Semuliki national park is located on the floor of the Albertine rift in the Semuliki valley. Semuliki national park is in the shadows and marks the northern end of the Rwenzori Mountains. Semuliki is a lowland rainforest, an extension of the larger Ituri rainforests of the Congo basin. Semuliki marks the extreme ends of rainforest and emergence of East African savannas and grasslands. River Semuliki roars from the Ruwenzori Mountains and join other smaller streams onto the Semuliki valley making Lake Albert that marks the northern boundaries of Semuliki National Park.
There is a remarkable band of woodland, grassland and wetland vegetation between the rainforest and Lake Albert. Semuliki national park is habitat to more than 60 mammal, 400 bird, 300 butterfly and moths species. Because much of Semuliki is enclosed rain forest, it is often hard to spot large mammal species except the edges of Lake Albert where mammals congregate during the heat of the afternoon. Travelers to Semuliki may stumble into forest elephants, forest buffalos, hippos, waterbucks, duikers, warthogs, bush pigs, crocodiles and other smaller antelopes. Primates are more visible in the rainforest. The Bongo and Okapi mammals of Congo origin used to roam the Semuliki and almost extinct in the valley. Recently wildlife researchers’ spy cameras captured them grazing in the Semuliki valley.
While travelers to Semuliki may miss spotting ground mammals, there are high opportunities of spotting a variety of bird species. Half of 400 bird species resident in Semuliki national park are forest species, many with Congo and West African origins. Semuliki national park is an Important Birding Area and an ideal Uganda bird watching safari destination.
Sempaya hot springs are chief magnet that put Semuliki amongst top travelers’ dream destination. The female hot spring is a geyser of very hot water that bubbles a few meters above ground whose cloud of steam is visible a distance away. The male hot spring is dull pool of boiling water a kilometer apart. The water from the hot springs is saline and rich in mineral content. The hot spring has rich ecological value as many wildlife species congregate at the springs for self-medication and cure of different ailments. The indigenous people in the neighborhood perform traditional rituals at the hot springs to communicate with their ancestors. While the modern nomads enjoy picnic of food; eggs, bananas, cassava, potatoes natural boiled at the hot springs.
Hiking into the foothills of the Ruwenzoris rewards adventurers with magnificent views of the Semuliki valley and the rainforest. Other adventurers explore the Semuliki rainforest walking the edges of Semuliki River on the Kirumia trail and get better views of water landforms; river meanders, ox-bow lake, deltas, cliffs and other rare land features.
Travelers on tour of Uganda spend ample time with the indigenous communities in the neighborhood of the park. In Semuliki, the Bamba and Bakonjo traditionally till land to grow a variety of crops for food and sale. Coffee, cocoa, plantain, potatoes and vegetable are more common. The Batwa are the last group of humankind to dwell in the rainforest and share habitat with wildlife. They have close blood relations with the indigenous people and natives of Ituri rainforest in the larger Congo basin.
Semuliki national park is easily accessible by road travel from all directions through Fort Portal town along Bundibugyo tarmac road. Sempaya is the main tourism zone is 50km from Fort Portal and Ntandi, the park head office is 3km ahead onto Bundibugyo road.
Kampala-Mubende-Fort Portal-Sempaya = 350km.
Lamia; DR Congo border post-Bundibugyo-Sempaya =60km.
Kasese-Fort Portal-Sempaya =140km.
- Budget lodging at Bumaga camp
- Self catering campsite at Bumaga
- Semuliki safari lodge
- Ntoroko Game lodge
- Fort Portal town
- Bundibugyo town