Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve

Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is located in the western part of Uganda towards the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The nearest towns are Fort Portal City and Ntoroko. The reserve is 20 kilometers from the Semuliki National Park. The reserve covers the largest part of the western rift valley area between the Rwenzori Mountains and Lake Albert. It is the oldest reserve that was gazette in 1926 covering an area of 542 square kilometers. The reserve is 700 meters above sea level with the Western Rift Valley escarpment. It has clear views of the Blue Mountains in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the glacial views of the Rwenzori mountains on a clear day.

Additionally, the reserve is majorly covered by the Acacia open and the savannah grassland type of vegetation mixed with the part of the Borassus palm forest, riparian woodland along the water bodies. And the wetland type of vegetation on the lake shores.

The reserve was majorly gazette for the large numbers of the Uganda Kobs but also the reserve has other 63 mammal species and 440 bird species. The reserve is usually visited by travelers who are usually on their Uganda safari in Rwenzori National Park then they decide to visit the reserve.

What to see in the Tooro Semuliki game reserve?

While on the Uganda safari to Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve, there are a variety of attractions that one can see on their Uganda safari which include;


The reserve is made with over 63 mammal species and initially, it was gazette due to the large number of the Uganda Kobs. The mammal species available now in the reserve are similar to those in the Queen Elizabeth National Park and the Murchison Falls National Park.

These species include elephants, hypotonus, warthogs, white-tailed mongooses, giant forest hogs, water backs, and many others. The reserve is also home to primate species like the chimpanzee, vervet monkeys, Baboons, red-tailed monkeys, and many other primate species.

Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve
Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve
Bird species

 The reserve is home to over 440 bird species which becomes a birding haven to the tourists on their birding safari in Uganda. The bird species the rift valley endemic species can be seen only in the reserve and not anywhere else.

The bird species in the reserve include; red-necked falcon, black-billed barbet, Abyssinian horn bill, arrow-marked babbler, and many others. Also, the shoebill is available usually on the lake shores within the reserve.     

Cultural communities

The reserve hosts several communities where some of which have a unique lifestyle away from the others and this will offer a traveler on their Uganda safari opportunity to interact with these communities including;

Karugutu kyabandara community  

This community is majorly made up of the Bakonjo or the Konzo tribe who are situated in the southern part of the wildlife reserve this community is mainly cultivators who grow crops like maize, cassava, beans, and many other crops.  During the visit to this community, a traveler on a Uganda safari will immerse himself in this community to understand how they do their major economic activity, how the harvesting is done, and many other activities.

Rwebisengo community

The community is located in the north and northwest of the reserve which is for the Batuku who are usually called the Batooro Bahuma who are mainly pastoralists living in the semuliki flat plains. They are also considered to be the descendants of the Abarusula who were the army of Bunyoro during the reign of the Omukama kabalega. This community offers travelers on their Uganda safari to enjoy the cattle products that are made locally by them.

Ntoroko fishing community

Ntoroko fishing community is located in the southern part of the reserve on the lake Albert and their major economic activity is fishing. The community also lives near the Wassa and Muzizi Rivers which is approximately 4 kilometres area that has been set as a wildlife sanctuary. This Ntoroko community usually trades much with the Karugutu Kyabandara community for the foodstuffs like cassava, beans and many others for fish.

Kasesenge kyakabaseke community

The community is majorly made up of the Bakiga migrants who were tea estate workers in the 1960s and it is located in the eastern part of the reserve. This community was majorly growing tea and when the price of tea decreased, they left out the growing of tea and started cultivating other crops like Bananas, beans, maize, and many others. This community usually trades much with the Ntoroko community and the Rwebisengo community for their foodstuffs.

What do while in the Tooro Semuliki wildlife reserve?

Game drive

The game drive in the reserve is usually done in the morning, afternoon, and night in the three savannah tracks of the reserve. During this game drive you will be able to see animals like small elephants, buffaloes, leopards, giant elephants, warthogs, and many others. During the night game drive, there are high chances of spotting leopards and baby mongoose since they are nocturnal animals.

Primate walks

During this activity, key primates that you will see are the chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, white and black colobus monkeys, and olive baboons. This activity lasts for 3 to 4 hours of the day it is done near the Semuliki Safari Lodge where you are required to have a ranger guide. The other wildlife that can be seen are the buffaloes, Uganda Kobs, elephants, and many others.

Boat ride

Since the reserve is part of it Lake Albert, travelers on their Uganda safari will enjoy their boat rides on the lake where you will have the best scenic views of the shores and banks of the lake. During this boat ride, you will see a lot of wildlife including shoe bill storks, African pygmy geese, and many other species. The boat ride will offer the opportunity to explore the lake side of the reserve.

Hike to the Nyaburogo Gorge

This gorge is on the right-hand side of the reserve headquarters and it is a 7 kilometers hike through the savannah and grassland vegetation of the gorge. This hike is usually a birder choice since in the gorge, there are a lot of habitats for the bird species of the reserve. The bird species include the red-necked falcon, black-billed barbet, Abyssinian horn bill, arrow-marked babbler, and many others. Also, during the hike, you will see some of the primates like chimpanzees, white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, and many others.

Accommodation facilities in the reserve

The reserve has a variety and choices for travelers on their Uganda safari stay ranging from bandas, campsites, and luxury lodges. The bands are readily available on the shores of Lake Albert. This is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. You need to book in advance. The meals can be got from the canteens.

The campsite facilities are offered at the reserve headquarters for budget travelers in Karugutu.

Luxury lodges are also available within the reserve including the Semuliki safari lodge which is near the airstrip and the other facility is the Ntoroko game lodge with luxury tented camps located near the Ntoroko landing site. The other facilities can be obtained from Fort Portal City which is the biggest town near the reserve.

How to get to the Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve?

Tooro Semuliki is located in the western part of Uganda on the highway to the Semuliki National Park. It is a 4-to-5-hour drive to the reserve from Kampala and the other route is via the Mbarara- Kasese fort portal which 7 -8 hours.  The reserve is 28 kilometers away from Fort Portal City as you proceed you will turn to the Ntoroko trading center.

By air, you will book a domestic flight to the reserve either via Entebbe Airport or the Kajansi airstrip where you will have a flight to the Tooro Semuliki airstrip which is near the Semuliki safari lodge. This airstrip is majorly managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority where chartered flights land. The flight takes about 40 minutes to 1 hour to reach the reserve. 

What is the best time to visit Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve?

The Tooro Semuliki Wildlife Reserve is open throughout the year for visitors. And the best time to visit the reserve is in the dry season. Here, you can spot different wildlife since the vegetation is dry and open for one to site the wildlife. In the wet season, it can be also accessed. However, there are fewer chances to spot the wildlife since the vegetation is usually thick. And the roads are slippery and muddy which makes it inaccessible for travelers on their Uganda safari to the Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.

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