEPO VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
IK people of Kidepo valley national park : Uganda is known to be a country great cultural diversity. There are over 55 ethnic tribes that exist in Uganda and visitors can get to explore and learn more about these unique cultures during a cultural encounter or a community cultural tour.
One of the unique cultures to experience during your visit to Uganda is the IK culture. The IK people are found just outside Kidepo Valley National Park. They originally inhabited areas within the national park but were later translocated to Mount Morungole which is found outside the national park.
The IK people of Kidepo Valley national park are among the minority tribes in Uganda just like the Batwa who inhabit areas near Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Mgahinga Gorilla national park and Semuliki national park.
The IK people of Uganda are a small tribe of about 10,000 to 11,000 in number. Historical records show that they migrated from Ethiopia and first settled in Kenya before migrating to Kidepo Valley national park in Uganda.
The IK people of Kidepo Valley national park were predominately cattle keepers but because they were displaced from the park and moved to the mountains, they later resorted to rearing goats and bee keeping as a means of survival.
The IK people are believed to be the first migrants and settlers in the North-eastern part of Uganda. They also carried out subsistence farming for their own consumption and they mainly grew food crops like sweet potatoes and cassava.
The IK people of Uganda became popular in 1972 when the British American anthropologist Colin Turnbull wrote a book entitled ‘The Mountain People’. In his book, he describes the IK as people who do not love which is totally false.
Despite being misjudged people, the IK people are actually one of the friendliest and welcoming people/tribes in Uganda; and a visit to some of the IK villages on Mount Morungole will prove this fact right.
Hiking to the IK communities on Mount Morungole is one tiring activity that is not for the faint of heart. This experiential cultural tour takes an entire day and calls for hikers to be fit both physically and mentally as visitors will need to complete the 16 kilometer hike to and from the mountain.
The hike to the IK communities on Mount Morungole takes you 2,700 meters above sea level. Although the hike is tiresome, it rewards hikers with breath-taking sceneries of the beautiful landscapes in Kidepo national park as well as spectacular wildlife within and outside the national park.
Once you get to one of the IK communities at the top of the mountain, you will be warmly welcomed by the IK people led by some of the elders of the community. Visitors will get to watch traditional dance and singing performances by some of the local dance troupes in the community.
Visitors will also be taken on a tour around some of the homesteads in the community thus giving you an insight into the daily lives of the IK people as you also get to learn more about their history and culture as a whole.
Since it is a whole day’s activity, visitors will get to enjoy a hot traditional meal that has been prepared by some of the local IK women in the community. Get a chance to enjoy some of the traditional IK delicacies as you bond with the locals.
At the end of the evening, visitors will get to return back to Kidepo Valley national park. Upon your arrival in the park, you will proceed to your lodge to refresh yourself and have dinner under the beautiful night sky.
A visit to the IK people of Kidepo valley national park can be combined with other activities in the national park such as game drives, birding, guided nature walk and cultural encounters where you will get to pay a visit to some of the Karamajong communities that live near the national park.
About Kidepo Valley National Park.
Kidepo valley national park is the least visited national park in Uganda because of its far location in the northeastern part of Uganda. The national park is the most isolated park in Uganda and is situated in Kaboong district bordering Kenya and South Sudan.
The national park spans over a radius of 1,442 square kilometers. It was declared a national park in 1962 and is home to over 465 species of birds, about 76 mammals with 28 endemic to the national park.
Despite being the most isolated national park in Uganda, Kidepo valley national park is by far the most beautiful national park in the country thus earning the nickname ‘the Masai Mara of Uganda.’
The landscape and scenery in the national park is just breath taking leaving many visitors dazzled by its natural beauty. Among some of the wildlife commonly sighted in Kidepo valley national park include; the cape buffalo, lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, mountain reedbuck, greater and lesser kudu, aardwolf, cheetah, caracal, greater eland, Gunther’s DikDik and stripped hyenas to mention but a few. It is also the only national park where visitors get to see ostriches in the wild.
Conclusion: Kidepo national park is indeed a melody of wonders.