Semuliki National Park – Wildlife Tour Destination Uganda
Semuliki National Park boasts of its exceptional beauty and tranquility yet remains one of the least explored Uganda safari parks thus offering visitors with authentic wilderness experiences. This protected area is positioned in Western Uganda and it extends to cover part of the lush Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Lying at the base of the magical Rwenzori Mountain ranges, Bundibugyo district, Semliki National Park is famous as the only spot with a track of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa. It lies between elevation 670 and 760 meters, boasting of a breathtaking landscape which is dominated by unique vegetation typically of the Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This Uganda safari park also hosts one of the oldest and bio-diverse forests in Africa which are believed to have survived the last ice age.
Semuliki National Park was originally gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 before it was upgraded to a national park in 1993 making it one of the stunning Uganda safari destinations. Today, this magical track of lowland forested park occupies an area of 220sq.kms and extends across the floor of the Semliki Valley along the western part of the Rwenzori Mountain ranges.
Tourist attractions in Semuliki National Park
If there is one magical Uganda safari park to explore with biodiversity then it is Semliki National Park. This park boasts of its unique floral and faunal species.
Semuliki National Park is a haven to 53 different mammal species and they include among others chimpanzees, mona monkeys, red tailed monkeys, olive baboons, pottos, duikers, De Brazza’s monkeys, dwarf antelopes, grey cheeked monkeys, blue monkeys, bush babies, pygmy flying squirrel, hippos, buffaloes, bush pigs, hippos, African civets, leopards, elephants and others.
Birders on Uganda safari in Semliki National Park are also not left out. An estimate of 441 bird species exist in this safari park alone making it an ideal birding spot. The various birds to expect to identify on Uganda bird watching safari in this park include 35 Guinea-Congo Forest biome species and 12 bird species that are endemic to East African region.
The notable birds to look out on Uganda safari in Semuliki National Park include the African dwarf kingfishers, Nkulengu rail, Sassi’s olive greenbul, the exceptional Oberlander’s ground thrush, lyre-tailed Honeyguide, hornbills, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue-headed crested flycatcher, yellow-throated Nicator, Piping hornbills, Western bronze-naped pigeons, chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Eastern-bearded Greenbuls, red-sided broadbill, long-tailed hawks, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Black-collared lovebirds, Red-chested owlets and others.
If you are interested in identifying variety of nocturnal birds then consider this park a must-visit to sight the black shouldered nightjars, African wood owl, Ayres hawk eagles, crepuscular freckled nightjar, Nkulengu rail, buff spotted flufftail, red thighed and the great sparrows.
Semuliki National Park is well-known for huge concentration of unique floral species typically of Central African. Most of the park’s flora are in the Congo basin forest although it is dominated by the semi-deciduous vegetation, Uganda ironwood and the medium altitude moist evergreen forest.
Semuliki National Park never goes unmentioned without the magical Sempaya hot springs. These hot springs are known for their high temperature and visitors on Uganda safari can testify that you can boil an egg or banana and within 10 minutes, it can be ready for consumption. This is an incredible experience you shouldn’t miss while on a visit in Semuliki National Park. These hot springs are divided into; female (Nyasimbe) and male (Bintente).
Safari activities to do in Semuliki National Park
Game drives/game viewing in Semuliki National Park
Three game trails/tracks have been designated for game drives in the lush savannas of Semuliki National Park making it one of the best Uganda safari destinations. Every game trail has something to excite you and most importantly, in your 4×4 Safari Van or 4×4 Land Cruiser you stand a chance to spot out Uganda Kobs, elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, waterbucks, leopards though on rare occasions, white tailed mongoose, birds to mention but a few.
Bird watching in Semuliki National Park
Birding tours in Semuliki National Park involve sighting variety of its bird species in its prime sites especially around Ntandi and Sempaya. These include African dwarf kingfishers, Nkulengu rail, Sassi’s olive greenbul, the exceptional Oberlander’s ground thrush, lyre-tailed Honeyguide, hornbills, Western bronze-naped pigeons, chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Eastern-bearded Greenbuls, Maxwell’s black weaver, blue-headed crested flycatcher, yellow-throated Nicator, Piping hornbills, red-sided broadbill, long-tailed hawks, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Black-collared lovebirds, Red-chested owlets as well as several nocturnal birds.
Guided nature walks in Semuliki National Park
A nature walk in this safari park allows you explore scenic sites like the Sempaya hot springs and offers you opportunity to sight primates and birds. You can explore anyone of the 3 hiking trails which extend up to 40kms. They include the Sempaya trail-the shortest of all extending up to 8kms and takes you about 2-4 hours to make a complete hike; The red monkey trail that lets you navigate through the eastern boundary of the park and Kirumia trail which covers 13kms taking hikers up to River Semliki.
Chimpanzee tracking in Semuliki National Park
Chimpanzee tracking in Semuliki National Park may not be famous like it is a case with Kibale Forest National Park or Budongo Forest but it is one exceptional primate experience not to be missed on Uganda safari. It begins at 8:00am after briefing and takes you about 3 hours to complete your exploration about chimpanzees that share over 98% of their DNA with humans.
Cultural experiences in in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park like other Uganda safari parks is surrounded by local communities making it ideal to also engage in cultural tours. A visit to the Batwa community on Uganda tour in this protected area lets you explore more about the Batwa ancient hunting and gathering techniques, enjoy their unique cultural dances and music performances while at Ntandi.
Where to stay in Semuliki National Park
Unlike park’s like Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Park doesn’t have many safari lodges. However, Uganda safari travelers can spend a night in hotels/lodges in closest towns like Fort Portal and Bundibugyo.
The nearby accommodation facilities to this park include Semliki Safari Lodge, Semliki Guesthouse, Ntoroko Game Lodge, Kirumia Guesthouse, Hotel Vanilla, Rwenzori Travelers, Mountains of the Moon Hotel, Aramaga Lodge.
Getting to Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is positioned in Bundibugyo district, western Uganda. It is reachable by road or by air. By road, it is 290kms from Kampala capital city via Mubende-Fort Portal route and 465kms from Kampala through Masaka-Mbarara-Kasese route.