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Semuliki Valley National Park

Semuliki Valley National Park
Semuliki Valley National Park is a national park in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District in the Western Region of Uganda
Semuliki National Park lies on Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Rwenzori Mountains are to the south-east of the park, while Lake Albert is to the park’s north. The park lies within the Albertine Rift, the western arm of the East African Rift T.he park is located on a flat to gently undulating landform that ranges from 670 to 760 m (2,200 to 2,490 ft) above sea level
Accessibility Semuliki
As the crow flies, Semuliki National Park is just 27km from the regional capital of Fort Portal. However, the direct route is complicated by the massive Rwenzori Mountain and a detour to the north is required to thread through the rocky Buranga Pass into the Semliki Valley. The 52km drive to the park office at Sempaya provides panoramic views over the rift during the descent from Buranga. In good weather the drive takes about two hours but mountainous sections are muddy in wet weather and a 4WD vehicle is recommended.
Public transport runs daily from Fort Portal and Bundibugyo town, 15km beyond Sempaya. Transport for the return journey can be hard to find later in the day (after 4pm) so be prepared to stay over. Backpackers can enjoy more flexibility by forming a group to hire a vehicle from Kabarole Tours in Fort Portal (behind Don’s Plaza).
Two routes connect Fort Portal to Kampala. These can be combined to create an attractive circuit to and from the capital. The direct option is the 300km 4-hour drive via Mubende.
The alternative through Mbarara to the south is considerably longer but offers stopovers at Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national park.
Attractions
Flora and fauna
Classified as Moist Semi- Deciduous Forest, Semuliki is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa. The center of the forest is dominated by Cynometra (Ironwood) but the edges are attractively varied, with riverine swamp forest along the Semliki River and beautiful mixed forest around Sempaya.
The forest is home to 53 mammals, of which 27 are large mammals; duiker-sized and above, several are Central African species found nowhere else in East Africa. Forest elephant and forest buffalo are smaller versions of their savanna relatives. Hippo monkeys crocodiles are found in the Semliki River while the forest is remarkably rich in primates.
Chimpanzee, black and white colobus, central African red colobus, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, de Brazza’s monkey, vervet monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, baboon, and Dent’s mona monkey are present. Nocturnal primates include potto and bush baby.
Sempaya Hot Springs
The Hot Springs at Sempaya are Semuliki’s most fc attraction. Two main springs are set in a lush clearing close to the south-eastern corner of the fore~ outer spring is just a few minutes’ walk from the Ser Park office. This is dominated by a boiling geyser (1 which spurts up to 2m-high from a white, iced cake-like of precipitated mineral. Water also bubbles in small p< which eggs can be cooked. The more distant inner spring is reached by a 30 minu that leads through beautiful palm forest before crossil swamp on a boardwalk. This spring is a broad, ste pool about 10m across. Semuliki River The Kirimia Trail leaves the main road near the iron bridge at Kirimia, 10 km from sempaya and runs for 11km to the Semliki River, fording the Kirimia stream a couple of times on the way. The 3-4 hour walk to the river is a must for Birders seeking Semuliki Specials. The Red Monkey trial runs from Sempaya to reach the river as it emerges from the forest. the 6 hours round trip provides opportunities to sight grassland as well as forest birds. In dry weather it is possible to drive past the homesteads of the Batuku pastoralists east of the park to within 10-15 minutes’ walk of the river to look for crocodiles and waterbirds. The following are the interesting tourist activities conducted within the remote Semuliki National Park; Primate Watching This remote National Park is a home to some Chimpanzees that were habituated by the Indiana Universit and many other small primates like Baboons, black and white colubus monkeys among others. Just like Chimpanzee tracking in other places (Budongo Forest and Kibale Forest Reserve), tourists interested in tracking chimpanzees within Semliki National Park have to first acquire a chimpanzee tracking permit that costs only $30 per person for foreign nonresidents and foreign residents and Shs 30,000 for East African Community residents, wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers to protect your arms and legs from stinging nettles, thorns and tree branches, wear rain jacket and carry snacks and enough drinking water. Other primates that will be encountered include the grey-cheeked mangabey, de Brazza’s, Dent’s Mona monkeys, Black and white Colobus monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, Central African red colobus and the Olive baboons among others. Bird watching Tourists who visit Semuliki National Park are rewarded with some of the most fascinating forest bird species and other swamp bird species. Some of the notable bird species to look out for in this park include the elusive shoebill stork and Swamp Palm Bulbul found mainly around Lake Albert. Others include Lemon-bellied Crombec, Black Dwarf Hornbill, African Piculet, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Red-billed Dwarf hornbills, Blue-billed Malimbe, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, White-crested hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, White-throated Blue Swallow, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-bellied Malimbe, Nkulengu Rail, White-crested Hornbill, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Piping hornbill, Leaf-love, Crested Malimbe, the Ross’ Turaco and Orange-cheeked Waxbill among others especially found ar0ound Ntandi and Sempaya. Apart from the mentioned bird areas, Kirumia River is also an interesting birding spot. Nature walks and hiking Nature walks within Semuliki National Park are also a must activity that allows tourists to get up-close with the mammals, birds and butterfly species that cannot be explored during game drives. Nature walks within this park allow tourists to explore animals such as primates, Hippos, Crocodiles birds and butterflies. There are three main hiking trails within this Park and they include the 8 kilometer Sempaya Nature trail, the 11 kilometer Red-monkey track along the Eastern margin of Semuliki National Park and the 13 Kilometer Kirumia Hiking trail that passes the heart of the Semuliki Valley National park and stretches towards the Semuliki River. Cultural encounters Much are there are several tribes around Semliki National Park, meeting the Batwa people who live within Semuliki Forest is the most riveting cultural encounter within Semuliki National Park. These people were hunter-gatherers who were entirely dependant on the Semliki Forest for food, shelter, firewood and medicine before it was gazzeted into forest reserve in 1932 and a National Park in 1993. With the development of tourism, their livelihood shifted from the forest, but instead they display their fading ancient ways and cultures through dances, music and drama. Another riveting cultural encounter is the visit to the Bambuti pygmies who inhabit the banks of the Semuliki River and are close relatives of the Basu pygmies within the Democratic Republic of Congo, although some people believe that the Bambuti pygmies are closely related to the Batwa around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These people are even smaller in number than the Batwa Pygmies and have more interesting activities that include growing and smoking of marijuana. The similarity between the Bambuti Pygmies and the Batwa Pygmies is that they all once lived within Forests, were hunter-gatherers and were all evicted from their ancient homes. Visit to the Sempaya hot springs. This is the most participated activity within Semuliki National Park and is a must-do for all tourists to this National Park. There are two Hot Springs-Male hot spring called Bitende that measures about 12 meters in diameter and the Female hot spring named Nyasimbi and is a boiling geyser that ejects out hot water and steam at about 2 meters into the air. The Temperature of the water can be able to boil at 100 degrees Celsius and eggs can boil within 5-10 minutes. What fascinates tourists is not the scientific formation of the feature but the cultural/legendary story that surrounds it. Visit these hot springs and you will be amused by the cultural significance, and there are several mammals such as primates and birds within this site. Regardless of the Semuliki National park being a remote Savannah Park, it offers interesting activities like Chimpanzee tracking, nature walks, cultural encounters, game drives, bird watching and visit to the Sempaya hot springs that draw wildlife enthusiast to the National Park. Best time to go tour Semuliki NP The dry season is the best time to go tour Semuliki Valley National Park. There are 2 hot dry seasons to consider planning a successful Semuliki valley National Park safari, June, July & December, January to February. Semuliki is possible to be visited even during the wet or rainy months of the year though they are the months characterized by heavy rains. Accommodation The top accommodation facilities of Semuliki NP include Semuliki Safari Lodge, Ntoroko Game Lodge, Kirimia Guesthouse, Bandas and Campsite at the park. Semliki Safari Lodge This wonderful luxury Lodge is found in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve, near Semliki National Park. It was constructed out of locally sourced materials offering tourists with an authentic African rustic feeling while at the same time offering the most comfortable stay to more than 18 guests on a Safari in the Park. The accommodation in Semliki Safari lodge is inform of Canvas Tents (golden hued tents with shinny wooden floors with adjoining bathrooms with hot and cold showers, morning tea or coffee is served for you in bed (brought to your room) and flush toilets among others. Some of the facilities to enjoy include a well-stocked bar, and a restaurant that serves the most delicious meals, swimming pool for relaxation, a main Lodge with grass-thatched roof and a lounge among others. Most importantly, the Lodge rewards tourists with the astonishing views of the Blue Mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other riveting activities to partake while at the Lodge. Ntoroko Game Lodge Ntoroko Game Lodge is a luxury Tented Camp situated on the unspoiled shores of Lake Albert and provides tourists with the breathtaking scenery of the wildlife species in the Park. This facility offers tourists with Double rooms, standard double rooms and single rooms. This Lodge is perfect for honeymooners or tourists looking to enjoy a safari in seclusion. Some of the facilities found in their rooms include Fans, comfortable en-suite bedrooms, private balconies overlooking the gardens and Lake Albert, Toiletries, Safes, heaters and hairdryers. Kirimia Guesthouse Kirimia Guesthouse is situated at about 100 kilometers from the Kirimia trailhead and around 10 kilometers from Sempaya as you are heading towards Bundibugyo. Tourists who stay at this guest house are rewarded with an up-close encounter with the National Park where you will encounter several wildlife species and bird species and provide tourists with one of the most comfortable budget accommodation that includes meals. UWA Bandas and campsites The UWA Bandas and Campsites are situated at Bumaga, around 3 kilometers from Sempaya-the trail head of various explorations in Semliki National Park such as birding, nature walks and hikes to the popular Sempaya male and female hot springs. The Bandas offers comfortable accommodation without meals, which can be arranged on order. Alternatively, you can hire some of the catering equipments if you are interested in self catering while on your Safari in this National Park. In conclusion, Semliki Forest National Park is endowed with magnificent wildlife and bird species worth exploring in a Ugandan Safari. However, tourists would not be able to stay longer if not for the accommodation facilities such as the UWA Bandas and campsites, the Semliki Safari Lodge, Kirimia Guesthouse and Ntoroko Game Lodge among others.

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