Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve Safari Guide
The Semliki Valley is mainly of interest to bird watchers. The reserve has an impressive checklist, which includes many birding specials. Other attractions are the hot springs at Sempaya and a Pygmy village in the adjacent Semuliki National Park. The only lodge in the reserve offers a very exclusive bush experience with guided activities.
Pros & Cons
Seven primate species including chimpanzee
Night drives and boat trips on Lake Albert are available
Animal densities are low
Chimp sightings are rare as they are only semi-habituated
Limited accommodation options
Some roads become impassable in the rainy season
Wildlife & Animals
Wildlife densities in the park are low. Only the Uganda kob is common. Buffalo, elephant and waterbuck are around, but irregularly seen. All wildlife is quite skittish and hard to approach by car. Lion and hyena are around, but are rarely seen; it is much more common to hear them at night. Leopard are sometimes spotted on night drives.
A troop of chimpanzee can be tracked; however, they aren't very habituated, so sightings are very hit-and-miss. Their distinctive pant-hooting calls can often be heard from far away. Some primate species regularly seen include vervet and red-tailed monkey, the beautiful black-and-white colobus and olive baboon. Some of the more unusual primates which inhabit the forest include the Central african red colobus.
Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve might not be the best destination for wildlife viewing, but it is a bird-watcher’s paradise. It has more than 460 species recorded in a variety of habitats. Boat trips on Lake Albert are ideal for a chance to see the elusive shoebill and a breeding colony of the stunning red-throated bee-eater. The adjacent Semuliki National Park offers a great opportunity to add several species associated with the Congolese rainforest. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
Best Time to Visit
The Dry season is the best time for a trip to Toro-Semiliki Wildlife Reserve. The two Dry seasons are from December to February and from June to July. During the Wet season months (March to May and August to November) the roads become almost impassable and game viewing drives are very limited.
December to February and June to July – Dry Season
Vegetation thins and animals congregate at waterholes, making them easier to spot
Chimpanzee trekking is less difficult thanks to drier trails
Sunshine is bountiful
The best time for birding is late January to March
The amazing views are hindered by the haze
March to May and August to November – Wet Season
Lush, green landscapes
Migratory birds can be seen
Some roads become impassable, and trails get slippery after heavy rains
It might drizzle for days and afternoon thunderstorms should be expected
Weather & Climate
Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve has a hot climate. These high temperatures remain throughout the year. Daytime temperatures hover at 30°C/86°F, and taper off at night to around 18°C/64°F.
Rain is unpredictable in Toro-Semliki, as there is no true Dry season. There are, however, two distinctive Wet seasons – from March to May and from August to November.
Dry Season – December to February and June to July
December, January & February – The weather is typically dry, though rain can still occur.
June & July – These are relatively dry months, but rain should still be expected, potentially for a few days at a time. Daytime temperatures average 30°C/86°F, and nighttime temperatures average 18°C/64°F.
Wet Season – March to May and August to November
March, April & May – The region is the wettest at this time, with the rains peaking in April. Average temperatures range from 30°C/86°F in the afternoon to 19°C/66°F at night. All roads in the park including access roads become virtually impassable.
August, September, October & November – Similar weather to March, April and May. Rainfall returns after a period of slightly less rain in June and July.
Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve is only one hour’s drive from Fort Portal (the closest town to Kibale NP). The reserve is located about 300km/180mi from Kampala. The direct drive takes six to eight hours. It is also possible to fly to the airstrip by scheduled or chartered aircraft from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airfield near Kampala.
One enters Uganda through Entebbe International Airport (EBB) near the town of Entebbe, located about 46km/29mi from the capital, Kampala. Your tour operator will usually arrange for your pick-up from the airport, and arrange any travel needed as part of your safari package.