Uganda’s Sempaya Hot Springs are found in the Semuliki National Park. These amazing hot springs that can boil at very high temperatures of up to 103 degrees Celsius; have a spurt shelling up 2 meters from a wide hole of about eight meters. The springs that boil up from the rock bottom of the earth exhibit the great underground geographical forces that have for many centuries ago formed the Rift Valley. Semuliki National Park covering 220 square kms is among Uganda’s latest National Parks and was put into a gazette in October 1993.
Sempaya hot springs that are found in two places. The first one is called the male and second is the female. The hot springs have tremendously attracted a great number of tourists in Uganda.
An hour-long track to the outer, “male” hot springs takes you through a spot of woodland where the grey-cheeked mangabeys, red-tailed monkeys and the black-and-white colobus monkeys among others are regularly seen. There is a tree house on the way which offers a clear aerial view.
On the other hand, a 30-minute walk via the palm forest from the main road leading to the inner, “female” hot spring, characterised by the boiling spring. Here, Eggs and banana can be cooked instantly for consumption by hungry hikers in the blistering waters!
The Bambuti Pygmies live on both side of the Semliki River and are closely related to the Basu Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo rather than to Batwa Pygmies around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Most safari companies refer to the Bambuti Pygmies as Batwa, but they are not and their culture and ways are different from each other. Both have lived in the forests for thousands of year.
The Bambuti Pygmies are much smaller in number than the Batwa People. Both were evicted from their ancient forests, though the Bambuti have limited hunting and gathering rights. They also can legally grow marijuana and smoke it in their. The Bambuti can be visited and today have their own guides, in the past, they had non-Bambuti guides who stole their money causing animosity between the Bambuti and Visitors, which has changed today.
The Bambuti have no chiefs or any formal councils of elders; they settle their problems and disputes by general discussion. They believe in a benevolent forest deity, and important occasions, including the maturity of boys and girls, marriage, and death, are marked by special songs designed “to rejoice the forest.” The Bambuti’s music is complex in rhythm and harmony, but visual art is virtually nonexistent among them. Music, dance, and mime provide a means of reinforcing accepted values and form the basis of religious expression.
Semuliki National Park found in the south western corner of Uganda in Bundibugyo district can be accessed by road on two routes especially when you are coming from Kampala Uganda’s capital, for these two routes it is advisable to use 4WD vehicles;
- Route 1: Kampala-Fortportal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese. This is approximately 465 km and it takes between 7 and 8 hours to reach, which makes it a longer route but it’s on this same route where you can visit some other places along the way such as Queen Elizabeth National park, Lake Mburo National park and other places.
- Route 2: Kampala-Fortportal via Mubende, this route is approximately a 4-5hour drive about 180km; this makes it a shorter route.
The park is situated in Bundibugyo about 59 km from Fortportal which takes between 2 and 3 hours on the bumpy road to reach the Sempaya Gate. Along the way there is a lot to see like the different Rwenzori ranges, the beautiful view of the floor of the Albertine Rift valley, Some times in the rainy season the road especially in the mountainous region are bad hence would need more time to access the park. But currently the road is being widened to quicken transport.
- Semliki Safari Lodge: Semliki Safari Lodge is located in Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve close to Semliki Forest National Park one of the famous Uganda safari sites.
- Ntoroko game lodge: Ntoroko game lodge is situated on the shores of Lake Albert in the Semuliki forest and wildlife reserve.
- Bumuga campsite: Since Semuliki national park doesn’t have very many accommodation facilities, there is also an a option of camping at Bumuga that is located approx 3km away from the Sempaya gate.
- Kirumia Guesthouse: Kirumia guest house is located on the Bundibugyo highway that leads to town; 10km from Sempaya gate.