Semuliki National Park Uganda
About Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park in Uganda covers 542 km2 with an altitude of 1,160 m – 2,607 m above sea level, Semuliki National Park lies along the Congolese border following the Semliki River, within the Western arm of the Albertine Rift Valley, in the North of Rwenzori Mountains, semuliki national park happens to be one of Africa’s bio-diverse forests. This forest is mostly covered by the eastern parts of Ituri forests from Congo Basin, Semuliki Valley National Park contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa.
Semuliki national park is has the largest population of Uganda Kobs and now is the number one birding destination in Uganda, once on a primate walk there are chances of encountering the chimpanzees.
Thatched huts found with in Semuliki Valley are shaded by West African oil palms, the Semuliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, while the local population includes a Batwa (Pygmy) community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, a visit to Semuliki provides a taste of Central Africa just a couple of hours from the comforts of Fort Portal.
Semuliki National Park is boosted of 440 bird species like the Red-necked falcon, Black-billed Barbet and the turkey like Abyssinian ground-hornbill, Shoebill is usually sighted in the marshes of lake Albert. (at least 40 of them are found nowhere else in Uganda), 63 Mammals, like Elephants, Leopards, Buffaloes (nowhere else are found flying squirrels, pygmy antelope and six types of bats), 9 primates (Chimpanzee, Blue monkey, Vervet monkeys, Baboon), at least 374 species of butterflies.
Semuliki National Park Tourist Activities
Bird watchers encountering semuliki national park stand higher chances of witnessing Africa’s best forest birding since the park habituates 440 species of birds. Ntandi and Sempaya provide excellent viewing of the birds including the piping Hornbill, White-crested hornbill, Red-billed dwarf hornbill, Great blue and Ross’s turacos, Yellow-throated nicator, Red necked falcon, Black-billed barbet, turkey like Abyssinian ground-hornbill and Shoebills are rarely seen in marshes of lake Albert, forest walks are always great for watching water birds.
Hiking and Nature Walks
Semuliki national park offers a 13km nature walk to kirumia through the heart of the forest to the semuliki river. this trail is perfect for birdwatcher, natural walk from the headquarter at Sempaya gate down to the river Semuliki, enjoying bird watching, butterflies, flowers and coming across different tree species. The walk take up to 3 hours as you go through a variety of habitats ranging from Savannah woodland to riverine forest, along the nature walk your expected to come across Ground Hornbills, Uganda Kobs, Warthogs, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys and Black and white colobus monkeys
Semuliki happens to contain two hot springs (one male and one female), situated in a tract of hot minerals encrusted swamp land, where visitors see a jet of hot water and a pool of boiling water that can cook edibles like an egg, matooke(green plantations). An hours long trail to the outer male springs leads you through a patch of forest where red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, black and white colobus monkeys are common. A tree house en route provides an aerial view while 30 minute hike through palm forest from the main road leads to the inner, female spring dominated by a boiling geyser.
Semuliki National Park takes you through a primate walk that takes about 3 to 4 hrs. The key primate species to be spotted out on our primate walk include: Chimpanzees, Red – tailed, Vervet, Black and White colobus Monkeys, Baboons, Angulates encountered are Waterbucks, Warthogs, Bush Bucks, Buffaloes, Uganda Kobs and African forest Elephants.
Semliki National Park offers a boat ride that is conducted on Lake Albert most sighted species include the shoebill, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and Blue headed Coucal.
Semuliki National Park has a provision of three tracks that run across the Savannah grassland of Toro semuliki wildlife reserve, here you will encounter Forest and large Savannah elephants, Buffaloes, Waterbucks, Warthogs, Pygmy hippos, Bush babies, Uganda Kobs and Leopards on a luck day. Game drive in semuliki national park are conducted in the morning, afternoon and at night so as to come across nocturnal species such as the white tailed mongoose.
Hike to Nyaburogo Gorge
This hike in Semliki National Park will enable you to reach the Nyaburogo gorge that starts right away from the reserve head quarters and it’s a 7 km hike that goes through a diversity of habituats including the Savannah, woodland and a forest in the gorge. Common birds sighted around the gorge include: Arrow marked Babbler, Tropical Boubal, Black-headed, Bushrike, Luhdres Bushrike and primates including Vervet monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys and Baboons.
Cultural Encounters and Trails
A visit to the pygmies(Batwa) who happen to be hunters and fruit gathers from the semuliki valley forests, will give you an amazing life time experience as you will get to know their origin and way of surviving.
Karugutu – Kyabandara community
This community is situated in the south of semuliki national park about 18 km from fort portal town. This area is habituated by the bakonjo who are cultivators that commonly grow crops like maize, cassava, beans, Soya beans, rice and bananas some of which is sold in Ntoroko markets.
Ntoroko fishing community
This community is based in the south – eastern tips of Lake Albert between the estuaries of Wasa and Muzizi rivers, The Ntoroko community mainly depends on fishing for survival.
This community is situated on the west and north western edge of the reserve in the semliki flats, this community is mainly comprised of the Batuku who are predominantly pastoralists. These are believed to have been the royal army of Kabalega of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom.
Kasesenge – Kyakabaseke community
This community is located on the eastern escarpments of the rift valley. it’s being occupied by the Bakiga who migrated to this area back in the 1960’s as tea growing provided a stable income.
How to get to Semuliki National Park
There are two major roads from Kampala to Fort Portal: Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is about 180 Km. (about 4-5 hrs drive) while Kampala -Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese is about 465 Km (7-8 hrs). In both routes 2-wheel drive vehicles can be useful. While the Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is much shorter covering a distance of 290 km, the Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese gives you opportunity to Visit Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
From Fort Portal, A 2-3 hours drive on the rough road towards Bundibugyo will bring you to Sempaya Gate (52Km). Semuliki national Park headquarters at Ntandi is 6Km further from the gate along the same route. A vehicle with high clearance is recommended.
There is an air field managed by UWA so visitors can charter planes and land at semliki safari lodge where the air field is situated.
Using public means you can take a taxi (mini bus) or a bus to Fort Portal. From the Taxi Park, board one of the pick-up trucks for Bundibugyo and stop at Sempaya Gate, which is well sign posted. Return trip will be by the same means but a void being too late (not later than 4.00 p.m.).
At Semliki National Park accommodation can be done at the Semuliki safari lodge (Luxury) or accommodated in the nearby towns like Fort portal or Bundibugyo town, camping is also an option for clients who want stay in the park.
For more information about Uganda Safaris to Semiliki National Park, kindly contact our office by email: [email protected] or phone call at: +256 776 660 918/ +256 751 646 578