Sempaya Hot Springs In Semliki National Park.

Sempaya hot springs are one the most popular attractions in Semuliki National Park. Semuliki National Park is situated in Bundibugyo district, Western Uganda. It was gazetted to its status as a national park in 1993, and covers 85 square miles of land coverage, composed of both flora and fauna. The Park is under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority.

There are two rivers that flow on the borders of this park – River Semuliki and River Lamia. They have for many years been thirst quenching spots for wildlife within the
park. Semliki has mainly two hot springs to which Sempaya hot springs are part. It’s common to come across hundreds of birds around these hot springs. Due to their history, the cool grounds harbor fairly large salt particles that are licked by animals within the park.

About Sempaya hot springs.
They register hundreds of tourists annually. Alternatively, they are referred to as Semuliki hot springs, due to their location within the park. They are made up of both male and female hot springs. There are many birds and butterflies around these hot springs during the day, and a couple of monkeys that come around to lick salt and drink warm water as it cools on its progress to the nearby valleys. While approaching the actual site, there’s a smell of hydrogen sulfuric which is given off in the hot vapor that escapes from the hot springs boiling water.

The first major unique feature is their boiling levels. This is significantly higher than that of Kitagata hot springs, another wonderful feature in western Uganda. This therefore creates a rare scenery for tourists. Sempaya hot springs are grouped as ‘female and male’ and are surrounded by distinct vegetation which is important in differentiation. The hot springs boiling at extreme temperatures beyond normal boiling point -103° Celsius.

Scientific formation.                                                                                                  The hot springs were formed as a process of intrinsic earth activities that led to cracks in the earth’s crust letting water sip through the cracks to the earth’s interior points near the magma creating pressure that led to the heated water being splashed onto the earth’s surface. The process is continuous because water flowing within the earth’s crust keeps finding its way to the hot earth points. The geothermal heat is so much that the water is extremely hot to cause burns on any human skin.

The hot rocks in the earth’s crust are barely prone to volcanic activity which makes the area a safe zone for tourism. The hot springs' name has historical significance due to its history that is traced from the road constructors of Fort Portal to Bundibugyo highway. They were mainly Swahili speakers who referred to the area as “Sehemu Mbuya.” The words translated into English mean “Difficult place.” The locals heard something different, and to them, the word “Sempaya.” Since then, this name gained popularity.

Cultural beliefs behind the formation of Sempaya hatstrings.
The Bamaga people, a group of people near these hot springs have in their folklore, a belief that sometime in old ages, spotted a strange man who held a spear and was in company of a dog in the forest that makes up Semuliki. Being a welcoming community, they invited the stranger to come and stay with them in their village from which he married a woman.

However, he was soon not to be seen again after he went hunting, and only his spear was later found at hot spring area that’s now known as the “male hot spring.” His wife, on learning of the news, found her way to the forest to trace for her husband, but would soon disappear and was never traced ever again.

The point at which she disappeared, came to be known as the “female hot spring.” As consequence of those events, the tribesmen have to-date held a belief that their ancestors lie underground, beneath these 2 hot springs. They hold and perform cultural rituals annually around the sites, to appease their ancestors.

Other activities within Semuliki National Park include;                                            Game drives.                                                                                                               Semuliki National Park is fairly a savannah grassland area and therefore accommodates different wildlife mammals. Game drives are therefore a popular activity therein around animals such as forest elephants, antelopes, primates and forest Buffalos. The terrain of Semuliki national park is also favorable for 4×4 cars that visitors use to navigate the park.

As already noted, there are many bird species that fly above Semliki National Park. There are mostly water birds due to wetland regions that dominate Semuliki valley. Shoebill, Marabou storks, eagles, herons, African forest kites, papyrus gonolek, among others.

Nature walks.                                                                                                            Semliki national park has a number of nature trails from which tourists walk and view the glorious beauty of Semuliki valley. These also introduce visitors to birding as they are well paved along bird dominated parts of this park.

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