Semuliki National Park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in Bundibugyo district along the Easter side of the River Semuliki. This park covers 220 sq km. The River Semiliki forms part of the international boundary between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). This is the only place in Uganda where the Ituri Rain-Forest encroaches from Congo, and a visit here provides a taste of Central Africa wildlife, birds and culture.
As part of the Albertine Rift Valley, the park encompasses part of one of Africa’s most bio-diverse forests and is particularly noted for its varied bird population.
What to see & do in Semuliki
Semuliki’s flora and fauna species include 336 tree species, 442 recorded bird species, 53 mammals and unspecified butterfly species. Some unique insects found here include the massive but harmless Goliath Beetles and Rhinoceros Beetles, reaching up to 4 inches in length.
Semiliki Valley houses one of Africa’s ancient forests that survived the last ice age creating thick dense forests with temperatures rising to a humid 30C and doused by an annual 1240mm of rain.
The Sempaya Hot Springs and the nearby Rwenzori Mountains were among Uganda’s first tourist attractions. The hot springs bubble up beneath Sempaya, demonstrating the powerful subterranean forces that have shaped the Rift Valley during the last 14 million years.
Two main springs are in a swampy clearing on the southeastern corner of the forest. The outer spring is dominated by a boiling geyser (103C) that spurts up to 2m from a white cake-like base. This spring is commonly referred to as the Female Spring. The inner spring is a broad steaming pool about 10m long and is reached by a 30 minute trail. This inner spring is commonly referred to as the Male Spring. Bring along an egg or two that you can boil in the many outlets of the spring.
The bird-life is especially spectacular and represents 40% of Uganda’s total bird species with 66% in the forest and the rest by the riverine habitat. 46 rare Guinea-Congo biome species are spotted here with 5 species endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. Another 35 species found here can “only be seen in 2-3 other sites in Uganda.” Look out for the Shining Blue Kingfisher, Black Dwarf Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, White-thighed Hornbill, Grant’s Bluebill, Blue-billed Malimbe, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, White-naped Pigeon, Grey-throated Roller, White-throated Blue Swallow, Olivacious Flycatcher and Black-billed Barbet to name but a few.
Twenty seven (27) large mammals like forest elephants and forest buffalo reside in the thick forests but are difficult to spot. The river banks are lined with scores of hippos and crocodiles.
When you are in Semuliki National Park, you are closer to more primate species than anywhere else in the world. Numerous primate species include the chimpanzee, black and white colobus, Central African red colobus, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, de Brazza monkey, vervet monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, Olive baboon and Dent’s mona monkey. After dark, look out for the nocturnal primates including the bushbabies and pottos.
Game is best seen in the nearby Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. You may sight various large mammals including several species of antelope, carnivores like lions and hyenas, and primates including chimpanzees on game drives and game walks. Bird life can also be viewed along the shores of Lake Albert, accessible by boat from the shore about 10 km from the only reliable accommodation in the area, the Semuliki Safari Lodge.
Where to stay in Semuliki
Visitors to Semuliki National park have many accommodation choices for selections made available. Ranging from high end facilities, these offer first class premium serves to guest especially those that wish to spend a luxurious lifestyle while on holiday. The mid range facilities are as well available, these offer moderate service to their guest and they are very affordable. For visitors that wish to spend less on accommodation, staying at budget facilities is very ideal, these offer are very safe, clean and with good food
- Semuliki Safari Lodge – up-market
- Mountains of the Moon (Fort Portal) – mid facility
- Semuliki Guest House-budget facility
- Rwenzori View Guest House (Fort Portal) – mid-market
- Toro-Semuliki Hostel – budget
- Ntoroko Safari Lodge-up market facility
- Rwenzori View Guest House-budget facility
- Eriba guest house-budget facility
- Palace Motel –budget facility
- Continental Hotel- mid facility