Lake Mburo National Park, Located in Kiruhura district in the Western region of Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park seats between two newly established regional cities Mbarara and Masaka, 240 Km conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. With only 370 sq.km, it is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years.
Lake Mburo is believed to have been named after the late Mburo a brother to Kigarama as it is stated in the local Ankole myth and story about two brothers Kigarama and Mburo who once lived in a big valley currently named lake Mburo. Kigarama had a revelation in a dream warning them of excessive and continuous rainfall that would lead to flooding with its related negative impacts befalling them should they continue dinning and slumbering in the then very dry valley. When he shared his dream with his brother Mburo, He blindly called it a mere false dream hence keeping a deaf ear. Kigarama vacated the valley and sought refuge to safety on the hills away from the valley. Later in the future, this region received excessive rainfall that left the valley flooded with water permanently that eventually drowned Mburo who had poor swimming techniques creating a new water body that was later named “lake Mburo.”
Lake Mburo is increasingly becoming a common stop over spot on a Uganda expedition circuit it being the only place in southern Uganda with a glimpse of zebras and the only park in the whole country with spot of the impalas, slender mongoose and giant bush rats. You can also look for hyenas, leopards, topis, elands buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, hippo, topi, reedbuck and recently reintroduced Rothschild’s giraffes. Lions are rarely sighted. Over 350 bird species include martial eagles and red-faced barbets in the acacia-wooded savannah, and papyrus yellow warblers and African fin foots in the wetlands to mention but a few.
Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-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.
There are quite a number of activities that a visitor can engage in while on a visit to Lake Mburo national park, among these include the following.
Lake Mburo is one of the best places for birding in Uganda. Birding in Lake Mburo is mainly done along the swamps of Warukiri and Miriti. Some of the species include the African grey hornbill, barefaced go-way bird, black-billed barbet, blue-napped mousebird, brown parrot, common quails, crested francolin, emerald spotted wood Dove, greenwood hoopoe, Lilac-breasted Roller, Nubian woodpecker, Red necked Spur, trilling cist cola, white-winged warbler and the rare Shoebill stork. While at the Rwonyo camp, birders can also spot the African-wattled plover Rufous, Black Bellied Bustard, Coqui francolin, Flappet larks, red-necked spur fowl, Rufuos chested Swallow, southern Red Bishop, temminck’s courser and yellow-throated long claw. Lake Mburo is a great place to spot the rare white backed heron and African finfoot.
Game drives avails an opportunity to spot most of the parks game and an array of bird species that call the Mburo home including the gigantic eland antelope species, zebra, topi, impala. The “leopard rock” is a popular place to spot leopards during the night safari or early in the morning. Hyenas exist in the park but are not as many as in some of the other major game parks in Uganda. The night game drives take 2 hours and are perfect for spotting genet, leopards, bush pigs, mongooses and white tailed mongooses.
A boat cruise along the Lake Mburo unlock all the scenic beautyof the Park specifically in the course the dry season when most of the animals roam the lake to quench their thirst. The mesmerizing boat cruises often offer a glimpse of zebras, antelopes, crocodiles, hippos, otters and buffaloes. Optimistically, there is quite a good number of birds seen gazing on the banks of the lakethat include but not limited to; African Fish Eagles, Blue-headed Weavers, Cormorants, Green-necked Doves, Hammerkops, Herons, Malachite Kingfishers, Pelicans, Pied Kingfishers, Rufous Long-tailed Starlings and Shoebill Storks.
Unlike in the other park in Uganda, nature walks can be taken in any part of the park under the arrangement and guidance of an armed ranger from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. While on the nature walk you will get to see the various antelopes, Zebras, buffaloes and giraffes grazing. Watch out for the butterflies and birds too. During the morning walks, you might even encounter hyenas going to their dens after the nights hunt or hippos heading to the water after grazing on land.
Lake Mburo National Park has countless lakes which facilitate spot fishing. Numerous fish species are caught during this activity but the common one being Tilapia alongside other species including; Haplochromes, lung fish and mud fish. Shades are provided near the fishing pointsto ensure relaxation in the course of the fishing session.
The forest walk is usually arranged by the UWA in advance and starts from Western shores of Lake Mburo. Rubanga forest is a great place for birding with over 40 bird species spotted during the walk alongside a number of tree species to look out for while in Rubanga forest are Acacia, Fig Trees, Markhamia, Palm and Platycaluz among others. The bird species include the double-toothed barbet, green pigeon, Grey-backed cameroptera, harrier hawk, narinatrogn and the much sought out Shoebill Stork.
A novel way to explore the park is a horse-riding safari. it’s a peaceful way to get around to see wildlife and the park’s lakes without the engine noise of produced by the car that could even scare away wildlife game. Note that lake Mburo is one of the only two parks in Uganda where you can watch the game from a horse’s back, the other Kabwoya wildlife reserve along Lake Albert.Horse ride safaris avails visitors an opportunity to be closer and interact with the animals. The horses appear familiar to the Zebras and even shy Eland. Though they still keep their distance, they do not run away like they do in the presence of safari vehicles.
Are you longing to experience yet another unique form of game viewing? The opportunity is here. Lake Mburo national park guarantees a safe, Unique, Quiet and most of all environmentally friendly excellent and perfect way of spotting game across this wonder park. The fact that there are not only a few big cats, but quite challenging to spot them as well makes it an opportunity in the disguise for biking safaris in this safari park. Bike rides takes you as far as in the middle of grazing zebra and surrounding areas to spot the local Banyankole tribe graze their long horned cattle.
Lake Mburo is located in western Uganda, 228km (142mi) from Kampala. The drive from Kampala takes about four hours depending on the conditions of the road and stop overs while on the journey including the cultural drum makers at Mpambire and the Equater at Kayabwe. The park is accessed through two gates; Sanga gate through sanga trading center and Nshara gate. From the gate, it is about 2Km to the park headquarters located at Rwonyo.
By Air, Aerolink Uganda operates daily mid-morning flights to Lake Mburo National Park landing at Mbarara Airstrip from where you are driven to for about 2hrs to the park.
Lake Mburo National Park is gifted with quite a good number of serene accommodation facilities ranging from tents, camping to lodges including; Mihingo Lodge, Mantana Tented Camp (Luxury), Arcadia Cottages, Mburo Safari Lodge (Midrange), Rwonyo Campsite, Eagle’s nest and much more (Budget).