Semuliki National Park is located in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District, in western Uganda. Semeliki National Park lies in an area of 220km² with an altitude of 670-760m above sea level. Semuliki national park cuts across Semliki valley, western of Mountain Rwenzori and it is largely occupied by the Ituri forest that extends from the Eastern parts of Congo following the Congo Basin. The park is basically located within the famous Albertine Rift and it is separated from the Ituri of Congo by Semliki River thus leaving it to lie in the Great Rift Valley’s western arm, Semuliki Valley National Park is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa. Mountain Rwenzori ranges do separate the park from the other part of East Africa and in the long run, create very amazing scenery around it.
Semuliki National Park hosts of about 53 different mammals that live in this forest, 27 of these are the large mammals. 11 out of the 53 are endemic to this Park, for example, the pygmy antelopes and the 2 flying squirrel species. The forest is also a home to a really peculiar water chevrotain also called the fanged deer. The different animals that found in Semuliki Ituri forest include the small forest and the large savannah elephants, there are lots of buffaloes but these are the smaller type of the other large savannah-dwellers, there are different antelopes like the waterbucks, Uganda kobs, warthogs, there are also reptiles like the crocodiles, different lizards, and snakes too. The pygmy hippos are often seen along the banks of water sources, leopards are rare but lucky ones get to see them during the game drive.
Semuliki Valley National Park is the best Africa’s forest birding adventure, from Sempaya and Ntandi, where you can expect excellent results of bird watching adventure. There are over 441 different bird species living within in Semuliki National Park and this total represents about 40% of the total number of bird species living in Uganda and the different species to look out for including the white crested hornbills, Nkulengu Rail, red-billed dwarf hornbill, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, the Piping Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, there are the Red-rumped Tinkerbird, the African Piculet, Yellow-throated Nicator, the White-throated Blue Swallow, Leaf-love, the Swamp Palm Bulbul, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, the Crested Malimbe, also the Red-bellied Malimbe and the Blue-billed malimbe as well as the Lemon-bellied Crombec.
What to do
Nature Walks Through The Semuliki Jungle.
The Semuliki jungle-life is spectacular particularly for birders, and those interested in seeing primates, butterflies and plants. The jungle walks normally begin from Sempaya Gate and this takes approximately two hours and ends at the Hot Springs in the rainforest that has Palm Trees and has muddy ground. During the walk, visitors have the opportunity to see primates including Mangabeys plus Blue Monkeys, as well as mammals including forest buffaloes, pygmy hippos, elephants, leopards, and sitatungas, in addition to birds like Palm-nut Vultures, Hornbills plus Honeyguides. There are as well 305 tree species recorded here of which 125 species are endemic to the park.
Local Community Walks
The “Batwa”, is a local pygmy Ituri-ethnic people found close to the park. These people lived within Semuliki Forest and were essentially relying on fruit gathering plus hunting within this forest. Currently, different other ethnic cultural groups have come here and these intermarried resulting in the cultural exchange. Taking a community visit to the adjacent pygmy village close to the Sempaya Gate will give you the chance to witness the dances, lifestyles, and traditions, and offer you a chance to purchase some souvenirs.
Spot fishing in Semuliki National Park offers a memorable rewarding experience where one comes with his fishing gadgets. As you’re experiencing the thrill the winding Bundibugyo road via the Rwenzori escarpments
Birding is an additional tourism activity carried out in the Uganda safari. The different vegetation types in the park provide birders an opportunity to see various birds such as grassland birds, forest birds, water birds plus wetland birds. The area near the geothermal Sempaya hot-springs is not just very spectacular but as well offers some wonderful birding particularly in the nights.
Where to stay
The park has luxury accommodation that will favor all travelers Semiliki safari lodge, Ntoroko game lodge, For budget accommodation kirimia guest house and national park bandas and campsite.
How to get there
Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is about 180km, or a 4-5 hour drive, making it the shortest route.
Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara, and Kasese is longer at 465km (7-8 hrs). This route offers the chance to stop along the way at Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Semuliki National Park’s Sempaya Gate is 59km from Fort Portal. The park headquarters at Ntandi is 6km further along the road. Historically, the journey was a slow and bumpy 2-3 hour drive on a narrow road that winds over the northern Rwenzori. The route is currently being widened and surfaced to make the journey shorter and more comfortable.