Semuliki National Park is one of the less known national parks in Uganda. It is situated in Bwamba County, a remote part of the Bundibugyo District, in western Uganda. The park covers 220km² and lies at an altitude of 670-760m above sea level. Here are some quick facts that you probably don’t know about Semuliki National Park. These facts will inspire you and make you not to miss this interesting destination while on a safari in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa;
1. Semuliki National Park is both savanna and forest. According to Uganda Parks, it was first gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1932. The forest is part of the vast Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is the reason why the park hosts a good number of forest animals including chimpanzees, forest elephants etc.
2. Semuliki National Park was upgraded to status of a national park in 1993. This makes it to be among the newest parks in Uganda.
3. It is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa, hosting 441 recorded bird species and 53 mammals. 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.
4. Semuliki is one of the richest areas of floral and fauna diversity in Africa, with bird species being especially diverse.
5. The largest part of Semliki National Park can flood during rainy season so; the best time to visit the park is the dry season. The low lying park lies on the rift’s sinking floor, most of it just 670m above sea level. Large areas may flood during the wet seasons; brief reminders of the time when the entire valley lay at the bottom of a lake for 7 million years.
6. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient forests. During the dry conditions of the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago, most of Africa’s forests shrank and disappeared. Only a few patches like Semuliki and Bwindi survived, protecting forest species during the arid apocalypse until they could eventually emerge to recolonise a better, wetter world.
7. Semuliki is one of Africa’s most biodiverse forests and is particularly noted for its varied bird population. It is one of the best paradises of birds and the common birds found include: Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Nkulengu Rail, Black-wattled Hornbill and Lyre-tailed Honey guide.
8. Semliki National Park has geothermal hot springs at Sempaya is not very scenic. This is the most popular attraction of the park. Hot springs bubble up from the depths beneath Sempaya to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.
9. The park is a sanctuary for night moving animals like Buff-spotted Flufftail and African Wood Owl. Visitors who are interested in nocturnal watch, Semliki National Park is a must visit. This is the reason as to why night safaris were first conducted in Semuliki Forest.
10. You can enjoy authentic cultural experiences during your safari. Four distinct ethnic groups live near the park – Bwamba farmers live along the base of the Rwenzori while the Bakonjo cultivate the mountain slopes. Batuku cattle keepers inhabit on the open plains and Batwa pygmies, traditionally hunter gathers, live on the edge of the forest. The Batwa (Pygmy) community that lives on the edge of the park originated from the Ituri.