Semuliki National Park is located in Bundibugyo District after mountain Rwenzori in the north. Semliki National Park occupies the eastern part of the Ituri rain forest in DRC which survived the last ice age that occurred 12-18,000 years ago and is found along the western border of Uganda and DRC. The park attained its name from the wandering Semliki river which is situated precisely along the border and is ranked as the only lowland tropical rain forest in the whole of East Africa with a variety of different species of trees which cannot be found anywhere unless in these forests. About 24 of the recorded 336 species have been verified with some of them being at risk like the Isolana Congolana etc. The Semliki River outlines the international boundary and a small edition of River Congo.
Birding in Semliki National Park is an experience no one should miss out while in Uganda because of the fact that it is exceptional. The park offers the best birding experience in the whole of Africa especially at Sempaya and Ntandi. While at these places, you will spot the various beautiful species of birds which include the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, pot-breasted Ibis, Piping Hornbill, Long-tailed Hawk, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Nkulengu Rail, White-bellied Kingfisher, Black-throated Coucal, Yellow-throated Nicator, Gabon Woodpecker, African Piculet, Yellow-throated Nicator, Xavier’s Greenbul, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Icterine Greenbul, Leaf-love, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Swamp palm Bulbul, Piping Hornbill, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos etc. The region around Kirumia River is also a very good birding spot for it inhabits the shoebill stork near Lake Albert. If you want to enjoy bird watching, involve yourself on forest walks and we promise you won’t regret the experience.
Hiking and Nature walks
Hiking and Nature walks at Sumliki National Park involve moving through middle of the forest along the Kirumia trail that will take you about 13km to reach River Semliki. These usually take approximately 8 hrs and begin early in the morning at around 8:00 am which is good time since at this time, most of the wildlife species are waking up and getting ready for the entire day. You will also spot birds of the air leaving their nests giving an exceptional experience for those interested in bird watching.
One can also involve themselves on the 11km Red Monkey Track that follows through the park along the border in the east where you will spot the rare deBrazza’s monkey and then proceed to the Semliki River. You will also involve on the Sempaya nature trail that will lead you to the hot springs and primates in about 2-4 hrs covering a distance of 8km. This trail occurs in the mornings and afternoons.
Game drives at Semliki National Park is a very exciting activity due to the fact that one has to travel from one destination to another throughout the park while viewing a variety of different animal species in their natural habitats. There are three different tracks across the savannah grassland of the Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve where game drives are carried out, making the whole process of game driving very flexible. When on game drive, you will spot various wildlife animals like candid and bigger elephants relocating to various destinations looking for food. You will also spot the buffalo, kobs, warthogs, waterbucks, crocodiles, pygmy hippos, leopards etc. This whole activity usually begins in the mornings, afternoons and nights which will offer visitors an opportunity to spot some nocturnal animals like the white tailed mongoose.
While at Semliki Ntional Park, you will encounter Africa’s rich nature through interacting with the indigenous Batwa people/community. These are hunters and gatherers who have depended on the Semliki forest for basic needs like food, medicine, shelter and tools which has improved their livelihoods. However, this has transformed due to the community’s interrelations with other different local communities/people who have inter married which changes their lives completely from what they used to be. A boma (cultural village) is being constructed in order for the Batwa people to present their enriched cultural history through a variety of performances like music, dance and drama as according to their way of life back in the forest. The Batwa people benefit a lot from tourism and this is due to the fact that they attain income which has generally improved their standards of living. They also make handmade crafts which they sell to the visitors and make profits.
Traveling to the hot springs involves hiking through the thick vegetation forest inhabited by monkeys to these tremendous features that were created. After the hike, you will reach these boiling and gushing springs. If you carried eggs with you, you could cook them at the spring, they are hot enough! Hiking to the male spring will require you to take on an hour’s trail through the forest where you will spot the red tailed monkeys, black and white colubus monkeys, grey cheeked mangabeys jumping and playing among the trees. Along the way through the tree house, you will have an aerial view of the whole park. Moving to the female spring will require you to move through the palm forest from the main road in about 30 minutes. This includes a boiling geyser that could cook eggs and matooke/ green plantain to be eaten.