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Semliki – So What?

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica Regulorum), also called "The Pride of Uganda", Bigodi Wetland, near Kibale Forest, West Uganda, Africa

Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica Regulorum), also called “The Pride of Uganda”, Bigodi Wetland, near Kibale Forest, West Uganda, Africa

Semliki makes you sweat! The sudden difference in temperature when driving down from chilly Fort Portal is overwhelming. With 660 meters above sea level, it was the lowest point we reached in Uganda. Known for its vast variety of birds, Semliki National Park has attracted an increasing, but still small number of nature lovers. In 2010, about 3.000 visitors were counted. These include lots of local school kids, who primarily come to see the hot springs. We shared the mini – geysers with such a group, about 100 teenagers from a Muslim private school. Even with whiffs of scorching hot steam blowing into their faces, they were incredibly well behaved: none of the pushing and shouting you would observe in our country. None of us questioned the guide’s argument that you can cook an egg in boiling water in six minutes.

Probably it is the abysmal state of the road that keeps this place from getting on the itinerary of tour operators. To suffer for hours and hours on this “road“ and then take a three hour stroll through a secondary rain forest seemed a bit of excessive. Except a pleasant quietness, there is not much wildlife to speak off: a few monkeys, birds, butterflies, not to forget the ugliest money ever: the Blue Monkey, named after their bluish face if you want to call it like that. For serious birding, we were either too late in the morning or in the wrong place…

But maybe this will all change soon, because great efforts are made to improve the road leaving Fort Portal. The existing one cradling the mountain range is cut deeper into slopes. With its spectacular views, it reminded us a bit of “Death Road” in Bolivia. Except that here, grim looking Chinese engineers are in control and Ugandan workers are maneuvering heavy machinery near breathtaking precipices.


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