Napedet Cave Pian Upe

Generally speaking, Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is a Beautiful place for any nature lover.

A few weeks ago a team of four local travelers traversed Uganda on a post-COVID hope journey that was called “The Best Job Ever”. A 14 wild days’ discovery odyssey that would climax in the creation of a heartrending new tourism documentary about the awesomeness in Uganda’s countryside. 

One of the many stops on their itinerary was Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, a spot that became a favorite for me; and this journey brought back many memories of this wild wonderland known to not so many; deep in northeastern Uganda. 

Some 8hrs of drivetime on a normal day lead you to a 2275 sqkm (878 sqm) expanse of raw wilderness, so wild that the inhabitants know little or no interaction with tourists. 

The rising rocks are the few barriers that break the distance between Mt Kadam and the low flat plains surveyed by Elands, Cheetah, Burchell’s Zebra, Topi, klipspringer, Roan Antelope, Dik Dik; I could go on and on. 

Pian Cheetah
A cheetah in Pian Upe / Photo by Jonathan Benaiah

With the reintroduction of the Rothschildʼs giraffe individuals from Murchison Falls National park, the reserve is the unimaginable wildlife heaven that is dominated by grazers and browsers, some of which are very hard to see or even capture on camera. 

Walking in the reserve presents to you an up-close opportunity to access the Napedet cave and a big rock platform that is ideal for sundowners, and scenic photography.

Napedet Cave

On Top Of Napedet Cave

World Photography Day

Sunrise Pian

For the sunset and sunrise hunters, Pian Upe is your plug. The feeling of “the perfect sun waking up and going to bed” can be better described here. It’s natural art drawn in the bare skies of the East.

Gazing upon this massive expanse of wild heaven gifts you with an opportunity to take in the amazing birdlife that the reserve protects. Research teams have of-late mapped several active foxʼs weaver nests (the only Ugandan endemic) on the sprawling whistling acacia trees that dominate almost the entire landscape. The resident ostriches, Denhamʼs bastards, dwarf bitten, beautiful sunbird, purple roller, and francolins are just the genesis for ornithologists looking to broaden their checklists. 


Fox's Weaver, Pian Upe
Fox’s Weaver in Pian Upe / Photo by Onongo Jonathan

Pian Upe gives you a bit of everything and being bordered by the Akarimojong communities, you donʼt want to miss the might of the Karamojong culture, from the dance, architecture, dressing to their social life, storytelling; goodness these communities are raw and still defy the whirling winds of modernization. 

For the accommodation, I recommend the UWA bandas near the park entrance whose decently-furnished nature allows you to dream throughout the night to the next sunset behind your four walls. Kosi Wilderness Camp is also a private facility with tents, camping services, and hunting safaris.

Pian Dance Karamojong 

Kosi Wilderness Camp Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve
Kosi Wilderness Camp / Photo by Bentique Nigwomugisha
Pian Upe Wilderness Camp
Kosi Wilderness Camp Tents / Photo by Bentique Nigwomugisha

Pian Upe has poor tracks all through and it can even be worse in the rainy season (August September, October, and early November, late February, March April, and May). The clayish volcanic black soils have made it hard to maintain and create new tracks and access roads overtime thus 4×4 vehicles are highly recommended when going to Pian Upe on any day. 

There is that feel-good factor that Pian Upe created in my mind the first time I set foot in this piece of natural art, that keeps me wanting to go back again, and again.

I tell you what… Pian Upe is a thing of beauty, too good to be true. 

Visit Uganda.

Read the ultimate guide to help you plan your safari to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve. 

Birding in Pian

Written by 

The writer is a Ugandan based safari guide specialising in birds and mammals. He is also a frequent traveler who likes to show Uganda's visitors the best points in the country. I bet you will want to follow his blog and social media pages.