Semliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is 220 square kilometers and was gazetted in October 1993, The Park lies in the isolated Bundibugyo district, beyond the Ruwenzori Mountain on the floor of Semuliki section of the Albertine Rift Valley. Semuliki National park is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri forest and forms part of the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene; this is one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa. (Especially for birds). The geographical coordinates are 0 44’ – 0 53’ North – 29 57 – 30 11’East. To the southeast are the Ruwenzori Mountains, to the west is Democratic Repulic of Congo and to the north Lake Albert. The park occupies a flat to gently undulating landform ranging from 670 760 meters above sea level. As all streams and rivers from the surrounding areas due to flooded drain into the park plus the poor drainage and topography, many areas are flooded during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall is 1250mm with peaks from March to May and September and December. The temperature varies from 18 c 30 c with relatively small daily variations.
.It is the only low land tropical rain forest and jungle in east Africa and it also has been classified as the most semi-deciduous. There are 305 tree species recorded of which 125 species are restricted in Semuliki National park, in the eastern part of their rang, are shared with only one or two neighboring forests; like. Isolana, Nesogordonia and Kabingaesism with exact guineesis and many more. Three species in semuliki are considered to be endangered; Milleni excelsu, Cordia millenii and Lovoa surymertonii. Forest department survey determined that, compared to other forest parks in Uganda, Semuliki National park are of exceptional diversity for small mammals, birds and butterflies. Fauna recorded include 447 bird species (about 40%) of Uganda’s total), some of the species can’t be found else where in East Africa including some of the continents most spectacular and sought after birds such as horn bill, lyre tailed honey guide. so bird watchers can take the opportunity in Semuliki National park; 53 species of mammals 9 are diurnal forest primates chimpanzees, Mona monkey, blue monkey, vervet monkeys and olive baboonsForest buffalo, pigmy squirrel, little collared fruit bat, water chevrotain and target rat. 30 species of butterflies have been identified including 46 species of forest swallowtails and charaxes (75%of Uganda’s total) plus theleast 235 species of moth are classified as restricted. The wide range of species is attributed not only to the forests location, but also to the varied habitats, forest swamp grassland, bush land and extensive wood land. the unique hot springs and habitat is believed to support a number of endemic species which is Bwamba mosquito. Recently discovered.
The local people
There are four ethnic groups living around the park. The Bamba and Bakonjo are found in the valley floor and mountain slopes respectively and both are agriculturalist depending on coffee, cocoa, and crops i.e. matooke, rice, potatoes etc.
The Betake who occupy the rift valley floor, north of the park are pastoralists who depend entirely on cattle products which they trade in with their neighbors (in both Uganda and Congo). The batwa (pigmies) are hunter-gatherer, Ituri ethnic group who historically depended and still depends on Semuliki forest; their lifestyle is now changing to interaction with other local communities plus the impact of tourism. In 1993, a seventh Adventist church development (ADRA) arm convinced the Batwa and resettled them near Ntandi in a bid to integrate them into local cultural and agricultural life, but the project failed. The Batwa now spend part of their time in their new homes and other in their traditional home (forest). All in all, they now live both by hunting-gathering assistance from local communities and contributions from tourists who go to interact with them. But surely you will enjoy the hospitality of the local people around in all walks of life, markets, hotels, and bars and even along the road.
Tourist activities at the park
Fantastic scenery, hot springs, forest jungle walk, birding, primate viewing and river semuliki meanders are some of the ideal attractions. Surely, you don’t have to miss but get off the regular tourists circuit and spend three to five days camping and hiking in the only real jungle in east Africa.
Atrip to Semuliki National park has the most marvelous and breathtaking views with the most thrilling meandering Bundibugyo road through the Rwenzori escarpment. At ´´Mungu Ni Mukubwa“while in the mountains, the road offers scenic views of the meandering Semuliki River, fuming hot springs and the tropical rain forest extending to Ituri forest in Congo. A stepping-stone to central Africa, unforgettable views.
Two hot springs situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swampland, rich in visible modern trail network. Come and see a two-meter jet of hot water (1300C) and a pool
(12m diameter) of coozing boiling water (1060C). You can boil food especially eggs in the natural boiler within ten minutes and enjoy it.
Jungle life in semuliki is breathtaking especially for birds, primates, and butterfly and plant lovers. The jungle walk usually takes you up to the river semuliki meanders, buffaloes and elephants, statungas, leopards, pigmy hippos, crocodile primates and a wide range of forest and water birds. You can also come with fishing facilities for sport fishing along the river.
Travel to Semuliki National park by road. There are two major roads from Kampala the capital of Uganda: Kampala – fort portal via Mubende is about 180km. (4-5 hr drive) while Kampala via fort portal via Masaka, Mbarara, and Kasese is about 465km (7-8 hr drive). In both routes 2 wheel drive vehicles can be used.
While the Kampala – fort portal via Mubende is much shorter, the Kampala – fort portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese gives the opportunity to visit Lake Mburo National park, Kyambura wildlife reserve, Rwenzori mountain national park and Queen Elizabeth national park
Accommodation Semliki National Park
The Park has limited accommodation; however there are number if luxurious accommodation facilities in fort portal bundibugyo.Like Semliki Safari Lodge And Ntoroko Game Lodge.
-Semliki Safari Lodge
Semliki Safari Lodge is situated in the Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve formerly called Toro Game Reserve, in the Western Rift Valley Toro. It is the only accommodation in over 500 square kilometers’ of wilderness, offering a truly private experience. Built out of local materials, the lodge has a feeling of traditional rustic without losing that all-important comfort Imagine lying on a hand carved four poster bed draped in muslin. Persian carpets and other soft touches ensure that this is far from roughing it in the bush. .
Sofas is a piled with cushions, there is plenty of lounging space, loads of books to read, warm muffins brought to you in bed with your morning tea or coffee, and soft fleecy blankets on the beds.The food at the lodge has often been referred to as the ‘Best food in Uganda’ – everything is home-made; from the bread baked daily, to the soups, the relishes and chutneys. While at the lodge you may choose to do nothing more than relax by the pool which over looks the Blue Mountains in Congo, :
In conjunction with Indian University Samliki Safari Lodge are running chimpanzee research project in Semliki National park. The habitat is an ideal to collect data which will help to understand the evolution of man, particularly ‘bipedalism’ – walking on two feet. The research is in the early stages, but guests at Semliki Safari Lodge are able to accompany the resident researchers into the forest to assist with the habituation and research of these fascinating creatures
Ntoroko Game Lodge
Ntoroko Game Lodge is situated in Semliki Wildlife reserve on right at the shores of Lake Albert Ntoroko Game Lodge is still under construction, however 2 luxurious safari tents are already finished and ready for guests.
Ntoroko Game Lodge is a luxury Tented Camp nestled in the unspoiled beauty and breathtaking midst of wildlife. Is the only safari lodge with a natural sand beach for that sun tan you’ve been missing or just take long beach walks into the sunset the lodge is exceptionally stylish, with an impressive setting f stones canvas exteriors with attractive wooden floors, with wide windows allowing cool breezes and overlooking the spectacular of Lake Albert in all directions .