Semliki National Park (SMP) is situated in the extreme west of Uganda, in Bundibugyo district. It lies along the Uganda/Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the East African Rift Valley. In the southeast are the Rwenzori Mountains, to the west is the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the north are the Semuliki Flats and Lake Albert further on.
Semliki Natioanl Park is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri forest in Democratic Republic of Congo. It forms part of the forest continuum resulting out of the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene and therefore one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa (especially for birds).
Semliki National Park (220km2) was gazetted in October 1993. The park occupies a flat with gently undulating landform ranging from 670m to 760m above sea level. Since all streams and rivers from the surrounding areas drain through the park, coupled with the poor drainage and topography, many areas in the park are flooded during the rainy season. The average annual rainfall is 1,250mm with peaks from March to May and September to December. The temperatures vary from 18°C with relatively small daily variations.
Semliki is a very dense forest and part of the great Ituri Forest that stretches in the the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the only park in Uganda composed primarily of tropical lowland forest. The land is quite flat, creating a startling contrast to the rugged Ruwenzori mountains nearby.
Sempaya Hot Springs is a mosaic of different micro habits which provide for a wide diversity of wildlife. The Semliki River is a favoured watering point for many animals resident in the park.
There are a number of natural hot springs in the area, which attract large numbers of wetland birds, and supply salt for other animals.
Some of the animals present include elephant, buffalo, leopard, civet, scaly tailed flying squirrel, and bush baby. There are 8 species of primates roughly 400 species of bird, and almost 300 species of butterflies.
What to do
The park has an established trail, which loops around the hot springs. Visitors are also welcome to arrange hikes to other parts of the forest.
To reach the park, it takes 2 hours from Fort Portal, on the Fort Portal-Bundibugyo Road. It is accessible by public transport from Fort Portal. The hot Springs are located at Sempaya, and the headquarters are closer to Bundibugyo at Ntandi.