Explore Lake Mburo National Park
By Katie Bays (with a contribution from UWA)
Lake Mburo National Park (LMNP) is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and is located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda. The park is situated about 30 kilometers by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kilometers by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. The coordinates of the park are: 00 36S, 30 57E (Latitude: 0.6000; Longitude: 30.9500)
LMNP is home to 350 bird species as well as zebra, impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyena, topi and reedbuck.
Once continuous with the plains of Northern Tanzania, Lake Mburo National Park hosts a diversity found nowhere else in Uganda. The Ruizi River feeds 14 lakes and wetlands that support abundant herds of antelope. Enchanting Acacia woodland is increasingly a major part of the landscape. Alongside all the wildlife, LMNP is home to the Ankole cattle cared for traditionally by the Bahima pastoralists. Magnificent herds graze peacefully alongside the wildlife. There are distinct dry and wet seasons that determine animal movements.
The great thing about LMNP is that there are so many unique ways to intimately interact with the surrounding wilderness. Try a guided walk near the swamp at Lake Mburo. The wetlands are a great draw and wildlife abundant, particularly in the dry season. Go early in the morning for a chance to encounter the Shoebill by foot. Guided night drives are another fun alternative. Using a spotlight to search for nocturnal animals like hyena, leopard, bush pigs and bush babies. The boat trip along the shores of Lake Mburo takes you close to hippo pods, crocodiles and a large array of water birds. The small boat and knowledgeable guide enhance the experience. There are some great game drive circuits with beautiful viewpoints to break up the 2 to 3 hour loops. Look out for an elusive herd of about 200 majestic Eland.
Having lived at Mburo for 5 years, I have fallen in love with the place. Going to sleep to the sound of hyenas whooping, clambering to the top of rocky peaks to enjoy spectacular views and exploring undiscovered valleys by horseback and mountain bike are what LMNP is all about.
PARK AT A GLANCE
Altitude: 1,220m – 1,828m above sea level
Wetland habitats comprise 20% of the park’s surface
The parks’ precarious past has seen wildlife virtually eliminated several times: firstly in various attempts to rid the region of tsetse flies, then to make way for ranches, and finally as a result of subsistence poaching.
20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects such as building clinics and schools.
Ask for Uganda Wildlife Association (UWA) guides Moses (birding specialist), Jameson or Andrew. Order in advance for meals at the picturesque Lakeside Restaurant (M: +256 703 452295). Be prepared for mud during the rainy season. Check out the 6 metre python at Rwakobo Rock! Kabushara Swamp in the Research Track valley and Shortcut Track are the best places to encounter leopards at night.
Guided Nature Walks (Foreigners – $15, Residents – $10, Citizens – 5,000ugx)
Game Drives $25 with a UWA Guide or free of charge without a UWA guide
Night Drives ($20 per person, Citizens 10,000ugx)
Sport Fishing (bring own equipment, $15)