Lake Mburo National Park is located approx at a distance of a 3.5 hours drive from the capital Kampala and that too in a rain shadow between Lake Victoria and the Rwenzori Mountains . It receives around an average of 800, of rainfall annually. It is the smallest of Uganda ‘s savannah national parks and has permanent tent facilities and campgrounds for visitors.
It is a picturesque place, and contains one of the two ‘wetland habitats’ to be included within a National Park. Lake Mburo National park, situated between the towns of Mbarara and Masaka, is an extension of the Tanzanian plains and spanning an area of 260 square kilometres . This park, a must see for every tourist, has a wide variety of animals such as the zebras, Impala, Topi, Klipspringer, Giant Eland, the Gigantic land Antelope, Rock hyrax , Water buck , Warthog, Leopard, Civet, buffaloes and many species of birds such as the papyrus Gonolek, bare faced go away bird, marabou stork, bronze tailed sterling and the mosque swallows black bellied busterd which makes excellent bird watching.
This park is also known to contain an entire Lake in the rolling hills and open grassy valleys. These are composed of primarily grassland, wetland and acacia woodland. At the center of the park lies Lake Mburo , this, together with 5 other small Lakes within the park attracts hippos, crocodiles and a variety of water birds forming part of an extensive wetland area with different fauna to other parks and reserves.
Where is Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is not only located between Kampala and the Kigezi Highlands but also dominated by the beautiful Lake Mburo, thus receiving its name, with forest-fringed shores hemmed in by rolling green hills. It has a total of five lakes within its boundaries however much it’s regarded as the smallest in size among Uganda’s National Parks. These lakes form part of an important wetland system for the area hence turning out to be an important habitat to many species.
The lake itself offers outstanding birding including the Africa Finfoot, whilst Shoebills are also present. One of the uniqueness about Lake Mburo National Park is that, it’s the only park where you can game view on foot and on horseback in Uganda. It is about 3-4 hours’ drive from Kampala. This makes it the closest and nearest National Park perfect for shot wildlife safaris from Kampala the capital of Uganda.
The attractive part of the park is that contains an extensive area of wetland and hosts several species of mammals not found anywhere else in Uganda, including Zebras and Impalas, the 315 bird species including the rare Shoe bill stork and African Finfoot. It is the only savanna park in the western Uganda where giraffes and zebras live and only where you can hike throughout the park. The great diversity of plants and animals found within the park are enriched by the presence of animals, such as impala, slender mongoose and secretive bush rat, which are not found in any other Ugandan park. Burchell’s zebra is also widely distributed throughout the park, and this unique animal is present in only three protected areas in Uganda, the other two being much harder to access compared to Lake Mburo. It is the best place in the country to see the gigantic eland antelope, as well as topi, impala and several acacia-associated birds.
The most popular activity in Lake Mburo is the motor boat trip on the lake. A sail on the lake will provide great opportunities to observe mighty hippo and crocodile populations. Water bird species are often so many that even the newest birder can identify them all. These great wildlife experiences coupled with the stunning scenery and panoramic landscape views will really create an impression upon your safari.
Game driving in Lake Mburo will give you the best opportunity for seeing the impala and zebra. These two species are the flagship species for Lake Mburo, because it is the only place in Uganda to find and see the majestic impala, and the only easily accessible place to see Burchell’s zebra. Game Drives can be taken along numerous different paths; the best choice depends upon the weather conditions and seasonality. During dry seasons, animals tend to meet and stay around the swamps and lakes. The best way to explore the park fully is by road.
More so guided Walks, is one of the most interesting and unique activities in Lake Mburo National Park. This is simply because you are permitted to walk anywhere in the park in the company of an armed park ranger. This gives tourists the unique chance to get out, more around and absorb the wonders of the African bush without the use of a vehicle unlike in other parks.
Horseback safaris are an exciting way to see wildlife in and around Lake Mburo National Park. Without any engine sounds and fumes you feel part of nature and often get the chance to see the more timid animals. Experiencing game from horseback is very special: zebra come towards you to check out the strange relative without strips. Even the normally very shy eland curiously look at the horses without running away, just keeping their distance. This activity is available from Mihingo Lodge.
Lake Mburo is one of the best places for birding in Uganda with over 315 species. Bird watchers will find swampy valleys and the road sides for birding where one can easily spot the rare shoebill stork. The woody vegetation of Lake Mburo is dominated by Acacia species, Olea species and Boscia species. The swamps in the park also hide secretive papyrus specialists such as the Red, Black and Yellow papyrus gonalek you would not like to miss out.
As mentioned above, Lake Mburo is a unique Park from others is that, a nature walk can be taken anywhere within the park. On an early morning guided nature walk, you can find hyenas and hippos returning from grazing during the night and back to Lake Mburo to keep cool during the day and protect their sensitive skin from the sun. You will see Zebras, giraffes, Eland Topi and other Antelopes.
Local people living or surrounding Lake Mburo National park is the Banyakole. They have formed the ‘Ankole Cultural Centre’ to show and present the customs and history of their kingdom. The Cultural Centre is situated just outside the park near the Sanga gate. Once you have a visit to the Centre, you will be introduced to the traditional culture of the area and the local way of living. Typical village houses can be visited with the help of Ankole guides explaining their people’s history and lifestyle. Local cultural handcrafts can be purchased as souvenirs for remembrance.
Lodges range from budge to luxury. Budget lodging is found at Eagle’s Nest which is a tented lodges, Rwonyo rest camp owned by Uganda wild life authority. Under mid-range you find Mburo safari lodge which is strategically located for all the attractions in southwestern Uganda and luxury there is Mihingo safari lodge and Mantana tented Camp.