Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park is among some of the national parks in Uganda that offers tourists a unique safari experience in Uganda. This national park spreads across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. 

Semuliki National Park

Spanning over a radius of 220 square kilometers at an altitude of 670-760metres above sea level, Semuliki national park in Uganda is a force to reckon with. The national park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. It is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; apparently one of the few to survive the last ice age, about 12-18,000 years ago. The park’s forest hosts about 441 species of birds and 53 mammal species.

Major Attractions in Semuliki National Park.

Some of the top tourist attractions in Semuliki national park include;

Sempaya Hot Springs:

Sempaya hot springs in Semuliki national park are the most unique features that the park proudly boosts of. They are also the most famous tourist attraction in the park. Sempaya hot springs consist of a male and female hot spring. The male hot spring is known as “Bintente” and measures 12metres in diameter. It is set in a lush, swampy area in the park. The female hot spring which is known as “Nyasimbi,” meaning “the female ancestors,” is a boiling geyser which spurts bubbling water at a temperature of 103˚C. Locals sometimes gather around and cook food in these boiling points.

Semuliki River:

The 160km long Semuliki River carries runoff from the Rwenzori Mountains and all the way to Lake Albert and the Nile. Broad, muddy, forest fringed, and home to hippos and crocodiles, the Semuliki River is a miniature version of the renowned Congo River. Visitors can watch the river meander across the rift valley floor from roadside viewpoints and also hike through the forest to its bird-rich banks.

Sempaya-Ntandi Road:

The Sempaya-Ntandi road is a 5km stretch that runs through one of the loveliest tracts of forest in Uganda. It also provides stunning views of birds and monkeys high up in the forest canopy. Bird watching tours are conducted in Sempaya, as well as night hikes deep into the forest. In Ntandi, local Batwa dancers sput on traditional performances for tourists.

Activities in Semuliki National Park.

Semuliki national park in Uganda is not so big a national park and therefore there is not much to do in the park. However, visitors who wish to visit this national park can take part in some activities like;

Chimpanzee Trekking/Habituation.

Chimpanzee trekking in Semuliki national park is by far the best primate experience that is offered by the park. The activity is conducted in Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. The primate walk in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve leads from the research camp to Kijura observation point, as you follow the tracks of the habituated chimpanzees. During the enjoyable 4-6 hour trek, you are likely to see stunning birdlife in the park, as well as a variety of wildlife like elephants, buffaloes etc and occasionally a lion. Chimpanzees are more commonly found during the rainy season when more food is available. 

Semuliki national park also offers chimpanzee habituation experience. A full-day chimpanzee habituation experience gives you an opportunity to spend the entire day with the chimps and also learn more about these primates. For a fee of USD 30 per person, you can enjoy chimpanzee trekking in Semuliki national park.

Hiking to Sempaya Hot Springs: 

Visitors in Semuliki national park in Uganda can embark on a guided hiking expedition to the famous Sempaya hot springs. The trail leading to the ‘male’ hot spring takes visitors through a relatively large forest where you will be able to see primates like; the red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, and the black & white colobus monkeys. Hikes to the male hot spring last only an hour. The trail leading to the female hot spring takes about 30 minutes, and takes tourists through a palm forest. Visitors can pack a few raw eggs and plantain which you can cook on arrival at this hot spring. 

Guided Nature Walks:

Semuliki National Park offers visitors guided nature walks and visitors are always accompanied by experienced guides. The Kirumia trail is a 13km long trail which takes visitors through the heart of the forest and climaxes at Semuliki River. Hiking activities on this trail start at 8am and take 8 hours to and from. It is ideal for birders. Another trail that visitors can use is the Red monkey track, which is 11km long and takes visitors through the park’s eastern border to the Semuliki River. Visitors hiking this trail are rewarded with sights of primates such as; the red-tailed monkeys, and the rare DeBrazza’s monkeys.

Bird Watching:

With over 441 bird species recorded in Semuliki, the park has proved to be the ideal destination for birding safaris in Uganda. Birding watching in Semuliki national park is conducted in Sempaya and Ntandi and offer visitors splendid views of forest birds such as; the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, the Great blue and Ross’s Turaco, and the Yellow-throated Nicator among others. Visitors can also do birding in Kirumia River, and birders can spot the rare Shoebill stork on the shores of Lake Albert.

Game Drives: 

Game drives in Semuliki in Uganda are conducted in the morning and evening hours. The park also offers tourists night game drivers, but visitors must be accompanied by a park ranger/guide. Visitors on a game drive safari in the national park get an opportunity to spot wildlife animals like; forest elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, crocodiles, warthogs, the pygmy hippopotami, leopards and bush babies and the Uganda Kob among others.

Cultural Encounters: 

Visitors on a cultural tour or community visit are able to visit local Batwa homesteads just outside Semuliki national park. Visitors can interact with the local people in these communities, learn about their cultural history, and also watch dance performances from the locals.

Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park

Accommodation in Semuliki

Visitors looking for accommodation in Semuliki National Park can do so in the following lodging facilities; Kirimia Guesthouse, UWA Bandas and Campsite in Sempaya, and Semuliki Safari Lodge. There are other accommodation facilities outside the national park like Hotel Vanilla, Picfare Guesthouse, and Semuliki Guest House in Bundibugyo.

How to Access the National Park.

Tourists can access Semuliki Park in Uganda by road. The national park is located about 180 kilometers from Kampala City via Mubende, and approximately 465 kilometers via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese districts. The park is situated 59 kilometers from Fort Portal and the park’s headquarters at Ntandi is situated 6km further along the road.

The national park can also be accessed by air from Entebbe International Airport. Aviation companies such as Aerolink Uganda offer domestic flights to most of the national parks in Uganda, Semuliki national park inclusive.

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