Semuliki National Park
Semuliki Reserve is mainly of interest to birdwatchers. The park has an impressive checklist which includes many birding specials. Other attractions are the hot springs at Sempaya and a Pygmy village in the adjacent Semuliki National Park.
Semuliki Reserve is the one of Uganda’s oldest wildlife reserves covering 543 sq kms laying in northeast of Bundibugyo extending to the southern shores of Lake Albert. It is possible to see the rising rift valley escarpment, the Congolese Blue mountains to the west and the glacier-clad Rwenzori’s to the south-west on clear days. Semuliki Reserve is famed for its vast scenery and a birders paradise. The now Semuliki National Park is situated within the Albertine Rift on the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo covering 220 sq kms and formerly known as Bwamba Forest and sprawls across the floor of the Semuliki Valley. It is part of the tropical lowland forest – the Ituri forest where the jungle of the Democratic Republic of the Congo meets the plateau of Uganda. There are 441 bird species recorded, 300 species of butterflies, 46 species of forest swallow tail, 53 mammal species and 235 moth species. The park is managed and operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Semuliki isn’t about spotting large animals. Buffalo and elephants are present, but rarely seen. Lions visit the area, but are more often heard than seen. Leopards can sometimes be spotted on night drives. The park is a real birding hotspot and home to many primate species, including chimpanzees. Unfortunately, the chimps are not yet habituated to humans and encounters are rare. Grey-cheeked mangabey, black-and-white colobus, Central African red colobus, baboons, blue, red-tailed, de Brazza’s, vervet, and Dent’s mona monkeys can all be found along the forest trails. Potto and bushbabies can be found at night.
Wildlife densities in the park are low. Only the Uganda kob is common. Buffalo, elephant and waterbuck are around, but not regularly seen. All wildlife is quite skittish and is hard to approach by car. Lions and hyenas are around, but are rarely seen; it is much more common to hear them at night. Leopards are sometimes spotted on night drives. Many primate species can be found, including: Central African red colobus, black-and-white colobus, Dent’s mona and the De Brazza’s monkey.
Hot Springs – The most popular attraction is the cluster of hot springs – Sempaya Hot Springs both male 1 hour trail and female 30 mins trail surrounded by forest and palm trees.
Game drives / Wildlife Drives favored by tracks along the Toro Semuliki Savannah Grasslands offers opportunities of viewing Elephants, Waterbucks, Uganda Kobs among others.
Scenic Drives, Boat trips on Lake Albert for a chance to view the rare shoebill stork,
Chimpanzee tracking and Guided Nature walks along the Red Monkey Trail to Semliki River for 3 hours.
Birdwatching along the Kirumia River Trail a 15km trail with opportunities of viewing about 25 species not found elsewhere in Uganda takes about 8hours. Sempaya and Ntandi offer excellent bird viewings. Look out for the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, Great blue and Ross’s Turacos.
Chimp tracking / primate walk- There are around 250 chimpanzees in the Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve. Trackers are organized in groups of 8 and can have one hour with the Chimpanzees.
Cultural Interactions with the Batwa Local Community gives the local community the opportunity to maintain and display their rich cultural history through music and dance performances at Ntandi.
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Best Time to Visit
The best time for wildlife viewing in Semliki Valley Wildlife Reserve is during the dry season (December to February) when animals concentrate around predictable water sources. Some of the roads become impassable after heavy rain.
|Best time to go:||December to February and June to July (Dry seasons)|
|High Season:||June to September (More people visit Uganda since it is the peak time for gorilla tracking)|
|Low Season:||March, April, May, October and November (A number of camps and lodges close)|
|Best Weather:||Mid-December to February (Less rainfall)|
|Worst Weather:||Mid-March to May and mid-August to November (High rainfall, roads can become impassable)|
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