Semuliki National Park is located in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District, in western Uganda. It was made a national park in October 1993 and is one of Uganda’s newest national parks. 194 km2 (75 sq mi) of East Africa’s only lowland tropical rainforest is found in the park. It is one of the richest areas of floral and faunal diversity in Africa, with bird species being especially diverse. The park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The park headquarters is at Ntandi, which is 6 km away from the hot spring entrance.
The park borders the Semuliki and Lamia Rivers, which are watering places for many animals. The park has two hot springs in a hot mineral encrusted swamp. One of the springs – Mumbuga spring – resembles a geyser by forming a 0.5 m high fountain. These hot springs attract a large number of shorebirds and they are a source of salt for many animals.
The Semliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.
It is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa, hosting 441 recorded bird species and 53 mammals, forest buffaloes and elephants can be sited in the forest, as they can sometimes feed and come near to UWA bandas at night, but hard to be sighted during day times. Bird watching and hot spring visit plus nature walk is the main attraction in this great unique park. For game drive, it can be done at Tooro Semuliki Game Reserve which is a section attached to Semuliki National Park.
WHAT TO DO.
Number of activities can be done in this great park on your visit. Some of the activities include.
Hot Spring Visit.
A visit to the hot spring is ridiculous and amazing, one of its kind, as you talk a walk around and feel the heat from the hot springs, missed with the moisture, and Sulphur dioxide smell. You will have time to boil eggs as well which you can easily purchase at the park reservation. You will have chance to visit both the male and female hot springs. The walk to the male hot springs give you a great chance to site some primates such as baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, grey colobus monkeys, blank colobus monkeys, to mention but a few.
Nature walk to the park is worthwhile as you are able to site a number of birds, butterflies, insects and primates. This can take 2 to 4 hours walk, depending on your mobility and sightings. There is a number of what to see here. You can as well land on some wildlife such as the forest buffaloes and elephants. You can as well take the long route. The 13 km Kirumia Trail runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River. This 8 hour round trip starts at 8am and is perfect for birders.
If you’re a bird watcher, this is the park you should not miss out. Over 400 (66 percent of the country’s total bird species)species of birds can be sighted in this park. There are very many endemic birds only found here, like shoe-bills are well including the rare Forest Ground Thrush (Turdus oberlaenderi) and Sassi’s Olive Greenbul (Phyllastrephus lorenzi). Nine species of hornbills have been recorded in the park.
Game drive is done in Tooro Semliki Wildlife Reserves, which do have the savannah grasses for the wildlife. The park has over 60 mammal species, including forest buffalos, leopards, hippos, mona monkeys, water chevrotains, bush babies, civets, elephants, and the pygmy flying squirrel (Idiuus zenkeri). Nine species of duikers are found in the park, including the bay duiker (Cephalophus dorsalis). The park has eight primate species and almost 300 butterfly species.
Cultural Encounters in Semuliki
The Batwa’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle means they have always been dependent on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, medicine and tools, though this is beginning to change as a result of interaction with other local communities. Along the valleys are the Batuku tribes who do rear the cattle’s in large numbers and on the slopes of the Rwenzori ranges are the Bakonjo’s tribes who do the cultivations of the slopes and the Banbas on the Bundibugyo side who do farming as well.
There are some accommodations for where to stay, however there are few in numbers since most people travel for day visit. UWA banda’s are available for the budget group at Bumaga. Other accommodations are at Ntoroko such as Ntoroko Safari lodge, Semuliki Safari lodge. You can as well stay as far as Fort Portal and travel next early morning as its only 2 hours’ drive on good road.
There are two major roads from Kampala to Fort Portal, 4WD vehicles are recommended for both:
Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is about 180km, or a 4-5 hour drive, making it the shortest route.
Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese is longer at 465 km (7-8 hrs). This route offers the chance to stop along the way at Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Semuliki National Park’s Sempaya Gate is 59 km from Fort Portal. The park headquarters at Ntandi is 6 km further along the road. The roads are in good conditions from Fort Portal. For more information about Semuliki National Park, kindly contact our office by email: [email protected], you can well make a phone call: +250788439357