Semliki Forest National Park
Semliki National Park is one of Uganda’s newest National Parks. It is located in the extreme west of Uganda in Bundibugyo. It lies along the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the Rift valley. The park covers an area of 220 sq km and covers an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest. It forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, and is one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa most especially birds. This park harbors a large number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa and these include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honey guide Black-wattled Hornbill and the Nkulengu Rail.
The park has got fantastic scenery made up of hot springs, tropical forests, Semuliki river meanders with many other ideal attractions. At ‘Mungu Ni Mukubwa’ while in the mountains, the road offers breathtaking scenic views of the meandering Semuliki River, fuming hot springs and the tropical rain forests extending up to Ituri forest in DRC. Two Hot springs situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swampland is rich in visible birds, insects and mammalian life. These two meters jet of hot water (130oC) and a pool (12 m diameter) of oozing boiling water (106oC) can boil food especially eggs in the natural boiler within only ten minutes. Semuliki jungle life is breathtaking especially for birders, primate, and butterfly and plant lovers. These jungle walks always starts from Sempaya Gate and take about 2 hours ending to the Hot Springs through the rainforest with Palm Trees and partly muddy ground. While on the walk, tourists have a chance to see primates like Mangabeys and Blue Monkeys, mammals such as forest buffaloes, elephants, sitatungas, leopards, pygmy hippopotamus, as well as birds such as Hornbills, Honey guides and Palm nut Vultures. There are also 305 species of trees recorded and 125 species are restricted to this park alone. Birding is another tourism activity that is carried out during the safari. The varying vegetation types found in the park offer birders a chance to see different birds which include forest birds, wetland birds, grassland birds as well as water birds. The area around the geothermal hot springs at Sempaya is not only very scenic but also offers some great birding most especially during nights. “Batwa”, a local pygmy Ituri ethnic group of people is found near the park. They were the inhabitants of Semuliki Forest and they basically depend on fruit gathering and hunting in the forest. Today there is a mixture and cultural exchange with other ethnic groups. A community visit to the pygmy village near Sempaya Gate will enable you witness these people’s lifestyles, traditions, dances, and give you an opportunity to buy souvenirs.
Several species of wildlife are viewed well in Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Big mammal species such as lions, leopards, hyena, antelopes, elephants, warthogs, crocodiles, and pygmy hippopotamus, various species of primates such as chimpanzee, white and black among others can be seen. Game drive can be arranged in the morning, evening and at night, as it is regarded as the only park in Uganda where game drives can be arranged at night and you may come across curious night species such as the white-tailed mongoose, standard night pennant winged night jars.
Cultural visits to the local people can also be arranged most especially those who are interesting in learning more about Ugandan culture. Visit their home stead as they will entertain you, buy their locally produced items.
Boat ride can be organized along Semliki River and the eastern shores of the Lake Albert. During the boat ride several species of birds can be watched, hippos can also be seen along the way
Semliki Guest House
Mountains of the Moon Hotel
Ruwenzori View Guesthouse
Semliki Safari Lodge
National Park Bandas and Campsite