Semliki National Park is one of the 10 National Parks in Uganda spanning for about 220 square kilometers in the remote Bundibugyo district, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Semliki National Park is set at the backdrop of magnificent features including the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains to the south-east as well as Lake Albert to the North. This remote and biodiversity hotspot was gazetted into a National Park in 1993 hence making it one of the recently established Parks in the country and is currently managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Wildlife within Semliki National Park
Semliki National Park is a home to East Africa’s only lowland tropical rainforest making it a rich biodiversity hotspot. Also the fact that the Park is bordered by the Lamia and Semliki Rivers, numerous wildlife species can easily be spotted. More than 60 species of mammals including the savannah and forest elephants, hippos, water chevrotains, duikers, buffaloes, leopards, chimpanzees, bay duikers and Mona monkeys are found in this Park.
Bird life within Semliki National Park
Semliki National Park is a home to more than 400 species of birds including over 200 forest species and more than 9 hornbill species. The most sought-after species are the forest ground thrush, Congo serpent eagles, Red-eyed Puff-back, Nkulengu rail, Red-billed Dwarf, Red-sided Broadbill, Lyre-tailed honey guide, Simple and Eastern Bearded Greenbuls, Capuchin Babbler, Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Piping and Black-wattled Hornbills, White-throated Blue Swallow, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Forest and Grey Ground Thrushes, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Brown-crowned Eremomela, White-bellied and African Dwarf Kingfishers, Chestnut-breasted Negro finches, Ituri Batis, long-tailed hawks, black-wattled hornbills, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Red-billed Helmet -Shrike, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Crested and Red-bellied Malimbes, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Sassi’s olive greenbul and many others.
Other attractions within Semliki National Park
There are two hot springs in the Park (the male and female hot springs), together known as popular Sempaya hot springs. Mumbuga hot springs resemble a geyser towering to 0.5 meters high. The hot spring area is a haven for several shorebirds in addition to being a source of salt for wildlife.
Activities within Semliki National Park
Many tourists are probably not aware that chimpanzee trekking can be undertaken from Semliki National Park. The Chimpanzee communities here were habituated by researchers from Indiana University and trekking starts at 8:00am lasting 1-3 hours. Other primates such as De Brazza’s monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, African red colobus monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys are likely to be encountered during trekking.
Both day and night game drives are the most popular activities in Semliki National Park and are conducted across the vast savannah plains. Common wildlife species encountered are the hippos, warthogs, leopards, savannah elephants, bush babies, buffaloes, white-tailed mongoose and Uganda kobs.
The Bambuti pygmies with their hunter-gatherer way of life always interests tourists who visit the area.
Hiking is another interesting activity to undertake within Semliki National Park. This Park has several trails leading to the beautiful attractions and one of them is the Kirumia Trail. Other hiking trails in this Park are the Sempaya Nature trail and the Red-monkey trail that reward trekkers with the views of a number of attractions including the famous Sempaya hot springs, primate and bird species among others.
Semliki National Park is one of Africa’s best forest birding destinations with commonly encountered species being the Shoebill storks, Piping hornbills, Great blue turaco, the Red-billed dwarf hornbills, Ross turaco, white-crested hornbills, and yellow-throated Nicator among others. Popular birding sites in this Park are around River Kirumia and areas around Lake Albert.
Where to stay within Semliki National Park
There are several accommodation facilities within and around Semliki National Park. The best luxury places to stay are Semliki Safari Lodge and Ntoroko Game Lodge. Kyaninga Lodge is not within but near the Park and offers one of the best accommodation options for luxury travelers.
The accommodation facilities within or around Semliki National Park to cater for midrange travelers include Mountains of the Moon Hotel. For budget travellers, the must-book accommodation facilities are Hotel Vanilla, Kirimia Guesthouse and the UWA Bandas and Campsites.
Best time to visit Semliki National Park
Semliki National Park can be visited at any time of the year but the dry season-January, February, May, June, July, August, September and December are preferred for game viewing because animals congregate around water points.
The wet months of March, April, May, October and November are characterized by muddy and impassable roads but ideal for bird watching.
How to get there
Semliki National Park is situated within the remote district of Bundibugyo and can be reached through Kampala-Mityana-Mubende-Fort Portal-Bundibugyo and finally to Ntandi Park Headquarters.