Why Semuliki National Park is the True Birders Haven
In 1932, Semuliki forest reserve was designated as an area of outstanding beauty. It was later upgraded to Semuliki National Park in October 1993 -one of Uganda’s newest. Semuliki National Park is located in one of the remote parts of Bundibugyo district named Bwamba county in Western Uganda. Covering a land area of about 220km2 raising to an altitude of 670-760m this is one of the best Uganda safari destinations. The forest is the only tract of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa, sprawling across the floor of Semuliki valley on the western side of the Rwenzori. Dominated by the eastern most extension of the great ituri forest of the Congo basin, in the Western arm of the East African rift valley. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio diverse forests, that survived the last ice age.
Bird species in Semuliki National Park
Dubbed the true birders haven, Semuliki National Park is home to several bird species counting to about 441 (about 34% of Uganda’s total) and about 60% of the country’s forest bird species. The park is unique in a way that it harbors a large number of largely Central African bird species that cannot be sighted anywhere else in East Africa. These endemics include some of the African continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; the Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-wattled Hornbill, the Nkulengu Rail and many more. This makes the park a prime birding safari in Uganda spot.
Though Semuliki National Park does not qualify for the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome, it hosts six bird species of this biome, including several that are at the extreme south of their range such as the Purple Glossy-starling, Red-throated Bee-eater, and Piapiac.
On a Uganda birding safari to Semuliki, other bird species to look out for include;
the Great Blue Turaco
White crested Hornbill
Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill
Yellow -throated Nicator
Maxwell’s Black weaver
White-throated Blue Swallow
Swamp Palm Bulbul
Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin
Little Grey Greenbul
Toro Olive Greenbul
Petit’s Cuckoo shrike
Red-thighed Sparrow hawk
Best birding spots in Semuliki National Park
Within the park, to catch a perfect glimpse on your Uganda bird watching safari, Ntandi, around the Sempaya hot springs, River Kirumia and Mungilo waterfall are the best places. Taking a boat cruise along Semuliki River delta and Lake Albert is rewarding with a chance to where there are other bird species to see like the endangered Shoe bill stork.
Best Uganda safari/tour time to Semuliki National Park
The best time of the year for Uganda birding safaris to Semuliki National Park is during the dry months of the year between January to February and June to September. This time the park is more passable, wildlife easily spotted and photographs clearly taken. Since the park is in the rift valley the annual rainfall is massive to 1700mm and the rainy season leaves some parts flooded, trails slippery and taking pictures tricky.
Uganda is an ultimate birding safari destination with a total count of about 1072 bird species. On either a Uganda wildlife safari or Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, a tourist can tailor in birding since each destination hosts several bird species.
As they say beautiful things come in small packages, this small national park will leave you wowed as you meditate on the great birds, wildlife and nature that will get you yearning to extend your Safari in Uganda.