02 Jan 2016

Distance from Kampala: 330km. Estimated transit time: 6 hours

Semliki National Park is located in the southwestern part of Uganda in Bundibugyo district along the Easter side of the River Semliki.

This park covers 220 sq km.The River Semiliki forms part of the international boundary between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). This is the only place in Uganda where the Ituri Rain-Forest encroaches from Congo, and a visit here provides a taste of Central Africa wildlife, birds and culture.

As part of the Albertine Rift Valley, Semuliki National  park encompasses part of one of Africa’s most biodiverse forests and is particularly noted for its varied bird population. It is undoubtedly the highlight for many visiting birders.Semiliki Valley houses one of Africa’s ancient forests that survived the last ice age creating thick dense forests with temperatures rising to a humid 30C and doused by an annual 1240mm of rain.

The Sempaya Hot Springs and the nearby Rwenzori Mountains were among Uganda’s first tourist attractions. Currently the major tourist attractions The hot springs bubble up beneath Sempaya, demonstrating the powerful subterranean forces that have shaped the Rift Valley during the last 14 million years.

Two main springs are in a swampy clearing on the southeastern corner of the forest. The outer spring is dominated by a boiling geyser (103C) that spurts up to 2m from a white cake-like base. This spring is commonly referred to as the Female Spring. The inner spring is a broad steaming pool about 10m long and is reached by a 30 minute trail. This inner spring is commonly referred to as the Male Spring. Bring along an egg or two that you can boil in the many outlets of the spring!

The bird-life is especially spectacular and represents 40% of Uganda’s total bird species with 66% in the forest and the rest by the riverine habitat. 46 rare Guinea-Congo biome species are spotted here with 5 species endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley. Another 35 species found here can “only be seen in 2-3 other sites in Uganda.” Look out for the Shining Blue Kingfisher, Black Dwarf Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, White-thighed Hornbill, Grant’s Bluebill, Blue-billed Malimbe, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, White-naped Pigeon, Grey-throated Roller, White-throated Blue Swallow, Olivacious Flycatcher and Black-billed Barbet to name but a few.

Semliki’s flora and fauna species have been evolving for over 250,000 years. They include 336 tree species, 442 recorded bird species, 53 mammals and unspecified butterfly species. Some unique insects found here include the massive but harmless Goliath Beetles and Rhinoceros Beetles, reaching up to 4 inches in length.

Twenty seven (27) large mammals reside, mostly hidden, in Semliki’s thick forests, including Forest Elephants and Forest Buffalo reside in the thick forests. The river banks are lined with scores of hippos and crocodiles.When you are in Semliki National Park, you are closer to more primate species than anywhere else in the world. Numerous primate species include the chimpanzee, black and white colobus, Central African red colobus, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, de Brazza monkey, vervet monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, Olive baboon and Dent’s mona monkey. After dark, look out for the nocturnal primates including the bushbabies and pottos.

Other wildlife in Semliki National park include , 53 species of mammal have been recorded from the park, many of which are shy, rare and nocturnal. Conspicuous species include Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed and Mona, Gentle (Blue) Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkeys are rare and Chimpanzees may seldom be heard than seen. While nocturnal primates include Pottos and Galagos. You are also lucky if you glimpse Elephant, Bush pig, Water Chevrotain, Buffalo, Sitatunga, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Beecroft’s Anomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse. You are far more likely to spot the lively and agile squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel. Little collard fruit Bat and Target Rat. 30 species of butterflies have been identified, including 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted.