Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah game parks – measuring 370 square kilometres. Given that safari drives to all of Uganda’s major games parks in the southwest are long – lasting more than 9 hours, Lake Mburo National Park has emerged as a common stop to break the drives.

Lake Mburo National Park is the only place in southern Uganda to see Zebras and the only park in Uganda with Impalas. On a game drive, you can also look for hyenas, leopards, topi, the rare eland and the recently reintroduced Rothschild’s giraffe.

Some of the 325 bird species include martial eagles and red-faced barbets in the acacia wooded savannah and papyrus yellow warblers and African finfoots in the wetlands.

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 savannah, 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 savannah is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested forges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.

Adjacent to the park is the ranches of the local Banyankole/Bahima people, who look after the famed long-horned Ankole cattle, a common sight and attraction here.

Getting to Lake Mburo National Park

The nearest game park to Kampala, the capital, Lake Mburo is found 228 kilometres from Kampala and 60 kilometres from Mbarara town (the nearest town to this under-rated park). A drive to Lake Mburo from Kampala takes about four hours and the drive from Mbarara takes about one hour. 

Accommodation in Lake Mburo National Park

Visitors to Lake Mburo National Park can choose from levels of comfort including budget lodge, mid-range lodge and luxury lodge. Some of these lodges include; Mihingi Lodge, Kimbla Mantana Tented Camp, Eagles Nest Lodge Mburo, Rwakobo Rock Lodge, Mburo Safari Lodge to mention but a few. 

Things to do and see in Lake Mburo National Park

Bush/ Nature Walks

Accompanied by an armed ranger guide, visitors to Lake Mburo National Park can go on a bush/nature walk to experience nature at close quarters. At Rwonyo, the park’s HQ, a guided walk leads you to a salt lick where many of the park’s animals are attracted to the salty rocks. On the western side of the lake, walks begin at 7am and last two hours. At this time of the day, you may encounter hyenas returning to their dens and hippos retreating to the lake. A hike to the top of the hill rewards visitors with a spectacular view of 9 of the region’s 13 lakes. Birders can take a walk to Rubanga forest in the company of a ranger.

Game viewing on horseback

Viewing wildlife on horseback is arranged by Mihingo Lodge in Lake Mburo National Park and this needs to be booked in advance. If you need us to add this to your Lake Mburo stop, inform us ahead of time and we will do the rest. On a horseback ride through the park, you will view game including eland and buffalo. Also commonly sighted are warthog, topi, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebra. A four-hour ride can take visitors to hilltop viewpoints with the option of bush breakfast or sundowners. 

Boat Cruises/launch trips

Boat cruises on Lake Mburo largely explore the wildlife-rich/ birdlife-rich edges of the lake. These can be explored during a tranquil two-hour boat cruise. Be on the lookout for crocodiles, hippos, buffaloes as well as colourful Kingfishers, magnificent Fish Eagles not to mention the mythical Shoebill.

Sport Fishing

Lake Mburo National Park is one of those wild places designated as ideal for sport fishing. Out of the 5 lakes located within the park, sport fishing can be carried out in Lake Mburo, the largest of the 5 lakes. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has set aside Mazinga as the designated fishing spot because it is crocodile and hippo free. The tilapia is a local favourite will likely be your catch among the 6 fish species in the lake. You could have your tilapia prepared for you at your place of residence when you catch it.

Day & Night Game Drives

The small park is home to 69 mammal species including Zebras, Eland Buffalos, Impalas, Giraffes, Common Duiker, Defassa Waterbuck, Bush Pigs and others. You may explore Lake Mburo during the day or at night on game drives. On a day game drive, you will explore the small park from end to end while taking in the beautiful scenery and you are likely to see most of the mammals that call the park home. A nocturnal/night game drive is one of the memorable activities one can do here. Spot the creatures of the night such as leopards. You can even spot Bush Babies, Porcupines – all the mammals that move at night. The drive is normally about two and half hours and you can choose to have dinner before or after the night game drive. Spotlights are used to point out various animals that without them you might miss. On a night game drive, you are accompanied by an armed Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) ranger.

Birding in Lake Mburo

Lake Mburo National Park has a variety of birds that are easy to spot. Visitors will spot forest birds, savannah birds and water birds. The birds to look out for in Lake Mburo National Park include; Red-winged Francolin, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away Bird, Blue Quails, White-headed and Black-billed Barbet, Greenwood Hoopoe, Blue-breasted and Shining-blue Kingfishers, Black-winged Bishop, African Fish Eagle, Herons, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Rufous-chested Swallow, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Wing-snapping Cisticolas and more. Rubaga Forest, Miriti and Warukiri as well as the platform above the salt lick have been pointed out as the best birding spots at Lake Mburo National Park.

Kidepo Valley National Park is considered to be one of the most remote safari game parks in Africa. The park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with Kenya and South Sudan – over 650 kilometres from the capital, Kampala.

Gazetted as a national park in 1962, Kidepo has a profusion of big game and hosts over 77 mammal species as well around 475 bird species including the majestic Secretary Bird that stalks the open savannah plains.

The park is most notable for being home to a number of animals found nowhere else in Uganda, including cheetahs, bat-eared foxes, aardwolves, caracals and greater and lesser kudus. There are also large concentrations of elephants, zebras, buffaloes, bushbuck, giraffes, lions, jackals, leopards and hyenas.

To travel ‘off the so-called beaten track’ is to visit Kidepo Valley National Park. Kidepo is so remote that those who have dared to make the trip get rewarded by the absence of crowds. When you visit Kidepo, you have the expansive savannah all to yourself.

Besides the amazing game, the park also offers some of the most stunning scenery characterized by rolling, short grass savannah not to mention the amazing horizon courtesy of the mountains that ring it as well as the rocky outcrops that the lion Kings of Kidepo patronize occasionally to look out across their kingdom.

Getting to Kidepo Valley National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park is located in the far northeast of Uganda – over 700 kilometres from Kampala. The remote park can be reached either by road or air. 

By road – visitors can get to Kidepo via the eastern route or western route which passes via Murchison Falls. When using the western route, visitors drive from Kampala via Karuma, Gulu, Kitgum and then onto Kidepo which is 571 km and is a 10-hour drive.

When using the eastern route, drive from Kampala via Mbale, Sironko, Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong and then to Kidepo which is 740 km and takes about 12 hours to drive. When using this route, you can also drive from Kampala to Mbale, Soroti Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong and onto the park’s gate, which is 792 km and is a 13hour drive.

By Air – Aerolink operates scheduled and charter flights to Kidepo from Entebbe and Kajjansi airfields to Kidepo airport or Apoka airstrip. Aerolink flies to Kidepo every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. When departing Entebbe to the park the flight departs at 12.30pmm and arrives at 14.45 pm and when coming from Kidepo, the airline will depart at 15.00 pm and arrives at Entebbe at 16.30 Hrs.

Things to do and see in Kidepo Valley N.P

Game Drives

When you go on a game drive in Kidepo Valley National Park, you are likely to take either the Narus valley game drive or the Kidepo Valley drive – each of these routes offering you a different perspective of the stunning game park.

Narus valley game drive – drive to the south of the Narus valley as this part of the park contains the only permanent water points. Because of the permanent water, wildlife congregates here for much of the year. Look out for buffalo and elephant in the swamps along the valley floor, giraffe and eland on the drier slopes above and scan the rock kopjes for lions.

Kidepo valley drive – the sandy Kidepo valley is short on the big game but massive on scenery. This drive takes you to the Kanangorok Hot Springs – passing some beautiful landscapes. 30 kilometres north of the park’s tourism hub at Apoka, the road crosses the dry, sandy bed of the Kidepo river.

This leads you into an expansive plain lined to the east by the Morungule mountain range and to the north by the looming Jebel Lotuke mountain in South Sudan. Mammals are rare in this area but ostriches and secretary birds can be seen often.

Birding

The Apoka Rest Camp at the Uganda Wildlife Authority HQ is a great place to begin your Kidepo birding experience. 

However, if you made the drive to Kidepo from Murchison Falls National Park with time to spare, I can guarantee you will have made birding stops en-route to Kidepo simply because your safari route to Kidepo is all prolific for birds.

Inside the park, birding can also be done on the fringes of the Narus and Namamukweny valleys. Among the birds, you will see include the Abyssinian Roller, Purple Heron, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and Clapperton’s Francolin, which is found only in Kidepo.

Birders can go out in the morning or afternoon although it’s advisable to go out with parked lunch to avoid driving back to the lodge.

Hiking/Nature Walks in Kidepo Valley N.P

With an armed ranger in tow, visitors can hike to the Lomej Mountains, take leisurely walks through the banks of borassus palm forest.

The Lomej Mountains can be reached on foot in 4 hours starting at 7.00 am. Shorter guided walks of around 2 hours can be taken through the Narus Valley extending over a 5-kilometre radius from Apoka Tourism Centre.

Visitors can also wander along the splendid Kidepo River Valley between banks of attractive borassus palm forest. Namamkweny valley can be reached in 1-hour from Apoka. Visitors can also meet members of the IK tribe during pre-arranged hikes to the Morungole Mountains outside the park.

Cultural Encounters

Visitors who would like to meet the locals can visit the Lorokul Cultural Group who are members of the cattle-herding Karamojong people, who occupy this part of the country. Discover the unique culture of this remote tribe with the Lorokul Cultural Group, located just outside Kidepo Valley National Park.

Accommodation in Kidepo Valley National Park

Given its remoteness and few visitors, the accommodation options in Kidepo have been limited but this is changing. Today, visitors can stay at Apoka Safari Lodge, Kidepo Savannah Lodge, Adere Safari Lodge, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority Bandas.

CNN is currently airing a new documentary on how Uganda is deploying digital tools to revolutionize destination Uganda’s appeal to the nature-loving traveler.

Uganda is home to some of Africa’s cherished wild animals – the endangered Mountain Gorilla standing out as the crown in the country’s jewel. However, Uganda is much more – Africa packed into one what with the savannah game parks, mountains, rivers and lakes, prolific birdlife as well as other primates.

Travel journalist Solomon Mario Oleny, who has blogged about destination Uganda as well as used social media platforms Facebook and Twitter is the lens through, which this documentary is shot on location in Murchison Falls National Park and Mgahinga National Park.

Tour operator Amos Wekesa features in the documentary with powerful commentary expected of a veteran who knows destination Uganda like the back of his hand.

This documentary comes on the heels of other positive news and endorsements that are all going a long way in re-establishing Uganda as a top safari destination – a crown that slipped in the 1970s.

Uganda casts her spell wherever safari goers will go – attractions ranging from the jaw-dropping landscapes, the largest fresh-water lake on the African continent – from which the mighty Nile flows, prolific bird and animal life not to mention the people, cuisine and more.

Global media houses like CNN, world-reknowned guide books and big travel resellers that have visited Uganda have waxed lyrical about Uganda non-stop to really add to the genuine appeal of Uganda.

Early in the year, CNN ranked Uganda as the 5th best destination to visit in the world. The news network based its ranking on the country’s beauty – pointing out it’s known as the Pearl of Africa.

Before the shoot for the documentary now airing on its Inside Africa programme, CNN had ranked Kidepo Valley National Park among Africa’s 10 national parks – highlighting the remote park’s “phenomenal wildlife sightings and a level of exclusivity” as the reward for those who make it to the very picturesque park.

In January, Rough Guides, a UK-based travel guide ranked Uganda number 4 among its top 10 destinations for 2017. India topped the list, with Scotland and Canada coming second and third respectively.

Uganda’s appearance on the list has added to the destination’s appeal – fighting it out with safari draws like Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

Rough Guides, a UK-based travel guidebook and reference publisher owned by Penguin Random House, said that one of the reasons Uganda is a must-visit destination in 2017 is that “the small but incredibly diverse nation of Uganda remains a fascinating yet vastly underexplored destination.”

Two weeks ago, Nat Geo Wild added to the growing reputation of Uganda’s uniqueness when they added the Ishasha sector’s famous residents – the tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park as one of Africa’s seven incredible natural wonders.

It is this constant endorsement that is raising the country’s profile as a major safari destination once again. For those that have not yet visited Uganda, it is about time you made that consideration given the uniqueness of the country.

If still in doubt, speak to those that have already made the journey and speak to us and we will be happy to work with you to make your Ugandan safari a reality for that unforgettable experience.

Photo credit: http://www.holidaysbox.com/

Uganda is set to attract more French tourists into the country following an impressive performance that pulled crowds. This set a mark on the French people at a grand exhibition that included cultural presentations during France’s most significant event, Bastille Day. on July 14, Friday last week.

The much sought-after premier event known at the Diplomatic Garden Party, is an annual occasion organized every July 14 – the Bastille Day alongside other celebrations.

This year Uganda was chosen as one of four countries to exhibit at the Diplomatic Garden Party organized by the Uganda Embassy in Paris and facilitated by the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB).

Uganda exhibited tourism, investment, culture, heritage and cuisine at the most prestigious event of the day, the Diplomatic Garden Party, held at Boise de Boulogne, an upper-middle and high-end western Paris suburb.

french-tourist-holding-France-flag
A French tourist holding the France National Flag

The Uganda Embassy in France, UTB, tourism private sector along with the Uganda Embassy in France hosted over 500 guests who were entertained by a Paris-based Ugandan dance troupe and ensemble.

Uganda was the only country that had a cultural troupe at the extravaganza. The other countries were Croatia, Suriname and Gabon. During the garden exhibition, the guests joined in the crowd-puller Ugandan music and danced and at the finale, chorused “Vive Uganda!”.

After the performance, many visitors came to the Ugandan pavilion to get more information on the countries attractions and it is hoped that the visibility the day gave Uganda will result into additional interest in Uganda as a destination, which should result into tourists choosing Uganda as a holiday destination.

The guests, who were invited mainly consisted of top diplomats accredited to France, influential business, corporate and government officials.

Uganda was one of four countries represented at the event that took place alongside the celebrations taking place at the Champs Elysees, the main celebration venue of the Bastille Day also attended by US president Donald Trump and other world leaders.

Under tourism, UTB showcased wildlife, nature, food, culture and heritage. Uganda’s outgoing ambassador to France, who is the brain-child of Uganda’s participation, was very excited at the performance.

The premier event’s organizer, VFC Group CEO, Mr. Didier Vidal, said Uganda’s performance was “Fantastic!’ He said the Uganda team was very organized and added colour and flavour to Bastille Day. He was glad Uganda participated and added this would pay off eventually.

Ambassador Nimisha Madhvani said Uganda applied to exhibit at the very competitive opportunity and was happy that UTB and the tourism private sector were very quick to embrace the partnership and take up the opportunity.

The UTB CEO, Stephen Asiimwe said France looks promising. He said UTB was looking to make inroads by engaging French tour operators and the media. Further, UTB will train embassy staff on destination marketing and branding the Uganda Embassy.

France is the second largest economy in Europe after Germany with a GDP of about US $2.8 trillion. Per capita income among the French people is estimated at $35,700.

In terms of tourism, France is the most visited country in the world – receiving about 65 million visitors every year. In terms of tourism spend, France is ranked number 4 in Europe but most of this traffic heads to Francophone West Africa.