His fame transcended the different villages. Far and wide, the name Ryonomoi echoed pride. Given this name after he killed an enemy who had a dark skin, there was no match for his hunting skills. This famous hunter stood tall among his peers, it is no wonder he was chosen to hold guard of the net trappings that fateful day at the foot of a rock hill that stood in the wilderness of Karamoja’s vast Savannah.

When his peers drove the target, Jackson’s Heartbeast towards the trap, Ryonomoi was trusted to spear this antelope like creature and bring success to the quest for daily bread. But as fate would have it, the whole herd went to the trap, crushing Ryonomoi to death. Torn, his peers mourned their great hero and buried him at the foot of the hill, then named it after him.

Ranger guide Zachary Logwee animatedly tells the story of a man he barely knew, one he would not prove even if his life depended on it, of a time way past his.

View of the wild from above
Today, Ryonomoi hill stands tall, an imposing rock that opens one to the picturesque expanse of a section of Kidepo Valley National Park with the mountains as a backdrop. The park covers 1,442 square kilometres. The stop here was part of a game drive during a recent trip organised by Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) for some journalists. The trek up the hill through grass and rocks is worth it as the cool breeze descends on your face and you admire the view, taking selfies.

Many a tourist will be captivated, even thrilled by the adventure close to animals that a trip to Uganda’s wildest national park brings. However, for the story teller in me, the tales that form a backbone to many of the features in the park blow me away. The blend of mysticism, science and norms of the society before the park was demarcated in 1958, sets Kidepo Valley National Park apart.

Kidepo, a wilderness of tales

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