Lowland tropical forest under Ruwenzori
National park Semuliki is for average tourist not as attractive as large group of hippos in Queen Elizabeth National Park or mountain gorillas in Mgahinga NP, but the tropical forest on swampy border between Uganda and Congo definitely has its charm. There is a great variety of birds and monkeys species. In addition, you will see here also small hot springs and the path from Fort Portal through the foothills of Ruwenzori itself is also well worth it.
The entrance to the National Park Semuli
After about 45 kilometers away from Fort Portal (1 505 m asl) you will drop into the lowland jungle in the Semliki river valley at about 660 meters asl, which forms a natural border between Congo and Uganda. You can feel it in the air that you are in lower altitude – in comparison with fresh air in Fort Portal it is stuffy and hot here even early in the morning.
The house of caretakers of the park is tiny and you can see here that there are definitely no crowds of tourists. You may have to wait a while before anyone opens and find a guide to take you around the park. There are basically only three routes in the park – Red monkey trail leading to Semliki River on the border of the country (which, however, is very often under water or at least very muddy, so basically impassable). Another and even more challenging is Kirimia trail leading from the village Kirimia a few kilometers farther to the south. The third and basic option is to go through the tropical forest and visit hot springs Sempaya.
Virgin forest in Semuliki
Walk in Semuliki is suitable mainly for botanists and lovers of tropical forests – lianas, plate roots, creepers, huge old trees – it's all around you.
Stunning trees in national park
In the park you will come across a lot of beautiful trees overgrown with vegetation. Some plate roots are more than a meter high and look like some natural rampart.
On the edge of the forest you can see the cacao beans. Wild pigs and other animals often come here to enjoy them. It is hard to imagine that it will be chocolate once :-)
Hot springs Sempaya - Women's
One of the destinations of short walks around the park are Sempaya Hot Springs. They are small lakes of volcanic origin with mini geysers. You can clearly see the landscape line of Ruwenzori mountain slopes from Congo Basin. You will get first to the female spring.
The water is so warm in some places that it would be possible to cook eggs here. Some springs are already dead; others still weep liters of boiling water and steam.
When it rains a little more, significant parts of national park are immediately waterlogged.
Spiders in Semuliki
It is said that there are a lot of insects in Semuliki, but it depends on time you come here. Most often there are ants that can fall to your neck and bite, or the great number of spiders. If you are scared of them, you had better not to go there. Fortunately, there are not so much mosquitoes.
Troop of monkeys will frolic over your head during the tour, but you will see them clearly only very rarely due to the dense crowns.
The path to the male spring
After passing through the virgin forest awaits you the way on the wooden bridges to the male spring. There palm trees growing around this clearing and it looks here quite picturesque.
Green meadow looks very nice, but it would be absolutely impassable here without wooden bridges.
Sempaya Hot Springs - Male
At the end of wooden bridge there is the lake, which is called Male spring. But you cannot see much due to the rising vapor. Now awaits you the way back to the park gate.
The entire tour together with the way there and back to Fort Portal takes about half a day. So you can undertake another trip in the afternoon, however, if you are not going to relax after this trip in the stifling heat.
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