Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo national park is the smallest savanna national park in Uganda that offers incredible wildlife sightings that are best seen while on a game drive in the park, it is what one would refer to as a hidden gem that is rich in wildlife. The park is located in Kiruhura district in Uganda and is just a 4 hours’ drive from the city center – Kampala. Lake Mburo national park is the perfect destination for someone who has a few days in Uganda and would like to do a short trip to see the beauty of Uganda and is also a perfect stop over as you head to Bwindi Impenetrable national park for gorilla trekking in Uganda.
The park upgraded to national park in 1983 covers an area of 260 square kilometres and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. Lake Mburo national park consists of open savanna, acacia woodland, rocky ridges, waterlogged terrain, herbaceous plants, grassland and some areas covered with papyrus. Lake Mburo national park hosts 68 species of mammal and over 315 bird species have been recorded at the park.
Wildlife in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo national park hosts an abundance of wildlife and mainly herbivores (animals that feed on plants) are resident to the park. Wildlife in Lake Mburo national park include the majestic Rothschild’s giraffe, Common eland, large herds of Zebra, African Buffaloes, Warthogs, Olive baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Kob, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Klip Springer, Impala and predators like Leopard, Serval and Hyenas can be found in the park however predator sightings are not very common since they exist in small numbers.
Lake Mburo national park also hosts water animals that include Hippos and Crocodiles that are best seen while boat ride on Lake Mburo.
Birds of Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo national park is a birding hots pot and a popular site for birding safaris in Uganda as the park is home to about 315 species of birds with presence of endemic species like the Red-faced Barbet and woodland species.
Other Birds in the park include Bare-faced Go-away bird, Red-chested cuckoo, Crested Francolin, Little Bee-eater, African fish eagle, Meyer’s parrot, African Green Pigeon a specie with striking colors, Black Heron, African Grey Hornbill, African finfoot, Greater Blue-eared Starling, African Stonechat, Slate-colored boubou, Papyrus gonolek, Carruther’s Cisticola,Southern Ground Hornbill, Black-collared Barbet, Black-bellied Bustard, Black-shouldered night jar, Freckled night jar, Red-billed ox-pecker which is a less common specie and the Grey Crowned Crane which is Uganda’s national bird.
Activities to do while in Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo offers excellent game viewing across the open savanna while on a game drive in the park. The guided morning game drives start as early as 6:00 am and different tracks are explored throughout the day from the impala and zebra tracks to the swamps and lakes where animals usually come in the dry season to drink water after feeding. Night game drives are also available where you have an opportunity to look out for nocturnal mammal species. Lake Mburo national park arguably has the best night game drive experience in Uganda.
Boat ride on Lake Mburo
A boat ride on Lake Mburo is a must do while on your Uganda safari as it offers wonderful sightings of water animals like hippos and crocodiles. The relaxing boat ride is also a great way to spend a chill afternoon while in the park. The boat ride also has opportunities to see animals like buffaloes, water bucks and bush bucks that like to come to the shores of the lake to quench their thirst on a hot day. In addition there are a lot of water birds to look out for that include the elusive African finfoot, egrets, herons, African fish eagles, pied kingfishers and marabou storks.
Birding in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National park is a birding hot spot for keen birdwatchers and specialist birders.The national park consists of rocky ridges, papyrus swamps and forested gorges which all are habitats for birds. Birding to Lake Mburo begins right from when you start your Uganda birding trip as you spot species along the way like the Long-crested eagle that is often seen perching on top of power poles.
Birds to look out for while in Lake Mburo national park include Bare-faced Go-away bird, Red-chested cuckoo, Crested Francolin, Little Bee-eater, African fish eagle, Meyer’s parrot, Red-faced Barbet, African Green Pigeon, Black Heron, African Grey Hornbill, African finfoot, Greater Blue-eared Starling, African Stonechat,Slate-colored boubou, Papyrus gonolek, Carruther’s Cisticola and the Red-billed ox-pecker. While in Lake Mburo national park you can go on a night game drive to look out for some nocturnal species like the Black-shouldered night jar and the Freckled night jar.
Guided Nature walks
Nature walks in Lake Mburo national park are great way to view wildlife in the park while on foot. The nature walks can be done in the morning or afternoon and are done with the guidance of park ranger guides who are knowledgeable on the presence of animals and the nature trails that offer the best sightings. Wildlife that you should expect to see while on the nature walk include zebras, giraffes, olive baboons, buffaloes and antelopes. The walk is about 2- 3 hours long.
The horse back safari is a newly and exciting activity that has been recently introduced in the park. The horseback safari is a great way to view wildlife of Lake Mburo national park and the expansive scenery of the park while riding a horse. This unique activity has received positive reviews as it offers visitors a different way to experience wildlife while on their Uganda safari. The safari takes about 2 to 3 hours as you view animals like giraffes, zebras, buffaloes, eland, and waterbuck.
Cultural Experiences in Lake Mburo national park
For an experience of the tradition and culture of the locals in the surrounding communities of the park a cultural tour is an ideal way to get to know the locals’s way of life. The locals are mainly cattle keepers so the tour involves participating in the morning milking of the Ankole long horned cattle, grazing the cattle, learning how ghee is and yoghurt traditionally made. The tribal groups in the neighbouring communities of the park consist of “Bahima” and “Banyankole” and they are majorly cattle keepers.
Biking is another activity that gives you an opportunity to explore Lake Mburo national park on a bike as you view wildlife and bike on the off beaten paths giving you an experience of the beautiful scenery of the park. The biking trails involve stopovers on the raised rocky ridges for a panoramic view of Lake Mburo national park and stops in the nearby communities for a glimpse into their way of life.
Getting to Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is located along a highway therefore making it very easy to access. The park is a 4 hours’ drive away from Kampala city and the journey to the national park is along a paved road making the ride to the park very smooth. The drive is along the Kampala – Mbarara highway and at 211 km you find a sign post on the left side of the main road indicating Nshara gate which is one of the gates of Lake Mburo national park. The distance from the main road to Nshara gate is 8kms. Lake Mburo also has another gate named Sanga gate which is best accessed from Sanga trading centre, this gate usually works well for visitors from Mbarara town. The distance from the main road to Sanga gate is about 14kms.
Accommodation in Lake Mburo National
There are a number of accommodation facilities and lodges in the park which make it easy for a visitor to make a choice. The accommodation facilities range from luxury to mid-range to budget and these include;
Mihingo Lodge – Mihingo Lodge is a luxury facility situated in a peaceful, quiet and private section adjacent to Lake Mburo national park. The lodge offers stunning views of the open savanna landscape of the national park and features 10 en-suite rooms that offer elegance and comfortability. The lodge rooms have comfortable wooden beds, clean linen and African inspired décor. The lodge also features a swimming pool which is a nice way for visitors to swim and relax after a long day of game drives.
Rwakobo Rock – Rwakobo Rock is an eco-friendly mid-range lodge located 1km away from Nshara gate of Lake Mburo national park and situated on top of a rocky outcrop offering incredible views especially from the lodge dining area. Cottages at the lodge are spacious, comfortable and well situated with views across the park. The lodge also offers great sunset views especially as dusk falls.
Eagle’s Nest Camp – This is a budget camp facility with beautiful green gardens and mazing views of Lake Mburo national park from the comfort of your room veranda. The lodge features 10 safari tents that have twin beds and bathrooms with all the necessary essential items like soap, shampoo, body wash and lotion. This is a perfect option for a visitor looking for a budget lodge.
PS: All the lodges mentioned above are lodges we highly recommend as your first options to consider when visiting Lake Mburo national park. Other lodge options include Lake Mburo Safari Lodge, Mpogo Safari Lodge, The Arcadia Cottages and Rwonyo Rest Camp.
Tours to Lake Mburo National Park