Crossing geographical frontiers of a country as variedly beautiful as Uganda promises an exciting and sometimes contrasting experience. It could be in the terrain, weather, people, food and even road conditions. One such example is the neighbouring districts of Kabarole and Kasese. Although both enveloped by the beloved Rwenzori, the former is cool tending to cold by Ugandan standards; while the latter is mostly hot, hotter, hottest!
While those two presents a contrast, I would liken travelling down from Fort Portal to Bundibugyo like adding icing to a perfectly baked cake. The drive was beautiful! It was the cool weather and deepening rift valley escarpments that seamlessly give in to flattening hills; and perfectly levelled bushy plains as you approach the water banks of River Semuliki. Interestingly, you will easily notice the change in landscape and terrain as you move from the Rwenzori ranges and get into Semuliki National Park.
On arrival at the UWA offices in Semuliki National Park, we made a quick stop at the reception to pay park entry fees and get a tour guide. We then commenced our planned activities with a tour of the female hot springs. Its stinky because of the sulfur compounds and hot because of the obvious. If you wish to, you can boil eggs and matooke in the hot springs (the guides can arrange that for you). The board walks allow you get closer to the bubbling hot springs, but you’ve got to be extra cautious and listen to the guides at all time to avoid accidents.
Then off we went to the male hot springs. I preferred them as they are more picturesque, with a firmer and longer board walk through swampy grounds. Each side of the board walk is surrounded by thin-bladed grass that appears to be neatly stroked by the hands of a mythical god. In contrast to the female springs that have multiple hot water jets scattered in a wide area, the male spring appeared to have one huge major jet surrounded by lots of hot water. There is no access to its center, so you’ve got to settle for a peek from the side-lines.
The mud is said to contain minerals great for the skin. Some ladies packed it with intentions of pampering their faces later that afternoon. I wasn’t one of them.
Honestly, the view on the walk back from seeing the male hot spring threatened to steal the show on this entire trip! Looking up at the forested mountain slopes and taking in the different shades of green was proof that God resides on this fence of the world!
I intend to return and explore more of what the park has to offer: a forest walk, a canoe ride down the Semliki river and whatever else is offered. You’re welcome to join!