Activities in Semuliki National Park
Activities in Semuliki National Park are the different ventures that travelers can engage in when they visit the park as they explore its features. Semuliki national park is one of the less visited national parks with untouched attractions excellent for relaxation in the wild peace drawing only those who want to experience the best of Uganda while avoiding most famous and busier tourist attractions in Uganda. The Valley draws those wanting to experience the best of Uganda as well as avoiding the more famous, busier, parts of the country. Semuliki national park lies close to the Democratic Republic of Congo border south of Lake Albert in Uganda across the floor of Semuliki valley below the Kijura escarpment and the remote western side of the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountain rangers in Bundibugyo district near Fort portal City dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is a wonderful introduction to the habitants of Central Africa without leaving Uganda.
Semuliki forest national park is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests, one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 year ago and beyond the Park, lies the Toro-Semuliki Wildlife Reserve, a contrasting area of open savanna grassland and riverine forest. Whilst national park is dark and physically ancient, the Reserve has a gentle beauty, only enhanced by the low number of visitors. Toro Semiuiki national reserve covers an area of 220 square kilometres with an attitude of 670-760 meters above sea level. This forest reserve was created in 1932 and later upgraded to national park status in 1993.
Given that all Uganda national park have a unique attraction for visitors, Semuliki national park is best described by its accumulating species for over 25,000 years as evidenced of the older processes including the Hot springs. The Sempaya hot springs of Semuliki national park bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million year. However, Semuliki national park is a leading birding destination in Uganda thus earning a title of “True Birders’ Haven” hosting about 441 recorded bird species, representing 40 percent of bird species found in Uganda’s forests. The park is only explored on foot given the numerous trails that take visitors through the ancient forest and papyrus swamps for birding and to the Sempaya Hot springs.
Chimpanzee trekking in Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve
Trekking chimpanzees in Semuliki national park is of a specific interest because they occupy the dry forest habitat as compared to Chimpanzees in Kibale national park, Kyamburo Gorge or Budongo forest. Chimpanzees in Semukili national park range far and wide in locating and securing enough food for them. Therefore visitors should not expect it easy to find the chimpanzees however the experience of seeing them can be fascinating as they can be seen walking on two of their legs for short distances. The wildlife research programme has subjected the chimpanzee population in habituation process to discover the relationship between the chimpanzee behaviour of walking on 2 legs and evolution of a new species. Trekking process is similar to other chimpanzee trekking destinations however trekking chimpanzees in Semliki is done by joining the researchers on a primates’ walk in the forest, during trekking, trekkers should not expect to see the chimpanzees because the chimpanzees do move quickly and far.
Game viewing in Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve
This is one of the most common Activities in Semuliki National Park. Toro-Semuliki reserve is an open grassland and river forest and was gazetted to protect the wildlife species that exist in the valley. The park suffered high levels of poaching from the communities thus reducing the numbers of mammals lower than any other savannah park in Uganda. The reserve hosts about 53 mammal species that can be explored on three game drive tracks gazetted by Uganda Wildlife Authority. Some of the animals found include; Elephants, buffaloes, Waterbucks, Warthogs, Uganda Kobs, Bush babies, Pygmy Hippos, leopards and hyenas. Game viewing can be conducted early mornings and in the evenings when the animals seem more active. Semuliki wildlife reserve is one of the best places for Night game drive in Uganda given that the forest has a number of nocturnal animals.
Semuliki national park hot springs
Semuliki national park’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years as evidenced of its ever older processes creating Hot springs. Semuliki hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years. The hot springs are worth visiting while on your Uganda Safari visit. There are long and short trails provided that lead to the hot springs in the park. The hot springs of Semuliki national park is called Sempaya Hot springs and they are formed into female and male hot springs. The park rangers will be able to explain the cultural stories and geographical affiliations on the hot springs.
Semuliki national park is Uganda’s true birders’ haven with about 40 percent bird species of Uganda’s birding destinations. The park has recorded about 441 different bird species. Exploring this park and its reserve is a special experience for birders looking for scientific importance. There are provided trails by Uganda wildlife authority for example the 13 km Kirumia trail which leads you through the heart of the forest to Semuliki River and the transect through the different habitats makes the perfect area for bird watching. Some of the commonly spotted birds may include; the Ground hornbill, black and while Colobus monkeys, Red Vervet monkeys to mention a few through the savannah woodland to the Riverine forest.
The Shoebill stock, the most sought bird can also be found in Semuliki national park on a boat safari operated on Lake Albert from the reserve. The shoe bill stock is best seen on the borders of the papyrus beds that mark where Semuliki River enters Lake Albert. The boat trip is an exciting experience that crosses the lake with stunning background views of the misty blue mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and fishing activities thus the entire experience is incredible. The boat trip is best done in the morning and evening hours to be able to spot the shoebill stock.
Walking trails/Nature walks
There are several trails provided in the park like the shorter trail of 11km called the Red Monkey trail in the eastern border to Semuliki River, the rare DeBrazza’s monkeys are often spotted along this trial and area. While the shortest trail of 8km also called Sempaya nature trail introduces you to some of the primates and later the hot springs of Semuliki national park. It takes about 2 to 4 hours to reach the hot springs and this walk is best done in the morning or afternoon hours.