Semliki National Park was gazetted in October 1993 making it one of Uganda’s newest National Parks. It occupies a flat to gently undulating landform ranging from 670 -760 metres above level. This park harbours a large number of predominantly Central African species which cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa and these include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honey guide Black-wattled Hornbill and the Nkulengu Rail.
Semliki National park is located in the extreme west of Uganda in Bundibugyo. It lies along the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the Rift valley. The park covers an area of 220 sq km and covers an eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest. It forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, and is one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa most especially birds.
You can access the park from Kampala using two major roads; Kampala-Fortportal via Mubende which is a 4-5 hours drive and Kampala-Fortportal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese (7-8 hours).
Scenic viewing. Semuliki national park has got fantastic scenery made up of hot springs, tropical forests, Semuliki river meanders with many other ideal attractions. At ‘Mungu Ni Mukubwa’ while in the mountains, the road offers breathtaking scenic views of the meandering Semuliki River, fuming hot springs and the tropical rain forests extending up to Ituri forest in DRC. Two Hot springs situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swampland is rich in visible birds, insects and mammalian life. These two meters jet of hot water (130oC) and a pool (12 m diameter) of oozing boiling water (106oC) can boil food especially eggs in the natural boiler within only ten minutes.
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. While on the walk, tourists have a chance to see primates like Mangabeys and Blue Monkeys, mammals such as forest buffaloes, elephants, sitatungas, leopards, pygmy hippopotamus, as well as birds such as Hornbills, Honey guides and Palm nut Vultures. There are also 305 species of trees recorded and 125 species are restricted to this park alone.
“Batwa”, a local pygmy Ituri ethnic group of people is found near the park. They were the inhabitants of Semuliki Forest and they basically depend on fruit gathering and hunting in the forest. Today there is a mixture and cultural exchange with other ethnic groups. A community visit to the pygmy village near Sempaya Gate will enable you witness these people’s lifestyles, traditions, dances, and give you an opportunity to buy souvenirs.
Birding is another tourism activity that is carried out during the safari. The varying vegetation types found in the park offer birders a chance to see different birds which include forest birds, wetland birds, grassland birds as well as water birds. The area around the geothermal hot springs at Sempaya is not only very scenic but also offers some great birding most especially during nights.