Semuliki National Park covering 220 sq km is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest and forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene. Located about 50km from Fort Portal, Semuliki is one of the richest areas in both flora and fauna in Africa with mainly birds.
Semuliki National Park is found 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 landform 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.
Tour activities at Semuliki National Park
The most fascinating attractions at Semuliki are the fantastic scenery, 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.
Visit to the hot springs
Get to know that a trip to Semuliki is full of the most marvellous and breathtaking views. Travel and experience the most thrilling meandering Bundibugyo road through the Rwenzori escarpments. While in the mountains 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 extending 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 oozing boiling water (106oC). Interestingly, you can boil food like eggs in the natural boiler within ten minutes and enjoy it.
Nature Walk at Semuliki National Park
Life in the jungle of Semuliki is astounding 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, Beecroft’s 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 mammal 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 watching at Semuliki National Park
Bird Species at Semuliki include the Broad-billed Roller, Green Wood-hoopoe, African Grey Hornbill, African Moustached Warbler, rapacious Red-necked Falcon, Black-winged Red-Bishop, White-winged Widowbird and Fawn-breasted Wax-bill, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-throated Leaf love, Green-backed Eremomela, Piapiac, Black-chinned Quail-Finch, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike and Western Violet-backed sunbird, the list is endless.
Armed with your fishing facilities, you can go sport fishing along the river.
Getting to Semuliki National Park .
From Kampala via Mubende to Fort Portal which is about 180 Km (about 4-5 hrs drive)
Going to Semuliki National Park, 4-wheel drive vehicles are ideal and faster.
Accommodations at Semuliki National Park
- 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.
- Another camp in Sempaya near 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.
- You can also use luxury accommodations including hotels and lodges in Fort Portal before or after the tour to the park.
From Fort Portal, one can for 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.