Semliki National Park covers an area of 220 square km and is one of Uganda’s newest National Parks having been gazetted in October 1993. The Park occupies a flat smoothly rolling landform ranging from 670 -760 metres above the sea level. As all streams and rivers from the surrounding areas are flooded drain into the Park plus the poor drainage and topography, many areas are flooded during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall is 1250 mm with peaks from March to May and September and December. The temperature varies from 18o C – 30o C with comparatively small day after day variations.
Semliki National Park is an extension of the huge Ituri Forest and formed a fraction of the forest range during the climatic disarray of the Pleistocene. Found about 50km from Fort Portal, Semliki is one of the richest areas in both flora and fauna in Africa with largely birds. The park is in the distant corner of Bundibugyo District, lying crossways to the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border in the western arm of the East African Rift Valley. The geographical coordinates are 0o 44′- 00 53′ N – 290 57-30o 11′E. To the southeast are the Rwenzori Mountains, to the west is DR Congo and to the north Lake Albert.
Tourist activities at Semliki National Park.
A good number fascinating attractions at Semliki are the unusual panorama, hot springs, the tropical forest walk, bird watching, primate viewing and the twisting river Semliki. Spend three to five days camping and trailing in the real African jungle.
Visit to the hot springs
Know that a tour to Semuliki is rich of the most fabulous and wonderful views. Take a trip and experience the most exciting meandering Bundibugyo road through the Rwenzori escarpments. While in the mountains at ‘Mungu Ni Mukubwa’, the road offers scenic views of the meandering Semuliki River, the fuming Hot springs and the green tropical rain forest lengthening up to Ituri forest in DRC. Two Hot springs in a tract of hot mineral thick swampland, endowed with birds, insects and mammal life easily reached using a modern trail network. Enjoy a view of a two-meter spray of hot water (130oC) and a pool (12 m diameter) of discharging hot water (106oC). Interestingly, you can boil food like eggs in the natural boiler within ten minutes and eat it.
Semliki Nature Walk
Life in the jungle of Semliki is incredible mostly for bird watching, primates, butterfly and plant lovers. Walking through this jungle, you lead to River Semliki meanders, the only one in East Africa. A host of forest mammals like buffaloes, elephants, statungas, leopards, primates, bush pig, Water Chevrotain, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Beecroft’s Anomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse and a wide range of forest and water birds come to your sight while at the park but not common. Pigmy Hippopotamus and Crocodiles are usually seen by chance. The park has 8 species of primates.
There are also timid and largely night-time mammals like the Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed and Mona, Gentle (Blue) Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkeys are rare and Chimpanzees may rarely be heard than seen. Nocturnal primates include Pottos and Galagos. Squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel are also rare. Little collard fruit Bat and Target Rat are also there. There are more than 300 species of butterflies and 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted. About 305 species of trees have been recorded out of which 125 are restricted to this park alone.
Forest life in Semliki is breathtaking especially for birders, primate, butterfly and plant lovers. The jungle walk usually takes you up to River Semliki meanders, the only one in East Africa with luck; you may well see forest buffaloes and elephants, statungas, leopards, pigmy hippopotamus, crocodile primates and a wide range of forest and water birds.
Semliki Bird Watching
Bird Species at Semliki consist of the Broad-billed Roller, Green Wood-hoopoe, African Grey Hornbill, African Moustached Warbler, rapacious Red-necked Falcon, Black-winged Red-Bishop, White-winged Widowbird and Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Double-toothed Barbet, Yellow-throated Leaflove, Green-backed Eremomela, Piapiac, Black-chinned Quail-Finch, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike and Western Violet-backed sunbird, the list is endless.
Equipped with your fishing facilities, you can go sport fishing along the river.
Getting to Semliki.You can use major roads:
From Kampala via Mubende to Fort Portal which is about 180 Km (about 4-5 hrs drive)
Kampala via Masaka to Mbarara, Bushenyi to Kasese is about465 Km (7-8 hrs).
In both routes 4-wheel drives vehicles are the most ideal and faster. While the Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is much shorter, the Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese gives you chance to Visit Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
From Fort Portal, A two to three hours drive on the rough road towards Bundibugyo will bring you to Sempaya Gate (52 Km). The Park headquarters at Ntandi is 5 Km further from the gate along the same direction.
1. Semliki Safari Lodge: Semliki Safari Lodge: this is a luxury lodge positioned in the Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve, in the Western Rift Valley. The lodge was built using local materials to correspond with the natural environment. It has Canvas tents permanently thatched each with fixed bathrooms and confidential verandas with a stunning panoramic view, a fully furnished lounge with soft comfortable seats; a well-maintained swimming pool while the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and all delicious meals.
Tour activities at Semliki Safari Lodge
A camp site inside the Park at Bumaga, about 3 km from Sempaya Gate. Here you can spend a night in one of the two Executive bandas, hire a tent or come with your own tent for camping.
The site canteen stocked with both African and European food and drinks but meals are prepared on order. One can also prepare his own food at the site using hired cooking.
Another camp in Sempaya near Sempaya Gate. There shall be small thatched shelters for cooking and eating. Cooking utensils will be for hire, but carry your own tent and food.
You can also use luxurious accommodations including hotels and lodges in Fort Portal before or after the tour to the park.
From Fort Portal, one can drive for 2-3 hours on a 52 Km road towards Bundibugyo to reach Sempaya Gate. The Park headquarters at Ntandi, 5 Km further from the gate along the same route and a vehicle with high clearance is recommended.
SEMLIKI WILDLIFE RESERVE
Previously called the Toro Game Reserve, Semliki Wildlife Reserve is large reserve neighboring Lake Albert and the northern base of the Rwenzoris being a rich mosaic of grassland, savannah, forest and wetland habitats. The animal life is equally diverse, the Uganda kob as the most common large mammal, but there are as well forest elephants, chimpanzees, buffalos, leopards, different monkeys and antelopes. Of the 400 bird species recorded in the reserve, the shoebill stork is on a regular basis seen at close quarters on Lake Albert.
GETTING TO SEMLIKI WILDLIFE RESERVE:
Follow the road towards Semliki National Park for 30km, then take a right turn which after about 35km leads to the lodge.
WHAT TO DO AT SEMLIKI WILDLIFE RESERVE:
One can do Game drives, guided walks plus boat trips on Lake Albert that can be arranged from the lodge.
WHEN TO VISIT:
Whichever time of year.