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Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve was established as a game reserve in 1926 and was among the first protected area to be gazetted. the main reason was to protect the large numbers of Uganda kobs in the area.It covers an area of 542km2.It is located in western Uganda within Ntoroko and Kabarole Districts.

Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve  enjoys a dramatic rift valley setting between the Rwenzori , akaijura escarpment and Lake Albert. The dominant vegetation is the open acacia combretum, woodland and grassy savannah, interspersed with perches of borassus palm forest, significant belts of repaliant woodland along the main water courses as long some extensive swamps towards Lake Albert. The reserve itself is topographically unremarkable, set at a relatively low altitude setting from 700m above sea level but on a clear day the setting is truly awesome, with a sheer rift valley escarpment rising sharply from the eastern shores Of Lake Albert. The 2550m high, Congolese blue mountains on the western horizon and the mighty glacier peaks of the Rwenzori visible to the south west.

Local people

There are 4 communities living around the reserve;

Karugutu – Kyabandara Community

The community is situated in the south of the reserve, about 18km from Fort Portal. The area is mainly inhabited by the Bakonjo  who are traditional cultivators with the most important crops grown including cassava,rice, beans,bananas, soya beans and maize some of which is sold in Rwabisengu and Ntoroko markets.

Rwabisengu Community

The community is located on the north western edge of the reserve in the Semliki. The community comprises the Batuku(Batoro-Bahuma), who are predominantly pastoralists. The Batuku are believed to be the descendants of the Abarusura who were the royal army of the king Kabelenga.

Ntoroko Fishing Community

The community is situated at the southeastern tip of Lake Albert between the Estuaries of Wasa and Muzizi rivers, the area covering approximately 4km has been exceeded from the reserve and gazetted as a wildlife sanctuary to provide protection of any wildlife that interface in this area. This community depends mainly on fishing.

Kasesenge – Kyakabaseke Community

This community is located on the eastern escarpment of the rift valley , majority being Bakiga who came originally came to work in the tea estates in1960’s. During the good economic times, tea provides stable income as the price of tea deteriorated, they resorted to crop cultivation.

Activities/ Attractions in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Primate walk

This walk takes 3-4 hrs and is conducted near Semliki Safari lodge where you will meet our experienced ranger guides. The key primate species include Chimpanzee, Red-tailed colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, angulates encountered are waterbucks, warthogs, bushbucks, buffalos, kobs and elephants

Game drives

There are 3 tracks across the savannah grassland of the Semliki Wildlife Reserve.Smaller and larger forest elephants are regularly seen along with buffaloes, warthogs and  Uganda Kob.With lack , you may even see a leopard and the elusive bushbabies. Game drives are done in the morning,afternoon and at night. After dark visitors may come across various nocturnal species such as the white tailed mongoose

Nature Walks

This takes 3hrs and goes through various habitats ranging from savannah woodland to riverine forest. Species encountered on this walk include ground hornbills, warthogs, kobs, baboons, black and white colobus monkeys, vervet monkeys.

Community Tourism

The Karuguntu community association organizes traditional performances for visitors with a shop at the entrance of the reserve to the visitors with the members of the community offering performances.

Boat Ride

This is conducted onLake Albert with the main attraction as the shoebill, African Pygymgoose, blue-breasted and blue-cheeked bee-eaters and blue headed coucal.

Hike to Nyaburongo Gorge

This is an ideal walk for birders that starts at the reserve headquarters and it is 7km hike going through a diversity of habitats. Common Birds include: Arrow Marked babbler, tropical boubel,blackheaded bushshrike, and primates include back and white colobus, baboons, vervets and chimpanzees

Wildlife habitats in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

The reserve is predominantly grassy savannah and acacia combretum woodland echoing MFNP at the northern end of Lake Albert, stands of borassus palms, lake shore marshland and broad river valley filled with beautiful galley forest all add variety. The Lake Albert lies outside the reserve but can be visited for canoeing and bird watching

Wildlife in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve contains the same key species as QENP and MFNP: elephants, buffalos, waterbucks, warthogs, hippos, giant forest hog. Primates include chimpanzees, baboons and monkeys .Researchers from the university of India have been studying chimps in the riverine forest at Mugere close to Semliki Safari Lodge.They are chances of encountering the chimpanzees on a primate walk. The reserve boasts of 440 bird species with the shoebill normally sited in the marshes of Lake Albert.


There is a campsite and budget bandas run by UWA of Lake Albert at Ntoroko, these have to be booked in advance with the meals prepared at the canteen at the campsite. Another campsite is Karungutu the reserve headquarters.

Semliki Safari Lodge is run by the Uganda Safari company offering upmarket tented camps. Ntoroko game lodge offers luxury tented camps and a campsite at Ntoroko landing site

How to get to Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

By Road

Kampala to Fort Portal via Mubende is 90km and Kampala to Fort Portal via Masaka – Mbarara – Kasese is about 465km. You can also follow the route from Semlik National park for first 28km before turning right at Karungutu Trading center. The reserve boundary is 3km further on  and a turnoff to Semliki safari Lodge is 26k further on just beyond the bridge over River Waswa. Branch to the right 3km to the lodge. Lake Albert is 5kms ahead at Ntoroko fishing village where UWA manages Bandas, campsites and a canteen.

By Air

There is an airfield managed by UWA where visitors can use charter planes and land at an airfield at Semliki Safari Lodge.

Best time of the year to visit Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve

The Dry season is the best time for a trip to Toro-Semiliki Wildlife Reserve. The two Dry seasons are from December to February and from June to July. During the Wet season months (March to May and August to November) the roads become almost impassable and game viewing drives are very limited.

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