Situated in the districts of Bundibugyo and Ntoroko, Semuliki National Park is another rewarding destination you definitely have to check out while on your Uganda Safaris. This park is found within the Albertine Rift valley and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the West.
The Park was established in 1993 and it is one of Uganda’s newest national parks. Before establishment, the park was facing a lot of threats like deforestation and hunting of its wildlife and hence desire to conserve the area’s wildlife and diversity. As per now, Semuliki is managed and run by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and recognized as a UNESCO designated reserve due to its unique diversity.
It also covers an area of 220 square kilometers and its altitude ranges from 670 meters to 760 meters above the sea level.
The Bintente Hot springs which is known as the male spring and The Nyasimbi Hot spring, the female spring are the main tourist attraction in Semuliki National Park. The Bintente hot spring is characterized by boiling and bubbled water with steam events while The Nyasimbi hot spring is characterized by its boiling water that spouts up to two meters high.
Semuliki is an ecotourism destination and attracts visitors from all around the world to see its hot springs, mammals and different bird species. The park also offers economic benefits to the communities through employment and tourism revenue.
What to see in Semuliki National Park
The park harbors a wide range of wildlife which includes 60 recorded species of mammals such as forest elephants, different species of monkeys, chimpanzees, buffalos and lions. These animals attract big numbers of visitors.
The hot springs in the Semuliki National Park are the main tourist attraction. Many visitors especially researchers come to this park to study about how these beautiful hot springs were formed. Hot springs in Semuliki National Park include; Sempaya Hot springs, Bintente hot springs and Nyasimbi hot springs.
This place is a perfect destination for those interested in birding safaris as it has a number of bird species that can be spotted while within the park’s boundaries. It harbors birds like the African grey parrot, shoebill stork, African Peculate among others.
Semuliki National Park has different vegetation types which make it a paradise for the animals, birds and other wildlife.
You will also have a close look at the Batwa pygmies who are an indigenous group of people found outside the Park premises and they have lived in this area for thousands of years. You will be stunned by these people’s way of life and have a chance to watch them do traditional dance, cultural behavior and way of life.
Activities done in Semuliki National Park
The park provides a variety of rewarding and memorable activities for visitors to engage in and be able to see while on a Uganda safaris.
Touring around the hot springs which is one of the most popular activities in the park because they are the main tourist attractions in the park. The hot springs tour involves visitors taking a guided tour around these magnificent creatures and you will be able to see the locals who visit the springs since they believe they have healing powers.
The park has over 60 recorded species of mammals such as forest elephants, buffalos, chimpanzees, lions, leopards among others making the park offer wildlife viewing to the visitors. The park also has 40 recorded bat species making the park worth your visit.
Semuliki National Park has about 400 recorded species of birds making it one of the best parks for birdwatching and paradise for visitors who are more interested in bird watching and researching. Some of the birds found in the park include; Black-billed turaco, African green broadbill, shoebill stork, African grey parrot and blue-breasted kingfisher.
The visitors can take tours around the Batwa community and learn about their cultural behavior, dances, songs, their history and way of living. The Batwa people are the indigenous people of the area and they have lived in the area for thousands of years even before the establishment of Semuliki National Park.
Travelers can as well take guided nature walks through the park’s trails in order to explore the park’s stunning waterfalls, forests and birdlife.
Semuliki National Park is one of the few parks in Uganda that Offer Chimpanzee tracking. This activity involves booking chimpanzee tracking permit months prior to your visit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority to be able to see these wildlife species in their natural habitat. Before tracking begins, you will be briefed on the guidelines to follow and there after, you will be led into the forest with the help of park rangers who are experienced and knowledgeable about the location, their movements and behavior. The visitors are expected to follow the guides and abide by the directions of the guide for safety.
Chimpanzees are more active during morning hours and late afternoon; therefore, this is the best time for chimpanzee tracking.
Best time to visit Semuliki National Park
During the dry season which runs from December to February and June to August, the park receives less or no rainfall to hinder movements through the park since most of the trails are always dry. Its also during this time that wildlife animals crowd around water bodies like River Semuliki and Lamia for refreshments which makes it easier to see them thus making it the best time to visit the park,
During the wet season, Semuliki receives alot of rainfall which also has an advantage of keeping the vegetation rich and favorable for the wildlife’s welfare. However, the rains can easily hinder your movement in the park since roads within are slippery.
Regardless of the season you choose to visit Semuliki National Park, it will give you a memorable and un forgettable tourism destination given that it has a lot to offer to its visitors.
Accommodation in Semuliki National Park
The park has a number of lodges, guest houses and camp sites to provide affordable accommodation to the visitors. These range from mid-range, budget and luxury. They include; Bumaga campsite, Kirumia guesthouse, Semuliki safari lodge and Ntoroko game lodge.
How to get to Semuliki National Park
There are mainly two ways in which one can reach the park namely; one can decide to use road transport or opt for air. Obviously, Air transport is the fastest mean to reach the park although, it is a bit expensive compared to road transport. One can go for a scheduled flight by Aerolink, a domestic flight operator in Uganda which offers three flights per week and that is on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.
In case you chose to travel by road, you can decide to use Mityana-Mubende highway which is 180km from Kampala the capital city of Uganda and is worth 4-5 hours.