Lake Mburo National Park : A 4-hour drive from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, is the small savannah wildlife reserve known as Lake Mburo National Park in southern Uganda. On long journeys to the national parks in the far southwest, it’s a great place to stop. In addition to being the only park in the nation where impalas, slender mongooses, and giant bush rats can be found, the 260 square kilometer park is also the only protected area in southern Uganda where zebras can be found.
Why Go to Lake Mburo National Park
The most accessible national park in Uganda is Mburo, which can be reached from Kampala in four hours. Lake Mburo National Park offers fantastic walking safari experiences for spotting wild animals on foot and on horseback because the big savannah game players like elephants and lions are missing from the area. Even without the presence of large animals, this small park offers superb opportunities for wildlife viewing. You’re likely to see as many different large animal species in a single day as you would in any national park in Uganda.
In addition, the presence of top-notch safari hotels and the restoration of some species, including giraffes, have improved the park’s reputation.
When traveling from Kampala to the country’s western national parks, safari companies recommend making a suitable overnight stop at Lake Mburo National Park. Surprisingly, when top-notch lodges were constructed within and surrounding the park, the number of guests accepting the offer climbed significantly.
Lake Mburo, the largest of the park’s five lakes, is its most noticeable feature. The lake is a member of a group of 14 lakes that receive water from the Rwizi River and are connected by many year-round and seasonal marshes. Open savannas and acacia forest make up the majority of the park’s remaining areas. The western half of the park’s steep slopes and wooded gorges are broken up by savannas, including patches of papyrus swamp and small bands of luxuriant riparian woodland along the edges of the several lakes.
The most common animal in Lake Mburo National Park is the impala, a charming antelope from which Kampala derives its name. On the plain, one can also observe zebra, topi, bushbuck, common duiker, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, and Bohor reedbuck eating leisurely. In addition, large numbers of buffalo, warthog, bushpig, and hippopotamus are supported by the lake and its lush surrounds. The park’s walking trails frequently feature sightings of elands and impala antelopes.
The massive herds of beautiful eland that occasionally pass through different areas of the park are a breathtaking sight. Sitatunga is only found in the swamp’s interior, but Klipspringer occasionally frequents the rocky areas.
The spotted hyena’s eerie rising evening call can frequently be heard if you stay in one of the neighboring camps or lodges, and many visitors have described sighting these laughing animals crossing the roads just after daylight. Leopards, side-striped jackals, and other smaller carnivores can also be seen at Lake Mburo National Park. However, you’d be fortunate to see them. The two species of otter that reside in the lakes and the white-tailed mongoose, which is visible at dawn and dusk, are the most noticeable tiny predators.
Birdwatching experts estimate that 315 different bird species can be seen in Lake Mburo National Park. Among the birds present in Lake Mburo that are mostly southern species are the southern ground hornbill, black-collared and black-throated barbets, and green-capped eremomela. I suggest that anybody interested in birds take a stroll at Rwonyo Camp. Mosque swallows, black-bellied bustards, bare-faced go-away birds, and Ruppell’s long-tailed starlings can all be found there. Six papyrus endemics can also be seen in the marshes, including the striking papyrus gonolek, the amazing blue-headed coucal, the incredibly confined white-winged, and the endemic papyrus yellow warblers.
SAFARI ACTIVITIES TO DO IN LAKE MBURO
One of the best activities at Lake Mburo National Park is quad biking, which is available from the Mantana Tented Camp. The same company that manages quad biking in Jinja, All Terrain Adventures, also manages this activity. Environmentalists will unanimously agree that the activity is sustainable. within a park. UGX 125K (USD 63) gets you a 2-hour quad bike safari to the Eland Track, which typically leaves at 09.00. A four-hour tour of the Ruroko circuit that departs at 2:00 pm costs 195K (US$98). Five people are the maximum number that can be in a group.
Big predators and massive species like elephants and lions are absent from the park. It seems fair to promote safe quad bike and horseback excursions using these faults as a selling point. Apart from that, everyone who has tried it has found it to be a lot of fun.
Horseback Ride safaris
Equestrian safaris are another first for a protected area in Uganda, and they are offered by Mihingo Lodge, which lies east of the park. The elimination of motor noise made the equestrian experience more enjoyable for me, even if the basic idea—running from the car—remains the same. Additionally, the service provider will tailor the event to your preferences and requirements.
Children can ride on docile horses on a horseback safari in Mburo, which can be a lot of fun for families. Competent riders can help a pair of ex-racehorses expend calories at the same time. For a three-hour hack to high panoramas with the choice of bush breakfasts or sundowners, a 30-minute horseback safari in Lake Mburo National Park costs between USD 25 and USD 130. Wild animals can often be seen on the 15-minute ride from the resort through the grassy valley floor.
Boat cruise on Lake Mburo
In addition to the stunning scenery and simple pleasures of being on the lake, viewing hippo, crocodile, buffalo, waterbuck, and bushbuck is nearly always guaranteed on a boat tour on Lake Mburo’s calm waters. Watch out for the three resident otter species while you’re there. Among the most noticeable waterbirds that might be spotted during the boat tour are the African fish eagle, marabou stork, pied kingfisher, and a large number of egrets and herons. Ross’s turaco and Narina trogon can also be observed flying in dense vegetation along the lakefront. The uncommon African finfoot, SIMBA, is typically observed in still water among overhanging trees, and Lake Mburo is likely the greatest place in Uganda to watch it.
Just one kilometer separates the public UWA boat dock from Rwonyo Camp. A basic boat launch costs 20,000 Ugandan shillings for Ugandans and $30 for visitors, and it can accommodate up to eight people. There is a larger one for $30 or 30K per person, but a minimum of four people are needed to depart.
If you can go past the looks of riders of quad bikes and horses, you can still travel Lake Mburo National Park in a safari vehicle, despite how unfashionable it is. The most well-known Impala and Zebra routes, which connect Sanga and Nshara Gates to Rwonyo Rest Camp, are still open for exploration.
Although the quality of wildlife viewing along these paths varies, you can see large herds of impala, zebra, waterbuck, topi, and buffalo during the rainy season. From Rwonyo, travel about two kilometers through the savanna to the junction of the Impala and Warukiri pathways. When it was dry out in the past, animals would concentrate near lakes and swamps. The Lakeside Track and Kigambira Loop were the most productive roads. However, it is challenging to see wildlife in this area due to the thicket cover (unless you’re specifically looking for bush-dwelling birds or hoping to spot a leopard).
The once-grassy pinnacle of Kigambira Hill has been completely taken over by scrub. East of the Lakeside track, the Kazuma and Ruroko trails travel across a somewhat wide savanna. On the rocky slopes that dot it, you can see klipspringer couples. Parking is available, and Kazuma Hill can be climbed for a panoramic view of four of the park’s lakes.
Beginning with Sanga Gate, the Rwizi Track travels through a light acacia savanna to the west of Rwonyo. Impala, eland, and Burchell’s zebra reside in this area. The western portion of Lake Mburo can occasionally be seen. After 12 kilometers, the trail comes to the Rwizi River and the nearby wetlands. After that, it turns west and travels 33 kilometers along the woodland stream before reaching Bisheshe Gate. Birdwatchers will love this area, and you can drive through the gate to get to the main Mbarara road. The track is frightening and challenging even with a 4×4 vehicle.
Guided nature Walks
The freedom to explore any part of Lake Mburo National Park with an armed ranger guide is one of its most alluring features. Despite being close to the camp, the jetty’s path is still a good place to walk because it is heavily forested and frequently frequented by hippos. An even better location is the observation platform, which is about two kilometers from the camp and has a magnificent view of a salt lick and a variety of wildlife.
Off the Rwizi Track, in the Rubanga Forest, is a haven for both hikers and wildlife. Visitors are only permitted with the warden’s approval, which they will get from an armed ranger.
Park Entrance Fees
A daily entrance fee of US$40 is required of non-citizens in order to enter Lake Mburo National Park. Residents of East Africa must present identification and UGX 20,000. An entry-only permit is good for 24 hours after that. For vehicles with international license plates, the entrance fee to the park is USD 30, and for visitors from outside of East Africa, it is UGX 10,000.
Mburo Eagle’s Nest
The Mburo Eagle’s Nest is situated on a mountaintop with sweeping views of Lake Mburo National Park on the southern edge of the park. The tented rooms have an outside seating area with an African theme and a feeling of the wild bush. There are only nine well-maintained tented camp sites at Kimbla Mantana Camp.
Due to its tiny size and lack of attraction, Lake Mburo National Park does not provide many lodging alternatives. There are a few lodging options, though, ranging from high-end luxury to budget-friendly camping.
Technically, Mihingo Lodge is situated on a huge rock outcrop in a private, 240-acre wilderness just outside the park’s eastern boundary. One of the top safari hotels in Uganda, it offers luxurious and private safari tents with veranda views and spacious bathrooms.
Rwakobo Rock is positioned atop a sizable granite outcrop with a view of the wild grasslands. Private thatched huts at the safari lodge are environmentally friendly and blend in well with the surrounding landscape. The villas proliferate around the slope, making use of rocky ledges and peaceful nooks. Given that you can enter the park from the main highway, it is the area of Mburo that is the most easily accessible.
The main gate of Rwonyo Park is 2 kilometers away from Acadia Cottages. Visitors can rest and take in the beautiful view from a high balcony in one of the eight self-contained cottages that are arranged around a central lodge building.
spaced rooms tucked away in wide-open forest close to a hill’s crest, 4 kilometers from the main lake. The massive “Larsen-style” tents have verandahs that look out over the park and are constructed on wooden platforms. The tents are simple yet comfortable, with twin beds and private bathrooms.
Relax in one of the wooden bungalows at Lake Mburo Safari Lodge, which are set on a wooden platform and feature grass thatched roofs. The rooms are tastefully and ingeniously constructed to be absolutely cozy and practical in the woods. Near Mihingo, the lodge is situated on the eastern edge of the park.
Hyena Hill Lodge:
On the western edge of the park, close to the Sanga gate, is where you’ll find the lodge. The Dutch hosts Tom and Anne skillfully combine Ugandan and Dutch features to produce a relaxing wilderness atmosphere for an African wild getaway. The lodge offers reasonably priced single and shared cottage lodging.
Rwonyo Rest Camp:
This UWA rest camp is about a kilometer from the beach and offers a few simple bandas and double-standing tents, all with shared private showers in the bush above the main camp. It’s a decent site, but given that it’s close to the stunning Lake Mdurobo Dam and the panoramic Rwonyo mountaintop, it’s a somewhat dull choice.
Approximately Ikm from Rwonyo is the Lake Mburo Campground, which offers a picturesque location to set up camp. Hippos relax in the lake during the day and come ashore at night to maintain the campsite grounds.