- Located in Bundibugyo District, and covers 220 km sq. Its altitude range is 670m-760m above sea level.
- Its an extension of the vast Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the western arm of the East African Rift Valley.
- Has 53 mammals, 336 tree species of which 24 are restricted to Semuliki National and 34% of Uganda’s (441) recorded bird species some not found elsewhere in East Africa.
- Semuliki Forest Reserve was created in 1932 and upgraded to national park status in 1993.
- Four distinct ethnic groups live near the park – Bwamba farmers live along the base of the Rwenzori while the Bakonjo cultivate the mountain slopes. Batuku cattle keepers inhabit on the open plains and Batwa pygmies, traditionally hunter gathers, live on the edge of the forest.
- To do list: Wildlife game drives, Bird Watching, Hot springs, Cultural encounters, Nature Walks
Semuliki National Park sprawls across the floor of the Semuliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin and is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests that survived the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.
The Semuliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. The forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species. As a result, the park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda. The meandering Semuliki River forms the international boundary between Uganda and the DRC and is a miniature version of the Congo River. Hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.
Three tracks cross the nearby savannah grassland of Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve and enable visitors to see elephants, waterbucks, warthogs, bush-babies and Uganda kob. Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is Uganda’s oldest reserve. The flat plains in the area are punctuated by deep river valleys. Chimpanzee tracking also takes place here.
White-crested Hornbill Tropicranus Albocristatus – Semuliki National Park
Can only be found in Semuliki National Park[/caption]Semuliki National Park is known for its endemic bird species, unmatched butterfly life and hot springs. It has 441 recorded bird species, representing 40% of Uganda’s total bird species and 66% (216) of the country’s forest bird species. Birders who make it to Semuliki are always rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birding experience. Sempaya and Ntandi areas provide excellent viewing of the birds. The area around Kirumia River is another top birding spot. The shoebill stork is regularly seen at close quarters on Lake Albert and forest walks are good for tracking water birds.
The bird checklist includes: Spot-breasted Ibis, Hartlaubs’s Duck, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Red-thighed Sparrow hawk, Long-tailed Hawk, Forest Francolin, Nkulengu Rail, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Black-collared Lovebird, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Bates’ Nightjar, Chocolate-backed, White-bellied and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-crested, Black Dwarf, Red-billed Dwarf, Piping and Black-wattled Hornbills, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Spotted, Lyre-tailed and Zenker’s Honeyguides, African Piculet, Gabon Woodpecker, Red-sided Broadbill, White-throated Blue Swallow, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Sassi’s Olive, Xavier’s, Swamp, Simple and Eastern Bearded Greenbuls, Yellow-throated Nicator, Capuchin Babbler, Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Forest and Grey Ground Thrushes, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Red-billed Helmet -Shrike, Red-eyed Puff-back, Black-winged Starling, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed, Crested and Red-bellied Malimbes, Pale-fronted and Chestnut-breasted Negro finches, Grant’s Bluebill.
Though studies about butterflies in the park are in progress, the Lepidoptera data from the 1996 census showed Semuliki to be the most butterfly rich park in Uganda, containing 309 species from a country with a total of approximately 1,300 species (Davenport, 2001).
Sempaya Hot Springs
The Sempaya Hot Springs are Semuliki’s most famous attraction. The “male” spring, known as Bintente, is set in a lush swampy clearing. The “female” spring Nyasimbi, meaning “the female ancestors”, is a boiling geyser (103°C) which spurts bubbling water and steam up to two meters high – the steam cloud can be seen from as far as 2km away. Tourits can boil eggs in these boiling pools.
The 13km KirumiaTrail that runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River is perfect for birders.The 11km Red Monkey Track which follows the park’s eastern border is a stronghold of the rare deBrazza’s monkey. The 8km Sempaya Nature Trail enables you to view the hot springs and primates. The 6km Sempaya – Ntandi Road section of public road runs through one of the loveliest tracts of forest in Uganda and provides views of birds and monkeys high up in the forest canopy. Birding walks take place in Sempaya, as well as night hikes deep into the forest.
Another local attraction is the Mungiro Falls near the hot springs. The 160km long Semliki River carries runoff from the Rwenzori Mountains to Lake Albert and the Nile, proving ancient geographers’ claims that the Nile flows (in part anyway) from a snow-capped mountain in the heart of Africa. Broad, muddy, forest fringed it is home to hippos and crocodiles.
People and Culture
In Ntandi, local Batwa dancers put on traditional performances for visitors and exhibit the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. The must met personality is the Batwa King Nzito of Ntadi who is happy to pose with entire Royal Family for cameras at a fee.
Semuliki National Park’s Sempaya Gate is 59km from Fort Portal. The park headquarters at Ntandi is 6km further along the road.