The remote Matheniko Wildlife reserve is situated on the savannah plains of the Karamoja sub-region. The reserve is located in the Moroto district and covers an area of 1520 square kilometers. It is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Matheniko stands at an altitude of 1070m to 1830m above sea level. This exceptional game reserve is a section of the Karamoja Protected Areas and stretches from the spectacular Kidepo Valley National Park through the Bokora Wildlife Game Reserve to the Pian Upe game reserve. The North-eastern boundary of the Matheniko reserve lies in the Uganda-Kenya border. Visitor on a Uganda safari to Kidepo National Park can have a short Uganda tour to see the exceptional animal and bird species in Matheniko.
Matheniko Game Reserve is home to exceptional animal species. Uganda wildlife safari tour to Matheniko grants an opportunity to travellers to see antelopes such as the Bright’s gazelle, lesser kudu, Waterbucks, Mountain reedbucks, Ugandan Kobs, Blue duikers, Oribis, Bohor reedbucks, Topi, Common duikers and Common elands exist in the reserve. Primates in the reserve include Olive baboons, Patas monkeys, and Vervet monkeys. Carnivores are also present including the Jackals, Cheetah, Striped hyenas, Servals, Civets, Leopards, Wildcats and Spotted hyenas.
Uganda bird watching safaris to Matheniko wildlife reserve is also possible in the Reserve. The bird species that call Matheniko Wildlife Game Reserve home include the Eastern Bronze-napped Pigeon, the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, the Mountain Yellow Warbler, Verreaux’s Eagle, the Egyptian Vulture the Thick-billed Honeyguide, the Hartlaub’s Turaco, Ethiopian swallow, Pygmy Falcon, the Black-headed plover, the Cattle egret, the Red-billed Oxpecker and the Clapperton’s Francolin among others.
The wildlife reserve falls under the Somalia-Masai eco-region of the Semi-arid Savannah and shrubland. The landscape of Matheniko Wildlife Reserve is dominated by Red acacia and the desert date (Balanites aegyptiacus), red spike-thorns (Gymnosporia senegalensis), bushwillows (Combretum apiculatum) and Harrisonia abyssinica. There are also numerous shrubs that are common within this Wildlife Reserve. These include woolly caper bush (Capparis tomentosa) and the butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea).
Matheniko game Reserve is dominated by rocks. Some of the paintings date back to about 3,500 years ago. While on a Uganda tour to the reserve, an arrangement can be made to go and spot some of these paintings. The Nilotic and Kushites were responsible for these great works of art. The paintings offer an idea of what life was then and what kind of animals roamed the plains then.
As already noted earlier, the game reserve is home to a respectable collection of wildlife including large cats and antelopes. Those interested in standard game drives need to first register with the office in Moroto town. After registration, a Guide is assigned to escort visitors to the reserve.
The Karamoja plateau is marked by countless massive rocks and mountains. Mountain hiking trek tour in Uganda’s Matheniko game reserve can be an alternative to hiking the more difficult mountains like Elgon or the Rwenzori ranges. This is particularly true for first-time hikers. A Uganda climbing trek to the top of one of the rocks in Matheniko Wildlife Reserve will present you with picturesque views of the vast Karamoja plains and wildlife.
For a more complete safari tour in Matheniko game Reserve, one can go for a Uganda cultural tour to see the amazing Karamojong people. Their culture, values, and traditions are unique and unspoiled. This is because they have lived in isolation longer than other Ugandan tribes. The Karamojong resist any attempt at modernization. They have been pastoralists since time memorial and depend on their animals for most of their dietary and economic needs. The Karamojong have an intriguing dress code with artificially made facial and body scars that signify beauty. The women put on beautiful beads to enhance their appearance. Like any human society, they have artists and pieces for sale to tourists at reasonable prices. Perhaps the most crowing thing to a Karamojong village is attending a cultural dance show. If you have visited the Masai people, then you may have an idea of what the Karamojong dance is about.
There are few good safari accommodations close to Matheniko Wildlife Reserve. One should expect to sleep in public campsites and cook their own meals while within the reserve. If one needs more comfortable facilities, they can choose to stay in the larger hotels in Kotido or Moroto town. From the hotels, one can go for activities in the reserve early each morning. Camping within the game reserve offer a level of privacy and access to wildlife that may not be possible in the larger national parks
The best time to have a Uganda trip to Matheniko reserve is the dry season (June to September and December to February) because most of the Murrum roads become muddy and slippery during the rainy season-the months of April, May, and November. This annual rainfall of the reserve is estimated at 670 millimeters.
It is important to use only 4X4 safari cars, especially when visiting during the rainy season. The car should be air-conditioned because the area is hot for most parts of the year leaving behind dusty roads.
From Kampala, the fastest route is via Jinja-Soroti (556km) talking about 11 hours
From Kidepo Valley, Matheniko Wildlife Reserve is about 119km on a Murrum road
From Moroto town the game reserve is about 48 km
Travel by air
Flights to Matheniko Wildlife Reserve can be arranged from Entebbe International Airport by Aerolink Uganda to Kidepo Airport taking around 2 hours.