Semliki National Park is an amazing remoteness among Uganda’s park situated at the foothills of the Rwenzori mountain ranges. The park seated on the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo in the Albertine rift in western Uganda.
This is Uganda’s 2nd smallest park among the 10 national parks in the country, this park is among the unfamiliar parks spreading to an area of 220sq/km. The Semuliki Park is a unique East Africa’s only lowland tropical rainforest. And it should be noted that the park is shared between the tropical thickets and savannah as far as vegetation cover is concerned. The Park’s vegetation is majorly medium altitude moist evergreen to the semi-deciduous forest with the huge Ituri forests which makes it a birders haven with many species you can find on beaten path.
When regarding in advancing for uncovered tourist destinations in Uganda, you got it then! You don’t need to miss out this smaller portion of Semuliki National Park. Among the few unbiased wildlife park, it’s commonly known for its hot springs which even can boil an egg in just counts of minutes, numerous wildlife, and unbeatable cultural holding of the region.
The park comprehends a high diversity of flora and fauna, as well branded to share on the central African climate and its ecology. The Park’s vegetation is majorly medium altitude moist evergreen to the semi-deciduous forest with the huge Ituri forests which makes it a birder’s haven with many species, hosting about 441 bird species, 53mammal species, 9 primate species, and prominently recognized for the wondrous male and female Sempaya hot springs.
Accessing the Semuliki National Park
This park is situated in western region of Uganda in Bundibugyo district. Semuliki National Park can be accessed by road from Kampala via Mityana – Mubende – Fort Portal road to Bindibugyo (189km) about 4hrs drive. The fastest way to get to Semuliki national park using chattered plane from Entebbe and Kajjansi airfield to Semliki airstrip, this can take about 1 ½ hours to reach the park on direct.
What to do at Semuliki national park
Semuliki National Park shelter a number of wildlife life which reside in both the thickets and savannah. Game drives with experienced ranger guides enrich wild viewing opportunities, the assured sights are Uganda Kob and baboons, baffalos, elephants, hippos, and crocodiles are all great views on a game drive. The park’s dominant mammal species to sight along scenic drive can include forest buffaloes, leopards, hippos, Mona monkeys, water chevrotains, bush babies, civets, elephants, and the pygmy flying squirrel.
The major spot and fame point of Semuliki are the two hot springs, these are a major attraction to a number of travelers to the park. The local people (Bamba people) use them for rituals to wash off the curses and ask for blessings and protections from their gods. The walk to the male (named Bintente) and female (Nyasimbe) hot springs take you through the forest where you watch red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheekedmangabey, and black-and-white colobus monkeys jumping from tree branches in search of food. The ‘female’ hot springs have a boiling fountain at over 1000C. Often you have an opportunity to cook plantains and eggs in the boiling waters and consume them as you continue your trekking journey.
Semuliki national park is excellently branded as the birders haven accommodating over 440 bird species, with perfect sighting spots of Sempaya and Ntandi the park headquarters which avails sighting several bird species including; white-crested hornbill, red-billed dwarf hornbill, piping hornbill, yellow-throated nicator, great blue and ross’s turaco. The close quarters of Lake Albert are always associated with the great shoebill stork. Water birds can also be tracked during forest walks.
There are also 12 unique bird species that are extremely partial in East Africa but can be seen by tourists spending a few days at the Park and these include Western bronze-napped pigeon, yellow-throated cuckoo, piping hornbill, red-sided broadbill, xavier’s greenbul, capuchin babbler, yellow longbill, blue-headed flycatcher, red-billed helmet-shrike, crested malimbe, pale fronted antpecker and chestnut-breasted negro-finch among others.
Almost the most fascinating adventure to undertake at Semuliki national park is the morning chimpanzee tracking that mainly UWA calls the primate walk. The park has communities of habituated chimpanzee communities for trekking, hikes to see the chimps are likely difficult and chances left to watch the chimpanzees are lesser about 30% and if happened to watch them it’s a superior adventure ever.
Along your primate walks within the tropical savannah there much more other primates to encounter, including the grey checked mangebay, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons among others.
Walking trail to the hot springs through a patch of the forest rewards with some common primate encounters including red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey and black and white colobus and many interesting birds like the forest hornbills, blue-breasted kingfisher, red-rumped and yellow-throated tinker bird, Frasier’s ant-thrush, honey guide greenbul among others.
Along the far side of slushy swamp clearing there another broad steaming pool than a geyser that can be reached by a footpath. The wilderness trail through the Eastern margin of the Park to the Semuliki River which also proposals for exposure to variability of localized birds than the trail to the springs. In addition to the red monkey trail, you can as well see a variety of monkeys, crocodiles, buffalo, and elephant on the River.
Community walks and Cultural experiences
Experiencing the cultural bit of the people living in areas around the park is an exciting, the Batwa used to live within the forest before it was turned into a national park. Today, at the boundaries of the park they live to demonstrate their culture on how they lived in the forest from gathering food, hunting, and tools of how they lived and survived in the forest. It’s a great time sharing a life moment of music and dance performances, as well can purchase some of the handcrafts made by the Batwa people.