Toro Semliki wildlife reserve
Toro Semliki wildlife reserve commonly known as Semliki wildlife reserve because of its proximity to Semuliki national park is a protected conservation area located in the Western side of the country shared by Ntoroko and Kabarole districts. Semliki wildlife reserve is located along the rift valley floor in Toro sub region where Rwenzori mountains and Lake Albert as well as Kijura escarpments meet. Whereas in the west of the reserve are the Butuku plains. Semliki wildlife reserve is actually among the oldest of its kind since it was established in 1926. It is about 55km away from Fort portal town which is the closest city.
It is largely covered by the acacia woodlands and the savannah grasses with a few patches of forests. Along the different watercourses are large swamps and belts of woodlands especially towards Lake Albert.
What you should expect to see at Toro Semliki wildlife reserve
Semliki wildlife reserve has maintained a sizable number of wildlife. Moreso, since it is protected from poaching that took place so many years ago. There are thousands of Uganda kobs, African buffaloes and elephants especially the forest elephants. Other wildlife include antelope like waterbucks and bushbucks, there duikers, bush babies, buffaloes are common too, warthogs, among others. Spotting Leopards is more common compared to spotting lions. Animal viewing in Toro Semliki wildlife reserve is especially done in the morning hours. An evening/ night game is also possible for the nocturnal animals to include; white-tailed mangoose, owls, bats and others. This could be through nature walks or do a game drive around the reserve in a tourist vehicle.
Primate lovers will also get an opportunity to meet some of this reserve’s available primate species. This is a home to a group of more than 70 chimpanzees mainly found in the Mugiri river forest. Watch out for Red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys, Olive baboons as well as some black and white colobus monkeys. A primate walk in search primates normally lasts 4 hours at most..
On your visit to Toro Semliki wildlife reserve, it is possible to organize a boat ride on Lake Albert. Lake Albert is just 25kms away. There are boat rides and canoe rides done on Lake Albert. This is usually a 2-hour activity and brings you closer to the aquatic animals and water plants and birds. Birds like shoe bill storks are commonly seen closer to water or swamps. Other birds, you might spot while on the boat include the blue breasted birds, African pygmy goose, blue cheeked bee- eaters and many more others. Crocodiles, buffaloes and hippos are mostly found along the lake shores. There is a lot of different attractions to see during this boat ride thus making that ride worthwhile.
Toro Semliki reserve is blessed with more than 440 different bird species. that live either in the forests, the swampy areas or in the grasslands. Toro Semliki is the best wildlife reserves that birders can visit because it definitely has got plenty of birds. There are birds like the black billed barbets, Abyssinian ground hornbill, red necked falcons and even the rare shoe bill stork is often seen around the swampy areas close to Lake Albert.
Go for community walks.
Community or village walks gives you an opportunity to meet and interact with the local. They are great story tellers with a lot of information you may want to know about. There are community associations like Karugutu community conservations Association that organize locals and train them in music and dance so they can entertain visitors of course at a fee that they collect and use for development purposes. Locals also have handcraft products like bags, key holders, bracelets and other items that they sell to visitors and rises some money.
Other communities to visit include,
Visit the Ntoroko fishing community, which is situated at the south-eastern tip of Lake Albert between the estuaries of Wasa and Muzizi rivers.
Another one is Rwebisengo community:
Located on the west and north-western edge of the reserve in the Semliki Flats. Comprised of mainly Batuku who are Batoro-Bahuma pastrolists. They were believed to be the descents of the royal army of Kabalega or Buyoro Kitara Kingdom known as the Abarusula.
Alternatively, hikers can go hike to Nyaburogo gorge. This hike is an ideal activity for those who love birds. There are plenty of birds that you might see along the trail including the black headed bushrike, arrow marked babbler, and many more. This is a 7km long hike that starts from the headquarters going through savannah grasslands, woodlands and the forest before you get to the gorge. Along the trails, you will meet some primates especially the Olive baboons, Vervet monkey, black and white colobus monkeys and on a lucky day, you might meet the chimpanzees too.
Where to stay while visiting Toro Semliki wildlife reserve
Semliki wildlife reserve is in close proximity to a number of lodges to include; Semliki safari lodge and Ntoroko game lodge which are privately own luxury accommodation facilities that you can book if you want to have comfortable nights and decent meals.
The other option would be to spend a night at the Uganda wildlife Authority bandas /campsite located along Lake Albert shore. The campsite has a canteen area where you can buy your meals.
Ntoroko game lodge also has got a campsite where you can camp for a night or more depending on how long you will be staying the area. It is however important to book your nights in advance for better preparations.
How you get to Toro Semliki wildlife reserve
This reserve is accessible via Kampala-Mubende to Fort portal just about 4-5 hours journey. Or the reserve can be accessed via the Masaka Mbarara road which is about 465km. Once in Fortportal, follow the route to Semuliki national park for about 28km before turning right at Karugutu trading centre. The reserve is 25km from Lake Albert and 26kms from Semliki safari lodge.
There is an airstrip at Semliki safari lodge or in Kasese and Fortportal is just 1 hour away from the reserve. Hence the reserve can be accessed by air too.