Things to do and see in the Semliki -Semuliki – Park – Wildlife Reserve – part of Uganda’s Western Rift Valley
Semliki- Semuliki Valley – is like a visit to the Congo
Things to do and see in the Semliki -Semuliki – Park – Wildlife Reserve – As you come down the escarpment of the Western Albertine Rift you will find the views most amazing, vast savannah grasslands, forests, bordered by the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon . Lake Albert, the Semliki River and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Semliki -Semuliki – National Park and Wildlife Reserve is not normally on most safari itineraries unless you are a birder, but its vast beauty, its diversity, its presence of Central African plants, trees, flowers, birds and mammals, its Semliki National Park, Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Semliki River, hot-springs, tropical forest jungle, primates, mammals and more make it a place that if you know about it, you want to include in your Ugandan Safari.
The Semliki National Park part of this valley is spread out on the remote side that is the western part of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon. The largest portion of the park is made up of an unspoiled low-land forest that is an extension of the Ituri Forest that spills over from the Democratic Republic of Congo side across the Semliki River. The vast Ituri Forest from here covers a large tract of land in the Congo that extends all the way to the Congo River. Coming here is like entering Central Africa, like visiting the Congo without crossing the border.
Things to do and see in the Semliki -Semuliki – Park – Wildlife Reserve the sights are quite different from the rest of Uganda, sights that are more familiar to travelers who have been to Central and West Africa. Their huts that are thatched with West African Oil Palms, even the Semliki River is like a miniature Congo River, the Bwamba Forest is the home of species of mammals and birds that are normally found in Central Africa. The original dwellers of the ancient rainforests still live here, the Batwa Pygmies and other communities who migrated to this area over the centuries such as the Bambwa farmers, the Bakonzo who are found cultivating the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains of the Moon and the Batuku cattle keepers, pastoralists who lived on the open plains of the Semliki Valley.
The Bambwa Forest is the only lowland-tropical (670 to 760 meters above sea-level) forest jungle in East Africa – home to 441 recorded species of birds and 53 mammals. The 441 species of birds make up 40% of Uganda’s total Bird Species all contained in this most amazing valley of natural wonders.
Things to do and see in the Semliki -Semuliki – Park – Wildlife Reserve
One of the things you do not want miss at Semliki National Park are the two Hot Springs –there is the male hot-spring Bitende is about 12 meters in diameter, the female hot spring is called Nyasimbi and is a boiling geyser which spurts out bubbling water and steam about 2 meters into the air.
The people living near the hot-springs used to boil food in the hot-spring pools, even now you can bring some eggs along and have them boiled here.
Do not get near the water of the two springs – they have a temperature of around 100 Degrees Celsius. The surrounding pools are also quite hot.
This is a guided Tour with lots of primates and birds to see.
The Bambuti Pygmies live on both side of the Semliki River and are closely related to the Basu Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo rather than to Batwa Pygmies around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Most safari companies refer to the Bambuti Pygmies as Batwa, but they are not and their culture and ways are different from each other. Both have lived in the forests for thousands of year.
The Bambuti Pygmies are much smaller in number than the Batwa People. Both were evicted from their ancient forests, though the Bambuti have limited hunting and gathering rights. They also can legally grow marijuana and smoke it in their. The Bambuti can be visited and today have their own guides, in the past, they had non-Bambuti guides who stole their money causing animosity between the Bambuti and Visitors, which has changed today.
Hiking – Nature Walks:
There are numerous Hiking and Nature Trails that are guided, depending on your preferences as to want to do and see such as hippos, crocodiles, birds, monkeys for example.
The length of hikes and nature walks can be from a few hours to an all-day hike. One of the things on any hike is to be dressed right such as boots, long sleeved shirt, light rain jacket, day-pack with lunch and bottled water for the activity. A hat is also a good idea.
Depending on which trail you take you will also encounter numerous species of birds, primates, at times even forest elephants, along the Semliki River there hippos and crocodiles.
You can trek Chimpanzees here – they are presently being habituated by Indiana University. Chances of seeing chimpanzees on a guided trek are not as good as at Kibale Forest with 1500 chimpanzees, the more they are habituated, the more likely you are going to seem them on a trek.
For Chimpanzee trekking it is best to wear the right clothing for your protection from nettles, thorns, branches, long-sleeved shirt, long-trousers, light rain-jacket, you are in a rainforest, lunch, 1 1/2 liters of bottled water, snacks such as dried fruit.
The trek starts at 8 am and can last 4 hours or longer, you just might see other primates such as baboons,grey-cheeked mangabey, black-and-white colobus, Central African red colobus, blue, red-tailed, de Brazza’s, vervet, and Dent’s Mona monkeys.
Birders will have a great time in the Semliki Valley. There are over 440 recorded species of birds found here in the Semliki Valley, 40% of Uganda’s total species and 66% of the forest birds found in Uganda. There are also many birds found in this area that is normally found in the Congo region of Africa but also some that are only found in the Albertine Western Rift.
Keep a lookout for birds that include Nkulengu Rail, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Piping Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, White-crested Hornbill, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Piculet, White-throated Blue Swallow, Yellow-throated Nicator, Leaf-love, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Crested Malimbe, Red-bellied Malimbe, Blue-billed Malimbe, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Orange-cheeked Waxbill.
You can also take a guided boat ride on Lake Albert in pursuit of the Shoebill Stork.
There are about 53 different kinds of mammals found in the Semliki Valley and 27 of are larger animals and 11 of them are only found in this area such as pygmy antelopes, two different kinds of flying squirrels, hopefully, you will also see the unique water chevron that has been named the fanged deer.
The Semliki Valley is also home to forest elephants and buffaloes which are smaller versions of their savanna-dwelling relatives
There are also lions and leopards found here. When it comes to Lions, at one time the largest lions in African were purported to be in the Semliki Valley and the males had a thick black mane.
You can take daytime and Nocturnal Game Drives.
Things to do and see in the Semliki -Semuliki – Park – Wildlife Reserve. The Semliki Valley has much to offer to the visitors on Safari in Uganda such as game drives through the savannah, guided walks, birding, chimpanzee tracking, village visits including a small village of the original people of the ancient forests of the area, the Batwa or here the Bambuti people. The scenery alone is worth a visit to this Valley in the Albertine Western Rift…you will certainly enjoy your time here…
If you have any questions about Semliki – Semuliki Valley – please contact us