Lake Mburo national park is Uganda’s smallest savannah national park covering an area of about 260 square kilometers. The park is managed by the Uganda wildlife authority (UWA). Lake Mburo national park is located in western region of Uganda in Kiruhura district. It is approximately 240 kilometers from Kampala by road and 30 kilometers east of Mbarara town. The park was gazetted in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and in 1963 it was upgraded to a game reserve. The Ankole people (Bahima pastoralists) who were the then residents continued to graze their cattle in the reserve until 1983 when it was made a national park.
The eviction happened during president Obote’s regime and the residents were not compensated for the lost land, this made most of them very hostile. When Obote’s regime fell in 1985, the park was re-occupied by the Bahima people who destroyed the parks infrastructure and killed wildlife. In 1986, the NRM government re-gazetted the park and only recovering less than half of the parks original land.
The park has a rich biodiversity with about 68 different mammal species. Some of the animals that live in the park include impalas, zebra, buffalo, eland, topi, leopards, hyenas, hippos, jackal, warthog among many more. The park is also a home to more than 315 bird species, some of which include shoebill, brown chested wattled plover, African fin foot, tabora cisticola, saddle billed stork, great snipe, papyrus yellow warbler, curruther’s cisticola, Olea species and Boscia, hornbill & white winged warbler, abyssinian ground among many more.
THINGS TO SEE AND TO IN LAKE MBURO
Game drive is one of the exciting activities in Lake Mburo national park. Game drives can be done in the morning and in the evening and take between 2-4 hours. There are various tracks in the park which tourists follow as they look for the wildlife. Tourists will expect to spot animals like zebra, eland, impala, giraffes, leopard, warthog among others as they drive through the park. The nocturnal game drive will offer you great chances of animals like leopard, lion and some nocturnal like; bush babies and other things that move at night.
The boat cruise in the park is done on Lake Mburo and takes about 2 hours and the activity offer opportunities of spotting flora and fauna of the lake. You will expect to spot various animals along the skores that come to the lake to quench their thirst or cool their bodies more especially during the dry season. You will expect to spot elephants, hippos, zebra and various antelopes as well as crocodiles.
There are also bird species you will expect to see like Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles, Rufous Long-tailed Starlings, Blue-headed Weavers, Green-necked Doves, Hamerkops, Pelicans, Herons, Cormorants among many more.
The park is a home to about 350 bird species which makes it a birders haven. Birders will find a lot of birds on the vegetation around Lake Mburo. Birders will find the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti, and the roadsides between Rwonyo camp and the jetty to be excellent areas for birding and one may spot the rare shoebill Stork here.
Some can be spotted at viewing platforms at the salt lick, in Miriti Valley, and in Rubanga Forest. Species observed at these locations include the Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard, Brown-chested Lapwing, 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-winged Tit and Finfoot among others.
All nature walks around the park are done in the company of an armed park ranger guide. Nature walks take from 1-3 hours. The morning nature walks will reward you with encounters of hyenas who are returning to their dens after a night of being on the prowl. Hippos returning from grazing during the night and returning to Lake Mburo to keep cool during the day and protect their sensitive skin from the sun. You will also expect to see other animals like Zebras, Giraffes, Eland, Topi and other antelopes, buffaloes as well as birds and butterflies.
Nature walks are also done in the Rubanga forest which is a great place for birders and over 40 species of birds have been recorded in the forest including 5 forest specialists. Birds found here include harrier hawk, green pigeon, narina trogn, Grey-backed cameroptera and double-toothed barbet.
Horseback riding is an awesome way to spot animals around the park. The activity is organized at Mihingo lodge where there are trained staff to take you on this safari. Riding a horse means you often get the chance to see the timider animals. If you are very lucky you may see eland and buffalo. Other animals you will expect to see are a mixture of warthog, topi, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebra. Watching animals from a horse is so peaceful and a totally different experience from being on a game drive; zebras come towards you to check out the strange relative without stripes.
Even the elands that are usually very shy, look curiously at the horses without running away, but keep their distance. Horseback Riding Safaris can last from one hour to three. In recent times even overnight horseback riding safaris have been offered with tenting and meals in the wild.
The region around the park has a total of 12 lakes with 5 being with in the park. Lake Mburo is the largest of all the lakes with 6 fish species. Fishermen come to the lake to fish and visitors to Lake Mburo National Park can do some fishing themselves and later arrange to have the fish prepared at the lodge where they are staying.
Sports-fishing can be done here and you will need a license for this, we can also arrange for fishing gear and tackle to be on hand when you arrive in the park and you embark on your Lake Mburo fishing experience. The designated fishing spot is at Mazinga, which is a safe area along Lake Mburo where you do not have to worry about crocodiles and hippos.
The park is accessed mainly by road, and it is 228 kilometers from the capital city – Kampala with and the drive takes about 3 and a half to four hours depending on the road conditions and whether or not you make some stopovers along the way which might include a visit to the Drum makers at Mpambire trading center and the Equator at Kayabwe where you can take photos.
Driving from Kampala or Mbarara, the park is accessed by 2 Gates; from Mbarara, the first gate is Sanga gate accessed through Sanga trading centre while the next one is Nshara gate. It is about 2 kilometers from each of the gates to arrive Rwonyo where the park headquarters is located.