Semuliki National Park is one of the most recently gazzeted game parks in Uganda located in the western district of Bundibugyo along the foothills of Mount. Rwenzori. Upgraded to national park status in October 1993, this park sits among the pleasantly endowed destinations with diverse floral and faunal species in the whole of Africa. These range from a diverse range of butterflies, mammals, primates and bird species; over 60 percent of forest birds in Uganda are recorded in this park.
Though the park is one of the newest parks, it shelters the oldest wildlife reserve - Tooro wildlife reserve and it is a haven to both East and Central African species.
Semuliki hosts more than 400 bird species with almost 60% of Uganda’s forest birds(over 216 species) including the rare Sassi's olive greenbul, over 59 mammal species from African buffalo, bush babies, hippos, African civet, African elephant, at least eight primate species and 460 butterfly species can be found in the park. The diversity in fauna and flora can be credited to it hosting the sole remaining low-land tropical forest in East Africa
Semliki National park is certainly one of the best birding places in Uganda, Africa. Bird watching of rare species is among the top activities in this park. With above 441 bird species recorded including 60 percent of Uganda’s forest birds. Forty-six Guinea-Congo biome species not recorded anywhere in East Africa and five Semuliki endemics can be found in the park.
Notable species to watch out for include the Yellow-throated Cuckoo, White-crested Hornbill, bizarre-looking Shoe Bill, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Piculet, and Yellow-throated Nicator among others.
Visitors who are not bird enthusiasts are catered for by the exhilarating game drives where you can encounter 59 mammals 27 of them being large mammals;such as elephants and buffaloes. Travelers on a game drive can encounter some of the eleven endemic species of the park including strange water “fanged deer”, two flying squirrel species, and the pygmy antelope.
On a good day, tourists on a safari drive might meet forest elephants and forest buffaloes which are smaller than their savannah counterparts. Keenly lookout for the African wild pigs and an elusive leopard on a good day.
The forest is a sanctuary to different primate species making it headed by the chimpanzee, the grey-cheeked mangabey, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboon, Central African red colobus, De Brazza’s and Dent’s Mona monkeys among others.
The tracking activity starts with early briefing at the research camp before heading into the forest for chimp tracking. It can last 3-6 hours before you meet the chimpanzees depending on how far they have roamed for food from previous day’s nest. During the adventure, you will encounter different bird and butterfly species or lucky sighting of forest buffalos and elephants. When you finally meet the chimpanzees, you are permitted only one beautiful hour with these fascinating creatures that share almost 97percent of human DNA.
A visit to Semuliki National Park is incomplete without encountering the celebrated Sempaya hot springs. There are two hot springs found in Semuliki national park - the male and female hot springs respectively. The female hot springs are the fieriest as compared to their male counterpart. The female hot spring forms a 2 meters’ fountain spurting boiling, bubbling water at temperatures of almost 103 degrees creating a sight to behold.
The mist formed by the steam from the hot springs can be witnessed from 2 kilometers away. Local communities believe that these hot springs have healing powers and are also used to prepare their food in these boiling hot springs. Visitors can also get an opportunity to boil a few eggs in the boiling water and relish them under the wild African skies. During the nature walk, look out for species like red-tailed monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys and grey-cheekedmangabeys displaying their captivating acrobatics in the canopy.
Visitors can easily access the park from Kampala using the Kampala - Fort Portal city highway and then connect to Semuliki national park. The journey lasts for about 7 hours’ drive from Kampala and it is only 55 kilometers from Fort Portal city to the park.
Guests can either utilize chartered or scheduled flights from Entebbe to Kasese or fromKajjansi airstrip in Kampala cuttingtravel time to less than an hour.
For visitors searching for off-the-track destinations and privacy, no other destination is perfect than Semuliki national park due to its strategic position and fewer guests that this park hosts. Plan a trip to the birder's haven and experience a trip of lifetime.