Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest park in Uganda, covering 260sqkm. It is located in the western part of Uganda in the Kiruhura district and was first gazetted in 1983 and re-gazetted in 1986. The park is named after Lake Mburo, it also has a variety of surroundings like an open wooded savannah forest, swamps, lakes, bush thickets, rocky outcrops and dry hillsides, this makes the park a home of various wildlife like animals, birds and plants.
Lake Mburo National Park is mostly known for the Impalas, Antelopes, and Elands, and many other animals like hippos, Lions, Zebras, Buffalos, fish among others, the Lake Mburo shores harbor the shoebill stock. The area around the park is a home for the banyankole who are cattle keepers and farmers, they have interesting myths especially the one about Lake Mburo, and a lifestyle any visitor should not miss.
HOW TO ACCESS LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
Lake Mburo National Park can easily be accessed; from Kampala it only takes approximately 4 hours to reach via the Masaka and Mbarara highway. The park can also be reached by branching off from Masaka taking you to Sanga gate and the other from Lyantonde taking you to Nshara gate of the park.
The Lake Mburo National Park is covered by open wooded savannah forest, swamps, lakes, bush thickets, rocky outcrops and dry hillsides, making it rich in different species with a total of over 70 mammal species, 350 bird species, 20 amphibian species for example fish, frogs and crocodiles, and plants, making it relatively biodiverse. Some of these special species of the Mburo, include Impala, Giraffe, Burchell Zebra, Antelope, and Eland, other species are lion, African leopard, hyena, cheetah, Warthog, hippo, buffalo, elephants, reedbuck among others. The Lake Mburo National Park also inhabits unique and various birds like the rare White-winged warbler and Shoebill, African grey hornbill, Emerald spotted wood dove, Crested francolin, African fish eagles, Brown parrot, Pelicans, Black billed barbet, Nubian woodpecker, African grey hornbill among others.
Lake Mburo National Park has a tropical climate, it lies within the rain shadow that is between the Rwenzori Mountains and Lake Victoria. The park has got two seasons that is; dry and wet. The wet season receives bi-modal rainfall which is irregular, but with the long rains occurring from February to June and the short rains from September to December. The temperature in this area ranges from 23 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius, July and August are the hottest months.
ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES ON LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
Lake Mburo National Park is embraced with over 350 bird species making one of the best destinations for bird watchers. The park has various spots for bird watching, for bird watchers and researchers, the spots include; The Miriti and Warukiri swampy valleys and the roadsides between Rwonyo Camp and Jetty, these are the best birding spots in Lake Mburo National Park. Birds in these spots include; Red-necked Spur Fowl, Coqui Francolin, Temminck´s Coueser, Ross`s Turaco, Yellow-throated Long Claw, Brown-chested Lapwing, Grey-crowned Crane, Southern Red Bishop, Finfoot, Common Scimitar Bill.; The shores of Lake Mburo that inhabit mostly the Shoebill Stork, Fish Eagle, Cormorant, Pelican.; and the Rubanga forest which is a home to the Red-faced Barbet, Harrier Hawk, Green Pigeon, Double Toothed Barbet, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Red-headed Lovebird, Brown Parrot, White-winged Tit, Grey Crowned Crane among others. This can be done with experienced rangers during trails or drives. The best time for bird watching is good all-round the year.
NATURE WALKS IN LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
Lake Mburo National Park offers the opportunity to explorer the wild on foot, these are offered by the different trails made within the park. During the walking various wildlife like animals for example Impalas, Sitatunga, hippos, buffalos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, butterflies, plants and birds like Shoebill, Ross`s Turaco, Red-faced Barbet, etc. are quietly and closely observed. Apart from wildlife, the walks give you the clear sight and feel of the beautiful sceneries and landform of this park.
Lake Mburo National Park is partly covered by the Rubunga Forest which has a variety of beautiful flora and fauna. A walk through this forest gives sight to different animal species like leopards, lions and hynas, over 40 bird species like the shoebill stock, harrier hawk, double toothed barbet, grey backed cameroptera etc., and plant species especially trees like Fig, Palm, Acacia, Platycaluz, Markhamia among others.
Lake Mburo National Park offers the opportunity to visitors who like fishing, due to the presence of a number of lakes within the park. Lake Mburo is the largest amongst the other lakes and it’s were most of the fishing is done. Lake Mburo has about six species of fish the common one tilapia, and others like mudfish, lung fish, etc. Visitors are encouraged to carry their own fishing equipment and a shade is provided by for proper comfort. Sport fishing can be arranged and done on request.
Lake Mburo National Park is known for game driving due to a variety of wild life, during the drives, different animals and birds are spotted mostly animals like Elands, Antelopes, Buffalos, Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras; Lions, Leopards, Bush Babies, and Porcupines are seen mostly in the night among others. birds like shoebill Stork, Green Pigeon among others. The game drives are divided into two shifts, the daytime shift done in the morning and the nighttime shift done during the night. A ranger should lead the drive for directions and so as to cover every detail.
OTHER INTRESTING AND THRILLING ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACTIONS
Bicycling Safaris; These guided rides are done around Lake Mburo and the surrounding area around the park.
Salt Lick; A guided walk with an armed ranger takes you to the salt lick to observe animals licking the salty soils. This is done mostly in the morning where animals like eland, antelopes, zebras, birds gather to enjoy the natural salts. A wooden platform hideaway was structured by the UWA where visitors stand so as to get a clear view of the animals without destructing them.
Boat Cruise; The boat cruise on Lake Mburo will give you a great exploration and view of its inhabitants and dependents along the bank. On the cruise, crocodiles, hippos, buffaloes, shoebill, fish eagle, pelicans, kingfishers among others are clearly observed.
Cultural trip and experience to the Igongo Cultural Centre and he surrounding community; The Igongo Cultural Centre is a historical place for the Banyakitara that is; Batooro, Banyankole, Bakiga and Banyooro. It portrays their life style and tradition. Communities have groups that perform different activities like ghee making, hand crafts for example baskets, hats, and bracelets, cultural talks, traditional fish processing among others. this experience is so interesting since the visitor gets a chance to taste and learn the local cuisine.
Horseback riding safaris; Horseback riding safaris are made through the grassy ridges in the eastern part of Lake Mburo National Park as different wildlife especially animals, is peacefully and enjoyably observed. This safari is only found in this park and its operated by Mihingo Lodge.
ACCOMMODATION IN LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
There are so many accommodation facilities located within the Lake Mburo National Park ranging from the budget facilities to the midrange facilities to the most luxury facilities. These facilities offer different types of accommodation including lodges, modern bandas, cottages, luxury tents, campsites, and Rwonyo Rest camp at the park headquarters operated by the UWA. The nearby accommodations apart from the park are found in Mbarara town.