Kidepo Valley National Park – There be lions there, lots of them!

Hi guys,

A somewhat belated but happy New year to everyone.

As we reach our final weeks in Uganda we made our last pilgrimage to Kidepo Valley National Park to stay at the lovely N’ga Moru Wilderness Camp.  Now for many, Kidepo has long been regarded as the secret jewel in Uganda’s and Africa’s crown.  Recently the news got out and Kidepo was voted as one of the top ten national parks in Africa by CNN who went on to describe Kidepo as possibly the most picturesque park in Africa.

Sounds ideal for a photographer!  But what makes Kidepo magical is its exclusivity.  Long inaccessible by war in the north and problems in the east, Kidepo has previously been the haunt of the rich and famous who could afford to fly there. But now with general peace in the north and east and a road system that allows for travel in a day from Kampala, Kidepo is accessible in alls its glory to riff-raff like me.

And whilst it takes a few years for people to catch on to its wonders, people like you and i can get almost exclusive access to a world of breathtaking beauty.

As a result i just cant fit all my images into one post and will need to split them up.  In this first instalment i will focus on one of Kidepo’s strengths, Lions.  Not only are there many lions in Kidepo, but they are also very handsome looking lions with almost blonde manes, and are scarily relaxed around vehicles and photographers.

On on our first full morning game drive we managed to drive about 25 metres from our tent before coming across this pair of young mates.

What a photogenic pair!  These guys are both quite young and the male looked like he needed to gain a bit of courage and possibly arrogance before he takes on the mantle of King of the plains but lovely to see such healthy and fit lions.  This will become more evident when you see the next gallery of two males we found the next day sleeping by the rubbing post waterhole in the park.  These are examples of true Kings, one slightly past his best and one at the peak of his years.

I have struggled with lions in the past.  Well finding them for a start and then when you do find them it is not easy to get a great composition without too much clutter.  Ishasha is great as often they are in trees, but otherwise you get lions in tall grass, lions on the road, lions behind a bush etc.  These two sightings both had great uncluttered backdrops and although the light wasn’t great, it was incredible to see the life of a male lion in three very different stages.  The young male all sheepish and fresh.  The awe and strength of a male in its prime and the haggard remains of a King in the twilight of his life.

Kidepo is a magical place. On our last visit we had been able to see leopard, secretary birds, caracal, ostrich and everything in between.  This trip had none of these but was smothered in lion sightings, and great lion sightings.

Kidepo is special, Kidepo is breathtaking, Kidepo is all our childhood dreams of Africa in is raw glory.

More posts to follow!

Stay well,

Chris

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