Lake Mburo National Park, with its 260 square kilometers, is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and it is located in Kiruhura district in the western Uganda, about 30 kilometers by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. The Park boasts several wildlife species not observed else where in Uganda and its vegetation is mainly open savannah of acacia trees, olea and boscia. The Lake Mburo Park is famous to be the only place through Uganda where you can spot zebras (with Kidepo N.P.) and impala (there is a big population) and during a game drive can also being seen eland, topi, bush buck, common duiker, oribi, water buck, reed buck, vervet monkey and olive baboon and also pitons, while the lake itself and the lush vegetation along the banks is home of buffalo, warthog, bush-pig and hippopotamus and an incredibile variety of bird species.
The park should also boasts leopard and spotted hyena but it’s very rare to spot them. There is a place locally known as the “leopard rock” where leopards in Lake Mburo are usually seen but this chance is better with a night game drive. Giraffes used to be non existent in Lake Mburo but were recently introduced by Uganda Wildlife Authority in a small number, transferred from Murchison falls National park with the purpose to ensure survival of this endangered species. In fact the Rothschild’s Giraffes are estimated to be not more than 1600 in the world, 700 in captivity around the world and about 800 can be found in the wild with the biggest population in Uganda.
Mburo is the only Uganda National Park where you can have a “walking safari” through the savannah and get close to the wild animals. Other activities that could be done here are “horse riding”, “sport fishing” and the beautiful “Mburo Lake cruise“. During my game drive i spotted zebras, impalas, warthogs, buffalos, several antelopes, baboons and vervet monkey but above all a very big python that had just eaten a small antelope.
Unfortunately there are no lions because the Park is also home to the Ankole cattle cared by the traditional Bahima pastoralists and there are no fences that separate them from the wild animals. I heard that time ago, because of the lack of fences, the lions attacked and killed the cattle (obviously easiest to catch), so, to sort the problem out, the cattle keeper left dead poisoned cows in order to kill the innocent felines and with the hope that the park would be converted into grazing land for their cattle. Unfortunately, the technique was largely successful.
The activity I liked most was the relaxing cruise on Lake Mburo (about 2 hours – from 4 p.m. to sunset) where i spotted hippos, crocodiles, a myriad of birds and dozens of fish eagles. The wide variety of resident birds includes finfoots, malachite kingfishers, pied kingfishers, African fish eagles, Rüppell’s long-tailed starlings, blue-headed coucals, tambourine doves, hammerkops, pelicans, herons, cormorants, red-faced barbets, grey crowned cranes, papyrus yellow warblers and even rare shoebills. In the end, if you have time, maybe on your way back to Kampala, it’s woth having a visit here and spend a relaxing day throgh the park and its beautiful lake.
How to get there: the Park is 230 km from Kampala (4 hours drive), 260 km from Kisoro (5 hrs drive) and 200 km from Lake Bunyonyi (4 hrs drive). The main city close to the park is Mbarara, 60 km and at least 1 hours and half drive. I visited the park on my way back to Kampala, coming from Kisoro. Coming from Kampala the closest gate is “Nshara gate”, from Kisoro it is “Sanga gate”.
Where to sleep:
- Mburo Safari Lodge is a luxury and eco lodge next to the Park;
- Eagle Nest’s Camp is a beautiful tented camp located on a high hill bordering Park (close to Sanga gate);
- Leopard Rest Camp is a budget campsite located just outside the Nshara gate (they also have safari tents).
All the accommodations offer activities in the park so you can also book by them.
My activities in Mburo: coming from Kisoro i got the Park gate around 3 p.m. I went straight to the pier on the lake for the boat cruise. Here there is a small building with a souvenir shop and a ranger where you can buy your ticket (departure at 4 p.m.). After the cruise i had a 1 hour game drive. The next day, early in the morning, i first did the walking safari with a ranger (2 hours walking) and then a 3 hours game drive. I left the park around 1 p.m. towards Kampala.