uganda

Lake Mburo National Park

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Lake Mburo National Park is a small savannah wildlife reserve in southern Uganda, a 4-hour drive from Kampala Uganda’s capital city. It’s a great place to stop on lengthy travels to the far southwest’s national parks. The 260-square-kilometer park is the only protected region in southern Uganda where zebras may be found, as well as the only park in the country where impalas, slender mongooses, and giant bush rats can be found.

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Wildlife

Mburo National Park, Uganda’s most accessible national park, is a four-hour drive from Kampala. Because the large savannah game players like elephants and lions are absent, Lake Mburo National Park offers spectacular walking safari experiences for seeing wild animals on foot and horseback. Even in the absence of animal heavyweights, this little park provides outstanding game-watching. Over the course of a day, you’re likely to witness as many distinct large animal species as you would in any Ugandan national park. Furthermore, the availability of good safari lodges and the reintroduction of some species, such as giraffes, have enhanced the park’s image.

Safari operators offer Lake Mburo National Park as a suitable overnight stop on the lengthy trip between Kampala and the country’s western national parks. Surprisingly, the number of visitors taking the offer increased dramatically when excellent lodges were built in and around the park.

 The park’s most visible feature is Lake Mburo, the largest of five lakes within its limits. The lake is a part of a cluster of 14 lakes supplied by the Rwizi River and linked by many permanent and seasonal marshes. The rest of the park is mostly made up of open savannas and acacia woodland. The rocky slopes and wooded gorges of the western half of the park are interspersed with savannas—patches of papyrus swamp and small bands of luxuriant riparian woodland along the verges of the different lakes.

The impala, the attractive antelope from which Kampala gets its name, is the most frequent species in Lake Mburo National Park. Zebra, topi, bushbuck, common duiker, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, and Bohor reedbuck can also be seen leisurely eating on the plain. In addition, the lake and its lush surroundings sustain strong populations of buffalo, warthog, bushpig, and hippopotamus. Elands and impala antelopes are typical sights along the park’s walking trails.

The enormous herds of majestic eland that travel periodically through various portions of the park are a stunning sight in the park. Sitatunga is restricted to the swamp interiors, while klipspringer can be seen around the rocky sections on occasion.

If you stay in one of the nearby camps or lodges, you will frequently hear the spooky rising nighttime call of the spotted hyena, and many tourists have reported seeing these laughing carnivores crossing the paths early after sunrise. Lake Mburo National Park also has leopards, side-striped jackals, and other smaller carnivores. Even so, you’d be lucky to see them. The white-tailed mongoose (visible at dusk and morning) and three otter species that live in the lakes are the most apparent small predators.

Birding

Lake Mburo National Park has 315 bird species, according to bird-watching specialists. The southern ground hornbill, black-collared and black-throated barbets, and green-capped eremomela are among the birds found in Lake Mburo that are essentially southern species. I propose that birdwatchers take a stroll around Rwonyo Camp. It’s a great site to look for mosque swallows, black-bellied bustards, bare-faced go-away birds, and Ruppell’s long-tailed starlings. The marshes also have six papyrus endemics, including the vividly colored papyrus gonolek, the remarkable blue-headed coucal, the extremely localized white-winged, and the endemic papyrus yellow warblers.

Safari activities to do in Lake Mburo

Quad Biking

Quad biking from the Mantana Tented Camp is one of the most fun activities in Lake Mburo National Park. It is run by All Terrain Adventures, the same people that run quad biking in Jinja. Conservationists will undoubtedly dispute whether the activity is suitable in a national park. A 2-hour quad bike safari to the Eland Track, which normally departs at 09.00, costs UGX 125K. (USD 63). A four-hour excursion around the Ruroko circuit beginning at 2 p.m. costs 195K (USD 98). The maximum number of persons in a group is five.

The park lacks big predators and large mammals like elephants and lions. It seems appropriate to use these flaws as a selling point for safe quad bikes and horseback excursions. Aside from that, it’s a lot of fun, and everyone who’s tried it has enjoyed it.

Horse back safaris

Mihingo Lodge, located east of the park, provides equestrian safaris, another first in a Ugandan protected region. Though the essential notion is the same — fleeing the automobile — the absence of engine noise made the equestrian experience more rewarding for me. Moreover, the service provider will personalize the event to your skills and needs. Horseback safari may also be a fun family activity in Mburo, with children riding on friendly horses. Simultaneously, skilled riders can assist a pair of ex-racehorses in burning off some calories. Rates for a 30-minute horseback safari in Lake Mburo National Park range from USD 25 to USD 130 for three-hour hacks to high vistas with the option of bush breakfasts or sundowners. The 15-minute ride from the resort across the grassy valley bottom is usually loaded with wild wildlife.

A boat cruise

Aside from the beautiful landscape and simple joys of being out on the lake, a boat cruise on the tranquil waters of Lake Mburo almost always results in great views of hippo, crocodile, buffalo, waterbuck, and bushbuck. While you’re at it, keep an eye out for the three species of resident otter. The African fish eagle, marabou stork, pied kingfisher, and numerous egrets and herons are among the more visible waterbirds that might appear during the boat excursion. Simultaneously, Ross’s turaco and Narina trogon can be seen flying in lakefront thickets. Lake Mburo is arguably the best spot in Uganda to witness the rare African finfoot, which is usually seen in quiet water behind overhanging trees.

The public UWA boat docks just one kilometer from Rwonyo Camp. A modest boat launch may carry up to eight persons and costs 20,000 Ugandan shillings for Ugandans and #30 for foreigners. However, a minimum of four persons are required to depart, but there is also a larger one for $30 or 30K per person.

Game drives

It’s extremely unfashionable, but you can still tour Lake Mburo National Park in a safari vehicle if you can ignore the stares of horseback riders and quad bikes. Nonetheless, you may explore the most popular Impala and Zebra trails, which link Sanga and Nshara Gates to Rwonyo Rest Camp.

The quality of wildlife viewing along these paths varies, but during the rainy season, you can see large herds of impala, zebra, waterbuck, topi, and buffalo. Drive roughly two kilometers from Rwonyo to the intersection of the Impala and Warukiri paths in the savanna. Historically, animals congregated near swamps and lakes during the dry season, the Lakeside Track and Kigambira Loop were the most fruitful roadways. However, the increasingly dense thicket cover has made wildlife viewing in this region difficult (unless you’re expressly looking for bush-dwelling birds or expecting to glimpse a leopard).

Scrub has completely overrun the once-grassy peak of Kigambira Hill. The Kazuma and Ruroko trails traverse across rather open savanna east of the Lakeside track. It is dotted with rocky slopes where you can see klipspringer couples. Visitors may park and climb to the top of Kazuma Hill, which offers a panoramic view of four of the park’s lakes.

 

The Rwizi Track runs through light acacia savanna to the west of Rwonyo, beginning at Sanga Gate. This region is home to impala, eland, and Burchell’s zebra. At times, the western shore of Lake Mburo may be seen. The trail approaches the Rwizi River and surrounding wetlands after 12 kilometers. It then turns west, following the woodland stream for 33 kilometers until arriving at Bisheshe Gate. This section is ideal for birdwatchers, and you may drive beyond the fence to reach the main Mbarara road. Even with a 4×4 car, the track is horrifying and difficult.

Guided nature Walks

One of the most appealing aspects of Lake Mburo National Park is that you may wander anywhere in the park with an armed ranger guide. The path to the jetty near the camp is still a good area to walk: it is densely forested and frequently visited by hippos. An even better destination is the observation platform approximately 2 kilometers from the camp, which overlooks a salt lick and is a great site to watch a variety of animals.

The Rubanga Forest, located off the Rwizi Track, is a haven for trekkers and birds both. Guests are only permitted to visit with the permission of the warden, who will give you with with an armed ranger

Park Entrance Fees

Non-residents must pay an entrance charge of US$40 per day to access Lake Mburo National Park. East African residents must produce proof of residency and UGX 20,000. A permit is valid for 24 hours from the moment of entry. The admission cost for park vehicles is USD 30 for foreigne registered vehicles and UGX 10,000 for foreign East African citizens.

Accommodations in Lake Mburo

Lake Mburo National Park does not offer many accommodation options due to its small size and low appeal. However, there are a few places to stay, ranging from luxury and midrange to inexpensive camping style.

Luxury

Mihingo Lodge

 Mihingo Lodge is technically located just beyond the park’s eastern limit in a private, 240-acre wilderness on a large rock outcrop. It is one of the best Uganda safari lodges, offering elegant and private safari tents with views from room verandas and huge bathrooms.

Rwakobo Rock

Rwakobo Rock is perched atop a large granite outcrop overlooking the savanna wilderness. The safari lodge provides eco-friendly private thatched huts that mix well with the natural scenery. The villas sprout around the slope, utilizing rocky ledges and quiet niches. It is the most accessible in Mburo’s northern region, as you approach the park from the major highway.

Acadia Cottages

Acadia Cottages is located 2 kilometers from Rwonyo’s park headquarters. It has eight self-contained cottages built around a central lodge structure, where visitors may rest and take in the breathtaking view from a high balcony.

Mid-range 

Mburo Eagle’s Nest is located on the park’s southern side, on a hill with panoramic views of Lake Mburo National Park. The tented suites provide an outside sitting area with African design and a bush wilderness vibe.

Kimbla Mantana Camp is a modest tented camp with just nine well-spaced rooms nestled in open woods near the crest of a hill 4 kilometers from the main lake. The enormous ‘Larsen-style’ tents are built on wooden platforms and have verandahs that overlook the park. The tents are modest yet cozy, featuring twin beds and an en suite bathroom.

Lake Mburo Safari Lodge:  Unwind in one of Mburo Safari Lodge’s wooden huts, which are placed on a wooden platform and have a grass-thatched roof. The rooms are attractively and cleverly built to be completely comfortable and convenient in the woods. The lodge is located on the park’s eastern boundary, not far from Mihingo.

Hyena Hill Lodge: The lodge is located near the Sanga gate on the park’s western boundary. Tom and Anne, the Dutch hosts, expertly blend Dutch and Ugandan characteristics to create a pleasant wilderness ambiance for an African wild break. The lodge provides affordable single and communal cottage accommodations.

Budget

Rwonyo Rest Camp: About a kilometer from the shoreline, this UWA rest camp provides a few of modest bandas and double-standing tents, all with shared private showers in the bush uphill of the main camp. It’s a good enough location, but given its proximity to the gorgeous Lake Mburo beach and the panoramic Rwonyo hilltop, it’s a somewhat boring decision.

Lake Mburo Campground: The edge of Lake Mburo, about 1km from Rwonyo, is an appealing site to pitch your tent. Hippos spend the day lazing in the lake before coming ashore at night to keep the campsite lawns neatly cut.

Other Safari Destinations in Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Murchison Falls National Park

Kidepo Valley National Park

Queen Elizabeth National park

Kibale Forest National Park

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park