Semuliki National Park

Semuliki is a very dense forest and part of the great Ituri Forest that stretches in the DR. Congo. It is the only park in Uganda composed primarily of tropical lowland forest. The land is quite flat, creating a startling contrast to the rugged Rwenzori Mountains nearby.

Sempaya Hot Springs, named after the river which forms the Congolese border with Uganda The forested area harbors many mammals, ranging from elephant, chimps and the more localized De Brazza’s monkey Formerly known as the Tor Game Reserve this large reserve adjoining site of the Sempaya Hot Springs has a large variety of plains game including giraffe that have made this part of the Nile their regular watering hole.

It is both the only lowland tropical rain forest and jungle in East Africa and has also been classified as the most semi-deciduous. There are 305 tree species recorded of which 125 species are restricted in semuliki national park, in the eastern part of their rang, or are shared with only one or two neighboring forests; e.g. Isolana, Nesogordonia, Kabingaesism, Ejacis guineesis etc. Three tree species in Semuliki are considered to be endangered; Milleni excelsu, Cordia millenii and Lovoa surymertonii.

Forest department survey determined that, compared to other forest parks in Uganda, semuliki national park are of exceptional diversity for small mammals, birds and butterflies. Fauna recorded include 400 bird species (about 60% of Uganda’s total), some of which can’t be found elsewhere in East Africa including some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought after birds such as Horn Bill, Iyre tailed honey guide. So bird watchers can take the opportunity in Semuliki national park; 63 species of mammals, 9 Species of which are diurnal forest primates (Chimpanzees, Mona monkey, Blue monkey, Vervet monkeys and olive baboons) while nocturnal primates include potos and galagos.

8 species of mammals occur nowhere else in East Africa; Mona monkey, Forest buffalo, Bay duiker, Bee Croft’s flying Squirrel, Pygmy Squirrel, Little Collared Fruit Bat, Water Chevrotain and Target rat.

30 species of butterflies have been identified including 46 species of forest swallowtails and charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) plus at least 235 species of moth are classified as restricted. The wide range of species is attributed not only to the forests location, but also to the varied habitats, forest swamp grassland, bush land and extensive woodland. This unique Hot springs habitat is believed to support a number of endemic species e.g. the recently discovered Bwamba mosquito.

Where to eat and sleep
Accommodation in Semuliki National Park – Browse Guide2Uganda’s list of all hotels, B&Bs, resorts, inns and other lodging within Semuliki National Park.

Accommodation is available in Fort Portal and Bundibugyo Towns. Up market lodge facilities in the adjacent Semuliki Game Reserve include the Semuliki Safari Lodge. Semuliki Safari Lodge the only accommodation establishment in over 500 square kilometers of wilderness. This lodge built using local materials offers a true African experience with a lot of privacy.

Activities/ Things to do and see in Semuliki National Park

Chimpanzee tracking
Tracking chimpanzees is a very interesting experience that one can take on a holiday in Uganda. The way they feed, climb trees, respond to humans, caring for their young ones, are all phenomenal and interesting. Tracking chimpanzees is a very interesting experience that one can take on a holiday in Uganda. The way they feed, climb trees, respond to humans, caring for their young ones, are all phenomenal and interesting.

Visitors who are Interested in sport fishing should bring along fishing gadgets. A safari in Semuliki National Park offers memorable and spectacular views

Bird watching
Approximately 400 bird species are present including the Abyssinian ground hornbill and leaf love. Shoebill storks are also regularly spotted from boat trips on Lake Albert, along with colonies of red-throated bee-eaters.

Jungle walks
The jungle walk usually takes you up to River Semuliki which is the only one that meanders in East Africa. With luck, you may see forest buffaloes and elephants, sitatungas, leopards, pigmies, hippopotamus, crocodiles, primates and a wide range of forest and water birds.

Visits to local communities
There are 4 ethnic groups of people staying in the region of Semuliki National Park. The Bakonjo plus the Bamba live on the mountain slopes and in the valley respectively, and are mainly agriculturalists surviving on cash crops like cocoa, rice coffee and potatoes plus food crops majorly bananas.

The Batuku people live on the floor of the rift valley just north of this park and are mainly pastoralists that entirely depend on products from cattle with which they actually trade with their neighbors, those in Uganda and even those from the D.R of Congo.

The Batwa pygmies who are primarily gatherers plus hunters form a section of the Ituri ethnic group, and these for centuries have depended on the Semuliki forest for their survival. nonetheless their lifestyle is currently changing because of the daily interaction with other nearest local communities as well as the influence of tourism

Guided walks
Semuliki jungle life is breathtaking especially for birders, primate, butterfly and plant lovers. These jungle walks always starts from Sempaya Gate and take about 2 hours ending to the Hot Springs through the rainforest with Palm Trees and partly muddy ground.

Sempaya Hot Springs

There are two spectacular hot springs rich in minerals (the Sempaya Hot Springs) worth visiting which jet out boiling water of 130°C to heights of two meters. Amazingly you can boil an egg in utmost 10 minutes. In addition the spring are a good source of good quantities of salt which many  animals gather to lick at including some aquatic birds.

How to Get There
Kampala to Semuliki driving via Fort portal takes about 6.5 hours, 4×4 recommended.
Tours and Safari Holiday to Semuliki National Park.

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