Semuliki National Park hot springs are one of the popular attractions in the park. Semuliki National Park is located in the western region district of Bundibudgyo. The park was made a national park in October 1993 covering 219 square kilometers (85 sq. mi) within a lowland tropical rainforest.
Situated within a very rich tropical rainforest, the park is one of the richest areas with flora and fauna, with bird and butterfly species being especially diverse. The park is close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Rwenzori Mountains to the southeast of the park and Lake Albert North of the Park.
Two hot springs are found at Semuliki National Park in a hot mineral encrusted swamp, the “male” and “female”.
The local residents of the area know the hot springs as Sempaya, which originated from a Kiswahili phrase “Sehemu Mbaya” meaning the difficult side referring to the steep challenging rocks and terrain during the construction of the Fort Portal Bundibugyo road along the ridges of the Rwenzori Mountains.
The locals specifically the Bamaga clan members have folklore attached to the formation of the hot springs. They believed that one time the Bamaga women had gone to fetch firewood from the forest when they sighted a hairy man dressed in bark cloth wielding a spear and with a dog moving in a zigzag formation around that location.
The women ran back home to tell their husbands who decided to pick and take him to their homes and subsequently got him a wife from the same village.
The said man who later became known as Biteete lived in the village and continued hunting, but one time he never returned home. After three days, the men from the village went out to search for Biteete but only found his spear at the present-day male hot spring with no traces of him and his dog.
Therefore it was assumed that he disappeared from the same spot. They ran back to tell his wife who also ran to the forest but never returned. After a search, only her clothes were found at the present day female hot spring. This is how the two springs were termed as male and female.
One of the springs is known as Mumbuga spring resembles a geyser as it forms a 0.5 m high fountain.
A hike to the hot springs lasts about 1 hour through the trail to the outer “male” spring through a patch of forest where red-tailed monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabeys, and black-and-white colobus monkeys are common.
From the main road, a 30 minutes hike through the palm forest leads to the inner “female” spring, dominated by a boiling geyser. At the hot springs, the water is hot enough to cook eggs and plantain.
The hot springs attract a large number of shorebirds and provide salt licks for many animals. Therefore, it is a good place to visit for birders on Uganda birding safaris and those who want to see other wildlife species.
Other Attractions in Semuliki National Park
More than 400 bird species have been sighted within the borders of the park, 216 of these bird species are true forest birds. Some of the bird species in the park include lyre-tailed honeyguide, Oberlander’s ground thrush, Sassi’s olive greenbul, and several hornbill species.
The park provides a home to over 60 mammal species and these include the African buffalo, leopard, mona monkey, water chevrotain, African civet, bush babies, African elephant, pygmy scaly-tailed flying squirrel, and many more.
There are not many in the park and not mainly the best Uganda wildlife safari destination but good for birding and nature walks.
In the same region are other conservation areas like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park destinations for Uganda gorilla safaris.
Here are some of the recommended itineraries that tourists can choose when going on the East Africa safari.