Formerly a forest reserve, the park is a virtually untouched tropical lowland forest. It is separated from the Ituri Forest of Zaire only by River Semliki.
Because the vegetation is dense, and the rains fall throughout the year, many distinct ecosystems have developed.
Visitors hiking through the forest can come across small open grasslands, swamps, stands of bamboo, ironwood and oil palm. The Semiliki River has developed its own ecosystem and the hot springs at Sempaya (where the waters reach 106oC) attracts many shorebirds that feed on the fish that live in the mud.
The park is home to eight different primate species, as well as other forest animals, 400 species of birds, and 300 species of butterflies.
This is the home of the Bamba and Bakonjo people, often referred to as Pygmies. Traditionally they are forest dwellers, but today they grow coffee and cocoa. Visitors can meet them at the local markets where they will show how they use forest plants for medicinal purposes.
Activities in the Park
The park is ideal for those who want to get off the tourist trail to hike and camp for a few days. Guides are available for nature walks in the forest, and the park has a short established trail that loops around the hot springs. Many trails require guides because they are less clearly marked. One trail is along the park boundary north of the Semliki River beside the border with Zaire. It can take up to six days to complete a circuit around the park. One popular walk is along the main road from Sempaya to Ntandi, which passes the lovely Mungilo Falls. If visitors have their own vehicle they can combine Semliki with a trip to the foothills of the Rwenzori and the two spectacular Ngite Falls. Don’t forget to bring hiking boots and rain gear.
Fort Portal’s hotels include the Mountains of the Moon Hotel, the Wooden Hotel and the Exotic Inn. In Bundibugyo, there is the Union Guest House. The CVR Resort is near Lake Nyabibere. There is a campsite near the park headquarters at Ntandi, but come prepared with your own food. There is a private campsite near the Sempaya Hot Springs.
How to Reach the Park
The park can be reached from Kampala via Mubende and Fort Portal. The last 140 km is untarred and needs a 4WD vehicle. A longer but tarred route goes through Masaka, Mbarara, Kasese and Fort Portal, and can be navigated by 2WD vehicle. The drive from Fort Portal towards Bundibugyo takes from two to three hours on a rough road. Therefore, a vehicle with high clearance is recommended.
VISITORS – Entrance Fees in US $ per 24 Hour Visit
Foreign Non-resident USD 20
East African Resident USD 15
Citizen Resident 5,000 shillings(UGS)
MOTOR VEHICLES – Entrance Fees in US $ per Visit
Motorcycle USD 20
4X4 Motor car USD 40
or pick-up USD 40
Bus or lorry USD 150
CAMPING FEES – in US $ per person, per night
Citizen Resident USD 3
RANGER GUIDE – Per half day
Foreign Resident or Non-resident USD 150
Citizen Resident USD 15
PHOTOGRAPHIC FEES – commercial filming
Where the size of the filming party is:
1-5 persons 190.48
6-20 persons 476.19
Over 20 persons 952.38
These figures do not include Entrance Fees
For fuller details, please contact:
The Warden in Charge,
Semliki National Park,
P. O. Box 1153, Bundibugyo, Uganda.