THINGS TO DO AND SEE- SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
There is a lot to see and do while in Semuliki- While moving down the Western Rift valley escarpment, there is are a lot of amazing views such as the vast forests, savannah grasslands which are bordered by Lake Albert, Mountain Rwenzori and the DR Congo. Most birders opt for birding safaris to Semuliki National Park, there are other things it has a lot to offer such as the hot springs, Semuliki river, culture, primates, mammals, flowers, butterflies, trees, and a lot more of its vast beauty. It is a park you cannot miss out on your Ugandan Safari.
Part of the valley in Semuliki National park is extended to the remote side of the Rwenzori Mountains in the West. Now the largest part of the park is still virgin with lowland forests which are an extended part of Congo’s Ituri forest. The Ituri forest sits on a large piece of land in Congo whereby it extends up to River Congo. A visit to Semuliki is like visiting Central Africa without crossing Uganda’s borders.
Most of Semiliki’s sights are like those in West and Central Africa such as the huts that are built and thatched like those in West Africa, the Semuliki River is also a smaller version of the Congo River, and the Bwamba forest that is a habitat to birds and different mammals that are also usually found in Central Africa. That is why many travelers that have been in Central and West Africa find these sights more familiar to them. There are also various groups of people that originally stayed in this region and they still stay there such as the Batwa and other people that moved in over the years such as the Bakonzo who cultivate on Rwenzori slopes, the Bambwa farmers and the Batuku who are cattle keepers, they used to live in the plains of the valley.
There are over 400 bird species and around 53 mammals in the Bambwa forest which lies between altitudes 670m to 760m; this makes it the only lowland tropical rain forest in East Africa.
The things to do and see while in Semuliki National Park include the following;
Semuliki valley has over 400 recorded bird species, 40% of the total bird species in Uganda and 66% of Uganda’s forest birds. There are also other birds that are endemics to the Albertine Rift valley and others that are in the valley and also usually found in Congo. Semuliki is place for birders who want to have an amazing time with the birds.
Birders you are not to miss out while in Semuliki are; the Lemon-bellied Crombec, White-crested Hornbill, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, the white-chested Hornbill, African Piculet, Leaf-love, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Blue-billed Malimbe, Nkulengu Rail, Red-bellied Malimbe, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Yellow-throated Nicator, a Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Crested Malimbe, Piping Hornbill, White-throated Blue Swallow, Red-rumped Tinkerbird.
There can also be an option of taking a guided boat cruise on Lake Albert looking for the Shoe bill stork.
Sempaya Hot springs
These hot springs are one of the amazing features to see while in Semuliki National Park, they are two hot springs both male and female. The female hot spring is called Nyasimbi which gushes out water approximately 2 meters in the air and the male hot spring called Bitende is approx 12 meters in width.
Those living next to hot springs used to cook food in these hot springs, even today one can still put an egg or matooke in the pools and they can boil and be ready for eating.
Visitors to these hot springs are advised not to get closer to the to the two hot springs since this water is too hot and boiling at a temperature of 100°C. While on this tour you can also see many birds and primates.
Nature Walks and Hiking
This is also an amazing activity to take part in, the nature and hiking trails are many and they are followed basing on what you want to see and do such as birding, to see hippos, monkeys, crocodiles among others also along these trails you are also able to see primates, sometimes buffaloes and forest elephants.
How long these hikes take depends on what activity you are doing and which trail you took, they can take a few hours or a full day. You are advised to have enough drinking water, sturdy shoes/boots, rain jacket, packed lunch, camera, long sleeved shirt, hats and other things as you are briefed while on trip.
They are more like the Basu of Congo other than the Batwa pygmies though most people mistaken them to be the Batwa but their ways of living are somehow different from each other’s, but both have stayed in the jungles for over thousand years.
The Bambuti are fewer than the Batwa and visiting their communities would be an unforgettable experience. These two groups of people were forced to leave the forests, hence making them have limited gathering and hunting rights. You can visit their communities with guides of their own which is an amazing thing, seeing how they dress, cook, dance, and make hand crafts among others.
Semuliki also has chimpanzees though trekking them is not as great as trekking those in Kibale National Park. But still there are some chimpanzees being habituated by the Indiana University, so chances are the more chimpanzees are habituation the more you can see them.
Trekking starts at 8 am and the trek can go for 4 hours or longer with the skilled guides, while trekking there is also an opportunity to see other primates such as the red tailed monkeys, baboons, de Brazza’s monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, vervet, central Africa colobus, black and white colobus among others.
You are advised to the best clothes for trekking such as, long trousers, long-sleeved shirts, hats, and also carry enough bottled water and snacks
Taking a drive around the park give you a chance to see various species of mammals, in the valley, it consists of around 53 mammals such as forest elephants and buffaloes that are smaller than the savannah elephants, pygmy antelopes, flying squirrels among others.
There is also a chance of seeing the lions and leopards. Concerning the game drives you can do both day and night drives.
Semuliki National Park has a lot to offer to tourists while on their Ugandan Safari such as village visits like to the Batwa and Bambuti people, birding, game drives, hiking and nature walks, chimpanzee tracking, a lot more. Just the amazing scenery of this valley gives an unforgettable experience!