The Ik People of Kidepo valley National Park

The Ik People of Kidepo Valley National Park – Remote and marginalised tribe living high in the Morungole Mountains that border with Kenya and southern Sudan.


the Ik peopleThe Ik people of Kidepo Valley National park (sometimes called Teuso, though this term is explicitly derogatory) are an ethnic group numbering between 10,000 to 11,000 people living in the mountains of northeastern Uganda near the border with Kenya, next to the more populous Karamojong and Turkana people.

The Ik were displaced from their land to create the Kidepo Valley National Park and consequently suffered extreme famine. Also, their weakness relative to other tribes meant they were regularly raided. The Ik are subsistence farmers who grind their own grain.

The Ik people live in several small villages arranged in clusters, which comprise the total “community”. Each small village is surrounded by an outer wall – made from thorny bushes and shrub cuttings entangled to form a protective fence.

The Ik People were the first people to migrate to Northeastern Uganda and they still remind everyone that Ik means “head of migration” or the first ones to migrate here.

Learn about the cultural life of the Ik people such paying he bride price with 5 to 10 beehives, chickens, goats, money instead of cattle, how children at a young age live with one another or their grandmother. How polygamy is practiced here and about everyday life in an Ik Village on Morungole Mountain.

Cattle for the most part is no longerkept for fear of raids from other tribes surrounding them, most farm, have goats and keep beehives and some of the honey is now processed.

Visiting the Ik people gives you a rare insight into an endangered tribe in Africa with less than 10,000 members and is seen as endangered for its future existence as they attempt to eke out a living high in the mountains with some of the most fantastic scenery in all of Uganda.

Getting to the Ik Villages was not easy but thanks to a trail marked by the US Forest Service it has become easier.  There is even a shortcut if you take a few hour ride by vehicle. nevertheless it is an all-day venture up and down the steep mountains with guides who speaks the Ik Language.

You have to be physically fit to climb the mountains – the peak of Mount Murongole is 2,749 meters above sea level and hike up here is a torture for those who are not physically fit.  The trail is approximately 08 kilometers long (16 kilometer round trip) and quite a tough climb to the villages.

You will find stunningly beautiful Scenery as you climb up Morungole mountains , simply breathtaking scenes in the valleys below you and into the Eastern Rift Valley of Kenya.

As you reach the villages you will be welcomed and greeted warmly with Ik traditional dancing.  The Ik people are welcoming tourism as it is adding a bit of income for the community and actually may sustain the continuing existence of the Tribe as it has for the other once marginalized Batwa People in southwest Uganda.

As you are guided around the village, ask questions about the lifestyle of the Ik people, the raising of children is quite different here, polygamy is part of family life and there is not much of a formal education besides learning to fend for yourself.

Your hike up to the mountains visiting the Ik people of Kidepo Valley National Park will be one of the highlights of your time in Uganda.  Enjoy the different cultural ways of the Ik people, learn from them and enjoy some of their local beer with them, it will be quite different from  what you are used to.

A day-trip to the Morungole Mountains to visit the Ik people takes a bit of planning.  Please let us know that you would like to visit them, so that we can incorporate it into your itinerary.  We suggest that you allow for an extra day in the Kidepo Valley Natioanl Park  if planning to visit he Ik people..

How to Visit the Ik Tribe:  This is an off the beaten track  experience of – true remoteness – it is something that you can combine  with a safari to one of Africa’s best Park according to CNN – it takes a long time getting here to Kidepo Valley Park – but it well worth it – once here –add a day to your Safari and visit the Ik People.


Update 2016: 

The Ik People have their first Member of Parliament in 10th Ugandan Parliament in 2016.  A history making moment that possibly ushers in a totally new experience o the ik legislative representation.