Semuliki National Park is a beautiful and diverse protected area located in western Uganda, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is known for its rich biodiversity, unique landscapes, and several attractions that draw tourists and nature enthusiasts.

There is no shortage of what to do in the park. Tourists interested in visiting Semulik can choose to go for forest walks, bird watching, primates watching, visiting the two hot springs, hiking and game drives. A cultural visit to one of the local tribes living outside the park should not be missed for a complete safari in Semulik National Park.

Visiting the Semuliki River:

The park gets its name from the Semuliki River, a river about 160 kilometers long. This muddy forest river is one of the water bodies that supply water to the great river Nile. The river is home to crocodiles, hippos and hundreds of birds. Visitors love taking long walks to follow the river as it meanders through forests and rift valley flours.

Visiting the Sempaya Hot Springs:

The two hot springs have made the park very famous. Tourists are more fascinated by the local stories about their formation than the scientific explanation. There is a female and male hot spring. The Male hot spring is about 12 meters in diameter and is called Bintente while the female in Nyasimbi.

Boiling geyser gushes out steam and bubbling water several meters high and can be seen more than 1 kilometer away. The water gushing out is hot enough to boil eggs in ten minutes. The park authorities have built a tower and boardwalk for observing the hot springs at a safe distance.tourists also get to enjoy cultural dances organized by local tribes to entertain visitors who have come to see the hot springs

Bird watching:

Semulik National Park is one of the best places for bird watching in Uganda. Semulik National Park has half of the bird species found in the Democratic Republic of Congo because the park is an extension of the greater Ituri forest of the DR Congo which stretches up to river Zaire. This extension allows species from central Africa to move up to Semulik National Park.

Red-throated bee-eater, Merops bullocki, Lake Albert, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Uganda

Birding in the park can be done in the forest, around the Sempaya hot springs or behind the rangers post. Tourists will get to see different birds such as African Dwarf Kingfishers, African Piculet, Bates’ Nightjar, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Black-collared Lovebird, Black-wattled Hornbills, African Goshawk, Ayres Hawk-Eagle, Cassin’s Spinetail, Great Sparrows, Red-thighed Sparrows and the nocturnal residents like the African Wood Owl and the Buff-spotted Flufftail that can be heard late in the night.

Forest and Nature Walks:

One of the popular activities in the park is taking a walk in the forest jungles to spot the vegetation, birds, butterflies and primates. Forest Walks usually begin from around the Sempaya park gate ending at the hot springs. There are three established walking trails in the park. One of them is the Sempaya Nature trail which is 8 km long, the Red-monkey track of about 11 km and the Kirumia Hiking trail of 13 Kilometers. Hikers need to carry rudimentary items like machete to cut overgrown vegetation as they clear paths in the forest. Visitors interested in camping in the forest need to come with their own equipment.

Chimpanzee tracking: The Indiana University habituated some clans of Chimpanzee that are now open for tourism. Chimpanzee tracking permits cost $30 for international visitors. While tracking the chimpanzees, visitors should also expect to spot smaller primates like the Black and white Colobus monkeys, Central African red colobus, Dent’s Mona monkeys,  grey-cheeked mangabey, Olive baboons and Red-tailed monkeys among many others. It is important to come prepared with the right clothing and equipment to protect against stinging insects, sharp tree branches and thorns. Come with enough drinking water and light snack.


Cultural visits and experiences: The area around the National park is home to by four indigenous tribes. Visitors can choose to visit any of the four tribes living in the edges of the park. The Batwa pygmies are hunters and forest gatherers while the Bakonjo and Bamba grow crops (rice, matooke/bananas, potatoes and cocoa) on the slopes of the mount Rwenzori. The Batuku live in the northern section of the park as pastoralists. Tourism and modernization is changing the lives of these tribes and particularly the Batwa.

The Batwa used to live freely in the forests of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo but have been relocated to areas outside the national parks. Some of the Batwa in Semuliki National Park have been resettled in an area near Ntandi with the help of a Christian organization ADRA but with little success as they still find themselves longing for their old way of life in the forest. Some of the Batwa with support from the Uganda Wildlife Authority showcase their cultural heritage to visitors through dance, storytelling and other demonstrations. The Batwa grow and smoke Marijuana.


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