Semuliki National Park

 

Lying in western Uganda, Semuliki Valley National Park is one of the most magnificent safari destinations that you should consider visiting in your next holiday in Africa. The park is located in Bundibugyo district along the western arm of the mighty East Africa rift valley just at the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Semuliki Valley National Park bordered by the Rwenzori Mountain ranges in the southeast, in the west the DR Congo; to the north are the Semuliki flats and Lake Albert. The 220 square kilometer protected area, features an expansive Ituri forest in the east and makes section of the continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene period.

The park was established in 1993 mainly to offer refuge to its incredible floral and faunal species in Africa and it is recognize for its unique birdlife. Semuliki National Park is one of the newly established protected areas that Uganda offers to the world and it features gentle land form which ranges from 670 to 760 meters above sea level. Most of the parts within the protected tend to flood especially during the wet season given that all the streams and Rivers from the neighboring parts drain via the conservation and given the poor topography and drainage.

The park receives an average annual rainfall of about 1250 mm and between March and May, then from September to December feature as the peak season. The park experiences temperature range of 18 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius.

Semuliki National Park features lowland tropical rainforest thus moist and semi-deciduous. It offers refuge to over 336 species of trees and 24 of them are only limited to Semuliki-the eastern side of the range, only shared by one or two adjacent forests most of which include Nesogordonia kabingaenisis, ejacis guineesis and isolana Congolana. The park features unique tree species like Lovoa surymertonii and cordial millenii and these are famous as the endangered species in Semuliki Valley National Park.

Unlike other protected areas, this park features over 435 species of birds that take 34 percent of the total bird species in Uganda. Interestingly, most of these may not be sighted anywhere else in East Africa. It also features over 63 species of mammals and 9 of them are diurnal forest primate like chimpanzees, olive baboons, blue monkeys and vervet monkeys as well as nocturnal primates like pottos and galagoes.

While on Uganda safari to the park, you will also spot out most of the forest bee croft’s flying squirrel, buffaloes, blue duiker, little collared fruit bat, pigmy squirrel and water chevrotain. There are over 374 butterflies and moth species with more than 81 large moths and 12 of them are only limited to Semuliki.

Semuliki’s forest features different habitats, grassland, forest swamp and expansive system of hot springs, warm swamp and savanna woodland which offer wide range of the park’s wildlife species. About 4 ethnic groups stay adjacent to the park. The Bamba live in the valley area while the Bakonjo stay on the mountain slopes of the park. They largely depend on cash crops like coffee, cocoa, rice, potatoes as well as food crops like bananas.

The Batuku people live around the rift valley floor, north of Semuliki and these mainly pastoralists who largely depend on cattle products that they transact with the neighboring communities both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo residents. The Batwa the famous gatherers and hunters make up a section of the Ituri ethnic group who have from time and again depended on the Semuliki forest for their survival. Their lifestyle has however changed given the daily interaction between them with the rest of the adjacent local communities and the effect of tourism.

Tourist activities in Semuliki Valley National Park

The prime tourist activities to do in Semuliki National Park include bird watching, nature walks, game viewing, sport fishing, exploring the hot springs and others.

How to get to Semuliki National Park

The park is accessible by road that takes visitors through 2 routes from Kampala to Fort Portal, about 300 kilometers Kampala to Fort Portal through Mubende approximately 4 to 5 hours’ drive and 510 kilometers from Kampala to Fort Portal through Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese for about 7 to 8 hours’ drive. The Kampala-Fort Portal through Mubende is a bit shorter compared to the rest of the routes. At Fort Portal, the Sempaya gate is situated about 52 kilometers approximately two hours’ drive via the winding murram road to the lower Rwenzori Mountain ranges.

Lodges in Semuliki National Park

Semuliki National Park features a few safari lodges for visitors to spend a night but there are many accommodation facilities around Bundibugyo and Fort Portal town. You can also camp around Bumuga campsite approximately three kilometers off the Sempaya gate. The notable safari lodges at the park include the Semuliki Safari Lodge, Ntoroko Game Lodge, Kirimia Guesthouse as well as the national park’s bandas and campsites.

In conclusion, Semuliki National Park is one of Uganda’s newly established protected areas and it is credited not only for its unique forest but also for its biodiversity that are worth exploring while you are on Uganda safari.