Guide to semuliki national park.
Semuliki national park is located in western Uganda in Bundibugyo district on Uganda Congo border. The park begun as a forest reserve in in 1932 but later in 1993 it became a national park. It is bordered by Rwenzori mountains on the south eastern side and the lake Albert in the northern side. Semuliki national park is known as the birder’s haven with over 400 bird species. There are over 50 mammal species in the park. The park faces a challenge of encroachment from the locals around the park who hunt animals, cut down tree for firewood and herbs. There are tribes which live near the park, they include; the Bakonjo and Bamba, the Batuku and the Batwa. The Bamba are farmers who grow crops at the foot of Rwenzori mountains.
The park is situated in one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests. The park is a good place for those interested in hiking as they see flora and fauna, different bird species like long-tailed Hawk, red-billed Helmet shrike among others.
Semuliki national park lies along the main fort portal to Bundibugyo Road, approximately 52km from fort portal. The road becomes muddy with trenches after heavy rains.
What to do in semuliki national park.
Visit to Sempaya hot springs
There are two hot springs; the male (Bintente) and female (Nyasimbi) hot springs. The male hot springs is approximately 12 meters in diameter. The water is at 100 degrees Celsius hot. The hot springs are one of the famous and the most sought-after attraction in semuliki National Park. The water from these hot springs is so hot to the extent that you can cook food. Many tourists boil eggs from the hot springs.
Game drives in semuliki are conducted as you drive through the savannah grassland. You get an opportunity to see lions, leopards, pygmy antelopes, forest elephants among others. You will also get a chance to see primates and chimpanzees like the black and white colobus monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey. The park has three trails that you can follow to enjoy your game drive. There is kirumia trail, Sempaya nature trail and red monkey trail. Semuliki national park conducts night games drives, you will get a chance to see the nocturnal animals like bats, owls, bush baby and the pottos.
Chimpanzee and primate trekking in semuliki wildlife reserve
Semuliki wildlife reserve is located in a valley covered with acacia woodland which harbors most of the chimpanzees in the reserve. Semuliki reserve is a gazetted area which was put up to conserve the kobs and other wildlife animals.
The trekking takes place in the morning hours which takes about 1-3 hours depending on how the chimps have travelled. Expect to see the black and colobus monkeys, baboons, the de Brazza, dent’s mona monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, central African red colobus among others.
Semuliki national park is one of the rich areas for forest birds in Africa, with over 400 bird species recorded. Birds you will find here include, northern red bishop, intermediate heron, red thighed sparrow-hawks, African Goshawk, African wood owl, buff-spotted flufftail, black-shouldered nightjars among others.
Boat rides are conducted on semuliki River. There are different mammals, reptile and birds you will see while on a boat ride, these include; the waterbucks, hippos, nile crocodiles, lizard, sitatungas among others.
Batwa cultural experience.
Batwa people live in the outskirts of semuliki national park. visiting their homesteads will take you through their ancient life and their way of life. You will get a chance to see how they construct their homes, how they make fire and gather fruits and medicine. Get the real African ancient life when you visit the Batwa people.
Guided nature walks and hiking.
Semuliki national park is part of the huge Ituri forest covered with swamps and savannah grasslands which provides a good ground for hiking and nature walks. Nature walks are guided by a professional guide to ensure your safety and a satisfactory experience. While hiking, you will get a chance to see different bird species, primates like baboons in the Mugiri forest, Uganda kobs among others.
What to wear and pack to semuliki national park.
Sturdy hiking boots for support while on a slippery trail.
Warm cotton clothing suitable for cold weather plus a rain jacket
Cameras and binoculars
Drinking water to prevent your body from dehydrating while trekking.
A light back-pack to carry your needed items
Warm sweater to keep for night.
Trails or routes used in semuliki national park.
The park has 3 trails you will be guided to use, these include;
Red monkey trail. This trail is 11km from the east border of the park. It goes up semuliki river. While using this trail, you will get an opportunity to see the De Brazza monkeys.
Sempaya nature trail. This is the trail that will take you to the hot springs. Expect to see primates like grey-cheeked mangabey, red tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys among others.
Kirumia trail. This covers an area of 13km passing through the forest up to semuliki river. For those interested in bird watching, this is the best route to use.
How to reach semuliki national park.
There are two major routes from Kampala that are used to reach the park, these include;
Kampala-fort portal highway road via masaka, Mbarara then to kasese which approximately 7 to 8 hours and 50km from fort portal.
Kampala-fort portal road via mubende. This route is approximately 5 to 6 hours from kampala.
There are chartered flights from kajjansi airstrip to kasese airstrip or directly from Entebbe airport to kasese.
Accommodations in semuliki national park.
There are accommodations in the park and others are outside. They range from budget, mid-range to luxury accommodations. These include;
Semuliki river camp.
The hotel is found in Bundibugyo town good for budget tourists. It has 7 rooms with showers, local restaurant and a bar.
Semuliki safari lodge.
This is near Tooro semuliki game reserve, it offers luxury services. The lodges have grass thatched cottages. They have amenities like swimming pool, hot showers, en-suite bathroom among others.
Nyati game lodge.
This is found near the shores of lake Albert. It is good for those interested in luxury tent camps, good for honeymoons.
UWA bandas and cottages.
They are 2.5km from Sempaya tourism center, they offer camping services, you can do self-catering and meals are prepared on order.