Visiting the Ik Tribe in the Morungole Mountains near Kidepo Valley Park
I was visiting one of the most remote Tribes in East Africa – the Ik People in Northeast Uganda – The Mountain People of Uganda.
Visiting the Ik Tribe – The Mountain People of Uganda: It is rare and not an everyday experience in 21st Century Africa.
On this hike, you can visit one of the most remote, away from it, all ethnic groups in Africa, the Ik People. It is done on foot, and it is a hike that is not for the fainthearted.
This cultural visit with the Ik People is an all-day hike up the scenic Morungole Mountains near Kidepo Valley Park and the perfect add-on to a Wildlife Safari there.
The Ik People became famous in 1972 when British-American anthropologist Colin Turnbull published his book “The Mountain People,” in which the Ik People came across as a people who did not love.
A visit to one of the Ik Villages on Mount Morungole will disprove that. They are loving and exceptionally welcoming, ad Turnbull got it wrong.
The minimum Days required for a Kidepo Valley Park Safari with a visit to the Ik People is 5 to 6-days – our 6-Day Kidepo Valley Hiking Safari is ideal.
A visit to the Ik Communities on Mount Morungole, which rises 2,700 meters above Sea Level, is an authentic African Cultural Experience and, simultaneously, a test of your stamina and physical endurance. There is nothing else in East Africa, in Uganda, that compares to a visit to the land of the Ikon Mount Morungole.
Visiting the Ik Tribe, which is one of Uganda’s Indigenous People Groups
The Ik People live high in the Mountains that make up Morungole which is on the border with Kenya in the Kidepo Valley Park in the Karamoja Region of Northeastern Uganda. The Ik are a small ethnic group of between 10,000 to 11,000 in number. It is said that they migrated from Ethiopia and first settled in Kenya, and migrated to what is now Kidepo Valley Park, where they were the first people to live there before the large Karamojong ethnic group arrived also migrating from Ethiopia.
They are recognized as one of the indigenous people in Uganda. They lived as hunter-gatherers in Kidepo Valley Park in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda.
They were being raided by a more substantial number of tribes such as the Turkana and Pokot from Kenya the, the Karamojong of Uganda, and the Tuposa of South Sudan.
There was also government interference when their traditional hunting and gathering areas were turned into a wildlife reserve, another reason they migrated up Mount Morungole.
They gave up cattle herding, subsistence farming, goat keeping, and honey production. They barter with the Karamojong for items they lack, such as beef.
The Ik are proud People who remind everyone that Ik means “head of migration” or the first ones to relocate here. They, however, are about 11,00 in number while the Karamojong are well over 300,00 in number. Sadly, the Ik and their way of life are under threat, and they are endangered people.
Visiting the Ik Tribe – The Mountain People of Uganda that live on Mount Morungole
A day with the Ik People high up on Morungole Mountain, with some of the most stunning Scenery in Uganda, is simply a fantastic cultural and hiking adventure that brings you into touch with another culture and way of life.
Learn about the Ik people’s cultural habits, such as paying the bride price with 5 to 10 beehives, chickens, goats, money instead of cattle, and how children at a young age live with one another or their grandmother, how polygamy is practiced here and about everyday life in an Ik Village on Mount Morungole.
Cattle are no longer kept for fear of raids from other tribes surrounding them, most farms have goats and keep beehives, and some of the honey is now processed.
Visiting the Ik Tribe gives you a rare insight into an endangered tribe in Africa with less than 11,000 members. It is seen as endangered for its future existence as they attempt to eke out a living high in the mountains with some of the most fantastic Scenery in Uganda.
Visiting the Ik Tribe – The Hike up Mount Morungole:
Getting to the Ik Villages on Mount Morungole is no easy feat, but thanks to a trail marked by the US Forest Service, it has become more accessible. It is an all-day venture up and down the steep mountains with guides who speak the Ik Language. Your hike up the hills and visiting the Ik Tribe will be one of the highlights of your time in Uganda, not to be forgotten anytime soon.
You have to be moderately fit to climb the mountains. The peak of Mount Murongole is 2,749 meters above sea level, and hiking up here is torture for those who are not welcome. The trail is 8 kilometers long (16-kilometer round trip) and quite a challenging climb to the villages.
The difficulty is compensated by stunningly beautiful Scenery the higher your climb takes you, simply breathtaking scenes in the valleys below you and into the Eastern Rift Valley of Kenya, including Lake Turkana.
As you reach the villages, you will be greeted warmly with traditional dancing, often in Ik finery. The Ik people welcome tourism as it adds a bit of income for the community and actually may sustain the continuing existence of the Tribe as it has for the Batwa People in southwest Uganda.
As you are guided around the village, ask questions about the lifestyle of the Ik people, the raising of children is quite different here; polygamy is part of family life, and there is not much formal education besides learning to fend for yourself. One young Ik woman is at Kampala International University, and she would be the first University Graduate of the Tribe.
Please Note: The Ik People had their first Member of Parliament in the 10th Ugandan Parliament in 2016. A history-making moment. Also, one young woman is enrolled in University in Kampala.
Visiting the Ik Tribe – our Practical Advice for a successful visit:
A visit to the Ik Tribe is one of those few authentic cultural visits. It is not a staged event, but you visit the Ik people where they live in their hamlets. This is the real thing where you can get a peak into the everyday life of the Ik People.
You are visiting Ik Villages, where you will be most welcomed. This is off the beaten path, authentic Africa such as you will rarely experience on this continent.
It is a visit; your hosts are the Ik People and be mindful of their ways of traditions. They are beyond mere photographic objects; they are people who want to know about you and learn about them.
It is an African Tradition that a visitor brings some gifts: the most practical things are some basic things such as flour, oil, sugar, salt, and other essential items. Money is nice, but there are no stores where to use it. The Cost will be around 75 dollars for a group of hikers.
We will do our utmost to prepare you for your visit with the Ik People.
Your Hiking Wear and Gear for your visit to the Ik People
The Mount Morungole Climb to visit the Ik People requires some preparation. You need to wear the right stuff and have the right gear.
What to wear and bring:
You will need a daypack, a poncho, or a rain jacket with a hood: good hiking boots, woolen socks, long-sleeved shirt. A broad-brimmed hat, walking sticks that we supply.
Three liters of drinking water, energy snacks, packed lunch. Insect repellent, sunblock, sunglasses, and binoculars.
We suggest that you use a porter to carry your pack to free you from concentrating on the hike.
Contact us about a Visit to the Ik Tribe on Mount Morungole near Kidepo Valley Park.