Semuliki National Park


Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park is one of the country's smallest and least explored locations but with plenty of outstanding attractions. This is an area where you can see diverse wildlife, conduct studies, or have a relaxed vacation. Covered mostly by swampy forests, water streams, and ironwood, Semuliki is roughly 670 meters above sea level and home to a mixed range of fauna and flora.

Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo Valley, Rwenzori Mountains for hiking, Mountain Elgon National Park for the stunning Caldera, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorillas for mountain Gorillas National Park, Lake Mburo with its profusion of Antelopes and zebras and Kibale Forest National Park (Africa's Primate Capital) are the other national parks in Uganda. Semuliki National Park contains a substantial portion of the Ituri forest, which is one of the world's oldest and largest lowland tropical forests.

After many years as a wildlife reserve, Semuliki National Park was designated as a national park in October 1993, making it one of the country's newest national parks. It is one of the country's newest and smallest national parks, yet it has one of East Africa's oldest lowland tropical rainforests. It is home to almost 40% of the country's bird species, as well as 53 animal species and a large forest cover. With a diverse range of wildlife species inside its confines, one animal in particular will make you smile: the Uganda Kobs, a symbol of the Uganda Court of Arms.

The park is located in the heart of Bundibugyo district, in western Uganda, near the foothills of the snowcapped Mount. Rwenzori, in the Albertine Rift. The area, which includes the Semuliki River, forest, and savannah grassland, is estimated to be 219 square kilometers.

Accessing Semuliki National Park

There are two ways of getting to the park; either by road or by air. It is around 150 miles by road from Kampala; a 6-7-hour drive through boundless scenery, rolling hills, plantations, and scattered homesteads. The closest city is Fort Portal, which is about 55 kilometers away from the park. Bakonjo farmers, Butuku cattle keepers, Batwa pygmies-former hunters and gatherers, and Bamba cultivators dwell within the park's vicinity.

The park is home to a historic hot spring, which is proof of the old forms and subterranean forces that contributed to the formation of the Albertine Rift Valley about 14 million years ago. The Uganda Wildlife Authority oversees the park's activities, which include conserving around 120 mammals, including primates like baboons and 441 bird species. It's an excellent choice for family holidays, group excursions, honeymoon getaways, weekend getaways and so much more. The park's main gate is the Sempaya main gate, which is roughly a 2-hour drive from Fort Portal City and about 6 meters from the park headquarters.

Kampala to Fort Portal through Mubende (a 4-5 hours’ journey) and Kampala to Fort Portal via Mbarara (a 7-8-hour drive) are the two roads that lead to the park. There are not many accommodation facilities inside the park, but those in Semuliki–Toro Wildlife Reserve and Fort Portal offer the most comfortable and alternative lodging facilities.

The Sempaya Hot springs

No traveler hears of this magical feature and wants to miss it. The Sempaya Hot Springs is one of the attractions in the heart of the park, located in a small patch of forest. Visitors have to hike to the place on foot. This magnificent attraction is evidence of the ancient geothermal forces that have been forming the rift valley for over the last 14 million years. The name Sempaya is a durative of the Kiswahili word sehemu; meaning “the difficult side. There are two of them; the Male and Female hot springs referred to as the “Nyasimbi”.

How to book a safari to Semuliki National Park?

The best approach to get the most out of a vacation to this birders' paradise is to book with a licensed tour operator who, on the other hand, has extensive knowledge of the area, nearby attractions, and the best lodging options. Semuliki is less congested than other national parks in the country and boasts a diverse diversity of vegetation and animals.

It is one of the few areas that offer the most gratifying night game drives, with a great probability of encountering elusive nocturnal species such as an owl, lion roars, and birds whispering. The optimal number of days to spend in this park during a safari is three to four days.

Tourist Activities are done in Semuliki National Park

Bird watching

This is the prime safari activity in a destination that boasts harboring a concentration of half of the total bird species in Uganda and the highest population of Albertine rift endemics. Some of these species include; the cranes, lemon-bellied crombec, leaf love, white-throated blue swallow, blue-billed Malimbe and so much more. The most ideal time for bird watching is at sunrise and also evening hours.

Game drive experience

Though not so popular; encountering the animals, primates, and birds residing within Semuliki National Park is remarkable. Among the many you stand a chance of spotting include; African buffalo, water chevrotain, African civet, pygmy scaly-tailed flying squirrel, bush babies, and the Mona monkey. Game drives are done during the day and night, with the guidance of an expert armed ranger.

Guided Nature walks

Walking in the forest, while admiring the sunrays, studying botany, and spotting primates such as baboons and monkeys, until the moment you get to Sempaya hot springs is golden. It takes about an hour or more, with endless photography sessions taking center stage.

What is the best time to visit Semuliki National Park?

Semuliki’s weather is pleasant all year, making it suitable for her visitors. Even amid a three-hour rainstorm, one can go about their business unaffected. The months of June to September and December to February are usually dry, making them the best months to visit Semuliki National Park.

Rain is more likely to be much from March through to May and November to early December, although it is still suitable for activities such as birdwatching because it coincides with their nesting season and when the seasonal migrants are present. Though the gates open for tourists from approximately 6:00 am local time to about 19:00 hours local time, the afternoon hours are a little busier than the early and late hours.

What to pack on a safari to Semuliki National Park?

Move along with warm clothes, a good camera for photography, binoculars for capturing distant creatures, gloves, insect repellants, personal items, a power bank, and more, depending on the duration of your stay and the activities to be done. Semuliki National Park is one of the least famous of all parks in Uganda, yet with a beautiful range of flora and fauna. The park is the best to have a honeymoon holiday, birding experience, weekend getaway, and much more.

Want to Book this Experience?

Get in touch with a safari expert to book your favorite, and tailor-made experience now!

Book Now