Lake Mburo National Park

It is close to Entebbe and Kampala

Lake Mburo National Park Uganda

Lake Mburo National Park is one of the many National parks in Uganda but it is the one of the smallest parks. It is close to Entebbe and Kampala. It is located almost 240km from Kampala. It is close to Mbarara with only 30km away. The park is marked on 00 36S, 3057E coordinates.  It’s on the latitude of 0.6000 and on a longitude of 30.9500. It takes 3 or 3 and half hours when using the road means and road means is the easiest way to travel to Mbarara.

Lake Mburo was first gazetted in 1933 just for hunting purposes and in 1963 it became a game reserve. The place was engaged by the Bahima (Banyankore pastoralists) who have continued carrying out their activities like cattle rearing.   In 1983 it was approved as a National park during Obote’s regime. Lake Mburo was upgraded to level of a National park in order to punish the Banyankore that were fighting Obote and were taken as rebels by Obote’s government.

The pastoralists who were expelled from the grazing land were not compensated and at were even not given a resettlement area. Most of the evicted pastoralists protested against the park’s formation. During the period of Operation Bonanza Massacre over 300,000 lost their lives and in so doing, the grazing land that was outside the park was fragmented into subsistence plots and small pieces. In 1985, Obote 2 lost power and the former occupants regained their land and chaos arose. The infrastructure was destroyed, park’s staff expelled and annihilated wildlife. Fortunately, after NRM government taking over power in 1    986, less than a half was re-gazetted if compared to the original park’s land hence becoming the smallest national park in Uganda.

Forest, rich acacia tree valley, grass lands, seasonal and permanent swamps are mosaic habitats that are natural grown in the park. The park is 370 square km.  The 158 square miles that has got rich acacia tree valley of Olea and Boscia, inhabits over 300 bird species and over 68 mammals. L.Mburo has a wetland that covers a big area and it attracts a lot of wildlife thus enabling visitors to view well Hyenas, elanda, impala and zebra. Finfoot and Shoebill Stork are rarely seen in other parks but are visible to visitors in L. Mburo.

With impala, klipspringer and eland, L.Mburo become exceptional from other parks since it is the only one with these animals. To know L.Mburo is special, it has got over 5,000 zebra congregation and highest congregation of hyenas and leopards among the National parks in Uganda. Other wildlife that are viewed in in open valley are warthog, buffalo and reedbuck. During the night game drives you can view white tailed mongoose, hyena, bush pigs and genet.

Lake Mburo being the major lake in the park, you will spot large crocodiles loitering on the shores of the lake and hippos drinking water from the lake. Cormorant, pelican, fish eagle, heron and many more bird species can be viwed in Lake Mburo National Park.

Location

Lake Mburo National Park is positioned in Kiruhura District which is in the Western Region of Uganda. It is roughly 30 km (19 mi) east of Mbarara district and considerably about 240 km (150 mi) by road west of Kampala. Lake Mburo is one out of the many parks national parks in Uganda that is closer to Kampala. 

Getting to Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park is befittingly positioned in the middle of Kampala (the capital city) and Mbarara, this is the main stop-over for those visiting other parks in the western Uganda. The park is got into by road means of transport and it is estimated to be 245 kilometers from Kampala while driving a car. The drive takes 4 hours from Kampala to L. Mburo on the accepted speed drive and good road conditions. It will take you 4 hours and 20 mintutes from Entebbe to L.Mburo and the journey is 290km. It also depends if you want to make step overs at Kayebwe where the Equator is positioned. Or you may stop and visit the Mpambire trading centre where Drums are being commonly made.

The parks headquarters are found in Rwonyo which is 2 kilometers from the two main gates. Therefore, when driving whether from Kampala or Mbarara you can use the two gates that allow you to access the park.  The two gates are Sanga gate which is the first approached one when driving from Mbarara and is located in Sanga Trading Centre followed by Nshara gate. Though there are no domestic flights that are scheduled in the park, you can make an arrangement with Fly Uganda or Aerolink for the domestic flight in the park because for them are the country’s domestic flight operators that are well known.

The quickest means one can also use is by flying from Entebbe to Nyakisharara airstrip in Mbarara and this will in fact take you less than an hour to reach Mbarara. From the airstrip in Mbarara, you can use road means to reach the park.

It is also important to note that once you are flying into Uganda, Entebbe airport is 46km from Kampala and therefore you have to always mind on making pickup arrangements and accommodations as early as possible. These arrangements are handled by the tour operator you are in touch with. Here at AAV we do this to our best. It is also important to know early arrival is good for you and also to your tour operator.

Best time to visit Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo can be visited anytime that is convenient to the visitor in a year. The road from Kampala to the park is tarmac with smooth surface and the same way from Mbarara. Game sighting is remarkable on the marram roads that take you around the park.

In the rainy seasons of March to May plus November to December, animals are spotted in larger numbers in the grazing fields and open valleys where the grass is flourishing. In the dry/sunny seasons of December to February plus June to September, Animals are spotted on the water points of swamps and lakes trying to search for water and food. So, here they are easily spotted and viewed in large numbers. Sometimes you will spot them near the lodges which have water holes nearby. Therefore, they can be viewed from anywhere.

Wildlife

From 2005, Lake Mburo is considered to be a home of impala. It is a protected area for conservation unit of lions. However, the park has an immense number of wildlife starting from lions and extending to deffasa water back, zebra, buffalo, eland, oribi, leopard, hippo and reed back hyena. The park is also a habitat for warthog, impala, common eland, jackal, hippopotamus, African buffalo and African leopard.  The park also has various bird species for a visitor not to miss to spot. These include the famous shoebill, African fin foot, stork, heron, pelican, Crested Crane and over 300 other bird species. Trust me, you cannot miss spotting any of these birds or animals in the park because it is well positioned and has a wonderful viewing sights.

Ecosystem

For sure, L. Mburo has got an extraordinary place. It has prevailing nature and massive ecosystem in the western region. The park has Narrow bands of lush, forested gorges and Rocky Ridges, riparian woodland and many more. L. Mburo harbors 68 mammals. It doesn’t harbor lions and elephants. Absence of lions gives authority to visitors to move freely in the park and also get close to some animals and feel them.  Variety of birds are seen in the park by visitors flopping in the sky and this makes the scenery attractive.  Birds that are visible and seen in the sky are, African fin foot, stork, heron, pelican, Crested Crane, famous shoebill and others.

The forests in lake mburo help in the formation of rainfall that waters grass and also provide water to the animals and birds. It is fortunate for animals and birds in L. Mburo to be blessed with a forest that provides shelter for them and also act as a hiding place for animals and birds. The park is also blessed with valleys, acacia trees, grass lands that have various grass that is eaten by wild animals in the park. The park is furthermore blessed with Permanent and temporarily swamps that support growth of papyrus. Papyrus is used by locals to make various artefacts like baskets that support their living and also contribute to Uganda’s economy.

Geography and Climate

L.Mburo has Pre Cambrian rocks. These rocks contain a mixture of, Recent rocks, wholly granitized–Granitoid, Cenozoic Pleistocene, highly granitized rocks, Karagwe – Ankolean system plus Argillite rocks. Argillite rocks are the commonly spotted in the area because they are more of arenites and silty rocks. The park is predominated by sandy clay and sandy loam soils.

The park has different habitual types that enable the park to have a diversity of plants and animals of all sizes. The habitual system is unique and is positioned in the convergence zone of double biological zones. The system supports endangered cichlid fish species that have vanished in the major lakes and other globally endangered bird species.  The system also supports impala habituation and also provides shelter to 22 species of Afro-tropical migrant birds and Palearctic.

The wetland provides enough of social and economic significance to people. For example, community members fetch water for their livestock and for domestic use. It is used for grazing and supports herding in dry seasons. This prevents farmers from moving from are to area looking for pasture and water to their animas. Fish is also caught from the wetland. The swamps are also used by community members to thatch their houses.

Mburo is also in the tropical climatic zone like the other Ankole Southern climatic zones. It is positioned between the rain shadow of L.Victoria and Mt. Rwenzori. The park also has rainy and dry seasons. During the rainy season, rain received is of a low range estimately 500-1000mm. the rain patterns are not reliable thus grass/pastures are always not enough. This forces pastoralists to demand and use the park. It also disturbs the wildlife behavior of birds and animals. The parks temperature is estimated in between 23-25 degrees celcius. North, northwest, north east to east evapotranspiration is ranging from 1450-1600mm and south and southwest experience evapotranspiration of 1300-1450mm.

Activities in Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo has got a variety of activities that a visitor can engage in so as to be entertained and enjoy the wildlife and nature of the park. These activities include, boat cruise, game drives (day and night game drives), sport fishing and fishing, cultural tours, Hiking and nature walks and Horseback riding. L. Mburos locals are Bahima and these are encountered during nature walks and cultural experience. These Banyankore teach the visitors how to make yoghurt, ghee, millet making, dishes like eshabwe (source made from only ghee). All these dishes can be found in Igongo Cultural Centre and a traveler can’t miss to visit and taste the delicious meal. Igongo Cultural Centre is also a private museum that contains information about the culture of Ankore.

More about these activities is detailed below.

Birding in the National Park of Lake Mburo.

Lake Mburo’s main birding spots are swampy valleys and you view the sites near the salt licks and in forest. Birds found at these locations include the Bateleur, Brown-chested Lapwing, Grey crowned Crane, Rufous-bellied Heron, Black-bellied Bustard and Coqui Francolin.

Lake Mburo has got swampy valleys like Miriti and Warukiri as its best birding sites plus the roadsides between Rwonyo camp and the Jetty. There are other viewing sites located at the salt lick in Rubanga forest and Miriti. Bird species that are viewed at these locations include Common Scimitar bill, Rufous-bellied Heron, Grey Crowned Crane, Bateleur, Brown-chested Lapwing, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Coqui Francolin Brown Parrot, Red-headed Lovebird, Ross’s Turaco, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, White-headed Barbet, Long-tailed Cisticola Red-faced Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow-breasted Apalis, White-winged Tit and Finfoot, Green Wood-hoopoe, Black-bellied Bustard etc.

 Using a Vehicle or footing is the easiest means of transport to use while touring Rubanga Forest. Come and enjoy if you are really a good birder.

Hiking and nature walks in lake Mburo.

The park is open to all kind of walkers so long as you are accompanied by a ranger guide. Rubanga Forest, Salt lick at Rwonyo, the lake banks and hilltop with wonderful lake views. On reaching Rwonyo, you will be guided to a salt lick where many animals are attracted to the salty rocks.

Hiking during the night through the woodland set a chance to encounter mammals and birds. Hyenas return to their dens beginning from 7am and take three hours. The same applies to Hippos that retreat to the lake during the same estimated time. Walking to the top of the hill enables one to see or view 9 of the region’s 14.

For walkers and birders in Rubanga Forest, it of good faith to make arrangements and be accompanied by a ranger. All walks should be booked in advance.

Horseback riding in lake Mburo

Lake Mburo is a home of horseback riding. This is a marvelous viewing site for eland and buffalo.  Topi, warthog, impala, zebra, duiker, waterbuck and bushbuck are also animals that you can’t miss sighting at. It takes a four hour for hacks to take the visitors up to hilltop for viewpoints and also for bush breakfast. All this activity is arranged at Mihingo Lodge.

Game drives in Lake Mburo

There is a lot of network for game tracks in the east of the park. They pass through a variety of landscape features including rock outcrops, grassy hillsides, wetlands, acacia woodland and seasonally flooded valley floors. The best hours to catchup your eyes in favor of wildlife are early morning and late afternoon.

On a game drive in this park one is sure to spot recently introduced Giraffes, Warthog and Waterbuck Buffalo, Zebra and Impala.  A large herds of elands is sometimes available though they are shy.

Exceptional photographs of the nice looking creatures that live in the park will be taken during Safari drives. This is a great opportunity for all visitors in the park.

Night drives in Lake Mburo

During the night especially starting from 7pm and the last three hours, one has great chances to see leopards, Pottos and Leopards. These nocturnal animals are rarely seen during the day but are seen during the night under guided night drives and under the escort of a ranger guide.

Sport fishing in Lake Mburo National Park 

Lake Mburo has got tilapia fish as the commonest fish species alongside other five fish species. Mazinga is the main fishing spot in Lake Mburo. Visitors who would love to fish in Mazinga should inquire permit from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. If permitted carry your own equipment’s.

Take a breath while viewing the mosaic habitat of rocky outcrops, dry hillside, thickets, open and wooded savannahs, bushes and forests, swamps and lakes that will catch your mind and get to know the different plant and animal species that have not been veiled to you all along.

Accommodation Facilities Lake Mburo National Park

The accommodation of Lake Mburo National park is good and affordable if compared to other parks in East Africa. The lodges are divided into different categories, that is Budget lodges, Mid-range lodges and Luxury.  The Luxury lodges in Lake Mburo National park are Mihingo lodge and Lake mburo safari lodge. Mid-range lodges are Arcadia Cottages, Rwakobo Rock Lodge and Mantana Tented Camp.  The Budget lodges include Rwonyo Rest Camp and Eagles Nest Lodge. All the lodges in the park are good for visitors and can provide you with the best services of each category. For those who are interested in luxury lodges, Lake Mburo has the provisions of Mihingo and Lake mburo safari lodge which can give you memorable moments that you will never forget in this world.

More details about these luxurius lodges are explained below;

Mihingo lodge.

Mihingo lodge is sited at the top of the hill which is deep in the park on rocky kopje. The lodge is constructed with local materials that make it fashionable with the surrounding environment. The Mihingo lodge is well known for its beautiful and lavish swimming pool. During the sunny periods, animals are seen drinking water from the water hole.  The lodge also can arrange for you horse riding to enable you to enjoy sighting wildlife on the back of the horse. Nature walk is also offered by the lodge along with more other activities like bush biking. The guides of the lodge will take you within the Ankore community and in interacting with them, you will fully understand the uniqueness of Ankore culture. Having your accommodation at Mihingo lodge enables you to relax and enjoy nature and wildlife.

Rwakobo Rock.

Rwakobo rock is positioned 1km from Nshara gate of L. Mburo. Eight (8) cottages can be arranged by the lodge starting from single to double to triple plus also a family unit. A number of activities can be enjoyed by the visitors who stay at the lodge. These include, walking safaris, biking and night game drives. Campfire is organized by the lodge staff for visitors to come together and enjoy the evening. There is also a hammock near the lodge where you can relax and enjoy the exciting view of expansive plains.  You can also spot animals drinking water from the watering hole near the restaurant. Rwakobo is located outside the park and hence it can save you from paying entrance fee on the first night of arrival.

 Eagle’s Nest Lodge.

Are you seriously looking for an African experience at a budget, Eagles nest lodge has got you served? The lodge has got a good viewing site in Uganda since it is at the hill bordering Lake Mburo. Food at the lodge is prepared using wood fire and cooked in big African Potjies. All safari tents have got their own verandas each overseeing the park.  You can experience the bush in the bathrooms of the park and toilets are ecological. You can experience a wonderful view that rewards you with wildlife and nature at your stay at Eagle’s Nest and all on the budget.

Mantana Tented Camp (Luxury Tented Accommodation).

This is also known as lake Mburo camp. It provides tented luxurious accommodation inside the park. Mantana tented camp is situated on Rwamahungu hill side. It is known as a hill of eagles. When on the hill, you sight the whole lake Mburo and its neighboring/surrounding eco-systems that are peaceful and attractive. It provides comfortable and luxurious tents on wooden decks that are spacious with bedrooms, verandahs and en-suite facilities that allow a visitor to overlook Lake Mburo and the valley that is complemented with a deluxe sitting room, dining area and bar. Resident zebra, water buck, warthogs, buffalo, impala, civet cats and fruitful bird life are also sighted surrounding the tents and trying to relax while sipping some water on the nearby water holes with in the park.

Arcadia Cottages – (Mid-range)

The building of Arcadia Cottages is 2kilometres from Rwonyo Park headquarters. It closer to the lake. You will encounter crocodiles and hippos while boat cruising plus exploring the game drives in the park. You will also get close to nature while being guided on the nature walk.

Arcadia Cottages has eight (8) self-contained cottages around a central lodge building. In this building, visitors enjoy delicious dishes in the restaurant. They can view fabulous wildlife from the newly built raised deck. In the evening, visitors can sip a drink in the luxurious bar and others sip water as you are seeing impala, hippo and warthog eating the grass few meters away.

Lake Mburo Safari Lodge – (Semi Luxury)

Lake Mburo safari lodge is located inside the park and it has semi luxury accommodation services. The cottages are built with wood and are covered with grass on the roof.   the lodge provides honeymoon, family cottage, luxury cottages and a campground that is well positioned and well equipped with showers, electricity and flushing toilets. It is also option for campers to either cook for themselves or buy and eat from the restaurant. Again campers can either hire tents from the lodge or they can come with their own tents. The campground is drained, well-marked and leveled to its best.

Rwonyo Rest Camp.

Rwonyo rest camp is 1 kilometer from west of Saga gate. The camp is managed by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). It offers bandas and tents plus organizing the camping at Mazinga Camp Site.

Attractions at Lake Mburo National Park

Rwonyo Rest Camp

When you reach Rwonyo Rest Camp just know you are in the middle of tourism in the park. Quad biking, Hiking, forest walks and game drives. You will be attracted by the books and handcrafts that are sold in small shops.

Lake Mburo

There is natural fauna and flora in Lake Mburo. The park is full of birds and animals like hippopotamuses and crocodiles, buffalos that are the permanent inhabitants of the park. These animals are always spotted drinking water during the sunny seasons. The birds include Cormorants Malachite Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles, Pied Kingfishers, Rufous Long-tailed Starlings, Green-necked Doves, Blue-headed Weavers, Pelicans, Hammerkops, Herons and even rare Shoebills.

Rubanga Forest

Rubanga forest is situated in western parts of Lake Mburo National park. The forest is tropically high and enclosed with a nice viewing platform for visitors. Different forest birds are also spotted in this area. The bird species which are commonly seen include; Green Pigeon, Harrier Hawk, Grey-backed Cameroptera, Narina Trogon, and Double-toothed Barbet. A ranger is always available for those who want to explore the forest.

Game Tracks

Several tracks are positioned in the eastern hinterland of lake Mburo. There are various birds and animals that can be spotted in the area. On the peak you will view the parks five lakes.

Safari Packages to lake Mburo National Park

Lake mburo’s safari packages are exciting and affordable to the travelers. The park offers safari packages of different kinds. For example 2 days lake Mburo safari, 3days Lake Mburo safari, 12 days best Uganda wildlife special and more others.  Lake Mburo packages are always mixed with those of other parks which include; Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi impenetrable national park, Kibale Forest National Park and many more. Lake Mburo safari packages are arranged and prepared by professional and experienced tour operators or safari companies. Therefore, it is good for a visitor planning to visit Lake Mburo to book with a professional safari company/tour operator.

Park Entry Fees to lake Mburo National Park

Park entry fees are charges that are paid by visitors so as to access the park and also perform different activities in it. Some people always argue that the park is small so they shouldn’t be paying entrance fee. However, you have to pay because it has got variety of magnificent wildlife and nature to enjoy. Remember that the park has two entrances, that is Nshara gate and Sanga gate. With the below detailed information, you will know the fee for entrance and how it is paid.

In lake Mburo National park, the entrance fee charged on a Ugandan registered saloon car is 20,000 UGX and SUVs and 4x4wds are charged 30,000 UGX.

In 2018, new fees structures were put on table and the following amount was acknowledged. Starting with wildlife clubs that had to pay   2000 UGX, Children 5000 UGX, Uganda pupils or students 3000 UGX, university student 5000 UGX and Adults 20,000 UGX.

Foreign residents 30 USD, Adults pay US $40 for foreigners and 20,000 UGX for East African residents UGX, children foreign residents 10 USD, foreigners 20 USD, East African 5,000, Tertiary institutions 5,000 Uganda shilling, student groups 3000 Uganda shillings, Uganda wildlife clubs 2,000 Uganda shillings.

Annual park entrance pays for East African residents is 15,000 Uganda shillings and passes pay individual 350 USD and shillings, East Africa was 200,000 UGX and 500 US for international visitors, corporate passes were there and they were meant to pay 2,500,000 UGX, also the family and with a maximum of four children were to pay 300,000 UGX, taxi drivers 100000 UGX, tour operator are to pay 125000 Tour company driver, free of charge.

Lake Mburo national park, entry and landing fees for boat, vehicles, aircrafts and motorcycles is as follows; motorcycles for East African visitors were to pay 10000 UGX, 30 USD for international visitors. Minibuses: Omni-buses were to pay 30000 UGX for East Africa and 50$ for international. Tour company Vehicle 30000 UGX for East Africa and 120 $ international. Pickups and 4WD cars 30000 UGX for East Africa and 50$ international.

The above fee was introduced at the entrance of the park to make sure the activities that are running in the park can run smoothly without inconveniences. The main reason was for finance because the park needed to be conserved and also its nature and wildlife had to be protected. The entrance fee collected as contributed the development of the region where the park is. Schools have been built from the 20% of money collected from the entrance to improve the education in the region. Clinics are also constructed to provide medication to the locals hence improving their health and standard of living.

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