The sempaya hot springs are taken to be the most precious treasure in semuliki national park located at the edge of the great ituri forest in the remote western side of the Rwenzori Mountain rangers in Bundibugyo district.
Semiliki national park is rarely visited but it’s good at bird watching on Uganda safari tours and that’s why it was named birders haven’ and it’s recognized for having the largest hot springs in uganda to thrill while on Uganda Safaris. The national park is found in the semuliki valley which is monopolized by the ituri forest of Congo basin. The national park is composed of lowland tropical forest which is densely populated and the hot springs which bubble up from deep to show the power of subterranean forces.
The hot springs are called sempaya which name was got from a Swahili phrase `sehemu mbaya’ meaning the difficult side. This was so because there were difficulties in the construction of fortportal-bundibugyo road along the ridges of Rwenzori ranges and hence the naming of sempaya hot springs
The hot springs exist in two springs that is the female hot spring and the male hot spring but found in different places. There are two explanations that are attached to the origin of the hot springs that is scientifically and the bamaga clan who have their own story about the coming up of the sempaya hot springs
Culturally the bamaga believe that the local women spotted an unknown man with a spear and a dog in the forest and thus the men of the village brought him home and later married one of the women. But one day he failed to return while he had gone hunting, all that was got was his spear and that’s how the male hot spring came about.
Later, when his woman got to know that he had disappeared, she rushed to the site where she also disappeared and thus naming it the female hot spring. Therefore, the bamaga clan believe that their male and female ancestors live beneath the two hot springs hence traditional rituals are practiced every year to please and respect them.
THE FEMALE HOT SPRING
The inner hot springs are locally referred to as Nyasimbi by the locals of bamaga clan who trust the sacred place of their female gods is in the hot spring. As earlier stated, when the men of bamaga clan went in search of biteete after his disappearance returned home and informed the wife who was called Nyansimbi. She ran into the forest and ended up disappearing too where the cloths were thus naming it the female hot spring. The women perform rituals asking the female gods to bless them with fertility and grant them safe delivery.
THE MALE HOT SPRING
The bamaga people accept that it’s a sacred shrine for the male gods and that’s why they refer to it as the male hot spring and named it mumbugu. The locals offer sacrifices to appease the male gods in favor of prosperity this is because they are associated with wealth.
According to the head of the bamaga clan mzee Adonia Balinsanga who says that historically there was a time when the women went to collect fire wood from the forest and saw a hairy man dressed in backcloth wielding a spear with his dog alongside moving in a zigzag format. When the women ran back home to tell their husbands who later decided to come and pick him and named him biteete. Later they got a wife for him but still continued hunting but one time as he had gone to hunt, he never returned. The village men decided to look for him after 3 days but didn’t find him and found his spear only and according to that it was named the male hot spring.
The sempaya hot springs are found 30 minutes’ walk from the main road to the forest trails of semuliki national park. When one is at the hot springs, they are able to view the steamy hot water bubbling and spurting from the ground at 103 degrees Celsius. The hot springs are too hot where tourists can even boil simple foods like eggs or plantain.
Besides the hot springs tourists on their Uganda wildlife safari can enjoy the ituri forest of the Congo basin, the wetlands and woodland vegetation which harbors various birds and wildlife species and river semuliki which passes through Rwenzori mountains and spits the waters into lake albert.