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.
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.