Where Uganda ends, Semuliki National Park begins. This natural area is located in the far western region of Uganda, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded in 1993, with its 219 sq km of surface mostly made of tropical rain forests this is the newest and wildest national park in the Country. Worth the visit, absolutely, also because of its incredible and different landscape. Water and green are never missing, here. Rivers Semuliki and Lamiah surround the Park, the mountains are its crown and hot springs are the main attraction, inside.
What to see in Semuliki
Semuliki National Park is one of the most beautiful in Uganda. Set at the junction of different climatic zones, this is reflected on its vegetation. You can admire, here, both high altitude plants (evergreens), ironwoods and swamp vegetation, always in dense groups and woods. Never try to walk the wild forest without a good guide by your side. Also because the fortest keeps animals which are wonderful but also dangerous, sometimes.
You will meet elephants, leopards, buffalos, over 20 species of primates and over 400 species of birds, including hornbills and lyre-tailed honey guides. It is not rare to also meet African squirrels, here. And many many beautiful butterflies, as well. If you sail or walk along river Semuliki you might also meet the African Golden Cat and of course hippos.
What to do
Walking in the fortest, birdwatching and monkey watching are the main activities tourists are offered to do, in Semuliki National Park. But it is also possible to sail the rivers, meet local tribes and even admire them as they work or prepare some special medical herbs potion. Basua Tribe people also make and sell wonderful souvenirs for tourists. Thanks to your local guides you can also go visit the Park’s hot springs.
They are located along the Kirumia Route – 13 km – and consist of a pool and a geyser (Mumbuga Geyser) whose fountains can be higher than 1 metre. The hot springs do not serve any tourist spa, but you can admire animals coming for a bath into those waters. The temperature is hot enough for cooking eggs, but some animals can touch it with no damage at all.
Safari and organization
Tourists can stay and sleep inside Semuliki National Park, thanks to the well organized lodges. Local agencies also offer traditional safaris by car, sail safaris and walk safaris in the Park’s territory. Some also organize gorilla safari, going up to the border of the Park with Rwenzori Mountains. The closest town is Bundibugyo, chief town of the district of Bundibugyo. It is not a real tourist centre but has a civilian airport which serves flights to and from the main Ugandese cities (Kampala and Entebbe). You can also decide to stay in Fort Portal – 35 km from the Park – which is a more touristic place. To get to Semuliki Park from Kampala it takes over 4 hours drive across the whole nation, which is maybe safer but more tiring.