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Formerly a forest reserve, Semliki with an area of 220 square kilometres was given national park status in 1993.
The park got its name from the river that forms the Uganda – Congo border. It is the only park in Uganda that is primarily made up of tropical lowland forest.
The park can be reached from Kampala either by air or road. From Kampala via Fort portal, the park is about 363 kms.
As one of those parks with the most diverse wildlife in East Africa, one would not hesitate to conclude that Winston Churchill must have coined the words “The Pearl of Africa” from here.
With some of Africa’s most spectacular bird species, the novice birder and bird enthusiasts continue to visit the area in big numbers just like you see people visiting shrines and going to Pentecostal churches.
The unique eco system in the area is shared with Ituri forest across the Semliki River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Enroute to Semliki, a 4 x 4 wheel drive vehicle is recommended as it will also enhance your panoramic views of the park.
There are a number of hot springs in the area among which is the famous Sempaya hot spring with a boiling geyser of about 106°C that spurts up to two metres high from a white iced cake like base.
This is evidence that strong tectonic forces could have and continue to shape sections of the western rift valley.
The bird list is 441 species including some of Africa’s most spectacular and sought after birds such as the long tailed hawk, Lyre tailed honey guide, Nkulengu Rail and the rare Shoe Bill stork.
The park is also home to about 53 mammals and contains 336 tree species plus a good number of primates including the bush baby, potto, baboons, chimpanzees and an exceptional variety of monkeys.
Boat rides and fishing on Lake Albert can be arranged so as to offer you a unique unequaled experience. These activities will enable you appreciate nature at its best.
Other interesting areas are the Mungilo and Ngite falls plus the Semliki River which harbours hippos, crocodiles and vervet monkeys at its shores.
Also look out for the leopard, scaly tailed flying squirrel, elephant, buffalo and the pygmy antelope. Nature walks and a visit to see the pygmies at Ntandi can also be arranged.
For those who like exclusivity, this park is the ideal hideout for a quiet holiday. Semliki Safari Lodge is the only accommodation option in this area. However, one can still visit the park and later drive and overnight at Mountains of the Moon Hotel or Fort Motel in Fort Portal.
The limited number of accommodation facilities in Semliki calls for private investors to think about putting up luxury lodges and campsites in the park and areas of Sempaya and Ntoroko.