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Visiting the Ik Tribe – The Mountain People of Uganda

Posted by on February 7, 2019

Visiting the Ik Tribe in the Morungole Mountains near Kidepo Valley Park

An Experiential Visit to one of the most remote Tribes in East Africa – the Ik People in Northeast Uganda – The Mountain People of Uganda

It is rare, and not an everyday experience that you can visit one of the most remote, away from it all tribes in Africa, the Ik People. It is done on foot and it is a hike that is not for the fainthearted.  This experiential, cultural visit to the Ik People is an all-day hike up the scenic Morungole Mountains that are near to Kidepo Valley Park and the perfect add-on to a Wildlife Safari there. 

The Ik People became famous in 1972, 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 quite loving, quite welcoming ad Turnbull simply got it wrong.

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 that rises 2,700 meters plus above Sea Level is an authentic African Cultural Experience and at the same time 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 Ik on Mount Morungole.

The Ik People live high in the Mountains that make uVisiting the Ik Tribep Morungole which is on the border with Kenya in the Kidepo Valley Park Region of Northeastern Uganda.

The Ik People are a small tribe 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.

They were hunters and gatherers however due to cattle raids from other tribes such as the Turkana and  Pokot of Kenya, the Karamojong of Uganda and the Tuposa of South Sudan they gave up cattle herding for subsistence farming, goat keeping, and honey production.

There was also government interference beginning in the 11960sas the Ik’s traditional hunting and gathering areas were turned into a Wildlife Reserve.  They wanted to live in Peace and began to migrate up to Mount Morungole where they can be fVisiting the Ik Tribeound and visited today and live in isolation and relative peace.

The Ik People were the first people to migrate to Northeastern Uganda and they still remind everyone that Ik means “head of migration” or the first ones to migrate here.

A day with the Ik People high up on Morungole Mountain, with some of the most stunning scenery in all of Uganda, is simply an amazing adventure.

Learn about the cultural habits of the Ik people such paying the bride price with 5 to 10 beehives, chickens, goats, money instead of cattle, 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 farm, 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 10,000 members and is seen as endangered for its future existence as they attempt tik-tribe-page1o eke out a living high in the mountains with some of the most fantastic scenery in all of Uganda.

Getting to the Ik Villages is no easy feat but thanks to a trail marked by the US Forest Service it has become easier.  There is even a shortcut if you take a few hour ride by vehicle. nevertheless, it is an all-day venture up and down the steep mountains with guides who speak the Ik Language.

You have to be physically fit to climb the mountains – the peak of Mount Murongole is 2,749 meters above sea level and hike up here is a torture for those who are not fit.  The trail is 8 kilometers long (16-kilometer round trip) and quite a tough climb to the villages.

You will find 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.

As you reach the villages you will be greeted warmly with traditional dancing often in Ik finery.  The Ik people are welcoming tourism as it is adding 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 of a 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.

Your hike up the mountains visiting the  Ik Tribe will be one of the highlights of your time in Uganda, not to be forgotten anytime soon.  Enjoy the different cultural ways of the Ik people, learn from them and enjoy some of their local beer with them, it will be quite different from what you are used to, definitely not a Miller High Life.

A day-trip to the Morungolo Mountains to visit the Ik people takes a bit of planning.  Please let us know that you would like to visit them so that we can incorporate it into your itinerary.  We suggest that you allow for an extra day in the Kidepo Valley for your safari…enjoy Visiting the Ik Tribe.

How to Visit the Ik Tribe:  This is a Stand-Alone Activity – it is something that you can combine  with a safari to one of Africa’s best Park according to CNN – it takes a long time getting here to Kidepo Valley Park – but it well worth it – once here –add a day to your Safari and visit the Ik People.

Please Note:  The Ik People have 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.

Our Suggestions for you:

A visit to the Ik Tribe is something out of the ordinary.  This is not a tourist extraction setup where tourists are milked and the cultural things are stages.

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, be mindful of their ways of traditions.  They are beyond mere photographic objects, they are people who want to know about you and as want to 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 basic items.  Money is nice but there are no stores up here 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.

Walking – Hiking Safaris Advice and Tips for Uganda

Walking – Hiking Safari Advice for the African Wild of Uganda Enjoying your Hikes and Walking Safaris in Uganda’s Savannas, Forests, Jungles, Rwenzori Mountain Foothills and Volcanoes Uganda is a hikers paradise – there are many walking safaris that you go on during your time in Uganda and the including the Hike up Mount Murongole to visit the Ik people in Uganda.  This is a hike of endurance, you need to be fit. There is no mobile phone communication up here, tis is Africa as it used to be and it is a tough hike.

You need to be prepared to hike in Africa, including the hike up and down to the Ik People of 8 hours, find out what you need to wear, and here it is not the style but for protection.

Wear the right clothes, right boots, and of course enough drinking water along with snacks and a packed lunch.

Contact us regarding a Visit to the Ik Tribe on Mount Morungole near Kidepo Valley Park.

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