Semuliki National Park is located in Western Uganda in Bundibujo district close to the Uganda – DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) boarder. The park is famous for its floral and fauna diversity; having more than 400 bird species of which 216 species are true forest birds, over 60 mammal species, about 300 butterfly species and a wealth of moist evergreen and deciduous forest.
Living close to the park are four distinct ethnic groups; the Batwa pygmy people who are some of the initial forest dwellers, the Bwamba farmers living at the base of Rwenzori, the Batuku cattle keepers who inhabit the open plains and the Bakonjo who cultivate the mountain slopes. A tour to Semuliki National Park offers the ultimate taste of a true African Safari.
The alluring attributes of Semuliki
Semliki Wildlife Reserve 'Semliki’s famous valley'
Formerly known as Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Semliki Widlife Reserve is a consrrvation protected area located on the floor of the Rift valley where the Rwenzori mountains, Lake Albert and the Kijura escarpment create backdrops. The reserve is habitat for numerous wildlife species including big game. The animals to see while there include; elephants, buffalos, warthogs, waterbucks, hippos, giant forest hog and the Uganda Kob. Chimpanzees, baboons and monkeys are among the primate species in the reserve.
As a point worth noting, the reserve has a jaw-dropping population of 200 strong elephants comprising of Savannah and Forest elephants plus a hybrid species resulting from interbreeding. Semliki Wildlife Reserve has a wealth of over 440 bird species. A visit to the reserve is the craved encounter for the avid naturalist.
Over 400 species of birds
The park is a habitat to over 400 bird species living in patches of swamp forests, moist semi-deciduous forests dominated by ironwood, forest streams, swamps and oxbow lakes. The park is predominantly inhabited by Central African bird species which are rare in the other parts of Eastern Africa. The rare bird species to see include; the Congo serpent eagle, long-tailed hawk, black-wattle hornbill, the Nkulengu rail, and lyre-tailed honey guide.
The other birds include but are not limited to; the blue swallow, lowland akalat, blue-shouldered robin chat, red-eyed puffback, capped wheatear, black saw-wing, fire-crested alethe, toro oilve greenbul, mountain greenbul, bates’ nightjar, cassin’s spinetail, white-bellied kingfisher, Gabon woodpecker, double-toothed barbet and the long-tailed hawk.
Hot springs 'Nature’s enchanting wonder'
The hot springs are one of the main features of Semuliki National Park. The park has 2 hot springs located in a hot mineral encrusted swamp. These springs are surprisingly referred to as male and female; the outer spring being male and the inner one being female. The boiling springs draw curious tourists who come to ascertain whether the tales of this natural marvel are true. Once at the springs, all doubts are dispelled because even food is boiled in the springs and gets ready while everyone is seeing. The amazing springs also attract large numbers of shorebirds and animals who come to eat the natural salts found at the springs.
Adventure & Activities
Drives through Semuliki are a great chance to see the amazing wildlife. The Savannah grasslands of Toro Semuliki Wildlife reserve harbour animals including; the Savannah elephants, waterbucks, crocodiles, buffalos, warthogs and even the Uganda Kob. You can also be able to spot the rare pygmy hippos, the elusive bush babies, leopards, and a nocturnal game drive can allow you to see night creatures like the white-tailed mongoose. Game drives can be carried out in the morning, afternoon and night in the company of professional game rangers.
Semuliki National Park is the ultimate birders’ paradise with a population of over 400 bird species. The park has a number of great birding spots among which is Sempaya, Ntandi and the area around Kirumia river where you can discover birds like; the red-billed dwarf hornbill, piping hornbill, white-chested hornbill, yellow-throated nicator, great blue and ross’ turaco. The rare Shoebill stork can be seen on Lake Albert and forest walks can expose to many water birds.
Hikes and nature walks
While in Semuliki you can embark on a number of trails and Hikes for a great safari experience. There is the 13 km Kirumia trail running through the forest and ending at Semuliki river. The other is the Sempaya nature trail you embark on to see the enchanting hot springs and the 11 km Red Monkey track which leads to the hideout of the rare deBrazza monkey, among other primate species.
A visit to Semuliki will be your chance to encounter the pygmy Batwa who were the initial forest dwellers. The Batwa were hunter-gatherers who depended on the forest for thier ultimate survival. Semuliki forest is still the source of their food, medicine and shelter. Tourism is the alternative source for the Batwa people since it gives them a chance to display the wealth of their ancient cultural and way of life – the amused and entertained tourists normally give them some money as a token of appreciation. The people to encounter are the Batuku cattle keepers, the Bwamba farmers and the Bakonjo who cultivate the mountain slopes.
Visiting the hot water springs
A visit to the magical hot water springs is a major highlight in your tour to Semuliki Nations Park. The springs comprise of the outer ‘male’ springs and the inner ‘female’ springs. The trail to the outer springs is a long one and you have the opportunity of enjoying the sight of grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, black-and-colobus monkeys, going about in the forests. The hike to the inner springs is a 30-minute walk into Palm forests from the main road. The ‘female’ spring is dominated by a fervently boiling geyser. The springs are so hot that the curios tourists are able to cook food in the waters - they boil matooke and eggs, see them get ready and eat them.