The glamour and valour at the long awaited Kidepo day celebrations on February 28th,2014 were unprecedented.
The presence of the President and Fountain of Honour, a couple of cabinet ministers and dozens of Legislators including the Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, over 15 cultural groups in unique costumes and the disbursement of over 287 million shillings to the communities, all combined to make the day one of the most unforgettable events in Karamoja region.
The first version of the Kidepo day was marked on August 22nd, 2013 in Kampala during which the new cashless system of payment to enter the national parks using a wildlife card was launched, women who have excelled in conservation recognized and fallen heroes who had lost their lives in the line of duty remembered.
UWA management then committed itself to find time for the real celebrations with the communities neighbouring the Kidepo Valley Conservation Area particularly the Napore community who offered their former hunting grounds for the protected area that would later turn into one of the best national parks in Africa owing to its spectacular landscapes and amazing wildlife herds.
As fate would have it, thousands of buffalos made sure they grazed around the Narus valley for every visitor to witness how protected and health they are, while the elephants majestically walked around the expansive valley punctuated by rocky outcrops.
The celebrations in Apoka saw the launching of the Kidepo brand as the True African Wilderness and unique destination .There was no better way of doing this than the President unveiling the new brand amidst a guard of honour. The President also inspected a former armoury used by the warriors back in the days .Other guests had memorable game drives, visited the cemetery to pay respect to the fallen heroes while few visited the hot springs at Kanagarok.
Speaker after speaker emphasized the unique biodiversity in Kidepo Valley National Park, the return of peace after disarmament that had led to regeneration of tourism; need to invest in tourism infrastructure and other projects which will empower the neighbouring communities to reap from the flourishing tourism.
The President excited the tourism fraternity when he announced that the roads in the area were due for tarmacking while plans were underway to connect the region to the national hydro electric power grid.
Individuals and organizations who have given their all to the successful growth of Kidepo received medals while a cheque of 128,935,000 shillings was delivered to the Kaabong district leaders under the revenue sharing arrangement .Yet another cheque of 158,323,200 shillings was issued to the communities being revenue from the sport hunting activity from the Karenga-Bokora-Matheniko Community Wildlife Association.
It was bee-hive activity in all the campsites, Apoka Safari Lodge, Apoka bandas as the excited folks dined and wined through the night dancing their way to a new eventful month of March 2014.
UWA is grateful for all the visitors, partners, staff and neighbouring communities who ensured the success of this memorable day.