SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
Lat:00o00´S/00o00´W ha topography msl
Best Time for visit (September-October 2004)
Birding Site Guide
Semuliki is an extremely important national park, for the simple reason it is the natural eastern-most extension of the vast equatorial lowland jungles that mainly lie in the Congo Basin. Here then there is a very different range of specialist birds that occur nowhere else in e Africa. Though there may be patches of ‘rainforest’ in some other parts of e Africa containing one or 2 of these specialist species, the forest will not be quite the same due to elevation and lower humidity. The forest terminates at this juncture due to the rising ground and enclosing mountains, lakes and valleys of the rift valley. With much of w Africa being difficult or dangerous to visit (Democratic Republic of Congo being the largest such area) and with many health issues, not only the deadly cerebral malaria, Semuliki offers a good, safe introduction to this jungle.
The introduction starts with the breathtaking views as the road crosses the mountains and starts its descent to the vast, seemingly limitless, forested plains below. This sense of unknown wilderness is only enhanced by the long great rivers threading their way through the forest with huge sweeping bends and extending as far as the eye can see, and as one approaches closer the strange spectacle of the hot springs and marshes.
Nearly as soon as the road hits the flat and straightens out, there is a building on the right set back in the trees, this is part of the parks headquarters where you should make yourself known, pay for your tickets and arrange and pay for accommodation. The only accommodation at the time of our visit was the park guards quarters a few km further along the road (on the right, the people from the HQ will show you) where we camped on the grass. It may however be possible to arrange to sleep in the building if there is room, failing this about 5km further along the road is a tourist village. I use the term loosely, but here the jungle pygmies sell artefacts to tourists, even few as they are, and some basic accommodation may be available here.
Birding here is nearly all conducted along the road, but there are longer trails behind the headquarters (which leads to boardwalks over the hot springs), and another long trail past the pygmy village that leads through excellent forest and marsh, directions from the park guards will be required to find this path if you do not already have a personal guide already familiar with the area.
Semuliki offers the chance to see some species that are not obtainable anywhere else in e Africa. This includes White-crested Hornbill; which can be found in tall forest along the roadside, and if you like hornbills, there are many other species. This is probably the only places in e Africa to see Red-sided Broadbill, which can be found high in tall open forest, along the Kirimira Trail (which is past the pygmy village).
Saddle-billed Stork, Sacred Ibis, African Marsh Harrier, Palm-nut Vulture, Little Stint, Wood- and Common Sandpipers, Rameron Pigeon, Great Blue Turaco, African Cuckoo, Yellowbill, White-throated Bee-eater, White-crested-, Red-billed Dwarf-, African Pied-, African Grey-, Piping-, Black-and-white-casqued- and Black-casqued Hornbills, Red-rumped- and Yellow-throated Tinkerbirds, Yellow-billed Barbet, Zenker's Honeyguide, African Piculet, Red-sided Broadbill (heard only), Sand Martin, Barn- and Red-rumped Swallows, White-headed Saw-wing, Slender-billed-, Toro Olive- and Xavier's Greenbuls, Leaflove, Swamp Greenbul, Red-tailed- and Green-tailed Bristlebills, Western Nicator, Red-tailed Ant Thrush, Green Hylia, Green-backed Camaroptera, Buff-throated Apalis, Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher, African Shrike-Flycatcher, Chestnut Wattle-eye, Red-backed Shrike, Western Black-headed Oriole, Piapiac, Violet-backed Starling, Grey-headed Sunbird, Grosbeak-, Black-headed- and Maxwell's Black Weavers, Crested Malimbe, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Grant's Bluebill, Orange-cheeked- and Black-crowned Waxbill and Black-and-white Mannikin.
Giant Squirrel, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Red-tailed Monkey, Blue Monkey and Angolan Black & White Colobus.