The fifth-most endangered conservation area in Uganda, covering an area of 1520 square kilometers, is located in the Karamojong section of the Moroto district and is known as the Matheniko Game Reserve. The Matheniko Game Reserve’s northern boundary is on the border between Uganda and Kenya. It is located in the Somali-Masai Ecoregion, which is characterized by semi-desert, grassland, and shrubs that receive little rainfall and harsh weather conditions. Despite these conditions, the plants and animals in this region survive and are resilient to them. The park is close to Mount Elgon, which has its own rocks that can reach a height of 6 feet.
Kidepo Valley National Park starts the corridor of protected areas in the Karamojong sub-region, which continues all the way through Bokora and Pian Upe game reserves. This corridor includes Matheniko Game Reserve. Despite its location, the game reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including reedbucks, topis, Uganda kobs, common duikers, lesser kudus, patas monkeys, vervet monkeys, elands, cheetahs, and leopards. Bird species including the cattle egret, Egyptian vulture, thick-bellied honey guide, Ethiopian swallow, pygmy falcon, and abbysian ground horn bill are among many others.
Few tourists visit the area because of its troubled history dating back to the colonial era, when the locals, known as the Karamojong, raided weapons from an abandoned army barracks and used them to raid cattle. These nomads, who believe they own every cow and bull on the planet, agitated nearby villages and nations, creating the impression that the area is unsafe for tourism. The Matheniko’s unpopularity is attributed to the area’s isolation and lackluster infrastructure growth.
The discovery of gold in the area has also made it sound from the dark, dreary Karamojong days and given the Ugandan Wildlife Authority an opportunity to market it as a good destination. In addition, with the expanding tourism industry, it has become sought after as an alternative for travelers who would love to experience something new and different.
Due to the abundance of animal species, the park offers a variety of activities, such as game drives and spot hunting in the game reserve. The Karamojong plateau is also full of rocks that can be hiked that are different from the Elgon and Rwenzori rocks, and cultural visits to the Karamojong people are also available. These people still adhere to their original cultural practices.
The game reserve is open all year round, but the dry season is when most people go. The greatest time to go is right after the rains when everything is still green since that is when the animals come to graze a lot. Rainy seasons can be a little challenging because of the scarce and poorly maintained roads.
It is situated in northern Uganda, in the Moroto area, about six hours’ drive from Kampala. For those who don’t like camping and prefer nicer lodging, there are campgrounds as well as Kotido and Moroto towns.