Semuliki Game Reserve is a wildlife conservation area and is found in the western part of Uganda in Kabarole district-Toro sub-region. It was established in 1926 as a game reserve to protect wildlife in the area. The reserve is approximately 542 square kilometers of its lowland at the rim of the Rift valley where Rwenzori Mountains, Lake Albert, and Kijura escarpments create a backdrop. The reserve’s vegetation type is an open savannah grassland with acacia woodland scattered with patches of Borassus palm forest and extensive swamps towards Lake Albert.
In 2005 the Toro Semiliki game reserve was considered to be a lion conservation area. More so the reserve boasts of large number of birds of over 440 species and to those who love birding Safaris, semiliki game reserve can be your stopping destination where you can encounter the most beautiful birds on the earth. Some of these birds include the African open bill, the great white pelican, the rare shoebill, Malachite kingfisher, Leaf love, Pia piac, Black coucal, African crake, Broad billed roller, standard winged nightjar, and many others. It is also a home of mammals most especially the Uganda kobs as well as other species like buffaloes, leopard, Elephants, small antelopes like waterbucks, warthogs and also hosts a number of primates of over 40 chimpanzees, Red tailed monkeys, Olive baboons, vervet, black and white colobus monkeys and many more other species.
Toro semiliki game reserve is a gazetted area that inhabits large species of mammals, birds, water animals, primates which are similar to those of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison falls national park which live in the tropical rain forest at the edge of the rift valley, but in different regions of Uganda.
Activities in Semuliki National Park
There are unique activities that travelers can be part of when they come to visit the Toro Semuliki game reserve. They include Game drives, Nature walks, Hike to the Nyaburogo gorge, primate walk, Boat rides, and community Tourism as well as bird watching.
Game drives: Game drive in Uganda and in Semuliki National Park can be interesting with the vast attractions in wildlife. Game Drives in Semuliki National Reserve are done on three tracks across the open savannah grassland where elephants are commonly seen, Buffalos, warthogs, waterbucks, and the Uganda kobs. You can also get a chance to spot some leopards but in the evening hours. Game drives can be best done in the morning hours, afternoon and at night where tourists can be able to come across the nocturnal species such as white tailed mongoose.
Nature walks: At Toro Semiliki Game Reserve, nature walks are amazing and you get an opportunity of viewing a variety of species from savannah woodland to riverine forests. This activity can take 3 to 4hour in the forest where you can view a number of primates like vervet, red tailed monkeys, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys while listening to the melody of birds. The nature walks are guided by a well-trained ranger within the reserve.
Primate walk: This is an interesting walk which can be conducted near Semiliki safari lodge where you meet an experienced ranger who will guide you to lead you through primates trailheads within the reserve where you will get a chance to spot out the great apes famously known as chimpanzees and other small primates like Red tailed monkeys, vervet, olive baboons, black and white monkeys, and many others. Primate walk can last 3 to 4hours while you are in this primates habitant.
Community Tourism: The community tourism association around the reserve area is managed by the Karugutu community conservation Association of which its objectives are cultural conservation & education through music and drama. The association organizes the most amazing traditional dances for the visitors and they have a souvenir shop just at the entrance of the reserve where a number of tourists buy these craft things for future remembrance.
Boat ride: This activity is done along Lake Albert where tourists get across the unique birds such as Shoebills, Blue-breasted bird, African Pygmy Goose, and Blue-cheeked bee-eaters and as well as water animals like crocodile, hippopotamus among others.
Hike to Nyaburogo gorge: This is a truly privileged experience to a bird watcher in this paradise. This hike starts at the reserve headquarters and can be best done in the morning hours. The hike measures 7 kilometers through the adversity of habitats such as the open savannah grassland and the forest in the gorge. Within these habitats, tourists can be able to view common birds like Tropical Boubal, Arrow marked Babbler, leaf love, Africa crake, also sightsee swamps and primates like chimpanzees.
Chimpanzee trekking: this can also be enjoyed here which is best done at 8 am with a trained guide who leads you in the trailheads. The activity can last 30minutes or even full day and you can learn about the chimpanzees’ lifestyle.
Community walk: There are four local communities living around the reserve and these include Rwebisego community located on the west and northwestern edge of the reserve in the Semuliki area and the who people live in here are the Batuku, Bahuma, the Karugutu Kyabandara community which sits in the south of the semiliki national game reserve at about 18 kilometers away from Fort portal town. The are Bakonjo people also who live around here and are commonly known as traditional cultivators. The Ntoroko fishing community situated in south Eastern at the rim of Lake Albert between rivers of Muzizi and Wasa are also part of the communities and lastly the Kasesenge-Kyakabaseke community located on the Eastern escarpment of the rift valley.
The best time to visit Uganda’s wildlife reserve is in the months of June to September and December to February.
Accommodation when at Semuliki National Game Reserve
Toro Semiliki game reserve has good nice looking lodges and good for a camping site and all you need to do is to book for your room in advance before your arrival at the reserve. These are the lodges where tourists can sleep; Ntoroko game lodge, Semiliki safari lodge, hotel villa, and many more other well-modernized hotels.
How to get there
The easiest way to access to Toro-Semiliki game reserve is passing via–Fort portal up to the reserve which takes 5 to 7 hours by road from Kampala. Alternative you can fly from Kajjasi Airstrip along Entebbe road because there is an airfield which is located next to Semiliki safari lodge and the Airfield is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.