What makes Pian Upe such a gem of a wildlife reserve

Second biggest gazette wildlife reserve in Uganda only bigger than Murchison falls NP

Has flora and fauna offering that can only be seen from this region.

One of a kind Napedet cave with historical rock paintings.

Unmatched opportunities for cultural immersion experiences.

Gazetted in 1964 by the then government, Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, covering 2043 square kilometres is one of the most beautiful tour sites in the East African region with eye catching sceneries. Pian Upe is the second largest protected of all reserves after Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.

It’s also the largest reserve in the country. The reserve is located in Karamoja in the North Eastern part of Uganda in Napiripirit district.

Due to its mismanagement from the late 70s to late 80s facing the roughest poaching resulting into the diminishing of animals, it became the less visited reserve despite its beauty.

However, in 1996, working semi independently under the ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) took over the reserve.

Currently under the Mountain Elgon Conservation Area, Pian Upe covers nine districts of Nakapiripirit, Amudat, Nabilatuk, Napak, Katakwi, Bulambuli, Bukedea, Kwen and Sironko.

The reserve then had only five (5) Giraffes compared to the current 41 after translocation of 29 from Murchison falls.

Since UWA took over, zebras have also increased to seventy (70) from three (3), Topis rose from five (5) to over ninety (90) now.

Buffalos and Elands have registered the greatest number growth over the years striking from 25 to 400 and 20 to 1,000 respectively.

Why should one visit Pian Upe

This reserve is habitat to dramatic and spectacular landscapes comprising of the volcanic mountain of Napak, the foothills of mountain Kadam and Inselburgs.

The hills adjacent to Girigirk River, grasslands and wetlands around Lake Opeta, rivers and springs all spice up the beautiful scenery of the reserve.

It being the largest game reserve, Pian Upe has the most beautiful scenery and magnificent geological assets ranging from mountain Kadam, Napak, holekek inselburgs. The reserve is also home to exceptional bird species and wildlife species.

This remarkable reserve also has hot springs and it is known as one of the incredible destinations with mercury wells at mountain Kadam.

Rich cultural heritage surrounding the reserve ranging from the languages, artifacts, foods and dances, rock artefacts of Napak, Napedet Mulukanyaku cave are the other memorable features.

The cave at Napedet is another alluring site. Initially a hunting ground for Pian and Upe tribes, the cave/ site had a number of activities including hunting and camping. It’s exactly opposite Kadam Mountains this cave was also used in different cultural rituals like peace making.

It represents the Geological and cultural elements of the tribes. It has rock paintings annulling its unique   background.

The region also has other rock paintings in Mulukanyaku and the other newly discovered in Napak Mountains


In the last five (5) years, the number of visitors to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve have tremendously grown.

However, during COVID-19 era, the numbers went down due to restricted movements and economic hardships.

Numbers have gradually shoot up as visitors to the reserve were 1,100 as per last year’s registered statistics.

The government has also taken step to solve most of the long lived challenges of insecurities and accessibility.

The government has constructed a passable road network, an airfield in Pian Upe Game Reserve and the Kidepo Game Park airport whose construction was commissioned recently.

Upon completion, accessibility to the wildlife reserves will be too smooth and foster the increment of visitors.

However, the game reserve floods within a number of challenge ranging from ineffectiveness in management and staffing, human wildlife conflict, inadequate funding from government, poaching, illegal wildlife grazing, bush burning/illegal fires, encroachment, low visitor number due to inadequate marketing of the place and inadequate research

It is important to note that after the ministry, miss Uganda, Miss tourism Queens and Breathtaking Uganda’s four-day tour to Pian Upe, the reserve has potential to change the whole face of Karamoja if given the desired attention.

With Pian Upe providing the rarest opportunities to see game like cheetahs, ostriches, roan antelopes among many other animals plus the unique flora, fauna and breathtaking landscapes patent to these reserves and the famous Napedet cave, the immersive Karimojong traditions, lifestyle and way of life seen in authentic Karimojong based meals, drinks, dressing in their cultural dressings, listening to Karimojong folksongs and tales and their dances make the region one of the most beautiful place to visit.

If given the right Marketing and effective management, Funding infrastructure (Roads, Modern toilets, Accommodation facilities, demarcating boundaries, introducing key wildlife species, creating conservation awareness, compensation to individuals affected during human wildlife conflict and improved research, Pian Upe can easily be Uganda’s leading or among the leading tourism attractions.

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