The Semliki game Reserve is the oldest Game reserve in Uganda. It was officially known as the Toro Game Reserve and was declared a reserve in 1932. The reserve was later upgraded to the status of national park in 1993. Situated in western Uganda to the northeast of the Bundibugyo road extending to Ntoroko on the southern shores of Lake Albert. The national game reserve covers a 545-kilometer square sanctuary. The leading type of vegetation is open acacia-combretum woodland and grassy savannah, mixed with borassus palm forest patches. Significant riparian woodland belts along the main water route, as well as some extensive Lake Albert swamps. Semliki is of interest to birdwatchers in particular. There is an excellent checklist for the park that includes several bird species.
Semliki Game Reserve is a popular national reserve in Uganda that hosts the largest population of Uganda Kobs. The different habitats found that the reserve has made it a rich wildlife destination with a wide range of tourist attractions found at the park. The reserve hosts over 53 species of mammals and more than 420 species of birds. The most cited animals are: Forest Elephants, Uganda Kobs, Olive baboons, waterbuck, black and white colobus monkey, leopards, Chimpanzees and many others. The bird species include: Swamp palm bulbul, Spotted greenbul, white-starred robin, Snow-headed robin chat, Red-eyed puffback, Abyssinian ground thrush, Fire-crested Alethe, Lowland Akalat and others.
Location of Semliki Game Reserve
It is situated on the floor of the rift valley in the Kabarole District, in the Toro sub-region, where Lake Albert, the Rwenzori Mountains and the Kijura escarpment create backdrops. The reserve is about 55 kilometers (34 mi) north of Fort Portal, the nearest large city, by road. Semliki Wild Reserve’s geographical coordinates are 0 ° 53 ‘50.0’ N, 30 ° 21 ‘48.0’ E (Latitude: 0.897222; Longitude: 30.0) .
The reserve can easily be reached through a good scenic drive route from Kampala to the reserve. Its only 387 kilometers away from the capital city Kampala. The drive through the western region to the Fort Portal.
Activities done in Semliki Game Reserve
Three tracks traverse the savannah grassland of Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Smaller forest and larger savannah elephants are frequently seen, along with buffalo, waterbuck, crocodile, warthog and Uganda kob. You could even see, with luck, pygmy hippopotami, leopards and elusive bushbabies. In the morning, afternoon and at night, game drives in the Wildlife Reserve may take place; after dark, visitors can come across curious nocturnal species such as the white-tailed mongoose.
Birders making it to Semliki Game Reserve would be rewarded with some of the finest forest birding in Africa. Sempaya and Ntandi provide outstanding bird watching, including the White-crested Hornbill, the Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, the Piping Hornbill, the Yellow-throated Nicator, the Great Blue and the Turacos of Ross. Another top birding spot is the area around the Kirumia River. At close quarters on Lake Albert, the shoebill stork is frequently seen and forest walks are ideal for water bird tracking.
Visiting Hot springs
To these boiling, gushing springs, hike through the monkey-filled forest and cook your eggs and plantain in the bubbling waters!
The hour-long trail leads through a patch of forest to the outer “male” spring, where red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys and black-and-white colobus monkeys are common. An aerial view is provided by a tree house en route.
A 30-minute hike from the main road through the palm forest leads to the internal “female” spring, dominated by a boiling geyser. In this boiling water, eggs and matooke (green plantain) can be cooked and enjoyed by hungry hikers!
Boat trips can be scheduled along the Semliki River or along Lake Albert’s eastern shores. Arrangements can be made with the local fishermen around or via the Semliki Safari Lodge. This practice is considered spectacular as it offers bird lovers the opportunity to come across many species of birds that feed on and around the lake, including shoebills and hippo schools, among others.