Sempaya hot springs are one of the tourist attractions in Semuliki national park, located in Bundibugyo district in western Uganda. Visitors to Semuliki are mainly attracted by these hot springs that are next to Ituri forest which borders Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Sempaya hot springs in Semuliki national park

Sempaya derives its name from a Kiswahili phrase Sehemu Mbaya (the difficult side) because of the steep challenging rocks and terrain during the road construction of Fort portal – Bundibugyo road. Though there is the scientific explanation on formation of Sempaya hot springs, the Bamaga clan staying around the hot springs have their own story of Sempaya’s formation. The water at Sempaya hot springs heats up to more than 100 degrees.

Sempaya hot springs in Semuliki national park - Nature walk safari

According to the head of Bamaga clan, Mzee Adonia Balinsanga says the hot spring have a history. It is said that the Bamaga women went to collect firewood in the forest and while there, they saw a man dressed in a bark cloth with a spear and dog moving in zig zag way, when they came back home they told their husbands about the man and the husbands decided to go pick him up and bring him to the village. They later got him a wife (Nyansimbi) from the same village. The man was later named Biteete and he continued hunting.

Biteete went hunting one day and didn’t return, after three days the men went out in search of him but didn’t find him nor his dog. They only found his spear at the current male hot spring and so they believed he disappeared here.

On their return home they informed his wife who also ran into the forest and disappeared and only her clothes were found at the current female hot spring. So the two hot springs have been named the male and female hot spring till today. The Bamaga clan believe their ancestors both male and female live under the male and female hot springs respectively. Sempaya hot springs is visited by many people, both local and foreign tourists to enjoy the amazing scenery.

The Bamaga clan perform annual rituals to appease their ancestors and though the hot springs are inside the national park, these people are still allowed in for their rituals. Some people in Africa believe that the hot spring has healing powers and people get rid of their illnesses once they bathe the spring water and barren women regain their fertility.

The female hot spring is about 3 minutes’ walk from the male hot spring and Visitors are given a chance to prepare some simple foods like eggs, matooke, porridge and more in the hot spring to see how hot water boils.

Sempaya hot springs can be booked as a nature walking safari and visited at any time of the year.

Other activities that visitors can do in Semuliki national park.

These include;

  • Bird watching
  • Cultural tours
  • Nature walks
  • Hiking
  • Primate walk
  • Game viewing in nearby Semuliki wildlife reserve and many more.

Visitors can sleep in any of the affordable lodges and Hotels in fort portal prior the visit. Accommodation options in fort portal include; Kyaninga Lodge. Rwenzori view Guest House, Mountains of the moon Hotel, Isunga lodge, Cratar Safari lodge, Chimpanzee forest lodge , Dutches Guest house, Fort motel  and Semuliki Safari lodge. The drive take approximately 2 hours in the morning following Budibugyo road. Don’t  miss a chance to see Sempaya hot springs, the biggest hot springs in Uganda.


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