Uganda’s Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park is made up of the far-flung western side of the Rwenzori Moutains as the easternmost extension of the immense Ituri forest of the Congo basin prevails in the extreme west of Uganda to form the national park. The forest forms a continuum along the Democratic Republic of Congo-Uganda border that is in the western arm of the East African rift valley. With its rich flora, fauna and bio-diversity, it is one of the few most ancient forests that survived the last ice age about 12-18,000 years ago.
Semuliki National park has enchanting features from the wildlife, bird species, and different animal species to the native people with a touch of several Central African features. Like the Semuliki River that is a miniature version of the Congo River. The flora is greatly dominated by the Cynometra alexandri tree species with a mixture of tree species with a more evergreen nature. Semuliki is also the only tract of true low land tropical forest in East Africa.
The natives near the park include the Bamba farmers that occupy the base of the Rwenzori, the Bakonjo who cultivate the mountain slopes while the open plains are inhabited by the Batuku cattle keepers, the margin of the forest is occupied by the traditionally hunter gatherers, the Batwa pygmies.
The birds and wildlife are a must see in the park, with a diversity of about 441 recorded bird species 40% representing all bird species in the country while 66% represent the country’s forest bird species. The birds stretch up to the riverine habitat and the grasslands in the east of the park.
There are also several endemic species that include 46 Guinea-Congo biome species that can’t be found elsewhere in East Africa while other 35 can only be found in 2 or 3 places in Uganda. The birds include; African piculet, crested Malimbe, Red-billed Dwarf hornbill, white crested hornbill, black dwarf hornbill, Orange-cheeked waxbill, leaf-love, Nkulenga rail, Yellow-throated cuckoo and a lot more.
The park is not only fascinating for its birds, but animals too. These include the 53 mammals of which about 27 are large mammals 11species being endemic to the park like the pygmy antelope and two flying squirrel species. It is also home to the fanged deer, a queer water chevrotain.
Semuliki National Park has forest elephants and buffalos that are smaller version of their savannah dwelling relatives. Other animals include; primates like chimpanzees, baboons, grey cheeked mangabey, black and white colubus, vervet, de Brazza’s and Dent mona monkeys, all in abundance.
UGANDA SAFARI DESTINATION
AFRICA’S MOST ANCIENT & BIO-DIVERSE FOREST
Gorilla & Chimp Safaris Uganda Limited
All inclusive Safari Holidays in Uganda & Rwanda
Padre Pio House,Plot 32,Uganda.
Telephone: +256 705 497 677
Mobile/Chat: +256 777 027 554
All our tours are born out of a desire to share authentic African Safari experiences. Offering travellers individual journeys, designed to match your interests, tastes and budget, we provide tailor-made tours to Semuliki National Park. Enquire with our team of experts to start planning your safari journey today.
Day Time Birding
Common bird species in this area are; Spot-breasted Ibis, Hartlaub’s Duck, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Red-thighed Sparrow-hawk, Long-tailed Hawk, Forest Francolin, Nkulengu Rail, Western Bronze-napped Pigeon, Black-collared Lovebird, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-chested Owlet, Bates’ Nightjar, Chocolate-backed, White-bellied and African Dwarf Kingfishers, White-crested, Black Dwarf, Red-billed Dwarf, Piping and Black-wattled Hornbills, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Spotted, Lyre-tailed and Zenker’s Honeyguides, African Piculet, Gabon Woodpecker, Red-sided Broadbill, White-throated Blue Swallow, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Sassi’s Olive, Xavier’s, Swamp, Simple and Eastern Bearded Greenbuls, Yellow-throated Nicator, Capuchin Babbler, Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Forest and Grey Ground Thrushes, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Brown-crowned Eremomela, Blue-headed Crested Flycatcher, Ituri Batis, Red-billed Helmet -Shrike, Red-eyed Puff-back, Black-winged Starling, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Blue-billed, Crested and Red-bellied Malimbes, Pale-fronted and Chestnut-breasted Negro finches, Grant’s Bluebill.
Nocturnal Bird Watching.
The area around the geothermal hot springs at Sempaya is not only very scenic but also offers some great birding. The cliffs behind the ranger post are home to the crepuscular Freckled Nightjar and these can be seen gliding around the clearing with Black-shouldered Nightjars. In the lush rainforest around here, listen for the bizarre dawn and dusk duetting of the elusive Nkulengu Rail. Other nocturnal callers include Buff-spotted Flufftail and African Wood Owl. Around the cleaning and through other light gaps in the area, it is possible to glimpse African Goshawk, Red-thighed and Great Sparrows, Ayres Hawk-Eagle and Cassin’s Spine tail.
From the ranger post, head north (right) along the” Boundary Trail”. Crested Guinea fowl skulk in the undergrowth and the hollow hooting of the White-spotted Flufftail is commonly heard near forest creek in this area. Turn left where the trail forks and continue to the ” Female” Hot Springs with boiling hot water squirts and bubbles out of the ground.
53 species of mammal have been recorded from the park, many of which are shy, rare and nocturnal. Conspicuous species include Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed and Mona, Gentle (Blue) Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkeys are rare and Chimpanzees may seldom be heard than seen. Nocturnal primates include Pottos and Galagos.
On a lucky day, you will catch a glimpse of glimpse Elephant, Bush pig, Water Chevrotain, Buffalo, Sitatunga, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Beecroft’s anomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse. You are far more likely to spot the lively and agile squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel, Little collard fruit Bat and Target Rat. 30 species of butterflies have been identified, including 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted.
There are also 305 species of trees recorded, of which 125 species are restricted to this park alone.
Accessing Semuliki National Park.
Semliki National Park lies along the main fort Portal to Bundibugyo road, 52 km from Fort Portal. The road can become treacherous, particularly after heavy rains, requiring a 4 WD or a sturdy 2WD with sufficient clearance. The ranger post at Sempaya is well signposted but the park headquarters have been moved to the village of Ntandi, a further 4.4 km along the road to Bundibugyo. The usual National Park fees apply. Sempaya it is 10.6 km from the village of Kirumia and start of the Kirumia River trail into the forest. It is possible to hitch a ride between Sempaya and Kirumia.
Semuliki at a glance
- Region: Bundibugyo Bundibujyo.
- Size: 220 km sq.
- Altitude Range: 670m-760m above sea level.
- Habitat Moist semi-deciduous forest, mostly ironwood-dominant (Cyanometra alexandri) with patches of swamp forest, and aquatic habitat represented by forest streams and oxbow lakes with adjacent swamps.
- Timing: Rain falls year round and birding is good anytime although the peak breeding season is just after the Jan- Feb “dry” season.
- Time required: 3-4 days.
- Birds Recorded: 400 species.