THE SEMLIKI WILDLIFE RESERVE
The Semliki valley is set at the base of the Albertine Rift west of Fort Portal, the spectacular valley is hemmed in by Lake Albert to the north and by the Semliki River along the Congolese border, while the Rwenzori foothills protrude into it from the south to create two geographically discrete and ecologically divergent sectors. Northwest of the Rwenzori, the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve protects a tract of moist woodlands running towards the marshy southern shores of Lake Albert. The National Park, whose affinities with the contagious Congolese rainforest are reflected by the presence of dozens of birds and other creatures found nowhere else in Uganda.
The dominant vegetation of Toro-Semliki is open Acacia woodland and grassy savannah, interspersed with patched of borassus palm forest, significant belts of riparian woodlands along the main watercourses and extensive swamps towards Lake Albert. More than 10,000 Uganda Kob are residents together with large herds of Jackson’s hartebeest, Defassa waterbuck, elephants and buffalo .The area is famous for massive manned lions that live there, leopards are also numerous.
What to do and see:
Game drives are more or less limited to the main road between Karugutu and Ntoroko, which runs through the reserve for most of its length. Game viewing along this road is rather hit and miss, but taken slowly it can be quite rewarding especially if the visitor has an interest in birds.
Small herds of Uganda Kob and waterbuck inhabit the grassy plains, along with shyer pairs of common reedbuck and family parties of warthog.
Elephants, buffalo and giant hog are also around, but are on an everyday basis and they tend to be rather skittish when approached by a vehicle. Leopards and even lions are very occasionally seen, mostly usually on night drives. The open grasslands host Abyssinian ground hornbill and a variety of raptors, while areas of vegetation are good for marsh and African cake. The Mugiri River Forest is regarded to be the best site in Uganda for exclusive leaf-love and it is also hosts a variety of other localized forest species.
Sempaya Hot Spring
The most popular attraction in Semliki is the cluster of hot spring at Sempaya, Ringed by forest and palm trees and veiled in a cloud of steam, these are primeval, and the largest geyser spouts up to 2m into the air from an opening in a low salt sculpture. The emerging water has a temperature of more than 100oC. The trail to the spring leads through a patch of forest where Red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey and black and white colobus are common. Among the more interesting birds regularly seen here are various forest hornbills, breasted king fisher, red-rumped and yellow throated tinkerbird, Frasier’s ant-thrush and honey guided greenbul.
Red Monkey Trail
Following the eastern margin of the national park to the Semliki River, this wilderness trail takes at least 4 hours in either direction, but offers exposure to far greater variety of localized birds than trail to the springs. It can be undertaken as a day trip. In addition to birds, the visitor can expect to see a variety of monkeys, hippos and crocodiles on the river and possibly even buffalo and elephants.
Boat trips on scenic Lake Albert are a highlight of any visit to the wildlife reserve, for bird watchers, this is one of the most reliable sites in Uganda to see Shoebill.
A profusion of more common water birds are also present and the dazzling red-throated bee-eater, forms a large breeding colony on sand banks near Ntoroko .
One can walk freely in the immediate vicinity of Ntoroko, where the shallows are teeming with bird life. Guided nature walks out of Ntoroko Bandas and campsite.
· Semliki Safari Lodge
· Ntoroko Game Lodge