Situated suitably in western Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park is incredibly one of the most outstanding safari destinations you need to pay a visit while on African safari. It is the closest national park from Kampala 371sq.km located in Mbarara district and the smallest of Uganda’s savanna national parks. It contains of tan extensive wetland, attractive scenery and only national park with an entire lake hence famous for its richness in biodiversity.
If you want to get the best of African wilderness experiences then a visit to this pristine protected area is worth it. This spectacular park is surrounded by Mbarara, Kiruhura and Isingiro districts. It is about 4 hours’ drive making it the accessible park in Uganda from Kampala city center. Lake Mburo National Park was founded in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and then after upgraded into a reserve in 1963 and into a park in 1983. It spans up to 270 square kilometers and this also makes it one of the smallest parks in Uganda.
HOW TO GET THERE
Lake Mburo National Park lies between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara in western Uganda, 228km from Kampala – about three and a half hours drive. Two gates enter the park from the Mbarara road. Approaching from Kampala, the turning to Nshara gate is 13kms past Lyantonde. The junction for Sanga gate is at Sanga trading centre, 27 kms past Lyantonde. Both junctions are clearly signposted. It is about 20 minutes drive from either gate to Rwonyo.
Things to See in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park boasts of its biodiversity;
The vegetation is dominated by open and wooded savanna’s, lakes and swamps which are home to different plants and animal species. The mammal species including impalas topi, zebras.gigantic eland, antelopes are herbivores while jackals and hyenas are predators. The park has a variety of bird species from woodland, grassland and swampy birds to open water birds such as white pelican, darter, brown chested wattled plover and African fin foot.
Game viewing through the different tourist tracks for game drives gives a wonderful experience to see mammal species like warthogs, zebras, waterbucks, bush bucks and bush duikers. Canoeing and boat rides on the lake attract hippos, crocodiles and water birds.
Fishing, guided nature walks and salt lick which offers a chance to tourists to see different animals licking the salty soil.
On a safari, the notable wildlife species to sight at include lions, leopard, zebras, hippos, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, elands, buffaloes, jackals and over 330 bird species including the martial eagles and red-faced barbets in the acacia-wooded savannah, and papyrus yellow warblers and African fin foots in the wetlands. As well, there are also 13 lakes for you to explore within this park including Lake Mburo and also comes with scattered savanna grassland and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.
Things to do in Lake Mburo National Park
A game drive in Lake Mburo National Park takes you through the lush savanna grassland for you to look out wildlife species such as the Burchell’s Zebras, giraffes, leopards, lions, buffaloes, elands, impalas as well as bird species. You can decide to embark on this activity in the morning or in afternoon.
This is remarkably one of the most thrilling water sports that are offered in Uganda. It takes you along the scenic Lake Mburo which comes with clear views over huge concentration of hippos, crocodiles, water bird as well as antelopes, buffaloes and other wildlife species that come roaming around shores of the lake. The birds to identify while on a boat ride include malachite kingfishers, African Fish eagles, blue headed weavers, Rufous long tailed starlings, the pied kingfishers, Hammer kop, Herons, pelicans, the rare shoebill and cormorants.
If it is watching birds that you have always wished to be part then Lake Mburo National Park should be a must to explore. Birding tour in this particular park gets you the best sights at the Coqui Francolin, Emerald-spotted Wood, Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Brown-chested Lapwing, Grey Crowned Crane, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Red-faced Barbet a mention but a few. The notable habitats for you to do bird watching in this park include the swampy valleys of Miriti and the Warukiri as well as the roadsides between Rwonyo camp and jetty. The other is Rubanga forest that is accessible using car or alternatively, you take a walk and be rewarded with incredible sight at the red faced Barbet.
Equally, nature lovers are never left out when it comes to safaris in this park. Nature walks are ideal in Rwonyo where a guided walk takes you to the salt lick for you to enjoy views of many wildlife that confine around the salty rocks. The walks on the western side of this lake normally start in the morning and take you about 2 hours. A nature walk around this area offers you a chance to meet many animals including the hyenas that are returning to their dens as well as the hippos coming from the lake as well as breathtaking views over the scenic lakes.
For more challenging water sports, sport fishing in Lake Mburo National Park awaits for you. Lake Mburo features 6 fish species and they include; Tilapia, lung fish, mud fish as well as the Haplochromes. By using the hooks, the visitors can also spend some of their time as they catch this fish, a shade is also provided at the campsite in order to ensure the maximum relaxation for the visitors as they are at the lake. You might walk to the salt nearby as a summary of it all. There is also an observation point which is located in a wooden hide out that offers a good chance to view the 4 different species of animals at any time as they lick the salty soil. This is also done without animal conscience. The tourists might also walk to any area of your interest.
Get the best of clear views over diverse wildlife including elands and buffaloes only while on a horseback riding tour in Lake Mburo National Park. As well, you can catch a glimpse at warthog, topis, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebras. The four-hour hacks take visitors up to hilltop viewpoints with the option of bush breakfasts or sun downers. This activity is arranged at Mihingo Lodge.
The accommodation options in this park include Mihingo safari lodge-luxury facility, Mantana tented camp while the mid-range options include Lake Mburo safari Lodge. For budget travelers, the best options include the Eagle’s nest which is tented cottages with bath rooms. Rwonyo rest camp is ideal for low budget and this is operated by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
Where to stay in Lake Mburo National Park
Mantana Tented Camp (Luxury)
This is an up market accommodation in Lake Mburo National Park and it is situated on Rwamahungu hill at the border of the park. It offers nine tents with wooden platforms, dressing room, private veranda, double or twin bed rooms, hot water, en suite bush shower and toilet, solar, bedding and linen while the camp facilities include bar, lush sitting room and dinning area
Mihingo Safari Lodge (Up-market)
This is found on the southern boundary of Lake Mburo National Park. It is situated on rock kopje and overlooking the vast savanna grassland of the park. It comes in 12 luxury tented rooms that are crafted to provide visitors privacy and conducive atmosphere. Its tent comes with en suite bathrooms, cold and hot running water, flushing toilets and showers.
Arcadia Cottages Mburo (Mid range
This lodge offers mid range or budget travelers to Lake Mburo National Park. It lies around the tropical garden near Lake Mburo shores and about 2 kilometers from the Rwonyo park headquarters. It comes with 8 self contained cottages with restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi, lush gardens, open fire pit and valley ball coat.
Mburo Safari Lodge (Mid range)
This is another exceptional mid range accommodation facility at the border of Lake Mburo National Park that comes with ten luxury cottages, one honey moon cottage, two family cottage and space for camping.
Rwakobo Rock (Mid range)
This is found on granite rock outside Lake Mburo National Park offering mid range accommodation for mid range travelers on safari in Uganda. It is situated one kilometer from Nshara gate, offering thatched cottages with solar lights, flush toilets, solar heated showers and filtered drinking water.
Eagle’s Nest Mburo (Budget)
For visitors who desire budget accommodations Eagle’s Nest Mburo should be a must for you to stay in. Each of safari tents offers private verandah that overlooks Lake Mburo National Park. There are 12 safari tents with private veranda overlooking the park the Lake Mburo National Park with each room fearing 2 distinct beds and décor.
Rwonyo Rest Camp (Budget)
This is situated to Rwonyo Tourist Centre just within Lake Mburo National Park. The camp is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority and comes with bandas and tented rooms.
Conservation Education Centre (Sanga)-Budget
This is situated at the boundaries of Lake Mburo National Park about one kilometer from the Sanga gate. This is best for students and researchers but also good for workshops, seminars, community meetings with capacity of about 40.