Lake Mburo safari, Uganda safaris

Lake Mburo National Park is a compact gem, located conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to the parks of western Uganda. It is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and underlain by ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks which date back more than 500 million years. It is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, Defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck

Lake Mburo safari, Uganda safaris

Lake Mburo National Park is situated in Mbarara district. It is about 3-4 hours’ drive from Kampala. This makes it the closest and nearest National Park perfect for short wildlife safaris from Kampala the capital of Uganda. On the way to Lake Mburo, have a stop-over for a visit to the Equator that runs through Uganda and take photos underneath the Equator sign at Kayabwe. There are souvenir shops that you can visit around the equator. If interested you can buy one, there are good restaurants where you can have a snack to eat.

History 

What is currently Lake Mburo National Park was first gazetted in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and later upgraded to a game reserve in 1963. The area was dominantly occupied by the Banyankole pastoralists (commonly known as Bahima) who continued to herd their cattle and other livestock in the reserve until it was granted a National park status in 1983 by the Obote regime. The decision to upgrade Lake Mburo reserve to a National park status was in one part targeted to punish the Banyankore who were believed to be supporting the anti-Obote rebels. The evicted pastoralists were not given any compensation for the lost grazing land and neither were they helped with the resettlement and many of them thus protested the park’s formation. This was during the time of Operation Bonanza massacre of 300,000 and as a result, the rangeland outside the park was divided into small pieces and subsistence plots.

Origins

The origin of this park started with a story of two brothers one known as mburo and the other as kigarama who lived in the low-lying Savannah plains hence making the area traditionally known as Kaaro karungi. One night kigarama dreamt that they were to receive a substantial amount of rain which would cause flooding and their property destroyed. Kigarama told the dream to his brother but mburo took it for granted. Because in the African society dreams were respected, Kigarama decided to leave the area and went into the overlooking hills leaving his brother behind. Finally the dream came true and the area was attacked by the rain and it caused flooding and the drowning of mburo with his property and thus the name mburo and the hills were named after his brother.All this story can be narrated to you during the lake mburo safaris/ visit to lake mburo national park or Uganda safaris to lake mburo park.

The Culture 

Aside with the wildlife and the key attractions of lake mburo national park, the region in which the national park is located has a lot to offer in terms of cultural tours. Lake mburo national park is located in the Ankole Sub region which is known to be for the cattle keepers and cultivators. Travelers who need to learn about the culture will be introduced to igongo cultural centre. Igongo Cultural Centre: The famous igongo cultural center is located 4 km away from the Sanga Gates of Lake Mburo National Park. The centre is a historical site that is inhabited by the Banyakitara who include the bakiga, banyankole, batooro and the banyoro. The Centre is a cultural museum that is locally known as Erijukiro. At igongo cultural center you will learn alot about the Ankole Culture, dressing, food, ankole cows and much more. Travelers can not miss this cultural tour.

Things To Do at lake Mburo 

Game drives and wildlife viewing

uganda-game-driveThe park is home to 69 mammal species among which are Antelopes, Common Duiker, Defassa Waterbuck, Bofor, Impalas, Buffalos, Bush pigs, Giraffes, Eland, and Zebras. You may explore the wild by hiking, on horseback a safari option only offered at Lake Mburo, bike riding through the rocky rough terrain or a day or nocturnal game drive. The beauty about the variety of means available to explore wildlife at this park, is that the adventure is not only in what you see but also how you see it. The biking safari is a challenging thrill for the cyclists because of the uneven terrain and the horse back safari is a welcome break from the sound of running engines. On a nocturnal drive, there is a chance to see porcupines, bush babies and even leopards! In all this, it is advised that you are guided by an armed Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) game ranger to point out birds or mammals you may miss.

Birding in Lake Mburo National park

birding-lake-mburo-parkWith 350 bird species found in Lake Mburo National Park, birding is a must do activity. The park is the smallest savannah park in Uganda but has a variety of birds that are easy to see. You have opportunities for forest birds, savannah birds and water birds on Lake Mburo.

The birds in this park include; Red-winged Francolin, Blue-spotted Wood Dove, Brown Parrot, Barefaced Go-away bird, Blue Quails, White-headed and Black-billed Barbet, Greenwood Hoopoe, Blue-breasted and Shining-blue Kingfishers, Lilac-breasted Roller, African-grey Hornbill, Grey Woodpeckers. Wing-snapping Cisticola, Red-necked spurfowl, Black-bellied Bustard, African-wattled Plover Rufous naped and Flapper larks, Rufous-chested Swallow ,Yellow-throated Longclaw, Black-winged Bishop, Chubb’s & Carruther’s Cisticolas, the Lesser and Great Swamp Warblers, Black Crake, Common Squacco, Striated, Black-headed,  Herons, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans,  African Fish Eagleetc.  Warukiri, Miriti, the Rubanga Forest as well as the platform above the salt lick have been acclaimed as being the best birding spots at Lake Mburo National Park.

Guided Nature walks

The park has a bounty of tracks to tread on a nature walk provided you walk in the company of an armed Uganda Wildlife Authority guide. With the hilly terrain of Lake Mburo National Park, a walk to the hilltops to get a panoramic view of the park is one of the nature walk trails available. If taken in the morning, you will chance upon hyenas heading back to their dens, colorful birds and butterflies flying fleetingly all over the park. For a morning nature walk, viewing animals at the salt lick is an ideal one hour experience. There is a safe platform from which to view and take photos without disrupting the animals into running away from sight.  You can also head to and through Rubanga forest but this will require prior notice to the Uganda Wildlife Authority personnel. This forest comes alive with 40 bird species and tree species like the Fig, Palm, Acacia and Markhamia trees, a reward to a birder and botanist.

A boat ride

boat-safari-lake-mburo-parkCrocodiles crawling into the water, hippos dunking themselves in the lake to escape the heat at high noon, zebras, antelopes, and buffaloes coming for refreshment during the dry season are sights that await you while on a boat ride. Being up close with these animals in their habitat is one of the best experiences a boat ride can give.

Remember to carry your binoculars and bird book because of the water birds in this vicinity. The no 1 attraction is the elusive African Finfoot and the beautiful Malachite Kingfisher & Pied Kingfisher fishing.

 

Fishing

While the Park is called Lake Mburo National Park, Mburo is not the only lake here. There are 5 lakes in total but Lake Mburo is the largest of them all. A safari to this lake-filled national park would be incomplete without a fishing expedition or experience. Mazinga has been set aside as the designated fishing spot because it is crocodile and hippo free. For one enthusiastic about sports fishing, it can be done here albeit with a license. The tilapia is a local favorite and one likely to be your catch among the 6 fish species in the lake. You could have your tilapia prepared for you at your place of residence while at the park.

Getting to Lake Mburo National Park

is very easy since it's one of the nearest national parks to the Capital city Kampala. The most common way of accessing the park is by use of road transport. One can drive from Entebbe to Lake Mburo in a period of about 4hours and 20minutes, a distance of 290km. Another can drive from Kampala to lake mburo in about 4hours, a distance of 245km.

Another person can opt to fly from Entebbe - Kajjansi to Mbarara airstrip which will take you less than an hour. This is the easiest means of transport and the quickest.

Accommodation Facilities

Lake Mburo has got one of the best and affordable accommodations among all national parks in Uganda. The lodges like any other are categorised in the form of Luxury, Mid-Range and Budget lodges. Among the budget lodges in lake mburo is Rwonyo Rest Camp and Eagles Nest Lodge. The mid-range lodges include Rwakobo Rock Lodge, Mantana Tented Camp and Arcadia Cottages. For those who would love to be unique, Lake Mburo national park offers luxury lodges which include Mihingo Lodge and Lake Mburo Safari Lodge. All the lodges offer the best services one can offer and visiting Lake Mburo National park will not be a problem as all these lodges are close to the park.

Resources 

Visit http://www.ugandawildlife.org/  – a resource for tourists looking to visiting Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with lots of information on what to see, what to do, how to get there and more

Wikipedia 

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