Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in the Western Region of Uganda, originally gazette in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and upgraded to a game reserve in 1963. The park is about 30 kilometers (19 mi), by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometers (150 mi), by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. This is the closest park to Kampala city and can be even visited in a day visit.
Lake Mburo National Park is one of the most visited savannah parks in Uganda, however being the smallest savannah park with a size of 260 square kilometers (100 sq mi), but with its rich variety of habitats; dry hillsides, rocky outcrops, bushy thickets, open and wooded savannah, forest, lakes and swamps, it is home to a surprising diversity of plants and animals, makes this park so unique on its own settings.
Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50 km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. Once covered by open savanna, Lake Mburo National Park now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.
Wildlife of Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo is the only park in Uganda with eland, impala and klipspringer. It is also home to the largest population of zebra in Uganda estimated at about 5,000 and probably contains the highest concentration of leopard found anywhere in Uganda. Buffalo, waterbuck, Topi and warthog are also very common. Reedbuck and oribi can also be spotted in the open valleys. Hyena, genet, bush pigs and white-tailed mongoose are often seen on night game drives. Lions are rarely sighted – it’s thought there’s only one left here. It’s the only savannah park where you can do a bicycle ride and on foot safari.
Birdlife of Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo national park has got over 313 bird species that include the rare white winged warbler, emerald spotted wood Dove, the crested francolin, the brown parrot, bare faced go way bird, the common Francolin, the green wood hoopoe, the blue naped mousebird, the black billed barbet, the trilling cisticola, Nubian woodpecker as well as the African grey hornbill. Around the Rwonyo camp, you might see some other species include the red necked spur fowl, the Coqui francolin, the temminck’s coueser, the African wattled lover Rufous naped as well as the yellow throated longclaw as well as the southern Red Bishop. Because of this, has made Lake Mburo National Park to be among Uganda’s top birding destination.
Activities in Lake Mburo National Park
On you visit to Lake Mburo National Park, a number of activities can be carried in this park that can keep you visit so warm and memorable, a few of these activities do includes:
Forest walk – Rubanga Forest
This forest offers a variety of conducive habitat for birds therefore a very attractive place for bird watchers with over 40 bird species recorded. You can take a forest walk and view a number of flora and fauna.
Horse Ride Safari in Lake Mburo National Park
Horse safaris are an awesome way to see the wildlife around Mihingo Lodge. Without the noise of an engine, you can hear so much more, and you really feel part of nature. Riding a horse means you often get the chance to see the timider animals. If you are very lucky you may see eland and buffalo. You can as well site some cat such as the leopards! However, this was a very rare sighting. You will nearly always see a mixture of warthog, topi, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebra.
Of course, the time of year and the weather do affect the number and variety of animals that you see, as the animals graze where the grass is the most delicious. Watching animals from a horse is so peaceful and a totally different experience from being on a game drive; zebras come towards you to check out the strange relative without stripes. Even the elands that are usually very shy, look curiously at the horses without running away, but keep their distance. You control your own distance; you can as well mount down and take a walk, as you sight the wildlife at close range.
The lake is rich with a diversity of animal and plant species which can only be viewed clearly if you take a boat trip. The crocodiles, Hippopotamuses and birds like Pelicans, Black Crake, Heron, Cormorant, and Fish Eagle. The duration of each boat cruise is negotiable with the park management. Number of warthogs, elephants, buffaloes, can as well be spotted along the lake side, as you take a ride on the boat. There are number of boat trips, you can decide to take, from morning to mid-morning, afternoon to evening sunset cruise.
Offers the visitor a chance to admire nature they have opportunity to walk in the circuit at their pace in company of an armed guide. You can take a walk around the park or do jogging as well under ranger guide. This is amazing as you met some animals on foot safari.
Viewing wildlife while paddling is one of the wildest moments and lively one, as you can site as many animals you can see, as close as you may wish you. If you don’t feel like spending any more time in a car, here is a lovely activity to keep you busy as you paddle around the park in search for the wildlife as you explore the bush. Early booking is necessary. If you’re adventurous and like to keep fit, grab a bike and explore the sandy tracks outside the park.
You can as well ride with your entire group and family, with kids’ ass well, as you smile and explore the park. This is the only savannah park that you can take a family biking safari with no worries as you sight the wildlife at a close range. The experience is quite amazing and rewarding at the end; you get active and participate with your family, getting kids as well involved in the entire riding adventure. Early booking of the bikes is highly recommended though UWA takes not reliability of any danger incurred during the biking adventure.
Spot fishing is one of the most done activities at Lake Mburo as well. About six species of fish are found on Lake Mburo the common one being Tilapia (Oreoclcroomisleacosti), but others include lungfish, mudfish, Haplochromis. Using hooks visitors can spend some time catching fish, a shade is provided at the campsite to ensure maximum relaxation for visitors while at the lake.
You would like to explore the park in greater details. Why not try out a game drive in this great park. As you will be able to do both the night and day game drive, where you are likely to see buffalo wallowing in the mud, zebra, impala, topi, bush buck, reed buck, oribi and warthog and a number of birds as well can be seen during your game drives. A game drive outside the park is useful if your park entry has expired and you would just like to go for a little spin!
Where to Stay
The park has ranges of accommodation facilities there, from tents, camping to lodgings; there are also three public campsites. A more luxury accommodation is provided at the Mantana Luxury Tented Camp, the semi luxury lodge and it has got good facilities and an upmarket place to stay is Mihingo Lodge as it has set its standards high. You can as well stay at mid-range facility like Arcadia lodges, Mburo Safari Lodge. The budgeting options include Eagle’s Nest Lodge that are tented cottages with bathrooms. The low budget lodges can also be found in Rwonyo Rest Camp that is operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Getting to Lake Mburo National Park
The park is located in the western part of the country and it’s over 228 km/142 meters from Kampala. This drive also takes over 3 to 4 hours. The Entebbe international Airport is also about 46 km/29 meters from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. This will probably be your entry point into Uganda.
From Kigali -Rwanda
When you are having a transfer from Rwanda, the drive is roughly 6 hours via Gatuna or Kagitumba border, which is a border between Uganda and Rwanda, then through Ntungamo, and Mbarara.