Sempaya Hot springs in Semuliki National Park – Female and Male hot springs
smpaya hot springs in Semuliki National Park – Most of the locals know the hot springs as Sempaya which originated from a Kiswahili phrase Sehemu mbaya (the difficult side) owing to the steep challenging rocks and terrain during the construction of the Fort Portal Bundibugyo road along the ridges of the Rwenzori Mountains.
While the scientists have a technical explanation to the origins of the hot springs, the indigenous Bamaga clan neighbouring the tourist attraction in Semuliki National Park have their own story from the folk lore.
According to Mzee Adonia Balinsanga the head of the Bamaga clan, the site of the steaming male hot spring is historical. 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 ad 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 perform annual rituals at the springs to appease their ancestors and the national park allows them access.
Visit to the Sempaya hot springs in Semuliki National Park
This is the most participated activity within Semuliki National park, and is a must-do for all tourists to this National Park. There are two Hot springs-Male hot spring called Bitende that measures about 12 meters in diameter and the Female hot spring named Nyasimbi and is a boiling geyser that ejects out hot water and steam at about 2 meters into the air. The Temperature of the water can be able to boil at 100 degree Celsius and eggs can boil within 5-10 minutes. What fascinates tourists is not the scientific formation of the feature but the cultural/legendary story that surrounds it. Visit these hot springs and you will be amused by the cultural significance, and there are several mammals such as primates and birds within this site.
Other activities in semuliki national park
- Bird watching
Tourists who visit Semuliki National Park are rewarded with some of the most fascinating forest bird species and other swamp bird species. Some of the notable bird species to look out for in this Park include the elusive shoebill stork and Swamp Palm Bulbul found mainly around Lake Albert. Others include Lemon-bellied Crombec, Black Dwarf Hornbill, African Piculet, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Red-billed Dwarf hornbills, Blue-billed Malimbe, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, White-crested hornbill, Yellow-throated Nicator, White-throated Blue Swallow, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Red-bellied Malimbe, Nkulengu Rail, White-crested Hornbill, Black-casqued Wattled Hornbill, Piping hornbill, Leaf-love, Crested Malimbe, the Ross’ Turaco and Orange-cheeked Waxbill among others especially found ar0ound Ntandi and Sempaya. Apart from the mentioned bird areas, Kirumia River is also an interesting birding spot.Read more about birding safaris in Semuliki Reserve
- Nature walks and hiking
Nature walks within Semuliki National park are also a must activity that allows tourists to get up-close with the mammals, birds and butterfly species that cannot be explored during game drives. Nature walks within this Park allow tourists to explore animals such as primates, Hippos, Crocodiles birds and butterflies. There are three main hiking trails within this Park and they include the 8 kilometer Sempaya Nature trail, the 11 kilometer Red-monkey track along the Eastern margin of Semuliki National Park and the 13 Kilometer Kirumia Hiking trail that passes the heart of the Semuliki Forest and stretches towards the Semuliki River.
- Cultural encounters
Much are there are several tribes around Semliki National Park, meeting the Batwa people who live within Semuliki Forest is the most riveting cultural encounter within Semuliki National Park. These people were hunter-gatherers who were entirely dependent on the Semliki Forest for food, shelter, firewood and medicine before it was gazzeted into forest reserve in 1932 and a National Park in 1993. With the development of tourism, their livelihood shifted from the forest, but instead they display their fading ancient ways and cultures through dances, music and drama.
Another riveting cultural encounter is the visit to the Bambuti pygmies who inhabit the banks of the Semuliki River and are close relatives of the Basu pygmies within the Democratic Republic of Congo, although some people believe that the Bambuti pygmies are closely related to the Batwa around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These people are even smaller in number than the Batwa Pygmies and have more interesting activities that include growing and smoking of marijuana. The similarity between the Bambuti Pygmies and the Batwa Pygmies is that they all once lived within Forests, were hunter-gatherers and were all evicted from their ancient homes.Great Adventure Safaris helps you book a visit to Sempaya hot springs in Semuliki National Park.