Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is located in the western region of Uganda’s Bundibugyo district and lies on Uganda’s border with DRC, Rwenzori mountains in the south east of the park, Lake Albert in the north, its East Africa’s only tropical rainforest covering an area of 219 sq. km( 85 sq. m) The attractions in semuliki national park, the park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great ituri Forest of congo Basin impling that many of the tree and animal species found in Central Africa can be found in the park, though its in East Africa. Semuliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by west African oil palms; the semuliki river is a miniature version of the Congo River; the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species; the local population includes a Batwa Pygmy community that originated from the Ituri, As a result this park provides a taste of central Africa without having to leave Uganda. The Park is very rich in flora and fauna. Two rivers are found in the park that flood the area when they receive too much rain in the wet season because semuliki lies on relatively flat land.
Since it borders Lake Albert , Semuliki is one of the richest areas where the forest birds are found in Africa, The Park has over 410 recorded species of bird but 67% of the species are forest birds namely Capuchin Babbler, Dwarf Honeyguide, Forest Ground Thrush, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, White-tailed Hornbill among others unique species like Long-tailed Hawk, Lyre-tailed, Honey guide and Nkulengu Rail can be found in the park. The park is also home to 60 species of mammals, animals in semuliki national park are Bay duiker, civets, Dwarf Antelope, Bush baby, Elephants, Fire footed Rope squirrel, leopards, Red-legged Sun squirrel, Target rats, water chevrotains, Uganda Kob, White-bellied Duiker, Flying Mouse, Pygmy flying squirrel among others. About 300 species of butterflies and 8 primates like Blue monkey, chimpanzees, De Brezza’s Monkey, Guereza colobus, Olive baboons among others are found in the park. Semuliki is also a camper’s haven , where the trappings of civilization are almost non-existent. The park is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Semuliki national Park history
The tropical lowland rainforest is said to have survived the last Ice age period between 12- 18000 years ago. Semuliki is one of the ancient national reserves , it was gazetted as a game reserve in 1932 known as Toro game reserve and was declared a national park in 1993 majorly to stop deforestation and protect the forests as an integral part of the several protected areas within the Albertain. Between 1992-1993, the area was managed as a forest Reserve by the Colonial government before being taken over by the forest Department.
semuliki national park activities
This is one of the most interesting and popular activities in the Park. You will spot the vegetation in the forest, birds, butterflies and primates . The sempaya trail is the most used route, 8 km long, Red-monkey trail 11km long and kirumia hiking trail 13km. Hiking usually starts at the sempaya park gate ending at the sempaya hot springs. Also camping can be done if visitors are interested and carry their own camping equipment.
The park is one of the best destinations for forest birds, it has 65% of the central African birds because it’s an extension of the greater Ituri forest of DRC meaning you will explore the bird species of Central Africa minus leaving East Africa, isn’t that amazing ?. Birding can be done in the forest, around the sempaya hot springs or behind the rangers post. Bird species such as African Dwarf Kingfishers, Black-collared lovebird, African Goshawk, Ayres Hawk-Eagle, Red-thighed sparrows, Black winged starling, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Chocolate-backed, Eastern Bearded Greenbul, Forest Francolin among other species will be spotted.
Safari Game Drive
Both night and morning game drives are arranged by staff in the park; you will be in position to spot over 52 mammal species using three major tracks through the savannah plains of Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. You will view both small and large savannah elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, warthogs, Uganda kob, bushbabies among others. The drives are carried out in a four wheel drive.
The Park is neighboured by four tribes, The Batwa pygmies( hunters, gatherers), Bakonjo and Bamba( grow crops ) on the slopes of mountain Rwenzori, Batuku in the northern part of the park as patrolists, The lives of these people is changing gradually especially the Batwa due their encounter with other tubes, tourists and also organizations that helped them in relocation, though some still find their way back to the forest to live their old life. You will enjoy story telling , local music, dance and drama from these tribes based on which one tourists decided to visit. The Batwa people grow and smoke Marijuana.
Visiting the sempaya Hot springs.
semuliki national park hot springs have made the park very popular, and the visit of the springs can be combined with hiking or bird watching. Most tourists are more interested in the local Story of their formation than the scientific explanation. There are two, the male and the female. You can carry eggs and experience them boiling at the quickest time ever. The park authorities have built a tower and boardwalk for observing the hot springs at a safe distance. Locals would cook using this water but this has been limited by the Park management to allow tourists to visit the palace.