Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park was created in 1932 and upgraded to national park status in 1993. It covers an area of 220 square kilometres, with an altitude of 670-760 metres above sea level. It sprawls across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.
The Semliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.
While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, the park contains evidence of even older processes. 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 Semuliki National Park is rich in flora and fauna which shows strong affinities with the Congo basin forest. The flora is dominated by a single tree species, Cynometra alexandri, mixed with tree species of a more evergreen nature. Swamp forest communities can also be found in the region.
The fauna of the forest is outstandingly abundant and includes more than 400 bird species of which 216 are true forest birds. The forest is home to 53 mammals, of which 27 are large mammals. 11 species are endemic to the park including the pygmy antelope and two flying squirrel species. It is also home to the peculiar water chevrotain, known as the “fanged deer”. Other mammals in the National Park include leopards, hippos, elephant, forest buffalo, hippopotamus, civets, potto, bush babies, mona monkeys, water chevrotains, and nine species of Duikers.
The major tourist activities in the park include game viewing by vehicles on dirt roads, hiking and nature walks in Semuliki, bird watching and cultural encounters, as well as visiting the Sempaya Hot springs. It is advised to seek advice from your local Uganda safari operator on how best you can access the park as well as how to pay for any of the activities you wish to get involved in. Note that you can book your activities from the Uganda Wildlife Authority offices in Kampala or at any entry points of the park.
Foreign non-residents: 35US$
Foreign residents: 25US$
Citizens of East African Member States: 10,000UGX