Semuliki National Park is one of Uganda’s mighty treasures that sits comfortably in the Albertine rift valley. The park lies on the floor of the Semuliki valley and is located between Lake Edward and Lake Albert which is roughly 350km from Kampala or 60km from Fort Portal.
Also known as a true birders’ haven, the park is home to 435 bird species giving it about 43% of Uganda’s total.
The rich biodiversity of the park isn’t just tied to the bird species. According to Uganda Wildlife Authority, a few patches of the forest refugia predate the arid millennia of the last Ice age, 12,000 – 18,000 years ago.
One of the most attractive things about Semuliki National Park are the hot springs. On a recent visit to the park, I found out they are two springs which are distinctively named female hot spring and male hot spring something that blew my mind.
Female Hot Spring
The female hot spring which is also known as Nyansimbi is so captivating. Its hot water gushes out the Earth’s inner core with so much force and if I didn’t know geology to a certain degree, I would probably say it’s running from bad energy.
According to the guide, it’s called a female because, in 1903, two women who had come to collect firewood in the forest came across a stranger, a tall man putting on a backcloth. They rushed back to their community and told them about their encounter with a stranger.
With curiosity heightened, the community invited the man over for identification but since no one knew him he was called Bamaga. After a while, he was adopted by the Baseiga clan and became part of them.
They often say he who finds a wife finds a good thing. Bamaga married Nyansimbi who was one of the community members and everything was rosy until the day they disappeared in the forest.
After days of intense searching for them, the community found Nyansimbi’s backcloth near the hot springs and that’s why it was named after her.
The hot spring is stunning to look at and on so many occasions you can find people boiling eggs in it. The hot water contains sulphur, calcium, iron, and fluoride.
Male hot spring
Named after Bamaga because that’s where his backcloth was found, the hot spring is different from the female one. It’s just a pool of hot water which is about 3 meters deep.
The locals believe that if they throw money in the pool, they will become richer. So it’s easy to see coins at the bottom of the pool.
Apart from looking for the riches, the Baseiga clan also performs rituals at the hot springs if they’re hoping for childbirth.
It’s believed that up today, the clan is still hopeful about the return of Nyansimbi and Bamaga.
Due to the geographical location of Semuliki, which puts it between 600m and 750m above sea level, when the rainwater or streams of water penetrate the soil they meet with the superheated molten rock (magma) that causes the pressure to build hence ejecting hot water.
The distance between the male and female hot springs is about a 30minutes walk through the forest which I must say is therapeutic because not only does one get to enjoy the fresh air but also listens to birds chirping. I heard some sounds that intrigued every bone in my body, and it wasn’t for time, I would have gone birding.
Semuliki National Park is truly a gem that would I would wish for everyone to visit and experience it for themselves.