Occupying an isolated slice of Ugandan territory beyond the Rwenzori, the fore set semliki national park represents the eastern most tract of the Congo’s great ituri forest. This is an exceptionally exciting destination for bird and primate watchers.
Semliki National park is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri forest and forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene, this is one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa. (especially for birds).
Semliki national park is situated in the remote corner of extreme west of Uganda in Bundibugyo district. It lies on Uganda – Democratic Republic of Congo border with in the western arm of the East African rift valley. The geographical coordinates are 0o 44’ – 00 53’ N – 290 57 – 30o 11’E . TO THE SOUTH East are the rwenzori mountains, to the west is DRC and to the north lake Albert. Semliki National park (220 km2) gazetted in 1993, is Uganda’s newest national parks.
The park occupies a flat to gently undulating landform ranging from 690 – 760 metres above sea level. As all streams and rivers from the surrounding areas are flooded drain into the Park plus the poor drainage and topography, many areas are flooded during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall is 1250 mm with peaks from march to may and September to December. The temperature varies from 18o C -30 o C with relatively small daily variations.
Things to See
The 441 recorded bird species include 216 forest birds and 80 central African species found in few, if any, other forests in East Africa. Black dwarf hornbill, shining blue king fisher, Nkulengu rail and yellow throated nicator are just a few random highlights cited by the parkers experienced guides. In addition an astonishing 15 species of primate – more even than kibale – can be found within 6km of the primeval hot springs that bubble out of the rift valley’s floor at sempaya.
Among the list of primates, the 12 diurnal primates include the blue , De Brazza’s and Dent’s Mona monkeys and red colobus. Though birdwatchers overnight in basic UWA bandas, most travelers visit semliki as a day trip from Fort Portal.
Getting there; there are two major roads from Kampala to Fort Portal; kampala – fortportal via mubende is about 180km. (about 4-5hrs drive) while kampala – fortportal via masaka, Mbarara, kasese is about 465km (7-8hrs drive). In both routes 2-wheel drive can be useful. While the kampala – fortportal via mubende is much shorter, the kampala – fortportal via masaka, Mbarara, kasese gives you opportunity to visit lake mburo national park, kyambura wildlife reserve, rwenzori mountains national park and queen Elizabeth national park. From Fort Portal, a 2-3 hrs drive on the rough roads towards Bundibugyo will bring you to Sempaya gate (52 km). the park head quarters at ntandi is 5 km further from the gate along the same route. A vehicle with high clearance is recommended.
Using public means you can take a taxi (mini bus) or a bus to Fort Portal. From the taxi park, board one of the pick up tracks for Bundibugyo and stop at sempaya gate, which is well sign posted. Return trips will be by the same means but avoid being too late (not later than 4:00 p.m). alternatively while in fort portal contact Kabarole tours on plot 1 Molidina street to organize for you an excursion to Semliki valley.