Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is located in western Uganda in Bwamba sub-county Bundibugyo district on Uganda’s border with the Democratic republic of Congo. The park was gazetted in 1993 mainly to protect biodiversity and it covers a total area of 220 square kilometers which is comprised of semi-deciduous forest, savannah grassland, tropical forest among others which is dominated by Cynometra Alexandi also known as iron wood and harbors different wildlife species including 53 mammal species including forest elephants, buffaloes, pygmy antelope, flying squirrels, hippos, crocodiles, primates like red tailed monkeys, grey cheeked mangabey, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and more than 441 bird species such as piping hornbill, red billed dwarf hornbill, yellow throated cuckoo, red bellied malimbe among others.
Activities in Semuliki national park
Semuliki national park offers an interesting boat cruise which is conducted on Lake Albert. During the boat cruise you will be able to view animals like hippos and crocodiles in water, enjoy incredible views of the beautiful scenery, water birds like the elusive shoebill stork, red throated bee-eater, kingfishers, fish eagles among others.
Chimpanzee trekking is an adventurous activity where visitors move on foot in search of chimpanzees and once found spend one hour with them in their natural habitat. Chimpanzee trekking is done in Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve and it starts with a briefing about the rules and regulations to follow during trekking. Trekking of chimpanzees takes about 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on where the chimpanzee are located, during trekking you will be able to view other primates, birds, beautiful butterflies, different plant and tree species among others and once the chimpanzees are found you will be allowed to spend one hour with them in their natural environment which gives you an opportunity to observe their habits, lifestyle, behaviors, take photos, watch them feed, hunt, fight, breastfeed, play, mate, record videos among others.
Semuliki national park is a home of more than 441 recorded bird species including Albertine rift endemic species, forest birds and migratory birds. Bird watching in Semuliki national park is best done in the morning or in the evening with an experienced bird guide who will help you to spot different bird species such as the rare shoebill stork, yellow throated Nicator, great blue turaco, Ross’s turaco, red billed dwarf hornbill, papyrus gonolek, blue billed malimbe, swamp palm bulbul, African piculet, Maxwell’s black weaver, black winged starling, lyre, tailed honey guide, Long tailed Hawk, Congo serpent eagle, capuchin babbler, crested flycatcher among others.
Nature walks/ hiking
This is an interesting activity which gives you a chance to explore the park on foot with an experienced park guide and armed park ranger to protect you from any danger. There are several hiking trails in Semuliki national park like Kirumia trail which is a 13km trail which passes through the middles of the forest towards Semuliki river, red tailed monkey/primate trail the 11km trail which extends to the eastern border of the park, Sempaya nature trail the 8km trail which starts from the male hot spring and the female hot spring and the Batwa cultural trail which runs from Ntandi park head quarters to the forest where the Batwa performed different ceremonial activities like kingship, circumcisions among others.
Visiting Sempaya hot springs
The park is known for the two Sempaya hot springs that is the male hot spring which is called Bintente and the female hot spring which is called Nyasimbi. During the visit to the Sempaya hot springs you will be accompanied by an experienced guide who will share with you the history of the hot springs and also lead you through the broad walk to the male hot spring which is in form of a pool and the female hot spring which is dominated by a boiling geyser and visitors get a chance to boil eggs or plantain in the hot boiling water. While trekking to the male hot spring you will be able to enjoy great views of the Rwenzori mountain ranges, primates like black and white colobus monkeys, different bird species among others.
This is an interesting and adventurous activity in Semuliki national park which gives you an opportunity to interact with the local people in the communities surrounding the park. There are several tribes surrounding Semuliki national park such as the Batwa people, the Bakonjo and Bwamba tribe. During the cultural tour you will be able to learn about the local people’s culture, history, taste their traditional meals, visit their farmlands, homesteads, enjoy their traditional entertainments through music, dance and drama.
Best time to visit Semuliki national park
Semuliki national park can be visited all year round though the best time is during the dry season also known as the peak season in the months of June to September and December to February. During the dry season Semuliki national park receives little or less rainfall therefore hiking trails will be passable and vegetation in the park will be thin hence making wildlife viewing easy.
How to get to Semuliki national park
Semuliki is located in western Uganda and can be accessed by road transport means whereby you will drive from Kampala via Mubende to Fort Portal and then Semuliki national park which takes about 5 to 6 hours drive in a 4WD safari vehicle.