Culture, Adventure & Nature
The Karamoja sub-region in Eastern Uganda is one of the most remote parts of the country. For years the major attraction to this area was Kidepo Valley National Park which has some of the most stunning landscapes and the only place to see Cheetahs and Wild Dogs in Uganda. Most tourists would fly in and out only spending time in the environs of the Park. But this has now changed and the Karamojong area is full of unique cultural and wildlife experiences you will not get anywhere else in Africa let alone Uganda.
There are plenty of activities and experiences to do of varying durations and exertion levels, all you need is an open mind and sense of adventure.
This region of Uganda is also becoming well known for rock art, the majority of which is in the east and south east of Uganda. The most famous site is in Nyero, which is between Mbale and Soroti. Other notable places which have rock art in the region are Kadam Rock in Nakapiripirit, Napak Rock in Napak District and Mount Moroto in Moroto. The rock art found in this area is similar to the rock art drawn by the Cushitic Tiribes who are believed to have migrated to Karamoja some 3,000 years ago. The art depicts animals grazing and people carrying bows and arrows. The is a concerted drive to try and bring tourism to this are and to complement the cultural experience with the wildlife that is in Matheniko and Pian Upe game reserves
The Tour Karamoja
The Tour Of Karamoja has taken place between place in 2017 – 2022. This year's edition will take place between the 20th – 29th October 2023. The tour will take you through 550Km over a glorious 7 days. The Warrior Nomad Trail, takes you through Uganda’s Karamoja, Kenya’s West-Pokot and Turkana region, this includes iconic scenery such as from the southern grasslands, along the East African Rift, into the award-winning Kidepo Valley National Park.
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Route: Pian Upe WR – Kosike
The first stage takes you through Mt Kadam and Mt Elgon in the most southern point of Karamoja. The morning begins relatively easy before a tough climbing challenge before clocking off at noon.
Distance: 85Km / Elevation: 705m / Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Route: Kosike – Lake Turkwel
The second stage crosses the border into Kenya through the semi-arid woodlands inhabited by the Pokot tribe. The route travels through hilly murram roads bypassing local herders & communities. The day culminates in a down hill ride towards the lake.
Distance: 63Km / Elevation: 530m / Difficulty: Medium
Route: Lake Turkwel – Namakuriat
The day begins with a climb out of the Lake Turkwel basin followed by a breathraking ride along the East African Rift Valley. The ride increases in difficulty due to the number of climbs, rocky terrain and bumpy roads.
Distance: 80Km / Elevation: 1400m / Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Route: Namakuriat – Lokriama
This will probably be one of the toughest stages as most of it will take place in the arid lands of the Turkana people. The reward will be a night spent nearby the regionally significant Lokiriama Peace Accord monument.
Distance: 80Km / Elevation: 360m / Difficulty: Medium
Route: Lokriama – Moroto
The race heads back to Uganda by climbing the escarpment surrounding ancient volcanic Mount Moroto. The short route twists and turns around the mountain to Moroto town. After lunch, the riders will be transported by vehicle to Kotido (155Km) for the night
Distance: 44Km / Elevation: 700m / Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Route: Kotido – Timu
Today will see the first of 2 days of 100+ Km distances as well as reaching the highest elevation of the event. This of course means soeme hill climbs but you will be rewarded by incredible sceneary at the top of the escarpment with a majestic view of Turkanaland.
Distance: 103Km / Elevation: 1,228m / Difficulty: Hard
Route: Timu – Kidepo Valley NP
The final day begins with a descent of almost 1,000m from on top of the East African Rift escarpment to the scenic grasslands of Kidepo Valley NP. The scenic route travese through the mountainous lands of the Ik and Dodoth people. A truly rewarding final stage.
Distance: 104Km / Elevation: 1,002m / Difficulty: Medium-Hard
Tour of Karamoja Course Highlights
Other experiences in Karamoja
Moroto is around 13hrs drive from Kampala. Some of the activities you can do in Moroto are:
Hiking & Trekking
East Africa is famous for its mountains of which some of the most impressive, Ruwenzori and Elgon are in Uganda. The beauty of Mount Moroto is that you get all the panoramic views and sense of achievement you would climbing the more well-known mountains but in milder surroundings, no requirement for technical equipment and great interaction with the people who live in the area.
Karamoja Mountain Bike Tours
This part of Uganda is relatively untouched and biking is a great way to explore the region. Whether you are looking for stunning views, cultural experiences of just a riding off into the sunset this is the place to do it.
Karamojong village visit
The best way to get the most out of a visit to this area is to participate and immerse yourself in the local culture. A visit to a traditional homestay gives you an unparalleled insight in to what life is like for the Karamojong. It also gives you a first-hand appreciation of the culture and heritage of the region.
A Night with Karamojong Warrior Nomads
A night spent sleeping in a Kraal with Karamojong Warrior Nomads who are now cattle herders is an experience not to miss. You will see how the cattle are cared for, milked, herded as well as the traditional spearing of the cow for its blood. If all goes well yo might even get your own Karamajong name
Kotido is around 14hrs from Kampala and is home to Nakapelimoru Village, which is home to the Jie and the largest traditional village in East Africa. A visit to the village begins with a briefing held on a rock formation overlooking Nakapelimoru, you then proceed with a local guide to a homestead and learn about the culture specific to this village as well as the more general traditions of the Karamojong area. Kotido is also known for its cattle auction when local traders come every Wednesday to buy and sell cows. There is also a local crafts market that sells jewellery and artefacts from the local area
Kaabong is around a 15-hour drive from Kampala. The regions in the most north eastern in Uganda and boarders South-Sudan and Kenya. The region is well known for Kidepo National Park and the home of the Ik-tribe. The Ik tribe are the smallest tribe in Uganda and historically used to live within the National Park but they were displaced when the park was formed. They now live in and around Mount Morungole, which is now also known as Ikland. A visit to this region will reward you with an exceptional cultural experience as the Ik have a unique set of traditions that are still practised today. The breath taking scenery only gets better the higher you go and you will be able to look in to the western Kenya and Southern Sudan. The visit and hike are a full day activity beginning at around 07.00 and finishing at 17.00
National Paks & Wildlife Reserves
The Karamojong sub - region is home to 4 of Uganda's most remote National Parks and Wildlife Reserves. Each one has a similar story, one of historical abundant and unique wildlife, followed by human wildlife conflict and civil war. This resulted in a decrease in the wildlife numbers which have only begun to show an upward trend in the recent past. Animals such as Cheetahs, Roan Antelope, White Eared Kob and Ostrich can only be seen in the wild in this part of Uganda:
Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve - Nakapiripirit & Napak
Matheniko Wildlife Reserve - Napak, Kotido & Abim
Bokara Wildlife Reserve - Moroto
Kidepo Valley National Park - Kaabong
The Mountains of Karamoja
The Karamojong highlands in eastern Uganda is an area of historical volcanic activity that has left region of rugged savannah and mountains as a result.
Mount Moroto –3,083m- Mountain biking at its best
Mount Kadam – 3,063m – Incredible scenary
Mount Morungole – 2,749m – Home of the Ik tribe
Mount Napak – 2,538m - Great for hiking and treks