Semuliki National Park is located in western Uganda in Bundibugyo district. It is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri forest, and forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene period. It forms one of the richest areas for both wildlife and game safari in Africa particularly birds. Semuliki National Park within the western arm of the East African Rift Valley along the Uganda/ Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border. Semuliki National Park is bordered by the Rwenzori Mountains to the Southeast, to the west is the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the north are the Semuliki flats and Lake Albert further on.
Semuliki National Park covers 220 sq km Semuliki National Park, one of the newest national parks in Uganda was gazetted in October 1993. Her land form includes a flat land form with a gently undulating park that ranges between 670 -760 meters above sea level. Many areas in this park flood up during the rainy season because all streams and rivers from the surrounding area drain through the park, coupled with the poor topography and drainage.
The average annual rainfall in Semuliki is 1,250mm with March-May and September-December as the pick season. Her temperatures range from 18oc to 30oc but these have relatively small daily variations.
Things to see and do in Semliki National Park
Compared to other exceptional diversity for small mammals, birds and butterflies, among the fauna recorded in Semuliki include 435 bird species which is about 34% of Uganda’s total. Some of these cannot be found anywhere in East Africa and are the continent’s most spectacular and sought after birds; the horn bills and lyre tailed honey guide just to mention but a few.
Semuliki National Park is unique Uganda wildlife safari destination because it has 63 mammal species, 9 of which are diurnal forest primates such as chimpanzees, olive baboon , blue monkey, and vervet monkeys, while the nocturnal primates include galagos plus pottos . To add to her mammals species, Semuliki National Park has forest beecroft’s flying squirrel, buffaloes, little collared fruit bat, blue duiker, pigmy squirrel plus the water chevrotaain.
About 374 species of butterflies and months have been identified in semuliki 46 of which are forest swallowstails and charaxes and atleast 81 species of large moth, 12 of which are classified as restricted.
Two hot springs are situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swamp land, where visitors see a two meter jet of hot water (130oc) and a pool (12m diameter) of oozing boiling water (106oc). One can boil food especially eggs in the natural boiler within 10 minutes and eat it.
Four ethnic groups live around Semuliki National Park. The Bamba and Bakonjo are found in the valley and mountain slopes respectively, and are majorly agriculturalists depending on cash crops such as rice and potatoes coffee, cocoa and food crops mainly bananas.
The Batuku people occupy the rift valley floor, north of the park and are pastoralists who depend entirely on cattle products which they trade in with their neighbors, both Ugandans and natives of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Batwa /pigmies who are gatherers and hunters form part of the Ituri ethnic group, who have since time immemorial depended on Semuliki forest for survival. However their lifestyle is now changing due to daily interaction with other neighboring local communities and the impact of tourism.
Game drives in the Uganda wildlife reserve can be very interesting. You will be able to appreciate the vast fauna in Semliki during your game drive. Here you will also be able to see the Mugiri River Forest, the best tourism destination in Uganda for viewing different tree species, including the elusive leaf–love and many other local species.
When you drive through the open plains you will see a fascinating variety of raptors and the Abyssinian hornbill.
Guided forest walks will offer you the chance to see more than 40 chimps that are residents of the Mugiri forest, these chimps are being habituated. You also stand a chance of encountering the localized forest race of elephant.
You can organize a Boat trip on Lake Albert through the Semuliki Safari Lodge or with the local fishermen around, this is a worthwhile activity.