Semliki National Park
Semliki national park is one of the best national parks in Uganda famously known for existence of the sempaya hot springs that boil water up to 100oC. Semliki national park is situated in western part of Uganda the pearl of Africa with in Bundibugyo district and was gazette in 1993 into a national park after being a forest reserve from 1932. The park covers an area of 220km2 and is one of the new parks to be gazette in Uganda. Semuliki national park thrills with numerous species of both fauna and flora that make it one of the most visited destinations by tourists on a Uganda safari. The vegetation of Semliki national park comprises both savanna woodland that includes semi deciduous forests, the evergreen forest, swamp, and the savanna grassland where wildlife and bird species thrill all year round.
Top tourist attractions in Semliki national park
Sempaya hot springs: Sempaya hot springs are the major attractions in Semliki national park that attract both domestic and international tourists who visit the park specifically to have a glance and spend some time viewing these beautiful underground geographical force that forces the water to boil up to about 100oC through a rock. This water is known to boil an egg or any other vegetable within less than 10 minutes and is ready for consumption. Test it with an egg or a cooking banana and you will be my witness on this. Semliki national park harbors both the male and the female hot springs.
Wildlife: Semliki national park is a home to about 60 species of wildlife species including primates such as chimpanzees both habituated and semi habituated, Olive baboons, Red tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, bush babies, De Brazza’s monkey, Pottos, mammals such as elephants, duikers, antelopes, civets, among others
Birds: Semuliki national park harbors more than 440 species of birds out of which the biggest percentage make up the forest birds while the remaining are the water birds, species endemic to Albertine rift and the migratory birds. Some the bird species include; rare shoebill stork, Kingfishers, Pelicans, hornbills, Guinea Congo biome, Cuckoos, Nicator, and Weaver birds, among others.
Top tourist activities in Semliki national park
Birding in Semuliki National park: The vegetation cover of the park filled with forests makes it the best destination for birding where the most birding grounds include the trail towards the water bodies such as towards river Kirumia, Lake Albert, River Semliki and near the swampy areas where water birds are spotted such as King Fishers, Shoebill stork, Eagle fish, Swamp Palm Bulbul and many more. While inside the forest, one is in position to encounter woodpeckers, bee-eaters, yellow throated Nicator, Honey guided Greenbul, malimbe, Great Blue Turaco, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Ross’s Turacos, orange cheeked waxbill, hornbill among others making Semliki national park indeed a birding paradise.
Boat cruise in Semliki National park: Taking a boat cruise along Lake Albert rewards cruisers with an encounter with several attractions along the shores of the lake including the water birds such as the rare Shoebill stork, king fisher, and other different aquatic species such as crocodiles as well as bathing hippos.
Game drive in Semliki National park: the park offers both day game drives and night game drives. During day game drive through well distinguished tracks, several mammals are seen including elephants, antelopes, waterbucks, pygmy hippos, and the entire thrilling vegetation mixed with woodland and grassland. Do not miss out the night game drive in since in all parks within Uganda, Semliki National park offers the best night game drives specifically known as nocturnal game drives where tourists are protected by the armed rangers and they use the spotlight to spot the nocturnal mammals and hunters that are always active during night hours and hiding during day such as Leopards, Pottos, Bush babies, mongoose among others.
Hiking and nature walks in Semliki national park: the park runs about 3 well defined trails which include the long trail, the medium trail and the shortest trail each leading to different destinations. For instance, there is a 13 km walking trail that is known a Kirumia trail that lasts about 8 hours to make a round trip. This Kirumia trail is a 13 km walk that takes tourists through the center of the Forest up to River Semliki and it offers clear view of different species of birds thus the best trail for bird lovers. Apart from Kirumia trail, there is also an 11km Red monkey trail that enables tourists to encounter with several monkeys with most especially the rare De Brazza’s monkey along the way to river semliki. And finally, the shortest rail known as Sempaya trail that is specifically used by the tourists that ought to visit the sempaya hot springs. This is Sempaya trail is the shortest of all lasts about 4 hours to cover an 8 km walk.
Visit Sempaya Hot springs in Semuliki National park: As mentioned earlier, Sempaya hot springs are the major things to see in Semliki National park and the best way to fully explore them is by taking a guide forest walk through the well-defined walking trail in the wilderness of the of the forest with in the park until one get to the hot springs. The most visited out of the two hot springs is the female hot springs also known as Nyansimbi which literally means a goodness of riches, thus several locals visit the female hot spring to pray to their gods for financial break through. This female hot spring is the one that boils to about 100oC in that the heat from these hot springs can be felt at about 2km away from the hot spring. Tourists are encouraged to put the raw eggs in the water and before ten minutes the eggs are hard boiled for consumption but always encouraged never to put their legs or hand as the water is really hot. On the other hand, the male hot spring also known as Bintente rewards tourists with an encounter with primates and other different wildlife species in Semuliki National park. Both two hot springs are worth a visit while on a Uganda safari to Semliki National park due to their different attractions along the way.
Cultural encounters in semuliki national park: Like any other primate park in Uganda, Semliki national park also was once a home to the batwa who lived together with the primates surviving by hunting and gathering. However, these people were expelled from the park and they now reside outside the park but are easily visited by tourists on a visit to Semliki national park as they display their cultural traditions and practices and some of the crafts that the make using the available raw materials.
Where to stay/ accommodations in Semuliki national park
The Semliki national park offers several accommodations with some situated inside the park while others are outside the park but in close vicinity to the park and these include; Kirumia Guesthouse, Sempaya rest camp, Semliki safari lodge, Mountain of the moon hotel, Kyaninga lodge, Rujuna guesthouse, Eriba guesthouse, Toro resort, Rwenzori travelers inn hotel, Continental hotel, Hotel Vanilla, Rwenzori view guesthouse, Riviera inn, Fort Motel, Palace view motel, Wooden hotel, Palace view hotel, Semliki guesthouse, Semliki national park Banda and campsites among others.