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Sempaya Hot springs History – About Semuliki’s Female & Male hot springs

Are you an adventurous person? Are you interested in finding out how somethings started existing? Then here is a story for you to follow when on a safari in Uganda! I am going to tell you about the Male and Female hot springs in Semuliki National Park Uganda. When we interacted with the locals around Semuliki National Park, they told us that these hot springs are one of the attractions in Semuliki National Park Uganda that are sought by many tourists on Uganda safaris.  These hot springs, commonly known as the Sempaya hot springs are a must see so tourists who visit Uganda and go to this park for Uganda birding safaris and Uganda wildlife safaris. The name “Sempaya” originated from a Kiswahili phrase Sehemu mbaya (the difficult side) owing to the steep challenging rocks and terrain during the construction of the Fort Portal Bundibugyo road along the ridges of the Rwenzori Mountains.

The story begins here!

The locals of this park have a very different folk story to tell and it totally differs from the scientist’s technical explanation about the hot springs. According to Mzee Adonia Balinsanga the head of the Bamaga clan, the site of the steaming male hot spring is historical and a treasure to the whole society. He said that once upon a time, the Bamaga women had one time gone to fetch firewood from the forest, and on their way, they sighted a strange hairy man dressed in bark cloth, having a spear and a dog moving in a zig-zag formation around that location where the hot springs are. Because of fear, the women ran back home to tell their husbands about this man. Their husbands met and decided to pick and take him to their homes and after sometime, they got him a wife from the same village.

This man whose identity was known as Biteete, was a hunter in life. He continued to go hunting in the wild because it is what he was used too. So, one time he went out to hunt but never returned home. His wife and other people who used to stay around him kept wondering where he had gone. So, after three days of missing, the men of the village went out to search for him in the village but failed to get him. So, as they passed by the present day male hot spring, they only found a spear but no traces of the man nor his dog. They assumed he had disappeared from the same spot where the women had found him. These men ran back to tell the wife (Nyansimbi) about what they had found out. In confusion, the wife also ran to the forest never returned.

In the subsequent search, only her clothes were found at the present day female hot spring. This was how the two springs became to be known as the male and female hot springs and to-date the Bamaga believe their female ancestors live beneath the female hot spring while their male ancestors live at the male spring. This is why the Bamaga until today perform annual rituals at the springs to appease their ancestors and the national park allows them access these places.

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