Semuliki Valley National Park – Chimps, Wildlife And Birds Of The Vast Ituri Forest
The magnificently scenic Semiliki Valley lies at the base of the Albertine Rift to the west of Fort Portal, where it is hemmed in by the Rwenzori foothills to the south, Lake Albert to the south, and the Semliki River along the border with DRC. The northern Rwenzori foothills divide Semliki valley into two geographically disrete and ecologically divergent sectors. Stretching northeast on mountains through to the marshy southern shores of, lake Albert lies the moist woodland and savanna of Semliki wildlife Reserve. The northwestern foot lopes, by contrast, give way to a track of steamy lowland jungle protected within the Semliki National park, whose affinities with the contiguous rainforest are reflected by the presence of dozens of bird species and other creatures found nowhere else in Uganda.
The most popular attraction in Semliki National park is the cluster of hot springs at Sempaya which can be reached via short walking trail. Longer guided walks, taking the best part of a day, can also be arranged at Sempaya, as can overnight hikes deep into the forest. Roughly 5km from Sempaya, in the direction of Bundibugyo, the pygmy village at Ntandi is also popular with travellers, and afar less disturbing experience than it was a few years back. Ntanda is also a site of the park head quarters, proving all tourist information.
ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
Sempaya Hot springs and eastern boundary
A short guided walk trail leads from the road side tourist office to Sempaya Hot springs. Ringed by forest and palm trees and veiled in a cloud of steam, these springs are a primeval, evocative sight and well worth the diversion. The largest spring is a geyser which spouts up to 2m high from an opening in a low salt sculpture. The emerging water has a temperature of more than 100 degrees centigrade, so the geyser should not be approached too closely.
The trail to the springs leads through a patch of rain forest where red tailed monkey, grey-checked mangabeys and black-and-white colobus are common. Among the more interesting birds regularly seen a long this trails are eight forest hornbill, blue-breasted kingfisher, red rumped and yellow – throated tinker bird, Frasier’s ant thrush and honeyguide green bull. Another spring, more of a broad steaming pool than a geyser, lies on the far side of the swampy clearing reached by a board walk. Rather than retracting your steps to Sempaya, you might ask whether the Uganda wildlife Authority has finally re-opened an old trail that creates an attractive loop passing through forest and a lovely track of swamp.
The water fall of Mungiro
This lies next to the hot springs and once you have seen the hot springs it you them have to continue to the north side of the main road north of Rwenzori forest reserve.
This place provides an excellent sight for red-billed dwarf horn bill, white-crested hornbill and massive black-casqued wattled hornbill. A nature walk a long the eastern margin can also be exciting through the red tailed monkey trail to the exposure to the far greater variety of birds other than the trail to the hot springs. The trail can be under taken as a day trip and an over night, one may carry a tent and food to camp along side bank of the River. A part from birds, a variety of Monkeys, hippos, buffalo, elephants and crocodiles a long the River.
The National Park hosts many mammals such as Elephants, Buffaloes, Leopards, Bush babies. With luck you may see pigmy Hippopotamus and Crocodiles. Eight species of primates have also been recorded and more than 300 species of butterflies have been observed.
Semliki National Park has one of the best breathtaking views. The Bundibugyo road through the Rwenzori escarpment offer great scenic views. At mungu ni mkubwa, the road offers scenic views of the Semliki River and boiling hotsprings.
There are opportunities for sport fishing along the river for visitors who come with their fishing facilities.
Visiting the local communities
The park has about four ethnic groups of people living a round the park and within the park. The Batuku pastoralists occupy the rift valley plane in the north of the park. The Bakonjo in the valley and Banba are founding the mountain slopes their major activity being agriculture producing cash crops such as cocoa and coffee. The smallest group is the pygmies ( Batwa) who are traditopnally known as forest dwellers and hunters originating from Ituri. Tourism as had a great impact as far as the life the Batwa is concerned thus migration from the forest edge of at Ntandi. There ways of livin have also changed to Cultivation as a result of tourist contribution to such diverse communities.
There are Camp sites at Bumaga with basic cottages located 2.5kmfrom Sempaya and Semliki safari lodge. The other alternative is sleeping in Fort Portal and Bundibujo.