Lake Mburo National park is Uganda’s second smallest national park after Mgahinga Gorilla National park. Its one of the closest national parks to the capital Kampala making it easily accessible for one day Kampala getaway safaris. It covers a total area of 370 square kilometers with 20% of the total area covered by the wetlands. The park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority on behalf of the government of Uganda. It was gazetted in 1933 as the controlled hunting area. Later after 30 years that is in 1963 it was upgraded to a national game reserve. In 1983 during the Obote government, lake Mburo was gazetted as a full national park hence attaining its status as national park. Despite the fact that the park is among the smallest national parks in Uganda, Lake Mburo National park has more to offer to the guests for their life time Uganda experience. The park represents almost all Savannah national park habitants. Its among the few parks where you can see Giraffes in Uganda and the biggest Antelope that is Eland. It inhabits 68 mammal species which are all residents of the park. The park hosts over 350 bird species with the majority being permanent residence at the park. This makes the park a little birding paradise where birding can be done all year around.
Gifted with diversified habitats that ranges from open savannah grasslands to the dotted forest areas. The park hosts over 13 small lakes that are a source of water to both humans and wildlife at the park. The year in and year out water supply to the park makes the animals more healthier. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders and they form the 50 kilometers long wetland system. Currently the woodlands are dominating the park due to the absence of the Elephants that help to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the open savannah is interspersed with the rocky ridges and the forest gorges which are patched by papyrus swamp. The low level of predators has made the population of grazers to be steady and increase annually. On several occasions the park’s precarious past has seen wildlife virtually eliminated. The first attempt was when the region wanted to get rid of the tsetse flies and clear it to become ranches.
Location of Lake Mburo National park
Lake Mburo National park is situated in between the towns of Masaka and Mbarara. It takes around 4 hours drive from the capital Kampala covering a distance of 240 kilometers. The park is just 30 kilometers away from Mbarara city. Lake mburo national park also happens to be the nearest national park in Uganda that is close to the President’s Home town in Kiruhura district. From lake mburo, one can drive for about 2 hours a distance of about 99km to reach the president’s home in nyabushozi-kiruhura district.
Activities done in Lake Mburo National park
There are about six species of fish in Lake Mburo, with tilapia being the most common. Visitors planning to fish here should bring their own equipment and seek permission from the Uganda Wildlife Authority; the designated fishing spot is at Mazinga.
Launch trips (boat cruise)
Kazinga channel of Queen Elizabeth national park is the most popular launch cruise in Uganda. It hosts the largest population of hippos and water birds, the launch cruise lasts for 2 hours with scenic romantic views of the water. In Lake Mburo the boat cruise is done along the freshwater lake found at the park. The boat cruise lasts for 2 hours giving you the scenic views of the park and the lake. You will enjoy viewing the water birds like African finfoot and others. In the water banks you will be viewing the animals which come to quench their thirst.
Game viewing (Day and Night game drives)
A variety of landscape features, including acacia woodland, wetlands, grassy hillsides, rock outcrops and seasonally flooded valley floors, pass through the network of game tracks in the east of the park. The perfect times to wander the park in search of wildlife are the early morning and late afternoon. One is assured of seeing Zebra, Buffalo, Impala, Warthog and Waterbuck on a game drive in this park. Elands are also also available in large herds of over 100, but they are very shy. Giraffes newly introduced are also encountered during your game drives.
Lake Mburo national park is one of the few national parks in Uganda where Night game drives are done. Driven night drives offer an alternative view of the park, potentially providing sightings of animals seldom seen during the day. They start between 6:30 pm-7:00 pm and last two to three hours, followed by a guide from a ranger. Nocturnal creatures such as bushbabies, pottos, and maybe even a leopard are also likely to be seen.
Lake Mburo is one of Uganda’s birding hot spot with over 350 bird species recorded in the park. The different habitats that range from the swampy valleys, the platforms near the salt licks to the rocky forested areas. This habitat hosts different bird species that can be easily seen even just at the roadside between Rwonyo camp and the jetty. The park hosts rare bird species like Afrtican Finfoot. Other bird species found include: Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Crowned Crane Grey, Bustard Black-bellied, Lapwing Brown-chested, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, White-headed Barbet, Red-faced Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Long-tailed Cisticola, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-wi-breasted Apalis, Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane and many more.
Horseback safaris, like Eland and Buffalo, are an interesting way to see wildlife. Often commonly sighted are warthog, topi, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebra. With the option of bush breakfasts or sundowners, four-hour hacks carry visitors up to hilltop viewpoints. At Mihingo Lodge, this activity is planned.