Sempaya: The Gendered Hot Springs That Will Cook You a Meal


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Eating matooke (green bananas) and eggs boiled in the Sempaya Female and Male Hot Springs should be the most exciting thing on your Uganda safari itinerary. According to the locals, the springs will cook as if you were using an oven or stove.

The female hot springs, which have a fountain-like aspect, are known as Nyasimbe, while the male is Bitete. The male hot springs are thought to have originated first, followed by the female hot springs, and as you go around the springs, your nose will be struck with a strong scent of hydrogen sulfide emitting from the springs.


According to William Gafabusa, a local of the area, cooking of foods like matooke, Irish potatoes, and eggs takes place at the female hot-springs; however, the locals also go there for healing since they believe that there are special gods who administer healing to them.

Gafabusa also said that the fountain-like structure used to shoot the water about 5 meters higher than it does today because of the solvents that heap at the top. He claims that with time, the water will not come through anymore.


The hot springs are located in another tourist destination called Semiliki National Park in Bwamba County, Bundibugyo District in western Uganda, with different primate species like white Columbus monkeys, among others. If you are concerned about where to sleep, there is plenty of accommodation in the park that is both affordable and luxurious. The park can be reached by two routes: Kampala, the Ugandan capital city, via Mbarara City to Fort Portal City, or Kampala via Mubende to Fort Portal City. According to Grandnextus Africa Best Safaris 2023, the latter is a shorter distance of 180km in 5 hours compared to the former of around 465km in 8 hours driving to Fort Portal, but it allows you to explore other wonderful places of interest such as Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

While there are no assurances that you will be able to swim like people do in Iceland’s blue lagoon, you will be able to eat hot springs cooked meals and enjoy the luxury of the National Park.

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