Things To Do in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki national park is one of the finest top birding destinations founded in October 1993 in Uganda, situated in the western region of Bundibugyo district mainly in Bwamba County under the Uganda Wildlife Authority management. Semuliki national park is a fascinating lowland tropical rainforest covering an area of approximately 219km2 with a distinctive ecosystem of diverse flora and fauna, and diversified bird and butterfly species hence it is famously known as the top birdlife haven with approximately 441 bird species, 46 of Guinea-Congo biome species found only in Semuliki national park in the whole of East Africa, 53 mammals and its famous hot springs.
How to get to Semuliki National Park
Semuliki national park can be easily accessed by both road and air transport however using the road is more interesting and adventurous as you get to explore all the scenic routes on your way to the Park.
- Semuliki National park can be easily accessed by two different roads.
- From Kampala, the shortest route is going to Fort-portal via Mubende taking approximately 5 hours.
- The second route is going to Fort-portal via Masaka, Mbarara, and Kasese taking approximately 7 hours.
There are scheduled domestic flights of Aerolink Uganda, Fly Uganda, and Eagle Air from Entebbe and Kajjansi airstrip to Semuliki airstrip found in the park taking approximately 2 hours.
The entry point of Semuliki National Park
Unlike other national parks, Semuliki national park has one gate which acts as the point of entry and exit to the park, and it’s known as;
Sempaya main gate
Sempaya gate is the main gate of Semuliki national park which is currently 33km away from Fort-portal city taking approximately 2 hours on road through the lower ranges of mountain Rwenzori.
Attractions in Semuliki National Park
Wildlife and Primates
Semuliki national park is a habitat for over 60 mammal species such as African Buffalo, Leopard, Hippopotamus, crocodiles, African Elephants, and many more which are commonly spotted along Semuliki River, 9 different primate species such as black and white colobus monkeys, Chimpanzees, Red tailed monkeys and many more. It hosts a diverse number of over 441 bird species and 300 butterfly species.
Sempaya hot springs
This is one of the thrilling attractions in Semuliki national park. It is a geothermal area formed by both female and male springs which is a bubbling boiling hot water that produces steam from within the ground. These hot springs are worth watching because they attract some wetland bird species and aquatic species. These hot springs can boil eggs due to the temperature it produces of over 100 degrees Celsius which is captivating and worth witnessing while on an African safari in Uganda.
Semuliki River is a natural border between Uganda and DRC that starts from the northwestern end of Lake Edward in Congo and meanders in the northeast along the western foot of the Rwenzori Ranges to Lake Albert. Semuliki River is well known for attracting a vast number of different wild animals, bird species, and mammals hence it’s a perfect spot for game viewing and birding.
Semuliki national park’s ecosystem hosts over 441 prolific and migratory bird species including 46 of Guinea-Congo biome species which can only be observed from Semuliki national park while on a birding safari in Uganda. Semuliki is one of the newly existing top birding destinations in Uganda with a variety of bird species including Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-wattled Hornbill, African Piculet, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed Malimbe, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Yellow-throated Nicator, Black Dwarf Hornbill and many more.
Lake Albert is a major tourist attraction formerly known as Lake Mwitanzige, ranked as the seventh largest lake in Africa as well as the second largest in Uganda. Lake Albert is home to a vast number of both aquatic species, water birds, and semi-aquatic animals including hippos, Kobs, Nile crocodiles, the rare shoebill stork African fish eagle, wattled plover, greater flamingo, pink-backed pelican, goliath heron and many more which can be observed on the shallow areas of Lake Albert.
Rwenzori Mountain Ranges
This is one of the most distinctive attractions with 6 peaks in Uganda which lies beneath the South-Eastern part of Semuliki national park. Mountain Rwenzori ranges are famously known as the mountains of the moon because they are white snowcapped peaks that offer a spectacular view of the ranges and they are as well known because of their unique flora and fauna. The Rwenzori ranges provide water and food to a variety of wildlife, Mammals, and birds found in the Park.
This is a community of warm hospitable people who are known as conservation refugees famous hunters and gatherers who reside near Semuliki national park in Boma cultural village in Nabisoli at Ntandi. The Batwa people are great hikers who are forest experts and knowledgeable since they depend on the forests in Semuliki mainly for food, Medicine, tools, and shelter.
Activities are done in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National park hosts over 441 prolific and migratory bird species including 46 of Guinea-Congo biome species and the rare Albertine rift endemics. Birding in Semuliki National Park is done either in the morning or evening with an experienced guide mainly around Sempaya and Nandi trails which offers an exceptional view of the birds in their natural habitats such as including Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-wattled Hornbill, African Piculet, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed Malimbe, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Yellow-throated Nicator, Black Dwarf Hornbill and many more.
Game viewing is mainly done in Toro Semuliki National Reserve on a game drive either in the morning, evening, or at night in the Savannah grassland. During the game drive, tourists can observe and spot a variety of wildlife including African Elephants, buffalo, waterbuck, warthog, Uganda kob, hippopotamus, leopards, and elusive bush babies. Park’s nocturnal primates include the pottos and galagoes whereas the nocturnal animals include Owls, Moths, Foxes, Hedgehogs, Badgers, and Bats.
Nature walks in Semuliki national park are done in the rain forest alongside Batwa guides using different trails such as Kirumia trail, Red Monkey truck, and Sempaya Nature trail. Nature walks offer a wonderful game viewing and birding experience as you connect with nature by exploring both Flora and Fauna species found in the park including the butterfly species. Tourists will surely be able to spot a variety of wildlife such as African buffalo, leopard, hippopotamus, Mona monkey, water chevrotain, bush babies, African civet, African elephant, and the Pygmy scaly-tailed flying squirrel, and many more during a nature walk.
Semuliki national park offers a memorable chimpanzee trekking experience in the wilderness which takes approximately 4 hours in search for these friendly closest relatives of humans and it is home to over nine primate species including chimpanzee, blue, vervet, grey-checked mangabey, black-tailed monkeys, red-tailed monkeys and olive baboons which can be observed during the trek.
While in Semuliki national park, tourists have an opportunity of exploring the renowned hunters and gatherers called the Batwa in the Batwa community. The Batwa people reside near Semuliki national park in Boma cultural village in Nabisoli at Nandi. Batwa cultural visits offer you a chance to explore all their lifestyle, cultural norms, and traditions through their music, and dance as well as interacting with them. The Batwa people are great hikers who mastered all the forest trails hence becoming experienced guides.
Hiking is done alongside local guides and park rangers mainly in the savannah woodland and in the rain forests within Nyaburogo gorge which is found in Semuliki national park. During the hike, you will have a clear view of a variety of wildlife and bird species in the gorges inhabited by these wild animals including groundhogs, ground hornbills, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrel, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, and many more animals.
Boat Cruise and Sportfishing
Boat riding is one way of exploring Lake Albert which offers a wonderful experience and a clear scenic view of the lake, Mountain Rwenzori, and the waterfalls, you will be able to spot a variety of water birds especially the rare shoebill stork, aquatic species, and semi-aquatic animals on the shores of the lake. Tourists can as well explore Lake Albert by sport fishing for Nile perch and Tilapia alongside the local whole live around Lake Albert.
Accommodations in Semuliki National Park.
There are several hotels in and around Semuliki national park and the choice of the hotel depends on a tourist’s preferences as well as the wallet. These hotels consist of budget, mid-range, and luxury namely;
Semuliki Safari Lodge, Kyaninga Lodge, Victoria Forest Resort, Nyati Game Lodge, Hotel Vanilla, UWA Bandas and Cottages, Ntoroko Game Lodge, Kirumia Guest House, Mountain of the Moon Lodge.
Best time to Visit Semuliki National Park.
Semuliki National Park can be visited any time throughout the year however the best time is during the two Dry seasons from December to February and from June to August for a better experience. The other option is to have a combined safari for both Semuliki national park and other parks found in the western region of Uganda where tourists can en-route to Semuliki national park on their way to any of the national parks in the western region for an absolutely wonderful experience.