Semuliki National Park occupies an area of 220 sq km and is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest and forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene. Positioned about 50 km from Fort Portal, Semuliki is one of the richest areas in both flora and fauna in Africa with mainly birds. The park is in the remote corner of Bundibugyo District, lying across Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border in the western arm of the East African Rift Valley. The geographical coordinates are 0o 44′- 00 53′ N – 290 57-30o 11’E. To the southeast are the Rwenzori Mountains, to the west is DRC and to the north Lake Albert. Gazetted in October 1993, Semuliki is one of Uganda’s newest National Parks occupying a flat to gentle land form ranging from 670 -760 metres above the sea level. The average annual rainfall is 1250 mm with peaks from March to May and September and December and the area temperature varies from 18o C – 30o C with relatively small daily variations.
Semliki National Park Tour Activities.
For anyone on a wilderness safari in Uganda, the principal captivating attractions at Semuliki are the incredible scenery, Sempaya Hot Springs, forest jungle walk, birding, primate viewing and the meandering river Semuliki. Please get off the regular tourists’ circuit and spend three to five days camping and hiking in the only real East African jungle. Semuliki is one of the National Parks in Uganda widely known for its night game drives targeting glimpses of nocturnal animals.
Visit Sempaya Hot Springs
Get to know that a trip to Semuliki is full of the most marvelous and breathtaking views. Travel and experience the most stimulating twisty Bundibugyo road through the Rwenzori escarpments. While on the way at ‘Mungu Ni Mukubwa’, the road offers scenic views of the meandering Semuliki River, the fuming Sempaya Hot Springs and the green tropical rain forest make longer up to Ituri forest in DRC. Two Hot springs in a tract of hot mineral thick swampland, endowed with birds, insects and mammal life accessible using a modern trail network. Enjoy a view of a two-meter jet of hot water (130oC) and a pool (12 m diameter) of discharging boiling water (106oC). Interestingly, you can boil food like eggs in the natural boiler within ten minutes and enjoy it.
Nature Walks in Semuliki National Park
Life in the jungle of Semuliki is amazing mainly for bird watching, primates, butterfly and plant lovers. Walking through this jungle, you lead to River Semuliki meanders, the only one in East Africa. A host of forest mammals like buffaloes, elephants, statungas, leopards, primates, bush pig, Water Chevrotain, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Bee crofts Anomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse and a wide range of forest and water birds come to your sight while at the park but not common. Pygmy Hippopotamus and Crocodiles are usually seen by chance. The park has 8 species of primates.
There are also shy and mainly nocturnal mammals like the Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed and Mona, Gentle (Blue) Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkeys are rare and Chimpanzees may rarely be heard than seen. Nocturnal primates include Pottos and Galagos. Squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel are also rare. Little collard fruit Bat and Target Rat are also there.
There are more than 300 species of butterflies and 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted. About 305 species of trees have been recorded out of which 125 are restricted to this park alone.
Bird Species at Semuliki include the Broad-billed Roller, Green Wood-hoopoe, African Grey Hornbill, African Mustached Warbler, rapacious Red-necked Falcon, Black-winged Red-Bishop, White-winged Widow-bird and Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-throated Leaf love, Green-backed Eremomela, Piapiac, Black-chinned Quail-Finch, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike and Western Violet-backed sun bird, the list is endless.
Equip yourself with fishing facilities and go for sport fishing along the river.
Getting to there
You can use major roads:
1. From Kampala via Mubende to Fort Portal which is about 180 Km (about 4-5 hrs drive)
2. Kampala via Masaka to Mbarara, Bushenyi to Kasese is about 465 Km (7-8 hrs). This route is only good for anyone on a Uganda safari to Queen Elizabeth national park or gorilla trekking in Bwindi forest but wants to precede the Semliki Park for other activities.
In both routes 4-wheel drives vehicles are ideal and faster. While the Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is much shorter, the Kampala 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.
1. Semuliki Safari Lodge is located in the Semuliki Valley Wildlife Reserve, in the Western Rift Valley. It has Canvas tents permanently thatched; each with en-suite bathrooms and confidential verandas with a stunning panoramic view. The lodge also has a fully furnished lounge with soft comfortable seats; a well-maintained swimming pool while the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner , all tasty meals.
2. A camp site inside the Park at Bumaga, about 3 km from Sempaya Gate. Here you can spend a night in one of the two Executive bandas, hire a tent or come with your own tent for camping. The site canteen stocked with both African and European food and drinks but meals are prepared on order. One can also prepare his own food at the site using hired cooking.
3. Another camp near the Sempaya Gate. There shall be small thatched shelters for cooking and eating. Cooking utensils will be for hire, but carry your own tent and food.
4. You can also use luxurious accommodations including hotels and lodges in Fort Portal before or after the tour to the park.
From Fort Portal, it takes between 2-3 hours on a 52 Km road towards Bundibugyo to reach Sempaya Gate. The Park headquarters at Ntandi, 5 Km further from the gate along the same route and a vehicle with high clearance is recommended.