Pian Upe Game Reserve

Pian Upe Game Reserve

Introduction Pian Upe game reserve is one of the conservation areas in northeastern Uganda around the Karamoja sub region. It is the second largest conservation protected area after Murchison falls National Park. Pian Upe game reserve covers an area of about 2,043square kilometers making it the largest game reserve in Uganda and joined to other two wildlife reserves in the northeastern part of Uganda that is to say Bokora and Matheninko game reserves and Mountain Elgon National park in its south forming the Mountain Elgon conservation area. Pian Upe game reserve stretches partly, closely and entirely up to nine northeastern Uganda Districts namely Moroto, Nakapiripiriti, Amudat, Napak, Katakwi, Kween, Bulambuli, Kumi and Bukedea. The south of Pian Upe game reserve was first designated as a Debasein Animal Sanctuary in 1958, later expanded northwards by the government and named Pian Upe in 1964. Its name Pian Upe was derived from its community where “Pian” refers to a clan among the Karamajongs of northeastern Uganda who are a predominantly pastoral tribe and live a typical traditional lifestyle centered on their cattle.  “Upe” refers to a Kalenjin speaking pastoral group of Karamajongs who are said to have originated from the Pokot tribe in Kenya and currently settle close to the Game reserve in the District of Amudat. “Pian” means calm hearted people while “Upe” means enemy which forms “Friendly enemy” when the two words are combined. Therefore the phrase “friendly enemy” was formed as a result of the fights and cattle raids between these two pastoral Karamajong tribes and the area currently occupied by Pian Upe game reserve being their battleground. The game reserve currently has attracted several wildlife species that range from animals to birds from Kidepo National Park and the neighboring game reserves and thus compelling the government of Uganda express interests in upgrading it to a National Park by restoring and introducing lacking wildlife species in the Reserve. Attractions in Pian Upe Game reserve Wildlife Pian Upe game reserve is a great tourist destination with various fascinating wildlife species that make it unique and so attractive. This reserve is dominated by plateaus cut in between rocks, mountains and Kopjes all dotted with green and grey grasslands stretching to flat plains that are a habitat to various animal types. Mammal species in Pian Upe game reserve include Zebras, Common Elands, Cheetahs, Hartebeests, Waterbucks, Uganda kobs, Cape Buffaloes, Impalas, Oribis, Gunther’s Dik-dik, Common Duiker, spotted Hyena, Klipspringers, Lions, Leopards, Civets, Jackals, Serval cats, Wild cats, Porcupines, Rock Hyrax to mention but a few and primate species like Vervet Monkeys, Pata Monkeys, Olive Baboons, African Hare, Four toed Hedgehog, Aardvarks and so on which make game viewing in Pian Upe so amazing and unforgettable. Pian Upe Game reserve is also a home to various reptile species such as savannah monitors, Venomous puff adders, Common agama, geckos, Rick pythons, Chameleons, Crocodiles among others which are found along River Girik. Bird species Pian Upe game reserve is an ideal site for bird watching since it is a habitat to several bird species of up to 245 bird types. Loporokocho swamp that partly dominates Pian Upe game reserve attracts various bird types like the uncommon Ostrich, Shoebill, White-headed buffalo weaver, Jackson’s hornbill, Great Hartlaub’s bustard to mention but a few. There are other bird species found in the game reserve which include the Karamoja Apalis which is endemic to northeastern Uganda, Abyssinian ground hornbills, Green bitta, Secretary birds, Superb sterling’s, Fox’s weaver bird which is the most rare bird species and many more. All the above bird species make birding in Pian Upe game reserve exhilarating. Chepsikunya hot springs Chepsikunya hot springs are situated in the game reserve and are magnificent features upon some one’s visit to Pian Upe. It is so stupefying as hot water is seen being spilled out from underground. Chepsikunya hot spring is also a great birding destination in the Game reserve where one is able to view various bird types on his or her visit to the springs. Mount Kadam and rocky hills Pian Upe game reserve is made up of hilly features with Mount Kadam inclusive. Mount Kadam is near the east border in Karamoja, Uganda with Kenya lying at an elevation of 3,063meters above sea level. Mount Kadam was known as Debasein during the colonial period before it was named Kadam in remembrance of Sailesh Kadam the first person to hike on top of this mountain. Therefore, this mountain and other hilly features in the game reserve facilitate hiking and mountain climbing experience in the game reserve. Lake Opeta Lake Opeta is a Lake with an extensive wetland system that lies in the southern part of Pian Upe game reserve. This serves as a dry-season refuge for wildlife in the game reserve and cattle of the surrounding Karamajong and Pokot people. Lake Opeta is entirely surrounded by an extensive swamp and flood plains that attract various bird species of up to 164 bird types and animal species. Lake Opeta is one of Uganda’s 33 important bird areas and listed as a Ramsar-listed wetland of international importance in 2006. Therefore, Lake Opeta offers the best birding sight in Pian Upe game reserve. Culture Pian Upe game reserve is bordered by interesting Karamajong communities with a typical African culture that is not yet affected by today’s modernity and technology. These communities entirely depend on pastoralism and live a nomadic life style. This is an interesting cultural group as they are seen in their traditional wear with well-cut car tire sandals, having body marks for example on their ears, nose and mouth that signify a hidden message. These traditionalists have a lot of pride for their culture and customs and look at foreign lifestyle like education, housing, medicine, religion, technology, dressing and fashion as unnecessary inconveniences though the Ugandan government is tirelessly sensitizing them. Therefore on one’s visit to these exciting Karamoja communities, he/she enjoys their energetic cultural performances, cultural norms and their ways of living. Activities in Pian Upe game reserve Game drives A guided game drive along the vast plains of Pian Upe game reserve is so rewarding that one is has the opportunity to spot rare animals and bird species like the Roan Antelopes, Cheetahs and Ostriches. This is also an initiation to sighting several animals for example Buffaloes, Lions, Leopards, Zebras, herds of Antelopes, Impalas, Hartebeests, Waterbucks, spotted Hyenas, Klipspringers, Jackals, Serval cats, Wild cats, Porcupines, Rock Hyrax to mention but a few. This is the most thrilling activity since Pian Upe is naturally gifted with a rich biodiversity that ranges from mammals, primates, reptiles to bird species. Bird watching Pian Upe game reserve is a habitat to a variety of bird species that entirely base on the shores and swampy areas of Lake Opeta and Chepsikunya hot springs. Birding is done with the guidance of an experienced birding guide through the trails in the vast dry plains where Ostriches are easily spotted as they run away from their predators to swampy areas of Lake Opeta where the Shoebill normally locates as it tries to feed. Various birds can as well be spotted around this area for example the African eagles, Cormorants, Cranes, Darters, Egrets, Herons, Hornbils, Pelicans, Vultures, Weaver birds to mention but a few. These are all eye catching feathered creatures and one enjoys their sounds on embarking on this tourist activity. Mountain and rock climbing Pian Upe game reserve is made up of hills and mountains that offer hiking experience for example Mount Kadam at an elevation of 3,063meters above sea level, Mount Napak at 2,538meters, Mount Moroto at 3,083meters and various rocks. While at Pian Upe, one can opt for a less challenging Mountain to climb most especially Mount Napak and Mount Kadam which offer favorable grounds for sightseeing most especially the Napedet caves. These caves are a popular ancient recreational place for the first occupants of this reserve where they would gather and engage in rock paintings before it was gazetted as a game reserve. It is at these caves that one is able to spot old paintings of Hartebeests, uncommon Roan Antelopes, Baboons as well as Giraffes. Old cooking stones stained with smoke can also be seen at these caves that they used for cooking and roasting meat they obtained after they hunted down wild animals. Therefore Pian Upe game reserve offers the best Mountain climbing and hiking experience due to its various Mountains and hills that are also gifted with a variety of wildlife species. Cultural encounters Pian Upe game reserve is surrounded by the Karamajong and Kalenjin communities that have a totally unique culture which is still kept intact despite continued exposure to modernization. These depend on pastoralism and growing some crops for food like maize, sorghum and millet for their survival. During cultural visits and encounters in Pian Upe game reserve, one is able to explore their culture by digging deep into their cultural norms like the traditional marriage ceremonies, dressing code, traditional food preparation especially blood and milk obtained from their cattle where one is given the opportunity to engage in these cultural practices. One does not go away from these Karamajong communities without enjoying their cultural performances where they sing and dance with passion and energy. Caves exploration Pian Upe game reserve is naturally gifted with rocks that possess ancient rock paintings with cultural attachment for example the Napedet caves which are so fascinating and located at a former hunting ground of the Karamajong and Pokwot people. It is at Napedet cave that these people gathered for meat roasting and cooking after a successful days’ hunting. The other interesting cave is the Napendio cave where the locals considered it a place for their gods. The locals usually visited Napendio cave to ask their gods for blessings and forgiveness and thus it being regarded as a holly place. Therefore these beautiful and historical caves can’t go unexplored on ones visit to Pian Upe game reserve. Nature walks Nature walks in Pian Upe game reserve are conducted with a help of a ranger guide to explore the reserve and have a sense of feeling for the true African wilderness. During these nature walks, one has the opportunity to encounter various animal species like the Zebras, herds of Antelopes, Impalas, Hartebeests, Waterbucks, spotted Hyenas, Klipspringers, Jackals, Serval cats, Wild cats, Porcupines to mention but a few. A variety of tree species and bird types can also be spotted while conducting Pian Upe game reserve nature walk which is so rewarding and interesting to carry on.   The best time to visit Pian Upe game reserve Pian Upe game reserve is open to visits throughout the year though the best time is during the dry season in the months of December to March and June to September which is the peak season. During the dry season, the game reserve is relatively dry with golden grasslands that enable one to have a clear view of the wilderness. Animals and some bird species also gather around water sources during the dry season which gives a great wildlife encounter when on a game drive.          
All Categories

Recent Posts

Tanzania

Tanzia

Rushaga Gorilla Sector

Rushaga Gorilla Sector

KENYA

Kenya

Quick booking process

Talk to us