Lake Mburo National Park – Uganda’ Smallest Park at Glance: Attractions, Loacations, Accommodations and Best Time to go

Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest and the only savanna Wildlife Park in western Uganda. It is conveniently situated in the Kiruhura district near the highway connecting Kampala with southwestern Uganda parks.

Its altitude ranges between 1,200m – 1828 above the sea level and the coordinates of the park are 00 36S, 30 57E (latitude: 0:6000, longitude: 30.9500), and it covers about 37okm2 in terms of size. It is also noted that lakes cover 20% of Lake Mburo and wetland swamps 

Mburo is part of a greater wetland system that extends beyond the National Park. You can’t discover only lakes and wetlands but you can also discover savanna grasslands dotted with acacia trees, rocky hills, and wooded ravines.

Lake Mburo was originally gazetted in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and it was upgraded to a game reserve in 1963 during president Obote’s regime. The move to upgrade was designed as they wished to weaken the Banyankole (Bahima) who backed the anti-Obote rebels but still grazed their cattle around the reserved region.

In 1985, the second Obote regime fell and the former residents of Lake Mburo re-occupied the land expelling the park staff, destroying infrastructure while killing wildlife. It should be remembered that not less than half the land of the park area was originally re-gazetted by the National Resistance Movement government under President Museveni in 1986.

In 2009, the Uganda Wildlife Authority announced plans of introducing air hot balloons in the park and since 2005, the protected area is considered as a lion Conservation Unit.

Lake Mburo Safari Park is home to 350 bird species like the endemic African Finfoot, the rare shoebill plus the Red-Faced Barbet (only seen in Lake Mburo).

Also the Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Saddle-billed stork, Caruthers’s Cist cola, African Scops Owl, Brown-chested Lapwing, African-wattled Lapwing, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, and the White-winged Warbler.

Other animal species include; zebras, the impala, eland, waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, buffalo, Oribi, and the reedbuck. Giraffes were brought to lake Mburo national park in the year of 2015 from Murchison falls national park making the park more of a choice destination.

Zebras in Lake Mburo national park
Zebras in Lake Mburo National Park

It is very true that giraffes and zebras can only be found in Lake Mburo National Park in the western region of Uganda. Lake Mburo contains much woodland and there are no elephants to tame the vegetation.

In the western part of the park, the savanna is spread with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.

While on your safari in Lake Mburo National Park, you can experience a variety of different experimental and adventurous activities inside and outside the park as mentioned below;

Tourist Activities and Attractions in Lake Mburo

Game Drives in Lake Mburo National Park.

It is said that there are about 69 species of mammals that can be found in Lake Mburo National Park and it’s the only park in western Uganda where you can find the Burchell Zebras and while on this game drive through the park you can get an opportunity of seeing these zebras and other animals that can only be found in this park for instance the Eland and the impala.

Other animals include reedbucks, Warthogs, Buffaloes, Defassa Waterbucks, Hyenas, Crocodile, and Hippos. Game drives also prove to be rewarding with leopards, giraffes, and lions though on rare occasions.

The Park also offers nocturnal game drivers to its clients on a Uganda Safari. This is one of the memorable activities one can ever do while in the park. Tourists can spot the animals that usually move at night like the Bushbabies, Porcupines to mention but a few.

This drive normally covers about two and a half hours in length and is basically done after having dinner.   A Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger always accompanies the game drives in Lake Mburo national park.

Buffaloes in Lake Mburo
Buffaloes in Lake Mburo National Park

A Boat Cruise On Lake Mburo

This gives you a chance to explore the flora and fauna of Lake Mburo. While on the boat ride, you will see lots of animals along the bank drinking water like the buffaloes, Antelopes, Zebras, and crocodiles. There are also 3 kinds of otters that can be found in the lake itself.

Tourists can also do birding during the boat ride. The bird list includes African Fish Eagles, Rufous Long-tailed Starling, Blue-headed Weavers, Green-necked Doves, and the rare shoebill storks among others. The wildlife-rich eastern banks of Lake Mburo can be explored during a tranquil two-hour boat voyage.

Bird Watching (Birding Safaris)

It is true that over 350 bird species are recorded at the park making it one of the best places for birding in Uganda. Birding in Lake Mburo National park is best done in the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti between Rwonyo camp and the jetty.

Birders can also visit Rubanga forest and the platforms at the salt lick for a memorable Uganda safari experience. While in these areas tourists can observe bird species like the Green wood-hoopoe, Rufous-bellied Heron, Brown-chested Lapwing, common Scimitar bill, Grey Crowned Crane, Bateleur Coqui Francolin, Black-bellied Bustard, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove and Finfoot among others.

Nature Walks In Lake Mburo National Park

The nature walks in “Whispers of the Wild” can be taken anywhere within the park. Once you take an early morning nature walk, you will be able to encounter hyenas returning to their dens, hippos, Zebras, different antelope species, buffaloes, Giraffes, Eland, Topi, birds, and butterflies.

At the top of the Hill, you will be able to see Lake Mburo and beyond you will see the great 9 regional lakes around the park. An armed Uganda Wildlife Authority Guide always guides these nature walks in Lake Mburo National Park Uganda.

Visiting Rubanga Forest

This forest provides a variety of habitats, which are great for birds. It is very true that Rubanga Forest is a great place for birding and this is because it hosts over 40 bird species of which 5 of them are forest specialists.

As Tourists are exploring this forest, they can get a chance of encountering a variety of tree species in Rubanga Forest for instance Markhamia, Platycaluz, Acacia, Palm, Fig trees among others. Tourists can also have a nature walk through Rubanga Forest.

Salt Lick

This is also another activity that can be done by tourists while on their safari in Lake Mburo National Park. This is an early morning nature walk and it can cover about one and a half hours in length and there is nothing strenuous about it. An armed ranger leading you to the salt lick to glance animals licking the salty soils found in the park always guides you.

Tourists get a great opportunity of observing animals like the antelopes, zebras to mention but a few. This activity can also be included in your itinerary for your lake Mburo safari.

Fishing On Lake Mburo

Fishermen come to Lake Mburo to fish. It is very true that there are 13 lakes in this area of which 5 of these lakes lie within the borders of Lake Mburo National park. However, Lake Mburo is the largest amongst them all and it forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp.

Tourists can also do fishing as an activity while on their safari in the park and after fishing, they can go and prepare the fish at the lodge where they are staying. It is said that the lake contains about six fish species that can be found in Lake Mburo for instance tilapia fish and this is the best choice for both the fishermen and the tourists.

Spot fishing can also be done at the splendid Lake Mburo at the Mazinga restricted areas, however, fishing gears are not availed so tourists are always required to come along with their fishing gear in case the activity is included in their itineraries. A permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority will also be required before carrying out fishing.

Horseback Riding Safaris In Lake Mburo National Park

It’s on record that it’s only in Lake Mburo National Park where you can do a game drive while on a back of a horse.

This is practically one of the best ways of viewing the wildlife in Lake Mburo Uganda and whoever is interested in horseback riding should visit Mihingo Lodge since it has a stable and well-trained staff that can take you on a horseback riding safari of Lake Mburo.

Horseback riding safaris can cover about one to three hours. Recently, even the overnight horseback riding safaris have been offered with meals and tents in the wild.

Bicycling In Lake Mburo National Park

This is a great and fun way of exploring Lake Mburo National Park and its surroundings. Tourists get a chance to ride around the antelopes, zebras and buffaloes among others.

Cycling in Lake Mburo National Park
Cycling in Lake Mburo Park

Tourists can also do mountain biking however this is a bit challenging because the landscape of Lake Mburo is speckled. Biking can be included in your Wildlife Safari Itinerary of your safari to Lake Mburo national park because it is a great way to get out of the vehicle into the natural world.

Uganda Wildlife Authority guides and it usually done for one hour and beyond depending on your choices always guide this activity of bike riding.

Visiting Igongo Cultural Center

This is just 4 kilometers away from Lake Mburo National Park through the saga gate but it can be included in the Cultural Tour itinerary of your safari to the park.

Igongo cultural center is comprised of the museum where you can learn more about the history and the culture of the various tribes in western Uganda for instance the Banyankole, Bakiga, Batooro and the Banyoro.

The traditional center also has a cultural shop with traditional grass hut on displays giving tourists a chance to purchase local crafts in case they are interested. There is also a little bit of culinary tourism and this is evidenced by the local foods that you can eat in the restaurant at the Igongo site.

Visitors can also get a taste of roasted goats’ meat while at Igongo. In case you did not know, Igongo Cultural Centre is a great stop off for cultural adventure and traditional lunch and so it should be included in your travel destinations.

Lodging In Lake Mburo National Park

Lodging in Lake Mburo National Park tends to be expensive because it has quite a few lodging choices that can offer relaxation and overnight to the tourists. The lodges in this national Park range from luxury, mid-range to budget.

The top chance luxury lodge booked by tourists while on their safari in Lake Mburo National Park remains Mihingo Safari Lodge. Mantana Tented Camp is also a luxury lodge but not Mihingo Safari Lodge wins it in terms of offering luxurious facilities.

Among the mid-range lodges in Lake Mburo National Park, Mburo Safari Lodge and Rwakobo lodge are ranked. Budget lodging in Mburo can be found at Eagle’s Nest and Lake Mburo tented camp. These are tented cottages with en-suite bath.

How to get there? (Where is Lake Mburo Located)

Lake Mburo National Park is the closest wildlife Park to Kampala and it is the perfect Park where one can break a long journey from Western Ugandan Parks such as Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

There are probably two routes that can be used to access Lake Mburo National Park.   From Kampala, tourists can branch off from Masaka- Mbarara road.

This route will help you access the Sanga gate which is 37km east of Mbarara, and via the Lyantonde route, you will be able to access the Nshara gate which is 20km from Lyantonde and 50km to Mbarara.

While on your way to Lake Mburo National Park or your return to Kampala after your safari, it’s like a must that you have to have a stop at the Equator and this practice gives you a chance to take pictures underneath the Equator sign.

You can also visit the craft shops around the equator sign to shop some crafts like the traditional hats, the Equator T-shirt to mention but a few.

Other Uganda Safari Parks

Murchison Falls National Park

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Kibale Forest National Park