Lake Mburo national park is a compact gem in western Uganda with rich acacia woodland located close to the towns of Masaka and Mbarara. It is a very spectacular and breathtaking park with a medley of habitats.
Lake Mburo National park extends over 260km2 in southern Ankole region and dominated by bushy thickets, wooded savannahs, forests, lakes, hills and swamps. It is majorly a hilly park under-laid by granitic rocks and sandy soils. Of the many lakes in this park, Lake Mburo is the largest and the most important & extends over 16km2. Although it was opened to the public in 1984, Lake Mburo was gazetted as a national park in 1993 by the Ugandan government and its boundaries were set.
The park is remarkably different from other national parks in Uganda and the best place to see the elands, impala, zebras and acacia associated birds. Other wildlife seen in this park include Warthogs, Buffalos, Oribi, Defassa, Water bucks, reed bucks and the eland antelopes. There are also chances of seeing the Leopards, Hyenas and Lions which returned to the park after years of poaching and near extinction. Hippos and crocodiles can be seen around the lakes while the sitatunga antelopes, red, black and yellow papyrus gonolek hide within the swampy areas.
Lake Mburo national park has a great number of birds, 332 species recorded with the common ones being the rare Shoebill, Papyrus gonolek, Yellow warbler, African fin foot, Saddle billed stork, Brown chested wattled plover, Carrutter’s cisticola, Tabora cisticola, Great snipe, Abyssinian ground horn bill and white winged warbler. Mostly the acacia woodland bird species are well represented.
ACTIVITIES IN LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
Lake Mburo can be visited anytime of the year and the eastern part has quite a number of game tracks. The north and eastern part have the best game viewing experiences because of the savannah like vegetation and a great number of wildlife are seen here. Giraffes were also recently introduced in Lake Mburo park by UWA (Uganda wildlife authority) – currently within Kazuma & research tracks. During the drier seasons, it’s best for game viewing since the animals gather around the swamps or water drinking points. Also due to its location, it’s a perfect stop over for anyone on their safari to queen Elizabeth or Bwindi national parks.
Boat trips on the Lake Mburo can be arranged and begin from the main campsite at Rwonyo. The trip takes about 1 and a half hours and provides you with the best opportunities to see the hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, waterbuck and the bush buck. Also a great number of water birds like the African fish eagle, pied kingfisher, egrets, herons, and many others can be seen while on the boat trips. After an early morning game drive in Lake Mburo national park, this would be a perfect way to relax your afternoon.
Guided Nature Walks
Visitors can get to enjoy guided nature walks in Lake Mburo N.P accompanied by an experienced park ranger to see birds, wildlife and enjoy scenic views within the park. The nearby rubanga forest provides good opportunities for birding and the platform over-looking the salt lick offers the best chances to see most of the wildlife.
Lake Mburo N.p is one of the few parks in East Africa where horseback safaris have been introduced. These are not provided by the park authorities but by Mihingo lodge and visitors can book through the lodge to enjoy getting close to the animals. The horseback safaris can be tailored for visitor experiences and also kids have an option.
MAIN AREAS OF INTEREST /ATTRACTIONS IN LAKE MBURO
The biggest lake in the park and can be explored on a boat trip which departs from the lake side at the Rwonyo rest camp. A great number of crocodiles and hippos are seen on the 2 hour boat trips. Birds too can be spotted on the lake including Pelicans, Heron, the Cormorant fish eagle and perhaps the rare Fin foot and Shoe bill storks. Fishermen with their own equipment may fish in the Lake from the campsite by arrangement.
Rwonyo Rest Camp
This is the center of tourism and wildlife activities in the park. It’s also the starting point for most nature walks, game drives and boat trips. The place also provides a great camp site area for visitors who would like to do camping
Guided walks to explore Lake Mburo national park around Rwonyo, will also lead you to visit the natural salt lick frequented by the wildlife. Viewing is facilitated by a timber observation platform and also provides the best chances for photographers to take as many pictures.
The eastern hinterland of Lake Mburo is served by a network of game tracks along which a variety of savannah animals and birds can be sighted. Impalas are the most commonly seen along the Impala track while Zebras frequent the grassy valley floors traversed by the Zebra track. This connects to the Ruroko track which passes rock kopjes, home to the elusive Klip Springer.
In the south of the park, the lakeside track passes through dense woodland that is home to bushbuck and bush duiker, to Kigarama hill which provides a panoramic view of Lake Mburo. This lake and seven more can also be seen from the Kazuma lookout, close to Kazuma track.
Though small, this tract of forest on the western side of Lake Mburo provides a taste of the tropical high forest with closed canopy and is home to a variety of forest bird species. Rubanga can be explored with a park ranger on guided nature walks.
Conservation Education Center
The park has a Conservation Education Center, 1km west of Sanga gate. This provides accommodation and an education hall for school groups, visitors, seminars and workshops
GETTING TO LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
The spectacular Lake Mburo National Park lies between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara in western Uganda. It’s a distance of 228kms from Kampala – about a 4hrs drive.
There are two gateways to the park from Mbarara road. Approaching from Kampala then turning to Nshara gate is 13kms past Lyantonde. The junction for Sanga gate is at Sanga trading centre, 27kms past Lyantonde