Kidepo nominated in coveted World Travel Awards

Kidepo Valley National park is famed for a variety of animals such as cheetahs, elephants, buffalos, zebras, Giraffes among others. PHOTO/ COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The recognition shows that the country is making tremendous progress in marketing Uganda across the globe. 

Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park has been nominated in the coveted World Travel Awards which rewards and celebrates excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. 

Kidepo, situated in Karamoja, northeastern Uganda, is one the 10 national parks in the Pearl of Africa. It is popular for its rugged savannah, bird species, wildlife, sprawling hills with ranges that give some of the best sunsets and sunrises.

The park has been nominated alongside Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, Etosha National Park in Namibia, Masai Mara National Park in Kenya and Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. 

According to the Public Relations Officer of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Bashir Hangi, Kidepo is a gem, a true wilderness experience. 

“It is next to none. Mention any places where you get the feel of tranquility, peace of mind and an amazing experience of the jungle and Kidepo will beat them. Check the amazing beauty of Narus Valley with a variety of animals such as  cheetahs, elephants, Buffalos, zebras, Giraffes among others. It is nature at its best in Kidepo Valley National Park,” UWA’s Hangi explains. 

UWA Uganda’s Government agency responsible for the management and protection of Wildlife in and outside protected areas. As someone who has been to Kidepo countless times and will be there again in a few weeks’ time, Jonathan Benaiah, a conservation photographer and filmmaker says each time he closes his eyes and thinks of Kidepo, he sees it as a place for those who are tired of the crowds. 

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“Those tired of the noise. Those who are tired of the rush to see the same animals everyone else is seeing. Those who have seen it and done it all. Those in search of a new and more intimate experience. A hidden gem in Uganda’s safari scene. Kidepo for me is an opportunity for visitors to experience a breathtaking landscape that protects diverse wildlife and is neighbored by some of the truest and most unadulterated cultural heritage,” Benaigah elaborately explains.

He adds that the sunsets and sunrises are not talked about enough. It’s not the first time the park is nominated in this same category and that speaks volumes, especially with how highly rated the other parks in this category are. 

The photographer adds, “I am not surprised but I am absolutely thrilled by the news. For me, this is a huge achievement and a testament to the hard work and dedication of all those incredible people involved in the conservation and promotion of this beautiful African wilderness. Hopefully, we can all vote to bring the award home this time around.”

Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), a statutory organisation mandated to promote and popularise Uganda as a viable holiday destination both locally and internationally, welcomes the recognition of Kidepo Valley National Park as well as the other entities in Uganda’s hospitality industry. 

“Uganda is not only attractive but also heavily gifted with a variety of attractions. Uganda’s variety of attractions are not only limited to wildlife but other aspects like culture and heritage, sceneries, food and agro tourism and a lot more,” explains Gessa Simplicious, the PRO of UTB.

Apoka Safari Lodge in Kidepo National Park. PHOTO/COURTESY

The recognition, he adds, also shows that the country is making tremendous progress in marketing Uganda across the globe. 

He further points out that over the last decade till now, there has been visible increase in nominations of Uganda’s facilities and attractions with increase in the country’s visitation. 

Gessa further says, “UTB has from time to time changed tactics on how this country is marketed, adapting to the most current methods of reaching out to the broader community through embracing technology.”

According to the publicist, such efforts and use of partnerships with the private sector to showcase the Pearl of Africa is clearly paying off. “With the new brand of explore Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, we have every hope to believe that these recognitions and visibility of the country is only going to increase,” he further explains. 

Voting is now open for organisations in Africa, Asia, Indian Ocean and Oceania of the World Travel Awards 2023 programme. Industry professionals, the media and consumers worldwide can vote for their favourite travel brands. Voting for Africa and the Indian Ocean runs until 30 April, whilst Asia and Oceania closes on 23 July. 

According to World Travel Awards, the nominee gaining the most votes in a category will be named as the winner in the landmark 30th anniversary year.

Graham Cooke, Founder, WTA said: “With voting now open for our key regions of Africa, Asia, Indian Ocean and Oceania, momentum for our landmark 30th anniversary is now building. It is time for you to choose the organisations that are raising the bar of travel excellence.” 

Nominees this year cover a broad spectrum of categories including Aviation, Tourist Attractions, Car Hire, Cruise, Destinations, Hotels & Resorts, Meetings & Events, Travel Agencies and Tour Operators. Kidepo was gazetted into a national park in 1962, the same year Uganda became independent. It hosts over 75 species of mammals and 470 species of birds.

Other nominees

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve -  Botswana 
  • Etosha National Park -  Namibia, 
  • Masai Mara National Park -  Kenya 
  • Serengeti National Park  - Tanzania
  • Kruger Park  - South Africa