I had heard about Pian-upe game reserve for a while and really looked forward to visiting it. Located in eastern Uganda in the Karamoja region we naturally included it on our itinerary while exploring Eastern Uganda. We set off for the game reserve in the evening after meeting a group of tour guides and it took us about 3 hours to arrive with stopovers of birding along the way.
The dirt road is the road that connects Mbale to Nakapiripiriti which is busy with lorries carrying several building material from Moroto via Nakapiripiriti for making cement. You will also have several pickup trucks and omnibuses transporting locals to the markets and their homes and of course not forgetting the numerous boda bodas – motorcycle taxis. These make roadside birding difficult and dangerous and all these tend to drive a high speeds on these roads. However we still managed to stop at different areas and still bird.
The landscape changes from the mountainous areas of Elgon to now more flat areas of Karamoja with mountainous areas seen at the end of the horizon. I was not fully prepared with the beauty of the clear blue skies and vegetation I found in this area. The reserve is generally untouched with only 2 game trucks. We were welcomed with 2 resident ostriches that prefer to live near the staff quarters as opposed to living deep in the park with others which are wild. We were informed that these were rescued from someone who was keeping them at his home and kept near fro rehabilitation however when they were introduced back into the wild, they chose to come back.
Pian-upe is a magical place with so much untapped beauty within its borders. We had an evening game drive that did not yield much except zebras and Ugandan kobs. However the next morning we set off again for a game drive but because our vehicle could not handle the terrible un maintained game trucks we did most of the game viewing along the main road. Pian-upe is home to some animals that are not found in other parks in Uganda or that are not easily seen We saw 3 cheetahs not too far from the road, in Uganda you will find these in Kidepo but even then they are not easily sighted, next was a large herd of Roan antelopes which I am not certain you can find anywhere else. We also sighted a big herd of Waterbucks and common elands like I have never seen in any of the parks and ended our day with sighting of a mountain reedbuck before we returned to the camp for lunch and checked out for Moroto. The ranger guide informed us that other animals found here which are not common elsewhere include; crested porcupine, Bohor reedbuck, klipspringer, etc.
Mt Kadam is in the vicinity and people can hike it spending the night and returning the next day. On the night we arrived, we met a group that was preparing to leave and hike Mt Kadam the next day. They were all set with the supplies for overnight in the a real wilderness. This is an activity you can choose to add on your list while visiting Pian-upe game reserve. After a sumptuous lunch of a Ugandan Rolex we set off for Moroto via Nakapiripiriti.