The Semliki National Park covers 220 km, and lies along the Congolese border following the Semliki River, within the Western arm of the Albertine Rift Valley, in the North of the Rwenzori Mountains. The altitude is on average 700 m above sea level. This Park is now the number one birding destination in Uganda. This largely forested park represents the easternmost limit of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin and contains numerous species associated with central rather than eastern Africa.
Thatch huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, while the local population includes a Batwa (Pygmy) community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, a visit to Semliki provides a taste of Central Africa just a couple of hours from the comforts of Fort Portal.
PARK AT A GLANCE
✓ Size: 220 km
✓ Altitude: 700 m above sea level.
Species of Semliki National Park
There are 336 tree species recorded, of which 24 are restricted to the Park (like Isolana Congolana and Ejacis Guinness); 435 bird species (at least 40 of them are found nowhere else in Uganda); 63 mammals, like elephants, leopards, buffaloes (nowhere else are found flying squirrels, pygmy antelope and six types of bats); 9 primates (chimpanzee, blue monkey, vervet monkeys, baboon); at least 374 species of butterflies.
Activities in Semliki National Park
Natural walk from the headquarter at Sempaya gate down to the river Semliki, enjoying bird watching, butterflies, flowers and trees. Moreover, there are two “hot springs” (one male, one female), situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swamp land, where visitors see a jet of hot water and a pool of boiling water for edibles like an egg.
Accessibility to Semliki National Park
There are two major roads from Kampala to Fort Portal: Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is about 180 Km. (about 4-5 hrs drive) while Kampala -Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese is about 465 Km (7-8 hrs). On both routes, 2-wheel drive vehicles can be useful. While the Kampala-Fort Portal via Mubende is much shorter, the Kampala-Fort Portal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese give you the opportunity to Visit Lake Mburo National Park, Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, Mountain Rwenzori National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. From Fort Portal, A two to three hours drive on the rough road towards Bundibugyo will bring you to Sempaya Gate (52 Km). The Park headquarters 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 (minibus) or a bus to Fort Portal. From the Taxi Park, board one of the pick-up trucks for Bundibugyo and stop at Sempaya Gate, which is well signposted. The return trip will be by the same means but avoid being too late (not later than 4.00 p.m).
Accommodation facilities in Semliki National Park
At this park accommodation can be done at the Semliki safari lodge (Luxury) or accommodated in the nearby towns like Fort portal or Bundibugyo town, camping is also an option for clients who want to stay in the Park.