Lake Mburo National Park – A Compact Gem
Lake Mburo National Park is a compact gem. This park is close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda.
Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks. The park is underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks. This date back more than 500 million years.
Lake Mburo National Park is home to 350 bird species. You will also find zebra, impala, eland, buffalo and oribi. Other animals include Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.
Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders.
Lake Mburo National Park was once covered by open savanna. It now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation.
In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges. There are also forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp. It also has a narrow band of lush riparian woodland line many lakes.
Lake Mburo National Park at a Glance
Altitude: 1,220m – 1,828m above sea level
Wetland habitats comprise 20% of the park’s surface
The parks’ precarious past has seen wildlife virtually eliminated several times. This was at the start in various attempts to rid the region of tsetse flies. Later it was to make way for ranches, and finally as a result of subsistence poaching.
20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects. The projects include building of schools.
Animals in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Parks varied habitats support 68 mammal species. Rarities include impala which in Uganda, only lives in Lake Mburo. There is also Burchell’s zebra and eland found only here and in Kidepo.
Other species include warthog, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck and reedbuck. Leopard and hyena are also present while crocodile and over 300 hippos are in the lake. Previously extinct in the park, lions have recently been sighted again.
Around 350 bird species have been recorded to date in Lake Mburo National Park. They include the Red-faced Barbet only seen in Lake Mburo. There is also the endemic African Finfoot and the rare Shoebill.
Other key species are the Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Saddle-billed Stork and Brown-chested Lapwing. You will also find African-wattled Lapwing and Carruther’s Cisticola. Tabora (Long-tailed) Cisticola, African Scops Owl, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill and White-winged Warbler are here.
Acacia woodland bird species are especially well represented. Forest species may be found in Rubanga forest. These include Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Hairy-breasted Barbet and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, among others.
Things to Do in Lake Mburo National Park
Birding in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park’s key birding spots include swampy valleys. There is also the viewing platforms near the salt licks and in the forest.
Species found at these locations include the Rufous-bellied Heron and Bateleur. You will also find Coqui Francolin, Grey Crowned Crane, Black-bellied Bustard and Brown-chested Lapwing.
Launch Trips in Lake Mburo
The eastern banks of Lake Mburo is reach in wildlife. This can be explored during a tranquil two-hour boat voyage.
Keep an eye out for crocodiles, buffalo and hippos. There are also colorful Kingfishers, magnificent Fish Eagles and Hammerkops with their enormous nests.
Game Drives in Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo National Park has a network of game tracks. They are in the east of the park and passes a variety of landscape features. There is the acacia woodland, wetlands, grassy hillsides, rock outcrops and flooded valley floors.
Hiking and Nature Walks in Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo National Park is open to walkers. This is as long as they are accompanied by a ranger guide. Locations include the salt lick at Rwonyo and the lake’s banks. You can walk to Rubanga Forest and a hilltop with gorgeous lake views.
Horseback safaris in Lake Mburo
Horseback safaris in Uganda are an exciting way to view wildlife. You will easily track eland and buffalo. Also sighted are warthog, topi, impala, duiker, bushbuck, waterbuck and zebra. Horse back safaris in Uganda is only done in Lake Mburo national Park.
Sport Fishing in Lake Mburo
Lake Mburo contains around six species of fish, with tilapia being the most common. The designated fishing spot is at Mazinga.
Places to Visit in Lake Mburo National Park
Rwonyo Rest Camp
Rwonyo is the center for tourism activities in the park. It is the starting point for nature hikes, quad biking, game drives and forest walks. There is also a small shop selling handcrafts and books.
Lake Mburo is a natural haven for fauna and flora. The bank teems with animals and birds. Crocodiles and hippopotami are permanent residents. Buffalos come to drink during the dry season.
There is a wide variety of resident birds in Lake Mburo National Park. They include Malachite Kingfishers, Pied Kingfishers and African Fish Eagles. You will also find Rufous Long-tailed Starlings, Blue-headed Weavers and Green-necked Doves. You can’t miss the Hammerkops, Pelicans, Herons, Cormorants and even rare Shoebills.
Rubanga Forest is a small tract of forest on the western side of Lake Mburo. The forest provides a taste of tropical high forest with a closed canopy. It has a viewing platform for visitors.
Rubanga Forest is home to a variety of forest birds. They include commoner species include the Harrier Hawk and Green Pigeon. Others are Narina Trogon, Grey-backed Cameroptera and Double-toothed Barbet. Rubanga can be explored with a ranger guide.
There are several tracks on the eastern hinterland of the park where a variety of animals and birds can be seen. A hilltop viewpoint offers panoramic vistas of the park and its five lakes.
How to get to Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is in the western part of Uganda. The park is over 228km/142 meters from Kampala. This drive also takes over 3 to 4 hours.
There are two roads that will help you reach Lake Mburo National park. They do branch off from Masaka – Mbarara road.
One of these will help you access the sanga gate 37km east of Mbarara. The other will help you to enter via the Nshara gate which is 20km from Lyantonde and 50km to Mbarara.
The other option can be by using public means. You will board a bus to sanga town and then get a private taxi or the boda boda to take you to Lake Mburo national park.
You are as well as advised to use a 4×4 vehicle since the roads are so rough.