Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is located in Nyabushozi County, Kiruhura district near Mbarara in the western region of Uganda. It covers an area of 260 square kilometers amidst a wetland expanse within the Lake Mburo – Nakivali wetland system. It is ideally one of the smallest and oldest national parks and game reserves in the entire country.
Over the years, the park has seen a dramatic change in establishment and designation from being a private controlled hunting area in 1933 to being upgraded to game status in 1963. The locals however continued to graze their animals in the Lake Mburo plains and had to be later evicted in 1981. This unwelcome eviction caused a massive massacre of wildlife and humans.
Eventually, the park was officially reserved in 1986 and has since witnessed growth in wildlife with endangered species finding a safe haven to reproduce and flourish in numbers. Also, Lake Mburo National Park has quite the bird count to reckon with; 300 birds with species ranging from East African to Albertine rift endemic birds.
How to get there:
Lake Mburo National Park is relatively in close proximity to Kampala and Entebbe; that is, you would have to drive for about 3 – 3 and ½ hours to reach the park covering just an area of 290 kilometers from these major towns. From Kampala, use the Kampala – Mbarara highway and once in Mbarara, you can easily transfer to the park in under a few minutes.
Attractions and activities:
In due season, the shores of Lake Mburo are covered in pink hues of greater and lesser flamingoes; making the lake appear rather exotic. With a delegation of 13 other lakes, Lake Mburo forms a 50km long wetland system. Wildlife to see here includes; Hippos, crocodiles, Buffaloes, Malachite King-fishers, Pied Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles and Rufous Long tailed Starlings among others.
Rubanga forest is a relatively small forest expanse on the western shore of Lake Mburo. It is majorly covered in tropical rainforest with a topping of closed canopy almost making it seem like an entrance to a mystical ground. Nature walks and birding are the perfect safari adventures to enjoy here with forest birds like Harrier Hawks, Green Pigeons, Narina Trogon and double Toothed Barbet commonly seen.
In Lake Mburo National Park, game viewing is the main event of the season. The park has a variety of colored wildlife right from the delicately stripped Zebra hides to the rough scaly crocodile skins; prepare for an adventure of a lifetime. Viewing spots include open savannah plains, swampy outgrowths and Lake Shores with sights of Eland, Impala, Genets, Jackals, Hyenas and Leopards among others.
Guided nature walks:
If you have been dying for a bush walk then Lake Mburo is the perfect destination for you. It is one of the few, if not the only place, where you can get close to the wildlife on foot. Joined by a game ranger on this walking safari; catch fleeting sights of birds like the Shoebill stork, green necked dove and blue headed weavers among others. Animals like Warthogs and Zebras are to be expected as well.
Boat launches or boat cruises:
Spend an afternoon sailing away on a boat cruise on Lake Mburo with a bunch of friends or family. It is the best way to relax and still enjoy the wild nature of Uganda. For two hours straight, watch hippos and crocodiles gliding through the water while hundreds of Flamingoes line its shores. There is often a list of animals taking a drink from the lake along the shores as well.
Ready your binoculars, pointer and birder’s book as you stroll through the forest and woodland of Lake Mburo. With over 300 bird species, you are bound to run into some interesting birds even those endemic to the Albertine rift; even highly sought after birds like the Shoe bill stork that prefers to dwell in the soggy swamps of Lake Mburo can be seen here.
Horseback riding is a popular safari activity in Lake Mburo National Park. Imagine the possibility of inspecting game land and other outstanding features of the park on the back of a horse. Pose to take pictures and cover more ground than you would have covered on foot. Areas to see include; Lake Mburo, the open savannah plains and the woodland area.
Cultural encounters or trips:
As all the national parks in Uganda have a history, so does Lake Mburo National Park…and who better to tell it than the original inhabitants of the plains who were once evicted from their homes to create room for expansion of the park. Visit the Ankole Cultural centre as they introduce you to their customs and local trading and business ventures.
Accommodations (where to sleep):
For travelers opting to rest in style, options like Mihingo lodge and Lake Mburo safari lodge can come in handy. Mid range accommodations include; Rwakobo Rock lodge, Mantana Tented Camp and Arcadia Cottages. For adventurers on a budget safari, try facilities like Rwonyo Rest Camp and Eagle’s Nest lodge to cater for your interests.