Steamy, hot and bubbled up – Semuliki National Park

by | Nov 8, 2019 | 0 comments

 Semuliki National Park

Many fires burn below the surface, creating beauty to inspire and to be marveled at this creates the famous Semuliki National Park.

Uganda has breathtaking scenic views from the rugged mountains of the Rwenzori, lush green rain forests, sprawling savannas, sparkling lakes and rivers, and abundant wildlife and bird species.

Let off a little steam as you get to know about the steamy hot springs of Semuliki National Park in Uganda.


Situated in a small corner of South Western Uganda, Semuliki National Park sprawls across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori.

The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.

While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating over the years, Sempaya Hot Springs found in the heart of the park has been a tourist magnet to Semuliki National Park.

Let’s get acquainted:

Sempaya Hot Springs

These are Semuliki National Park’s most famous attractions. They are located in 2 places and are known as the male and female springs.

The “male” spring, known as Bintente, measures 12m in diameter and is set in a lush swampy clearing.

The “female” spring known as Nyasimbi, meaning “the female ancestors”, is a boiling geyser (103°C) which spurts bubbling water and steam up to two meters high. The steam from these hot springs can be seen from 2kms away.


Well geographically, hot springs are springs produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth’s crust. But the local community around the hot springs have their own historical folk story. Here goes:

It is said the Bamaga women had gone to fetch firewood from the forest when they sighted a hairy man dressed in bark cloth wielding a spear and with dog moving in a zig-zag formation around that location.

The women ran back home to tell their husbands who decided to pick and take him to their homes and subsequently got him a wife from the same village.

The said man who later became known as Biteete continued hunting but one time never returned home. After three days, the men went out to search for him and at the present day male hot spring, they only found a spear but no traces of the man nor his dog.

It was assumed he had disappeared from the same spot and they ran back to tell the wife (Nyansimbi) who also ran to the forest never to return.

In the subsequent search, only her clothes were found at the present day female hot spring.

This was how the two springs became to be known as the male and female hot springs and to-date the Bamaga believe their female ancestors live beneath the female hot spring while their male ancestors live at the male spring.

This is why the Bamaga performs annual rituals at the springs to appease their ancestors and the national park allows them access.STEAMY, HOT AND BUBBLED UP – SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK

Visiting these hot springs offers some incredible experiences from being able to boil eggs and matooke (plantain) in the 103oc hot water to seeing other forest wonders like the mangabey monkeys, red-tailed monkey, black and white colobus monkey and much more on your trek to the hot springs.

Other activities within the park include:

  • Bird watching (Semiliki NP is a birders haven)
  • Game drives: Three tracks cross the savannah grassland of Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve
  • Cultural encounters: Batwa people
  • Hikes and Nature walks

On the other hand, Uganda boils and steams of beauty through its Hot Springs located in different parts of the country.

These include:

  • Kitagata hot springs located in the Western part of Uganda with a historical importance as one was once used by the King of Ankole “omugabe” and the adjacent one is mostly known for its healing ability.
  • Rwagimba hot springs are found on River Rwimi, the river separates Kasese and Kabarole districts in the western part of Uganda. Highly respected by the locals. Hiking to this mesmerizing spring offers a great view as well.
  • Amoropii hot springs: They got their name from the Local Alur dialect meaning hot water is found in the northern part of Uganda. They are a magnificent tourist natural attraction situated at around three kilometers from the popular Panyimur Fishing Village in Nebbi district on the western shores of Lake Albert. This Hot spring is traditionally believed by the local Alur to do miracles for its visitors because it’s believed to have divine powers.
  • The Ihimbo hot springs are situated on kabiulil-Katuna Road, approximately 8 kilometers and south of Kabiulil. They are well known by local residents for their healing properties. Many of the Bakiga of Kigezi and the people of Rwanda, suffering from rheumatism, backache and other ailments use the healing properties of the Ihimbo hot springs.
  • The Kanangorok hot springs, are located in Kidepo valley national park in the far North-Eastern part of Uganda, the springs are situated in the northern part of the park beyond kidepo river boarding South Sudan border it’s one of the best places to sit and relax in kidepo national park while viewing the wilderness at its best.
  • Among others


Putting aside the fact that these hot springs are located in different parts of the country, they all have one thing in common. That is, they all have hot water. That’s pretty obvious, not so? Haha

Well on a serious note, that one thing they all have in common is that: The local communities around these hot springs believe that the water of the hot springs is magical with healing powers and spiritual cleansing abilities. Quite fascinating!

You will definitely find most of them soaked in the not so hot pools of the hot springs seeking healing from their ailments.

With these different hot springs found across the country, you do not have to leave without visiting at least one of them. REFRESH YOURSELF IN NATURE.


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About the Author

Kabanda Ezra

Ezra is a content writer with a bias in adventure travel and here he shares some of the stunning destinations, travel tips and experiences about Uganda, Kenya & Rwanda.

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