Lake Mburo National Park is a smallest Savannah gem in Uganda sprawled near the highway that connects the Capital to the National Parks in western and south-western Uganda. This 370 square kilometer Park is characterized by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks that date to over 500 million years.
Lakes and wetland habitats make up to 20% of Lake Mburo National Park’s surface with over 13 Lakes with the largest being Lake Mburo, from which the Protected Area derived its name. It was first gazetted into a controlled hunting area in 1933, Game Reserve in 1963 and National Park in 1983 and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Lake Mburo National Park is a home to over 70 species of mammals including the ones that can’t be spotted from the famous National Parks of the country. Look out for the buffaloes, spotted hyenas, Reedbucks, impalas, bushbucks, Defassa waterbuck, Klipspringer, jackals, zebras, elands, warthogs, olive baboons, Rothschild’s giraffes, Oribis, Topis, leopards, hippos and many others. There are also several reptiles including the Nile Crocodiles, monitor lizards and pythons among others,
There are over 350 species of birds that call the various ecosystems (Lakes, wetlands, rock outcrops, savannah plains, forest, bushy thickets, acacia woodlands) of this small savannah National Park home and they include the rare shoebill storks, white-winged warblers, martial eagles, African fish eagles, pink-back pelicans, white-backed herons, Abyssinian ground hornbills, African fin foots, brown-chested wattled plovers, African Finfoot, tabora Cisticola, red-faced barbets, Saddle-billed storks, papyrus yellow warblers and many others.
Other attractions in Lake Mburo National Park
The salt licks in Lake Mburo National Park are some of the best places to spot numerous species of wildlife and has wooden platform that offers views of the vast savannah plains of this magnificent Protected Area.
Rubanga is a small and beautiful tract of forest found on the western side of Lake Mburo and is perfect for forest walks as well as birding for spotting forest bird species such as the Double-toothed barbets and Narina Trogon among others.
Culture of the people
Communities around Lake Mburo National Park are predominantly Banyankole who mainly depend on cattle for their livelihood. Some of the cultural activities that capture the attention of tourists who visit are milking, playing grazing instruments, watering cattle, preparing the traditional Eshabwe sauce and many others. These people also practice crop farming on a small scale and during your visit, you will see some of the vast banana plantations.
Lake Mburo National Park has numerous Lakes totaling to over 13 but Lakes Mburo is the largest. These water resources are habitats to aquatic bird species, animals such as the Nile crocodiles and Hippos as well as fish species.
There are more than 6 species of fish in the different Lakes within this Lake, but Tilapia is the commonest. Tourists during their visit to this Park are normally driven to the shores of Lake Mburo to learn about the different species and preservation methods.
Activities within Lake Mburo National Park
Game drives are the commonest and most-frequently conducted activity within Lake Mburo National Park with a network of well-maintained and marked game tracks including Zebra track, Kazuma track, Kigambira loop track and the Lakeside track that transverse the different habitats especially grassy hillsides, acacia woodland and valleys to spot the common wildlife species such as zebras, buffaloes, Rothschild’s giraffes, Oribis, Topis, warthogs, waterbucks, elands and impalas among others. Both day and night game drives are conducted within Lake Mburo National Park.
Nature walks are also common within Lake Mburo National Park with the key areas of interest being the salt lick where numerous wildlife species can be spotted, areas near Rwonyo Park headquarters to spot the unique birds, trees and animal species. The entire Park is open for nature walks and are accompanied by armed ranger guides.
Boat rides along Lake Mburo, the largest Lake in the Park reward visitors with the exceptional aquatic flora and fauna of the Park including the Nile crocodiles, giant hippos, buffaloes and bushbucks in addition to the aquatic bird species such as the cormorants, pelicans, African fish eagles, pied kingfishers and many others.
Of all the 10 National Parks of Uganda, horseback rides are only conducted within Lake Mburo National Park, arranged by Mihingo Safari Lodge and involves riding in the midst of the animals especially zebras, waterbucks, elands and bushbucks among others.
Even with the small size of Lake Mburo National Park, it is one of the best birding places in Uganda offering aquatic, wetland, savannah and woodland species of birds. Species to always look-out for during birding are the shoebill storks, long-tailed Cisticola, white-headed barbets, yellow-breasted Apalis, green-wood-hoopoe, emerald spotted wood done and many others. Best birding spots are Rwonyo camp, areas along the Miriti and Warukiri wetlands where aquatic species such as the shoebill storks, African grey hornbills, bare-faced go-away bird and African-wattled plover among others.
Fishing/Sport fishing is also conducted within Lake Mburo National Park and with your fishing license, the activity can be arranged and conducted within designated fishing spot such as Mazinga.
Rubanga Forest walk
Rubanga is the only forest in Lake Mburo National Park and walks are organized to sight some of the forest bird species (totaling to over 40 species) such as the double-toothed barbers, Narina trogon and green pigeons as well as other animals that cannot be spotted through other activities.
Bicycling is an interested way of adventuring and viewing the beauty of the wilderness and in Lake Mburo National Park it is offered by Rwakobo Rock where animals such as waterbucks, Topis, impalas, zebras, warthogs and buffaloes are expected to be encountered.
Run by Mantana Tented Camp, Quad biking is another breathtaking activity only offered in Lake Mburo National Park of all the Parks in Uganda. These bikes pass through certain designated areas where zebras, buffaloes, impalas, Topis, Rothschild giraffes and warthogs are commonly spotted.
Cultural walks in Lake Mburo National Park are conducted from the neighboring Banyankole Community to learn about their way of life.
Where to stay
Lake Mburo National Park has several luxury, midrange and budget accommodation facilities to complete tourists’ safaris. The Luxury facilities are Mihingo Lodge, Mantana Tented Camp and many others.
Some of the midrange Accommodation facilities in this Park are Arcadia Cottages, Mburo Safari Lodge, Rwakobo Rock and Leopard Rest Camp among others. The budget facilities are Rwonyo Rest Camp, Conservation Education Center, Eagles Nest Mburo and many others.
Best time to visit Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park can be visited all year round and all the mentioned activities are conducted throughout the year. However, the perfect time is the dry months-January, February, June, July, August, September and December because Park roads tend to be muddy and cumbersome to pass through during the wet months. Also, most animals converge around water sources hence making this the ideal time for game viewing.
How to get there
Lake Mburo National Park is found in western Uganda at approximately 240 kilometers/3-4 hours’ drive by road west of Uganda’s Capital City (Kampala) between Masaka and Mbarara districts. There are two main entry points into this Park including Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Sanga gate with about 20 minutes’ drive from Rwonyo park headquarters and the second one if Kampala-Masaka-Lyantonde to Nshara gate.