Semliki National Park Uganda is such a flawless destination with a huge appeal especially for birders. At a size of 220 Square Kilometers, and an altitude of 670-760 meters above sea level, it was first gazetted as a forest reserve in 1932 and uplifted to a national park status in 1993. It is located in the western part of the county in Bundibugyo district, near Rwenzori and Kibale Forest National Parks. Semliki enjoys a location on the hot and steamy floor of the Rift Valley and forms the easternmost edge of the Congo jungle.
This low-lying Uganda’s national park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Rainforest of the Congo basin. It is one of the continent’s (Africa) most primeval and bio-diverse forest; one of the few to have survived the last ice age thousands of years ago.
The Semliki forest species have been accumulating for over twenty five thousand years with traces of even much older process; hot springs pop out underneath demonstrating the powerful subterranean forces that have over the years been shaping the Rift Valley. Most of the Semuliki valley features are associated with central rather than Eastern Africa.
Temperatures in Semuliki national park range from 180C minimum to 300C maximum with relatively small daily variation. Rainfall is at its peak from March-May and September- December, with an average of 1250mm annually. The Dry spell is June-September with average temperatures of 250C while January to February is hot and dry.
Flora and Fauna in the park
Semliki National Park is located in a distinct and diverse Albertine Rift ecosystem. Its location at the junction of various climatic and ecological zones make it have an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal species as well as microhabitats. The park is an extension of the rich Guinea-Congo Biome, the only lowland semi-deciduous forest in the country. The hot springs are the park’s most famous attraction, having both the male and female springs. The Semliki forest and national park is by-far Uganda’s most rewarding destination for several endemic and endangered species like birds.
The impressive avian diversity in the is attested to the existence of more than 440 bird species. The park is a premier site for watching a number of Albertine Rift Endemic birds with over 5 species such as; the Dwarf Honey Guide, Purple-breasted Sunbird and Blue-headed Sunbird among others. Species with very limited range such as White-tailed Hornbill, Capuchin Babbler, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher and Orange Weaver can be seen in the park.
Semuliki national park host over 40 of the Congolese (Guinea-Congo Biome) bird species seen nowhere else in the country. Its long list of birds includes the sought after pre-historic looking Shoebill Stork, and others like the Great Blue and Ross’ Turaco, Piping Hornbill, Yellow Throated Nicator, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Xavier’s, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher and Maxwell’s Black Weaver among others; this therefore makes Uganda’s Semuliki national park “The True Birders’ Haven”.
The park’s list of mammals tallies to 53 species of which 5 are large mammals, 7 species of small mammals which have not been recorded in other parks whereas 8 species occur nowhere else in Eastern Africa including; the Mona Monkey, Target Rat, Pygmy Flying Squirrel, Little Collared Fruit Bat, Water Chevrotain, Forest Buffalo, Bay Duiker and Beecroft’s Flying Squirrel.
A further ten species of mammals are present in Semliki, known to dwell in a few other places in East Africa, reptiles and amphibians are also well represented. Primates like the Chimpanzees are seen around Mugiri forest especially during rainy season when food is available.
Semliki national park can be accessed from Kampala through two main routes by road; the route to Fort Portal via Mubende is about 5hours while the second and longer route to Fort Portal runs through Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese taking about 7hours. The distance from Fort Portal town to Sempaya Gate is about 60minutes and it is just about 10minutes further along the road to the park headquarters at Ntandi.
Alternatively; the distance to the park can be cut short by a domestic flight from Kajjansi airfield near Entebbe to Kasese airstrip and then transfer by road to the park a distance that is about 2hours. It can also be accessed through another airstrip in Tooro-Semliki wildlife reserve.
Things to do Semliki National Park Uganda
- Nature walks
- Game drives in Tooro-Semliki Wildlife reserve
- Hiking and cultural encounters.
- Visit to the male and female hot-springs
Safaris to the park
9 Days Bird watching delight
10 Day Shoebill Bird Watching Safari