Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park
If you are into enchanting bird watching excursions, a tour of Semuliki National Park is a fun experience that will help you unwind and reconnect with nature.
Forget about paradise, I am talking about an utterly gorgeous one stop destination with only a few ‘imperfections’ like extremely tall hills that obstruct views across. This park truly is gifted by nature; almost every inch of it is endowed with all the beauties that could possibly be found in a rift valley. It is over 900m deep and boasts of dense clusters of forests, gorgeous gorges, and endless expanses of wild Savannah land. In contrast, the deep valley below it is a snaky hype of meandering rivers.
The park which is found in Bundibugyo District (Western Uganda) was gazetted in October 1993. It covers 220km² and has an altitude of 670-760m above sea level. It is home to more than 400 bird species, the most dominant type being the lyre-tailed honey guide. Of these, approximately 66% are of the country’s total bird species, mostly forest birds. Ntandi and Sempaya are excellent sites for viewing these birds and lots more, including the yellow-threated Nicator, the White-crested Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill and Piping Hornbill.
Other wildlife found in the park include forest elephants, buffaloes, waterbuck, crocodiles, mangabey and blue monkeys, pygmy hippopotamus, the Uganda kob and warthogs among others.
The park receives high levels of rainfall but that is nothing to stress over. There are boardwalks connecting what would have been impassable stretches. As such, one doesn’t have to get their feet too dirty as they browse through this reserve searching for birds.
Semuliki National park of Uganda also doubles as a Geo-Thermal destination; it has the hottest Hot-springs in the Uganda, and well maintained ones at that. Due to their vast sizes, the pools here never seem crowded. All year round, they are hot enough to fully cook an egg or fresh plantain within 10 minutes. The best part is that there is no extra charge for one to try the cook-out themselves. By the time you fork out your food, it will be naturally salted thanks to the natural minerals that ooze from the hot-spring. The hot-springs are very beautiful at night, but not very well lit, so it’s advisable to visit them before the daylight gives way to the night.
Wearing water shoes is a wise decision. It’s not a good idea to go barefoot because the paths that wind around the different pools are hard and gritty on bare feet.
Migratory bird species can best be seen from November to April. Otherwise, the park is good for birding in Uganda all year. The highest population can be seen in peak breeding seasons like March. 4WD cars are highly recommended for adventures considering the park is served by earth roads. They usually get very messy in rainy months like March to mid-May and August to October.
Semuliki is open ground for sports hunting, as an avenue for generating money for its conservation. Typically, the primary game sought is the oldest male animal from a given population. In most circumstances the carcass itself is usually used for food, sometimes donated to the local community. The price charged for the activity ranges between $600-$2,000. This money is usually co-shared with Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Safari Company and the owner of the land upon which an animal is killed.
The animals open for hunting are those that are not endangered like buffaloes, kobs, eland, warthogs, jackson’s heart beast, sitatunga, duikers, reedbucks, toppi and the like. Hunters are only allowed to hunt the endangered ones like leopards when they become ‘problem animals’, i.e. animals that attack communities.