SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
Located in a remote part of Western Uganda, Semuliki National Park is one of the virgin protected areas in Africa. It protects the only tract of the lowland rain-forest in East Africa and the eastern extensive Ituri Forest which is part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). If there is one magical spot to visit for bird watching then it is Semuliki National Park.
Semuliki National Park hosts some of the amazing features associated with Central Africa rather than Eastern Africa. It was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 and later in 1993, it was designated as a national park. It is a compact Uganda safari park with area coverage of 220sq.kms and lies on elevation of about 670 to 760m. Compared to the vast savanna parks in Uganda, Semuliki National Park is one of the least explored Uganda safari parks and it remains a virgin destination to experience authentic African wilderness.
Semuliki National Park is a splendid park with an estimated population of 53 mammal species. They include 9 duiker species, hippos, buffaloes, forest elephants, leopards, pygmy flying squirrel. There are also so many species of primates including blue monkeys, pottos, bush babies, grey cheeked monkeys, chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys, mona monkey, red colobus monkeys.
Semuliki is a beautiful park with birdlife record of 441 species. This park features riverine and grassland habitat. The park’s diverse bird species include 46 Guinea-Congo biome species which exist only in East Africa. Some of the interesting bird species to sight on birding safari here include black dwarf hornbill, blue billed malimbe, African piculet, Maxwell’s black weavers, Nkulengu rail, blue billed malimbe, leaf love, yellow throated cuckoo, piping hornbill, yellow throated nicator.
Others include chestnut flanked goshawk, western bronze naped pigeon, hyre tailed honey guide, Congo Serpent eagle, blue headed crested flycatcher, green tailed bristle bill, hartlaub’s duck, Ituri batis, red eyed puff back. Semuliki is also endowed with numerous nocturnal avifaunal species including freckled nightjars, ayres hawk eagle, buff spotted flufftail, great sparrows, African wood owl, crested guinea fowl.
Other species Semuliki National Park offers refuge include an estimate of about 235 species of moth, 305 species of trees, 374 species of butterflies. Semuliki is also known for its iconic attraction the Sempaya hot springs which is notably one of the powerful hot springs in the world with a boiling rate of about 100 degrees Celsius.
Activities in Semuliki National Park Uganda
Semuliki National Park is a bird watching destination with estimated population of 441 bird species. On birding trip, the birds to expect to look for in Semuliki include shoebill storks, black collared lovebird, nightjars, brown crowned eremomela, African wood owl, Sarsi’s olive greenbul. Other species of birds include Africa piculet, swamp palm bulbul, Ross’s turaco, red sided broadbill, western bronze napped pigeon, black collared lovebird, Hartlaub’s duck, spot breasted ibis to mention but a few.
A game drive in Semuliki offers you a great opportunity to see diversity of wildlife species. They include leopards, antelopes, bush babies, warthogs, buffaloes, elephants, bird species. This park is ideal not only for morning game drive, afternoon game drives but also for night game drive.
Semuliki National Park is an interesting Uganda safari destination to embark on guided nature walk. About 3 trails for visitors to follow to explore the different habitats. They include Red monkey trail, 11kms leading tourists via the park boundary to the east then you sum it up at the Semliki River. Sempaya trail leads up to the Sempaya hot springs but along the way, you stand a chance to sight some interesting primates including red-tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, black and white monkey. The other trail is Kirumia trail which is 13kms and it is an amazing trail to spot birds.
Chimpanzee trekking is one of the best primate experiences you can enjoy while on Uganda safari in Semuliki. This is 4-6 hours’ primate walk and it also lets you come across other species of primates including the red colobus monkeys, Dent’s mona monkeys, baboons, grey cheeked mangabeys, black and white colobus monkeys.
Visiting the Sempaya hot springs
The Sempaya hot springs exists as female and male. The male is called Bitende hot spring it is 12 meters in diameter and female is Nyasimbi. On a nature walk to Sempaya hot springs, ensure you have some bananas or an egg and have a chance to boil it.
Where to stay
The lodging options in and around Semuliki include Semuliki Safari Lodge, Ntoroko Game Lodge, Kirimia Guesthouse, Semuliki park bandas and campsites. You can also have overnight stay in hotels in Fort Portal Tourism City including among others Mountains of the Moon Hotel, Rwenzori View Guesthouse, Kyaninga Lodge.
Access to Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is 52kms from Fort Portal just along the main Fort Portal-Bundibugyo route. From Kampala via Masaka along Mbarara-Kasese, about 7 hours’ drive. From Entebbe/Kampala via Mityana-Mubende up to Fort Portal which is 4-5 hours’ drive.
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