Semuliki valley national park is one of the smallest forested parks in Uganda covering a total surface area of 220km. It started as a forest reserve created in 1932 and was upgraded into a national park and gazetted in 1993. Semuliki National Park lies across the floor of the Semuliki Valley on the western side of the Rwenzori and is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin.it stands at an altitude between 670-760m above the sea level.it is said to be one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few which survived the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago. Semuliki national park is one of the ecosystems managed under Kibale conservation area which also includes Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve and Katonga wildlife reserve.
Semuliki valley national park is known as a Birders Haven thus making it a major birding destination in Uganda. It hosts over 435 bird species which represents 34% of Uganda’s bird species. Some of the bird species in Semuliki cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa and the continent’s most spectacular birds.it also harbors some primate species which include; red tailed monkey, grey-checked mangabeys, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons among others. It also neighbors Toro Semuliki wildlife reserve about 30km which harbors some species of mammals including; Leopards, Forest Elephants, white tailed mongoose and diminutive genet among others that facilitate game drive activities
Semuliki Valley National park is famous for its hot springs called Sempaya hot springs. Sempaya hot springs contains 2 sects of hot springs that is: female hot spring and male hot spring. These hot springs most especially male hot spring bubbles up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping in the rift valley during the last 14 million years after faulting. 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 male hot spring boils at over 99% degrees and can boil eggs and be ready for eating just in 5 minutes. Sempaya hot springs are the most tourist attraction that put Semuliki amongst top travelers’ dream destination in Uganda. The water from the hot springs is saline and rich in mineral content. The indigenous people living around the park consider the hot springs to be a home to their ancestors whom they believe disappeared from there and still exist there. As such they come to perform traditional rituals in order to communicate with their ancestors and to seek for blessings.
The local community is composed of the batwa pygmies that originated from Ituli forest who were re-settled in the neighboring community after gazatting it into a national park. The Batwa have a rich cultural history and you can learn about it through Batwa trail experience as one of the tourism activities
Some of the Tourist activities in Semuliki national park include;
Semuliki National park offers an exceptional birding experience to the bird lovers. Semuliki is known to be a Birders Haven hosts over 435 bird species which represent 34% of Uganda’s bird species. Some of these bird species cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa and the continent’s most spectacular birds. These include among others; shoebill stork spotted on close quarters on Lake Albert edge, white created Hombill, Great blue, and much more. These birds are commonly found in places like Kirumia River, Ntandi and Sempaya. Our professional guides will take you through this birding experience
Nature walk to Sempaya Hot springs;
Hot springs form the most tourist attractions making Semuliki valley National park most attractive to most travelers who come to Uganda. Clients take nature walk to these hot springs both female and male hot springs. 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 male hot spring boils at over 99% degrees and can boil eggs and be ready for eating just in 5 minutes. Clients always experiment this while on these hot springs. These hot springs have a cultural attachment to the neighboring community who gather there during special times in the year to seek for blessing from their ancestors whom they believe still live in these hot springs. The name female and male hot spring originate from their ancestors whom they believe the man entered the male hot spring and the woman entered the female hot spring and disappeared and never surfaced again since then. This walk will take you 3 to 4 hours with an UWA Ranger guide. The water from the hot springs is saline and rich in mineral content which attract people who come to bath in these waters from hot springs get cured from skin diseases.
The community neighboring the park include the Bakonjo, Bamba and the Batwa pygmies who used to stay in Ituri Forest before it was gazatted into a national park. They were later re-settled in Ntandi community around the park where they practice agriculture for domestic use. These Batwa will lead you to a cultural walk experience where you will learn how they used to live and survive entirely on the forest including; fetching water using bamboo, making fire wood, shelter, clothing, perform visits, marriages and burial ceremonies among others. The climax of this activity normally is the entertainment performed by the Batwa women groups. This activity supports them as source of their livelihood.
This can be done from Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve which is about 45 minutes’ drive from the Semuliki national park. You will have a chance to sight animals including; Forest elephants, Buffaloes, water buck, bush buck and other antelopes. This can be done on your way from Semuliki national park as you connect to other tourist destinations. It can as well be done on your way to semuliki national park
Some of the accommodation include; Semuliki safari lodge, palace view hotel,Ntoroko game lodge, Nyati game lodge, UWA bandas.Others can be found in Fortportal town approximately 50km to Semuliki national park