SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK

The True Birder’s Haven

Semuliki National Park sprawls across the floor of the Semuliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12- 18,000 years ago.

birding at semulikiThe Semuliki Valley contains numerous features associated with the central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by   West African oil palms; the Semuliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes the Batwa Pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of central African without having to leave Uganda.

Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, there is also evidence that park contains older evidence processes. Hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 12million years.

Semuliki Forest reserve was created in 1932 and upgraded to national park in 1993.

PARK ACCESSIBILITY; there are two main roads from Kampala:

Kampala fort portal via Mubende is the shortest route.

Kampala- Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese is longer at 465km (7-8hrs). This route offers the chance to stop along the way at Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Semuliki National Park is 59km from Fort Portal to Sempaya gate. The route is now surfaced and widened and the journey is shorter and confortable.

PARK ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:

BIRDING: for birders Semuliki National Park is rewarding with some of the Africa’s best forest birding. Sempaya and Ntandi provide excellent viewing of birds including the white-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, and Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos. The Shoe bill stork is regularly seen at close quarters on Lake Albert and forest walks are good for tracking water birds.

GAME DRIVES: Three tracks cross the savannah grassland of Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. Smaller forest and Larger Savannah Elephants are regularly seen, along with Buffalo, Waterbuck, Crocodile, Warthog and Uganda kob. With luck, you may even see pygmy Hippopotami, leopards and elusive Bush babies.

HIKING AND NATURE WALKS: The 13km Kirumia Trail runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River. This 8 hour round trip is starts at 8am and is an ideal for birders.

HOT SPRINGS: the hour-long Trail to the outer, “male” springs leads through a patch of forest where red-tailed monkeys, grey-checked Mangabeys and black and white colobus monkeys are common. A tree house en route provides an aerial view. A 30-minute hike through palm forest from the main road leads to the inner, “female” spring, dominated by a boiling geyser. Eggs and Matooke (green plantain) can be cooked in these boiling waters and enjoyed by hungry hikers.

CULTURAL ENCOUNTERS AND TRAILS: The Batwa’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle means they have always been dependent on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, Medicine and tools, though this is beginning to change as a result of interaction with other local communities.