Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is one of the 10 national parks found in Uganda, and it is called “the whispers of the wild”. The park is located in the Western part of Uganda in between Masaka and Mbarara. Its found in current Kiruhura District, Lake Mburo national park was established in 1933 to control the alarming hunting which was taking place in the open savannahs.  In 1963 the park gained the status of national reserve but locals from the Area which are Banyankole Bahima were allowed to use the reserve as grazing land for their cattle especially during the dry season.

Lake Mburo National Park

After some years under the leadership of Dr Apollo Milton Obote who was a president declared the reserve in to national park in 1983. The president by then main aim was to weaken the Banyankole since their main pride was cattle. The locals were evicted from the area in order to safeguard the wildlife and promote tourism in Uganda. After the downfall of Obote’s reign, the locals re-settled in the game park till in 1986 when the park was re-gazetted under the current government.

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo national park is the smallest national parks in Uganda covering an area of 370 square kilometres. The park can be accessed through good tarmac road from the capital city Kampala to the western part of the country. It is about 240 kilometres away from Kampala city and 30 kilometres away from Mbarara which is the largest town in the sub-region.

The park is characterised by the open savannah vegetation with 5 lakes found inside the national park. Lake Mburo national park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority the governing body that manages all protected areas in Uganda on behalf of the Ugandan government. It hosts more grazers with over 68 mammal species like Zebras, warthog, common Eland, Buffalo, Kobs and others. Their also some predators in the park especially the shy leopards are seen though very rare, Hyena, Jackal and many more. The birders also enjoy the park with over 300 bird species with the highlight of the bird species being the African finfoot.

Attractions in Lake Mburo National Park

However much Lake Mburo national park is the smallest park in Uganda it is gifted with nature. The wide range of vegetation from the swampy vegetation across the 5 lakes surrounding the park to rocky, forests and open savannah vegetation. The plain vegetation has contributed much to the development of more attractions at the park.  It is only in Lake Mburo that large herds of zebras can be seen in Uganda. Below are the highlighted attractions at the park:

  • Birds: Lake Mburo national park is a birding paradise in Uganda where a must stop park for birders. The park homes over 300 bird species with rare African finfoot. Birding at the park is done along the swampy valleys, forests, rocky outcrops, thickets and open savannah areas. Each of these vegetation cover hosts different bird species with the most sighted bird species include African finfoot, Coqui francolin, Grey-crowned Crane, Lapwing, Black-bellied Bustard, heron, green Hoopoe, Temminck’s Courser, Southern red bishop mention but a few.
  • Mammals: Lake Mburo national park hosts around 68 different mammal species with the majority being grazers. The plain animals dominate the park with little effect by predators, the number of park animals were affected by poaching or hunters which are local members of the community. The most common mammals include buffalo, zebras, kobs, topis, bush pigs, hippos, leopards, hyenas, Eland, Impala, oribi, waterbuck, reedbuck and many more.
  • Lake Mburo: The name of the park was named after the largest lake at the park called Lake Mburo. The lake and the swamp account for 20% of the total park area. The park has 5 other lakes around the park and this provides water and hoe for more aquatic life animals and birds. It was also a source of water for the cattle of the locals and this brought more wrangles between the park and the local community which were later evacuated. It’s a source of water and some great water activities at the park. 
  • Rubanga Forest: This is found along the western banks of Lake Mburo, the forest is small but more scenic. The forest gives one a taste of the tropical rainforests with thick canopy cover which homes more birdlife. It’s a birding destination where guest can view more Albertine rare species.

Activities in Lake Mburo National Park

There are several activities one can do while at Ugandan’s smallest national park. The activities range from daily game drives to Horse rides at the interior of the park. Below are the highlights of your trip while in Lake Mburo national park.

  • Game Drives: The most unique wildlife experience in all African national parks including Lake Mburo national park is through game drives. The park has a good network of tracks where the game drives are done. The game tracks run from the Eastern side through Acacia woodlands, hillsides, wetlands and rocky outcrops. Lake Mburo national park is one of the parks in Uganda where night game drives are allowed. One can enjoy the vast game while at the open roof safari cars. The park is not for the big game with Elephants, Rhinos missing at the park. Leopards are seen, buffalo, kobs, eland, zebras, giraffes and many more.

  • Boat trip: Boat cruise is done at the middle of the park on Lake Mburo, the banks of the lake is rich with wildlife especially the buffalo, hippos and other aquatic life species. The boat cruise takes two to three hours for one to explore the lake. It’s the best experience for birders who will have a look of African finfoot, different species of Kingfishers, fish eagles and others.
  • Birding: Lake Mburo national park is one of the hottest birding spots in Uganda with over 300 bird species. The different vegetation zoning creates a good habitat for different bird species, swampy valleys, thick forest, rocky outcrops and open acacia woodland all attract different bird species. The bird species found in Lake Mburo national park include Francolin, Rufous-bellied Heron, Bateleur, Lapwing, Grey Crowned crane and many more. The park is mostly considered as a good birding destination for a short trip which will combine Mamamba swap where the Shoe bill is found.
  • Nature walk: Due to the rareness of the big cats at the park, no Elephants the park authorities have gone ahead to allow guided nature walks inside the park. The guests are accompanied by the well-equipped or armed ranger guide who will be guiding you and telling you details of every exciting part of the park. You will visit the salt link site at Rwonyo where you encounter wide ranger of Antelopes and other animals, move around the banks of the lake good for birders to see swamp birds like Gonoleks, enter to the thick Rubanga forest and hike the hilltop of the rocky outcrops to have an aerial view of the park and lakes.  
  • Horseback rides: Horseback rides are the great true wilderness experience where one encounters the game while on top of a horse. They are well-trained horses which are used at the park and gives you excellent views of the wildlife as one comes as close as possible to the animal. This activity is prebooked and arranged by private farm under Mihingo Lodge one of the best lodges in Lake Mburo national park.
Horse back riding in Lake Mburo
Horseback riding in Lake Mburo
  • Sportfishing: Lake Mburo national park is a home of 5 lakes with other 8 around the park making it to a total of 13 lakes across the area. Lake Mburo is rich with fish species, there are 6 recorded fish species at the lake which includes Tilapia the most common one. Spot fishing is done at Mazinga fishing spot which is designated for sport fishing only. Victors or guests who like this activity is encouraged you come with your own fishing gears which are declared upon getting a fishing permit from Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Lake Mburo national park is good tourist destination as a stopover to break your long drive to Bwindi impenetrable forest home of the mountain gorillas. It offers the taste of Uganda’s beauty and prepares your memory for a wildlife experience.

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