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The Untamed Karamoja Region of Uganda-including Kidepo Valley Park

Posted by on August 26, 2020

Authentic Africa can be found in the Untamed Karamoja Region of Uganda.

Karamoja’s Rugged Landscapes -Mountains- vast plains – inhabited by the Proud Karamojong People – home to the famed Kidepo Valley Park

Untamed Karamoja Region of Uganda: If you are looking to discover Authentic Africa in the 21st Century, then the Untamed Karamoja should be on your to-do list. Untamed Karamoja RegionRegion of Uganda, which is home to the Proud Pastoralist – Warrior Karamojong (Karimojong) People who resist the pressures of the outside world and continue to do for what they are known best for – the keepers of cattle.

The Untamed Karamoja Region of Uganda is definitely off the beaten tourist path for most.  The daily visitor entrance figures to what CNN calls the third-best park in all of Africa, receives less than 10 new visitors per day prove just that.

Karamoja is off-the-beaten-Tourist Track, away from the Bustle Kampala, a part of Africa as you imagined it to be, only better.

The Karamoja region makes up a vast part of Eastern Uganda. It is set on a large plateau that is bordered by the Mountains of South Sudan to the north, to the East, there the incredible Eastern Rift Valley of Kenya, all framing the region that used to be called the Wild West of Uganda – Karamoja.

The Untamed Karamoja Region of Uganda:

Why call it untamed?  When the British came and took over Uganda as a Colonial Protectorate, they soon gave up on the Karamoja, they failed in bringing their values and beliefs to the Karamojong.  Even after Uganda became Independent, the Karamoja was left untouched, neglected by the Government in Kampala.  Idi Amin’s soldiers caused havoc in the region, they could take the land, but never the heart of its proud people. When his Army ran away in 1979, the Karamojong raided the military compounds in the region and took the weapons and ammunition.

The Karimojong believe that God (Akuj) has granted them all the cattle, cattle raids on other tribes were commonplace, cattle and goats were here herded by men and boys with AK- 47’s.  The neighboring tribes also acquired weapons, cattle rustling abounded, and Karamoja remained the untamed lands of Uganda, the Land of Warriors – Nomads – Pastoralists.

Even fellow Ugandans looked down upon them as uncivilized, as primitive, uneducated, and adhering to their Traditional Beliefs. The reality is and was, that the Karamojong society operated on a much more democratic level than the repressive rule of law of Milton Obote or Idi Amin.

President Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986. Once again, the Karamoja region was out of sight and mind, in the last 10 years there have come many changes to Karamoja, the major one being an army presence along with disarmament of the Karamoja region and guns, at times in not the most gentle of manners.  This has caused problems since the Karamojong depended on cattle, and now they are back to spears while those raiding their cattle still have guns.  The positive side of it is that the Karamoja region has become safe for travelers, including tourists.

Who are the Karamojong People (Karimojong)?

They are a people who are Proud of their traditional way of life as semi-nomadic herders,  little is known about these proud people, and much of what is known is often misunderstood about Karamoja’s herdsmen. Cattle raiding and the small arms trade have kept the region unstable (this has ended), which has long been the least developed in the country just as most Karamojong have also resisted formal education and modernization.

 The Karamojong to whom cattle is everything, a way of life, a reason to live, the way to get married, a way of life. Away from what some might call civilization.  They live in villages called Manyattas, and when they lead their cattle to greener pasture and water, they live in Kraals.

370,000 plus Karamojong are living in the area, their land since they migrated here from Ethiopia and settled around Moroto and beyond.  Some local tribes were already here, such as Ik People who know reside on Mount Morungole.

The Karamojong means “the tired old men who stayed behind.” The migration from Ethiopia had been a long and tiresome journey, and they had grown tired and weary along it.

The Karamojong migrated with what are now other people groups from Kenya, including the Masai, the Turkana, the Kalenjin of Kenya, and Toposa of South Sudan, all of them Nilotic groups, meaning “of the Nile,” the Karamojong speak a language that is  Nilo-Saharan. Today 3 subgroups make up the Karamojong people, the Bokora, the Pian, and the Matheniko groups spread out over the Karamoja Plains.

Those of us who call uncivilized may not understand another culture, such as the Karamojong People and the tales that one hears about them.  They are most often a Cultured people but in their culture, with often similar values that we might have – if things are important to us, to them it is cattle, family, (polygamy is still practiced.)  Christianity has made some inroads, but the traditional ways of old stay for many Visiting the Remote Karamoja Region of Northeastern Uganda

Visiting the untamed Karamoja Region on Safari:

Daring to go on an experiential Adventure Safari in the untamed Karamoja Region of Uganda will be one of the most extraordinary adventures of your life in an area that remains authentic Africa, unlike anywhere else on this vast continent.

A recent client wrote to us, “I have been traveling to various parts of Africa for 30 years, and I have never encountered anything such as the Karamoja region and Kidepo Valley Park. The rugged scenery landscapes, the wildlife, the Karamojong people and their culture, plus the amazing wildlife.”

Off the beaten Tourist Track – away from the crowds, experiential activities such as hiking, climbing extinct Volcanoes, Wildlife in remote parks such as Kidepo Valley Park, the Upe Pian Wildlife reserve, the 2nd largest wildlife reserve after Murchison Falls Park in Uganda.  You will be simply amazed by what awaits you.

Contact us if you like to visit Karamoja


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