Semliki Birding Uganda

Birding sites in Uganda: Semuliki national park

Semuliki National Park is found in Western Uganda in Bundibugyo district. It is a heavily forested park which lies along the Uganda –Democratic Republic of Congo border. The dense forest is part of the great Ituri forest that stretches across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Semuliki is perhaps the only park in Uganda which is composed of tropical lowland forest. The park covers an area of 220sq kms, and stands at an altitude range of 670 to 760 Meters above Sea Level.

Wildlife and bird life

The park has a variety of bird life and animals. There are over 435 bird species found in Semuliki, which is about 40% of Uganda’s total bird species. The forest is also home to about 53 mammals including hippos, forest elephants, leopards, crocodiles, warthog, Uganda kob, buffaloes, and various primates such as chimpanzees, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and many others.

As a habitat for various species it is mostly deciduous forest with patches of swamp forest and a river which comprise the aquatic habitats in the park.

Birding in Semuliki
with over 400 different bird species, Semuliki provides quite the variety for the birding enthusiast. Being the only example of congo0basin vegetation in Uganda, it is no wonder that a very large number of Guinea-Congo biome species make their eastern home here making the bird life in the forest even richer. Over 131 of the Guinea-Congo basin biome species have been sighted in Semuliki forest, 46 of these are found nowhere else in East Africa. There are also some five species that are endemic to the Albertine region, and six afro-tropical biome species as well.

Other bird species in Semuliki national park include: the papyrus gonolek, Caruthers’ Cisticola, Congo serpent eagle, long-tailed hawk, Nkulengu rail, black-wattled hornbill, Lyre tailed honey guide, shining blue kingfisher, black dwarf hornbill, white crested hornbill, grant’s blue bill, blue-billed Malimbe, white-naped pigeon, Grey throated roller, Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin,  Nkulengu Rail, Western Bronze-naped Pigeon, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Black-throated Coucal, White-bellied Kingfisher, Piping Hornbill,  Black-Casqued wattled Hornbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Piculet, Gabon Woodpecker, Rufous-sided Broadbill, Yellow-throated, Nicator, Icterine Greenbul, Xavier’s Greenbul, Leaf-love, Green-tailed Bristlebill, Swamp palm Bulbul, Fire-crested Alethe Northern Bearded Scrub Robin, Orange-Cheeked Waxbill Maxwell’s Black Weaver white-throated blue swallow, olivacious flycatcher, black-billed barbet, and many more.

What other attractions are found in Semuliki National Park?

Apart from the birds and wildlife, there are a few other attractions that make Semuliki NP a good safari destination. One these very amazing features is the Sempaya hot springs.

The two hot springs that make up the Sempaya hot springs are found in a lush swampy clearing on the south eastern side of the forest. The waters at the Sempaya geyser are extremely hot, at a 103oC boiling point. Hot enough to cook an egg. If you do not believe the water is that hot, carry a couple of eggs to experiment with when you go visit.

The forest is also close to the Rwenzori mountain ranges. So you can go on a hike on the mountain or simply explore the lower slopes.

A birding visit to Semuliki national park also gives you the opportunity to do some cultural tourism. You will get a chance to interact with the Batwa people in western Uganda. The Batwa are a people that have lived in the area for ages. This tribe of people depend on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, medicine and tools. A cultural encounter with the Batwa is a beautiful experience and it very educational as well.

There is so much to do in Semuliki forest. you will not only enjoy some very memorable birding, with so much variety of birdlife, you will see some very impressive wildlife including several primates including chimpanzees and vervet monkeys, do some hiking, explore the nearby area, enjoy eye opening encounters with the Batwa people and simply have a good time. A birding safari in semuliki is a worthwhile investment.

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