Semuliki National Park
Hot Springs | Semliki Wildlife Reserve | Bird Watching
Semliki National Park lies on Uganda’s border with Democratic Republic of Congo within the arm of the prominent Great Rift Valley. Semliki National Park is one of less visited parks in Uganda, it cuts across Semliki valley, western Rwenzori Mountain and it is a unique park which is the only low land tropical forest in East Africa. Semliki National Park is located in western region of Uganda in the remote part of Bundibugyo District, in Bwamba County and it was established as a national park in October 1993.
Semliki National Park hosts a large number of spectacular bird species which are not anywhere else. In record 441 bird species and 53 mammals exist there, like Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, and Nkulengu Rail, Black-wattled Hornbill and Lyre-tailed Honey guide and mammals where many are shy, rare and nocturnal. The obvious ones include Grey cheeked mangabey, Gentle (blue) Monkeys, Olive Baboon, Red-tailed and Mona, vervet and Gvereza. You are far more likely to spot the lively and agile squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel, Little collard fruit Bat and Target Rat. 30 species of butterflies have been identified, it is a 3hours’ drive from Fort Portal to Semliki National Park. Birders who take Uganda safaris to Semliki National Park will be richly rewarded with some of the very best forest birding in Uganda.
ACTIVITIES CARRIED BY TOURISTS IN THERE
A hot spring is a place where underground water is heated by energy created by the earth. These are areas where rising magma gets very close enough to the earth’s surface to produce great heat. Like the Semliki hot Springs, the water from hot springs is said to have many beneficial properties, but Semliki hot springs is also spectacular tourist attraction site.
Semliki national park has two hot springs, the “male” hot spring called Bintente which measures 2 Meters in diameter and it is in lush swampy clearing. The “female” hot spring is called Nyasibi meaning “female Ancestor”, many people in senpaya do cook from the hot spring and even tourists who go to the hot spring experience the cooking by also putting different food items like eggs, sweat potatoes matooke and many others in the spring to prove to themselves.
The Batwa people are the local cultural group in Semliki national park. Before the park was gazette as a national park, Batwa people used to depend on the forest for food, shelter, medicine and tools due to their lifestyle of hunter-gathers. But the wild life Authority has offered them another alternative source of income as they display their cultural history through music and dance performance at Ntandi. Furthermore, they also display handcraft for sale.
The Bambuti Pygmies live on the two sides of Semliki River and are closely related to the Basu Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of Congo rather than to Batwa Pygmies around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Many of the safari companies refer to the Bambuti Pygmies as Batwa, but they are not the ones for them, their culture and ways of life are different from each other. Although both have lived in the forests for thousands of years.
The Bambuti Pygmies are smaller in number compared to the Batwa People. They have been evicted from their ancient forests, though the Bambuti have limited hunting and gathering rights. They also can legally grow marijuana and smoke it in there. The Bambuti can be visited and they have their own guides, in the past, they had non-Bambuti guides who stole their money causing animosity between the Bambuti and tourist, which has changed today.
Semliki National Park has a variety rare bird species, Tourists who like bird watching will really have unforgettable experience of watching the spectacular bird species in Semliki national park. They include Nkulengu Rail, Black-wattled Hornbill, Lyre-tailed Honey guide, Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Red-rumped Tinker bird, Spotted, Lyre-tailed and Zenker’s Honey guides, African Piculet, Gabon Woodpecker, Red-sided Broadbill, White-throated Blue Swallow, Green-tailed Bristleb 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 ill, and many
HIKING IN SEMLIKI NATIONAL PARK
Semliki offers hiking opportunities to tourists who want to see animals like hippos, crocodiles, birds, and monkeys for example so the tourists need to put on boots, long sleeved shirts and blouses, light rain jackets packed lunch and drinking water. The hike can take few hours to even a whole day.
Trekking chimpanzees is also available in Semliki national park for tourists who would like to participate in it. In Semliki national park it is the Indiana University habituating the chimpanzees and the chances of seeing them in a guided trek is less not like in Kibale where there are 1500 habituated chimpanzees
GAME DRIVE IN SEMLIKI NATIONAL PARK
Semliki national park has about 53 recorded species of mammals in that 27of the are large animals and 11 are small animals, 5 species of large animals and 7 species of small which are purported not to be recorded in other parks such as pygmy flying squirrel, little collared fruit bat, water chevrotain and target rat. A further ten mammals are known to occur in only a few places in East Africa. Pygmy antelopes, leopards, lions to mention. At one time Semliki national park was claimed to have the largest lions in Africa. Reptiles and amphibians are also abundant
ACCOMMUNDATION OPTIONS IN SEMLIKI NATIONAL PARK
Semliki has good accommodation facilities for the tourists to rest in.
Semliki Safari Lodge – luxury
Ntoroko Game Lodge – luxury
Kirimia lodge – budget