About Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park; Semuliki National park is a low land forest park located in Western Uganda a district of Bundibugyo in Bwamba Subcounty. Semuliki is one of the fresh parks that were gazetted as national parks in 1993 to increase and protect its biodiversity. The park is lessened inside the narrow African equatorial belt which runs from the Atlantic at Basse Casamance in Senegal to western Tanzania and Kenya and is only episodic by a broad band of Guinean forest-savannah mosaic that extends to the coasts of Togo, Benin, and Ghana. Lowland rain forests of Africa are restricted in this narrow equatorial belt, rich in biomass and plant species than any other vegetation type in Africa, and offer one of the richest habitats for wildlife.
The Semuliki National Park sits on an area equivalent to 220 km2 and is a fragment of the Central African Congo Basin forest system of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), being detached from the Ituri forest of the D.R. Congo only by the famous Semliki River. Semuliki Park is separated from the rest of East Africa countries snowcapped Rwenzori Mountain range. The fact that Semuliki national park is found within the Albertine the western arm of the Great Rift Valley, it is encompassed within the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot.
Semuliki National Park is the only low land forested park in Uganda with a closed canopy, moist semi-deciduous forest, and an altitude ranging from 670 m to 760 m. The average temperature of Semuliki national Park is around 300 C and the average rainfall around 1,500 mm/year. With a Central African influence on its fauna and flora, the park is comprised mainly of Uganda ironwood, CynometraAlexandri, and other common trees. The presence of trees means that birds species have their comfortable homes here. Areas of the park have poor drainage during March-May and Sept.-Dec which hampers destination safaris.
Why Semuliki National park is called Semuliki?
Why the park called Semuliki; The park is bordered by the main road of fort portal to Bundibugyo in the south and Semuliki river in the north running approximately 140 km from the northern end of Lake Edward in the DRC, finally draining into Lake Albert in Uganda. The river also effectually gulfs in this Park from the Ituri forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Semuliki National Park was christened Semuliki as the result of the British colonial overseer who was making his way through the forest and found a strange, anonymous nameless river. An old woman of Bankonzo origin happened to be transitioning in the forest with a wicker basket half full of fish carried on her head, the colonial overseer stopped her and questioned her in Swahili what the river was called. Unfortunately, the old woman dint understands what was asked because of the language barrier as she never understood Kiswahili.
The old woman assumed that this was yet another aggressive enemy who wanted to know what she was carrying in her basket, and not wanting to real to how that she had fish, she responded in her local language Lukonzo language ‘Semuliki’ interpreting as ‘nothing, nothing’. So, the disgraceful name was duly noted and wrongly transcribed by the overseer as ‘Semliki’ and has been booked. This word in both guises is also used for the Semliki Wildlife Reserve which borders Lake Albert and also for the this Park.
Attractions in Semuliki National Park
Tourism species in Semuliki National Park; wildlife species in Semuliki National park involve unique plant and animal species living and protected within the park and are of interest to travelers especially tourists. For travel adventures, Semuliki National park is joyful for game viewing tours, since the park houses 53 mammal species and more than 400 bird species that call for bird-watching safaris.
Semuliki national park is largely known for having large concentrations of antelopes like Uganda kobs and different bird species which suites it better for wildlife safari destinations. Obvious species in Semuliki park are identified as forest buffaloes, leopards, hippos, Mona monkeys, water chevrotains, bush babies, civets, elephants, and the pygmy flying squirrel. primate safaris can be done as park harbors red-tailed monkey, Vervet monkey, blue and De Brazza’s monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, black and white colobus, and sounds of Chimpanzee may be heard than seen if you’re lucky in addition to over 300 butterfly species.
Semuliki National Park is such is a birder paradise hosting 411 recorded bird species as this makes it a perfect destination still for birders. Out of these birds, 215 including the lyre-tailed honeyguide forest ground thrush and Sassi’s olive greenbul are true forest birds. There are also other over twelve unique bird species, which are extremely limited in East Africa but can be seen by tourists spending a few days in the Park such as western bronze-napped pigeon, yellow-throated cuckoo, piping hornbill, red-sided broadbill, capuchin babbler, blue-headed flycatcher, red-billed helmet-shrike, crested malimbe, and Chestnut-breasted negro-finch among others.
How to access Semuliki National Park
Accessing Semuliki National park; accessing Semuliki National Park involves perfect routes that visitors traveling to Semuliki for wildlife safaris can effectively use. Semuliki National park can be accessed both via the use of the road and air transport. You can use Kampala-Fort Portal through Mubende or Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara, and Kasese. There are 59km from Fort Portal to Semuliki National Park and further 6km to reach the Park headquarters at Ntandi.
The Fort portal is shorter from Kampala with 180km for about 4-5 hours compared to Kampala Mbarara via Kasese Fort’-portal with 465km (7-8 hours) though it offers a more adventurous experience even before reaching Semuliki National park as you can have a stop to Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, the Rwenzori Mountains National Park or Queen Elizabeth National Park around Kasese.
Both private and public means of transport can be used to Fort Portal and any public transport heading between Fort Portal and Kasese can drop you there. For those who would prefer to use private vehicles to the park, a 4WD vehicle is recommended especially in the wet season.
By air, you can as well use charted flight from Entebbe/Kajjansi to Kasese airstrip. Africa adventure vacations is in partnership with local charter services to help you when needed.
When can Semuliki National Park be visited?
Semuliki National park can be visited best during the dry season in June – September, and December – early February. The rainy season is in March-May and September – November when the park receives a mean annual rainfall of up to 1700mm. The advantage of visiting Semuliki Park in the dry season is that the trails are drier and animals stay around water holes. In the rainy season, the park can easily flood and become difficult for safari activities within the park which hampers destination experience.