Founded in 1926, Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is incredibly one of Uganda’s a few oldest nature reserves. Its creation was mainly to protect its vast antelope family especially the Uganda Kobs. This 542 square kilometer protected area lies suitably in western Uganda just within Ntoroko and Kabarole district. As well, it boasts of its breathtaking rift valley that is set between the Rwenzori, Lake Albert and Kijura escarpment.
It features open acacia combretum woodland and savanna grassland that is also interspersed with patches of Borassus palm forest, significant belts of riparian woodland along the main water courses and other expansive swamps towards Lake Albert. It is set within a relatively low altitude starting from 700 meters and during day time, its set up is amazing. It is surrounded by at least four (4) local communities including the Karugutu-Kyabandara community in the southern side about 18 kilometers away from Fort Portal Town. This area has mainly the Bakonjo the renowned traditional farmers who grow mainly maize, cassava, beans, beans, bananas, rice and others. The Rwebesingo community on the other hand is situated in the west and northwestern side of the reserve and features the Batuku who are pastoralists. The Batuku are said to be descendants of the Abarusula the royal army of King Kabalega of Bunyoro Kitara kingdom. Ntoroko fishing community-this is located in the south side of Lake Albert just between the estuaries of Wasa and Muzizi Rivers. It covers an area of 4 square kilometers and was gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary to provide refuge to wildlife species that thrive in here. This community depends largely on fishing.
The Kasesenge Kyakabaseke community-set in the eastern escarpment of the rift valley and most of them are Bakiga migrants who originally came here to work in the tea estates in the 1960s. It was tea that was source of income and as the prices kept deteriorating, they resorted to crop cultivation and they grew mostly maize, bananas, groundnuts, beans and others.
Things to see while on Uganda safari in Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve
Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve boasts of its diverse habitats that inhabit variety of wildlife species. While on Uganda safari to this nature reserve, the notable wildlife species to catch a glimpse at include elephants, buffaloes, waterbucks, Uganda kobs, giant forest hog, hippos, chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, baboons a mention but a few. Besides, there are also varied birds to identify including the Abyssinian ground hornbill, red necked falcon, black billed barbet and many others.
Things to do Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve
For primate lovers, Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is an ideal place for you to embark on primate walk which takes you about 3 to 4 hours. Usually, this is done around the Semliki safari lodge and it gets you the bests views over the vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, chimpanzees, red tailed monkeys as catch a glimpse at other wildlife species like bush bucks, warthogs, water bucks, Uganda Kobs, elephants a mention but a few.
If you are interested in wildlife expiration, Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is remarkably that one most remarkable wildlife safari destination you need to consider a must to visit. There are 3 tracks that take you through excellent wildlife viewing experience and they rewards you with incredible sights at wildlife species such as waterbucks, bush babies, elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, Uganda Kobs and others.
For nature lovers, this nature reserve is equally ideal for nature walks which take you about 2 to 3 hours via distinct habitats of this reserve which range from savanna woodland to riverine forest. The creatures to catch a glimpse while on nature walks include warthogs, Uganda Kobs, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, ground hornbills and many others.
If you are interested in African cultural experiences, a visit to the Karugutu Community Conservation Association should be a must while on Uganda safari in Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve. This is a community based association whose aim is to conserve, educate through dance, drama and music performance. They arrange for traditional dances for tourists and also you have a chance to shop some of their handcrafts at the entry point of the reserve.
Besides, other safari activities to take part in this nature reserve include boat ride via Lake Albert which inhabits variety of birds like the blue cheeked bee-eater, blue headed Coucal, blue breasted bee-eaters, African pygmy goose and shoebills. Equally, take a hike through Nyaburogo Gorge where your hike kick starts from reserve’s headquarters and takes you through a 7 kilometer hike. On your hike, you have a chance to encounter birds like the black headed marked babbler, tropical boubal, black headed bushrike as well as primates like black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys and many more.
Where to stay in Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve
For visitor overnight stay, there is a campsite and budget bandas which are operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) along the shores of Lake Albert Ntoroko. You can also opt for Semliki Safari Lodge, Ntoroko Game Lodge or campsite at the headquarters in Karugutu or campsite at Ntoroko landing site.
How to get to Toro Semliki wildlife reserve
Toro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve can be reached from Kampala through Mubende to Fort Portal about 290 kilometers drive. To get here, you need a good 4 wheel drive safari vehicle to help you navigate through the remote routes to this reserve.