This park stretches across the floor of the Semiliki valley on the remote western side of the Rwenzori Mountain. It is dominated by one of Africa’s most ancient and bio diverse forests of the great Ituri forest of the Congo basin being one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago. This park provides a taste of central Africa without having to leave the park for it has thatched huts that are shaded by west African oil palms, its local population includes the Batwa pygmy that originated from Ituri, the Semiliki river which forms the international boundary and is a miniature version of the Congo river. Wildlife in this park has accumulated for over 25000years with hot springs bubbling up from the depth to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have shaped the rift valley for the last 14million years.
AREAS OF INTEREST
This river runs from the rwenzori mountains and is 160km long to lake albert and the Nile. River semliki is muddy, broad, forested and habours hippos and crocodiles. Tourists can view the river meander across the rift valley floor from roadside viewpoints and hike through the forest to its bird-rich banks.
Sempaya hot springs
These are the most famous attractions to the Semuliki national park and the male spring know as bintente is 12m in diameter and are set in a lush swampy clearing. The females spring Nyasimbi meaning the female ancestors boils at 103 degrees calices which spurts bubbling water and steam up to 2m high. The steam cloud can be seen from as far as 2km away.
Sempaya Ntanda road
This road is one of the loveliest tracts of forest in Uganda for it runs 6kmand it offers amazing views of birds and primates high up in the forest canopy. Walks during bird watching take place in Sempaya whereas night hikes deep in into the forest. The Mungiro falls near the hot springs are also a great attraction in this park.
Toro semuliki wildlife reserve.
This is Uganda’s oldest reserve and it s tropical rainforest meets grassy savanna and the flat plains are punctuated by deep river valleys. The unique geography is reflected in the diversity of wildlife, which includes the forest mammals of Central Africa, key East African species and a variety of birdlife. Chimp tracking is possible here.
Semuliki national park harbors 53 mammals of which 27 are large mammals while 11 species are endemic to the park including the pygmy antelope and two flying squirrel species. The peculiar water chevrotain commonly known as fanged dear are also found here. Forest buffalos and elephants are also found here though the forest is rich in primates like chimpanzees, dents mona monkeys, vervet, de brazzas, central African colobus, blue and red tailed colobus, grey cheeked magabay and the black and white colobus. Nocturnal primates like bush baby and potto are also there. Along the Semliki River are the crocodiles and hippos.
With the 441 recorded species in Semiliki, this park is one of the best places to be with 40% of Uganda’s total bird species and 66% of the countries forest bird species. There are also various rare species like the 46 guineas Congo biome species found nowhere else in east Africa, while 35 other can be seen in only two or three other places in Uganda. Common species to look out for here are piping horn bill, Nkulengu Rail, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, Black-casqued Wattled Horbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Piculet, White-throated Blue Swallow, Yellow-throated Nicator, Leaf-love, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Crested Malimbe, Red-bellied Malimbe, Blue-billed malimbe, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Orange-cheeked Waxbill among others.
A tree house and route provides an aerial view to the male spring that leads through a patch of forest where red tailed monkey, black and white colobus and grey cheeked mangabeys A 30-minute hike through palm forest from the main road leads to the inner, “female” spring, dominated by a boiling geyser. Eggs and matooke (green plantain) can be cooked in these boiling waters and enjoyed by hungry hikers making it such an amazing experience.
These cross the grass lands of Toro Semliki wildlife reserve with larger elephants and small forests regularly seen together with waterbucks, warthogs, buffalos, crocodiles and the Uganda kob. On a good day, leopards, bush babies and hippos can be spotted as well. These drives take place in the morning, afternoon and night and curious nocturnal species like the white tailed mongoose can also be seen.
Birding in Semuliki is rewarded with some of Africa’s forest birds and the best viewing spots are Ntandi and Sempaya that provide excellent viewing. Birds like piping hornbill, yellow throated nicator, white crested horn bill, great blue and ross’s turacos are seen here. Around river Kirumia is also another good spot for birding while the shoe bill stork is commonly seen on Lake Albert.
Nature walks and hiking
There are three routes famous for nature walks in this park. The Kirumia trail which is 13km runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River. Trekking this rough takes 8 hours and starts at 8am for the birders. The second longest route is the 11km Red monkey trail. This follows the parks eastern border and it’s a strong hold of the rare de brazza’s monkey to the Semliki River. The hot springs and primates can be viewed on the 8km Sempaya nature trail which is 2-4hours AND it’s both in the morning and evenings.
Accommodation is in plenty in and around this park. In Sempaya, we have Sempaya rest camp, Kirimia guest house and the national park Bandas and camp site. In fort portal are various sites like Tooro resort, Eriba guest house, Kyaninga lodge and Rwenzori view guest house among others. Many more places are found in Bundibugyo and Toro Semiliki wildlife reserve. All these provide services and comfort to the visitors.
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