Semliki National Park

Semliki national park is located in the western part of Uganda near the Rwenzori Mountains. The park also borders the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west and Lake Albert in the north. Bundibugyo district is among Uganda’s most remote areas where the Semliki National Park is found. The park sits on over 220 km2 and it’s over 280 km from Kampala to Semliki National Park using Mubende Road which will take a 5 to 6 hours drive by road.

In 1932, Semuliki National Park was generated as Semliki Forest Reserve by the colonial government and later accepted as a national park in 1993 by the Uganda forest department. Semliki national park was declared a national park to protect the forest in the Western Rift Valley and wildlife species.

Attractions in Semuliki National Park

Semuliki national park is the richest tropical rainforest valley in East Africa and is counted as a wealthy park full of fauna biodiversity and flora in Africa. The park is a tropical rainforest because it lies within the Albertine rift valley of East Africa in the west above sea level.

The park has two hot springs located in a hot mineral that is surrounded by a hard-surfaced swamp. The hot springs in Semuliki national park are male and female that are found in two different places in the park. The male hot spring is called the Sempaya while the female hot spring is called Mumbuga. The hot springs furnish salt lick to a number of animals and a big number of shorebirds. Outside the park, the Semliki River and Lamia River also water a number of animals in the park.

Semuliki national park is home to over 450 bird species that are recorded yet 220 of them are honestly forest birds and they include rare Oberlander’s ground thrush, Sassi’s Olive Greenbul, and many more. The park is also home to over 50 mammal species that include the African Civet, African Elephant, African Buffalo, Leopard, Hippo, Mona Monkey, Water Chevrotain, Bush Babies, Pygmy Scaly-tailed Flying Squirrel, and many more. The park also has nine Duikers that are only recorded in this park, and also eight primates with over 430 butterflies.

Activities done in Semuliki National Park

Semuliki national park has got plenty of activities for tourists to enjoy their trip to this park. These include:

  • Game Drives

This is one of the fun activities at Semuliki national park because you get to see plenty of wildlife. You get to use the Ntoroko route and then proceed to the Wildlife Reserve where you get to see animals like Uganda Kobs, Elephants, Giant Forest Hogs, Waterbucks, Buffaloes, and many more.  Uganda Game drives last for 2 to 3 hours and they are done in the morning, evening, and night on a daily basis.

  • Bird Watching

For the birders, Semuliki national park has got you sorted because it has a huge number of rare and common birds in one place to cater for Uganda Birding Safaris. To watch birds, it’s better to do it during morning hours because you get to see the character of the birds. Birding at Semuliki national park can take the whole day while enjoying the different species of birds.

  • Nature Walks

Semuliki national park also offers nature walks that give you an amazing scenery of the park. They are done in more than one trail which includes:

  • Kirumia Trail: Nature walks at Semuliki national park can be done on this trail, which is a 13km walk and lasts for over 7 hours. The trail takes you through the center of the forest which is next to the Semliki River.
    Semliki National Park

    Nature walks in Semliki National Park

  • Sempaya Nature Trail: A nature walk at Semuliki national park can also be done from this trail and it’s a rewarding nature walk. This is an 8km walk and takes 3 to 6 hours offering you the amazing scenery of the Sempaya hot springs and plenty of other wildlife.
  • Red Monkey Trail: Nature walks at Semuliki national park can be done on this trail as well and it is quite rewarding because you get to see a wide range of bird species, Semliki River, mammals, plants, and many butterflies. The Red Monkey Trail starts from the Eastern side of the wildlife reserve and ends at the Semliki River which takes 4 to 5 hours of walking.
  • Boat Cruise at Lake Albert

Semuliki national park offers boat riding at Lake Albert which rewards you with an amazing view of the wildlife around the lake. The boat experience can be done only during the daytime and it takes 2 to 3 hours to ride per season.

  • Cultural Experience

This activity takes place in the village of the Pygmies and rewards tourists with fun moments with the Batwa people. This is done at Ntandi town rewarding you with amazing ancient songs and dances from the Batwa and bambuti who regularly smoke marijuana.

The best time to visit Semuliki national park

A visit to Semuliki national park can be done at any time of the year to enjoy the great nature in this place. The months from June to September and from December to March it’s considered a dry season in Uganda and it’s the perfect time to visit the park than in the wet season because the park routes tend to be sleepy and quite challenging for some activities to take place. The park receives an average rainfall of up to 1,700mm during the rainy seasons.

How to get to Semuliki National Park

When planning a trip to Semuliki National Park, you can get to the park in only two ways either by air or by road according to your budget.

By Road

When using the road from Kampala, their two routes to access the park that includes the Mubende Road which is over 280km from Kampala to Semuliki National Park. While the other route is longer and takes over 470km from Kampala to the park using Masaka road where you go through Mbarara and Kasese.

By Air

A flight to Semuliki national park can be booked at any time when you set off from Entebbe international airport or Kajansi airfield to Semliki airstrip in Kabarole district. The flight takes over an hour and later be driven to the park by a tour guide or a cub that will take 30 to 40 minutes. 

Accommodation at Semuliki National Park

A trip to Semuliki National park shouldn’t worry you at any time because it got you sorted on the accommodation. The lodges near the park have the best facilities for all categories of people and budgets and they include budget lodges, midrange lodges, and Luxury lodges. These include the following:

  • Semliki Safari Lodge

This is located in the Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve and it’s considered the best and nearest lodge that is near the park. Semliki Uganda safari lodge is a luxury lodge perfect for all guests and once you’re there, the environment takes you back to the ancient time. It gives you the strength to tour the park over and over again with comfortable luxurious golden-hued tents.

  • Nkoroko Game Lodge

This is located in Semliki Game Reserve on the western side of the snow-capped mountain of Rwenzori in Nkoroko District. When at Nkoroko Game lodge, you get to see a clear view of Lake Albert, the Mountains of Rwenzori, and many others which are breathtaking scenery.

  • Kirimia Guest House

This is located a few kilometers away from Sempaya hot springs on the road that goes to Bundibugyo. This is a budget lodge that has good service and welcoming service providers at any time of the day.