Semuliki National Park sprawls across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.
The Semliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa. Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary) is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to numerous Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri. As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.
While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, the park contains evidence of even older processes. Hot springs bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.
3-Day General Itinerary Open or Close
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive in time for dinner at your lodge in or near Kibale National Park.
Day 2: Primate Trail and Bigodi Swamp Walk
Take an early breakfast before your primate tracking adventure in the forest. Choose between the half day tracking experience - or a full day chimp habituation adventure. As you search for Kibale’s resident chimpanzees, keep an eye out for other primates such as grey-cheeked mangabeys along with l’Hoest’s, red colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys. Your expert guide will share the secrets of the forest’s flora and fauna, ensuring that the trail is both informative and enjoyable.
After lunch, for those not on participating in chimp habituation, the Bigodi Women’s Group will take you on a fascinating boardwalk trail through the papyrus swamp of the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary. Finish this action-packed day with a cultural performance or a sunset drink at a nearby lodge.
Day 3: Cultural Tour and onward travel
A guide from Kibale Association for Rural and Environmental Development (KAFRED) will take you on a fascinating cultural tour of the Bigodi homesteads, where you will observe the preparation on food and learn traditional weaving techniques with Bigodi Women’s Group.
From here you can continue south to Semliki National Park, or return to Kampala.
3-Day Birding Itinerary Open or Close
Day 1: Bird to Kibale from Murchison Falls Conservation Area
After breakfast, drive south to Kibale in the Toro Kingdom, birding en-route. Look out for birds like Western banded Snake Eagle, Striped Kingfisher, Great blue Turaco, Lizard Buzzard, Lesser Striped Swallow, Joyful Greenbul, Chubb’s Cisticola, Masked Apalis, Cassin’s Grey Flycatcher, Whinchat, Stonechat, Green-headed Sunbird, Common Fiscal among others. Dinner and overnight at one of the lodges.
Day 2: Kibale National Park (Kanyanchu)
After breakfast, proceed to bird the vicinity of Kanyanchu look out for the Green-breasted Pitta and other species like Yellow-billed Barbet, African Emerald Cuckoo, Black-billed Turaco, Narina Trogon, Blue-shouldered Robin-chat, Sabine’s Spinetail, Chestnut Wattle eye and Narrow-tailed Starling among others. Primates like Red Colobus, Black and white Colobus, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Olive Baboon, Red-tailed Monkey, L’Hoest’s Monkey among others. Dinner and overnight as before.
Day 3: Bird Bigodi and transfer to Queen Elizabeth NP
After breakfast, proceed to bird Bigodi swamp coming back in time for lunch. After lunch, start the drive south to Queen Elizabeth National Park driving along the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains (crossing the equator) and birding en-route. Look out for birds like, Lizard Buzzard, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Great Blue Turaco, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black-and-white Casqued Hornbill, Woodland Kingfisher, Pygmy Kingfisher, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Double-toothed Barbet, little Greenbul, Winding Cisticola, ZittingCisticola, Green Crombec, Black-and-white Shrike-Flycatcher, Black-headed Gonolek, Bronze Sunbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Black Bishop, Black-crowned Waxbill among others.