Lake Mburo National Park is a remarkable gem, conveniently located close to the Kampala-Southwestern Highway. Despite being the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks, the 370 square kilometer surface area is home to a wealth of diverse geography and wildlife. The park is composed of ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks dating back 500 million years, as well as wetland habitats.
In its precarious past, Lake Mburo had experienced drastic depopulation of its wildlife several times due to civil wars, attempts to rid the region of tsetse flies and ranches, and subsistence poaching. However, due to the park sharing 20% of its entrance with neighbouring communities to boost social programs such as building schools and clinics, local wildlife populations have been protected.
The park is host to more than 350 bird species, as well as zebras, impalas, elands, buffalos, oribis, Defassa waterbucks, leopards, hippos, hyenas, topis, and reedbucks. Five of the area’s thirteen interlinked lakes are contained in Lake Mburo National Park.
The park’s stunning array of habitats range from ancient savannas, forested gorges, papyrus swamps, and narrow bands of riparian woodland. Its surplus of acacia trees are perhaps the best place to spot particular birds such as the mosque swallow, black bellied bustard, bare-faced-go away bird, and Rappel’s starling. Furthermore, the park is rare in that it is the only place in Uganda to spot the southern ground hornbill and the very rare African fin foot.
Visitors can expect to have an unforgettable experience with the magnificent wildlife and scenery of Lake Mburo National Park.
How to get there
Lake Mburo National Park is the closest of all Uganda’s national parks to the capital city and Entebbe International Airport, located between Kampala and Mbarara City. The park can be accessed by road over a journey of approximately 228 kilometers (about 4 hours). Along the way, there are two main access points connected to the highway; the Nshara Gate located 5 kilometers off the main road and the Sanga Gate located 13 kilometers off the main road. Notably, both gates are only 2-3 kilometers from Rwonyo where the park’s headquarters lie.
Visitors to the park can anticipate an incredible safari experience, with stunning wilderness and abundant wildlife to explore. It is a paradise of ancient savannas, forested gorges, riparian woodland, and swamps. Take a closer look and one might find unique species of birds such as the mosque swallow, black bellied bustard, and African fin foot, as well as numerous species of animals such as leopards, hippos, hyenas, and, of course, large numbers of impalas. With so much to see and do, Lake Mburo National Park is truly an incredible destination.
By Air, while there are no direct flights into Lake Mburo National Park itself, tourists can charter flights from either Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi Airstrip to Mbarara Airstrip through one of several domestic carriers. The flight typically takes 1 ½ hours, followed by a short, 40-minute road transfer to the park. For those travelling to Lake Mburo by air, we recommend booking your trip through a reliable local tour company.
Visitors to the park will not be disappointed with its beauty and abundance of wildlife. There is so much to see and do, from ancient savannas and forested gorges to spotting unique species of birds and numerous types of animals. Whether taking a road trip from Kampala or a charter flight from Entebbe, be sure to make Lake Mburo National Park a stop on your next adventure.
Origins of the park
The story of Lake Mburo National Park begins with two brothers, Mburo and Kigarama, who lived in the low-lying Savannah plains known as Kaaro Karungi, which translates to “good village.” One night, Kigarama dreamt that the area would experience heavy rains causing devastating flooding. While Mburo laughed off his brother’s dream, Kigarama heeded the warning and left the plains in search of higher ground. True to Kigarama’s dream, heavy rains caused severe flooding that resulted in the drowning of Mburo and his property, subsequently giving the lake its name. The hills nearby were then named in memory of Kigarama’s foresight.
Activities at Lake Mburo National Park
1. Boat cruises
Boat tours offer a truly remarkable experience on Lake Mburo National Park. Visitors will have the chance to spot diverse bird species as well as other local wildlife, such as crocodiles, hippos, and more. The cruise is a great way to admire the natural beauty of the park, making it a must-do activity while visiting.
2. Game Drives
Game Drives in Lake Mburo National Park offer visitors a chance to witness the incredible wildlife of the park. These drives are split into day and night explorations, both offering unique experiences. During the day, visitors can see mammals such as buffalos, leopards, hyenas, and more; while at night, visitors may witness nocturnal creatures such as civets, genets, porcupines, and bush babies. Regardless of time of day, a game drive serves as an incredible way to explore the park’s flora and fauna.
3. Night game drives
Night Game Drives in Lake Mburo National Park are a must-do for those who have missed the day drives or are looking to witness the park’s nocturnal and shyest animals, such as leopards. These drives offer a breathtaking chance to view some of the park’s most elusive wildlife in their natural habitat, making for a truly miraculous experience.
4. Sport Fishing & Fishing
Sport Fishing and Fishing are popular activities for visitors in Lake Mburo National Park. Travelers looking to learn how the locals fish can join in with local fishermen for a unique experience. This is a great opportunity for visitors to get an insider look at the area, connecting with locals and discovering the tricks of the trade. At the end of the day, visitors will have a greater appreciation for the area and its culture.
5. Cultural Tours
Cultural Tours offer visitors a chance to learn more about the Bahima people who inhabit the area. Tourists will observe how the locals tend to their famous Ankole cattle, as well as how they process milk and yoghurt, as well as learn about their daily life. Additionally, travelers can visit the Igongo Cultural Centre for a thrilling look into the culture of Western Uganda. Through these tours, visitors will have an invaluable opportunity to truly immerse themselves into the culture of Lake Mburo National Park.
Hiking at Lake Mburo National Park provides a truly remarkable experience. One must-see is Kazuma Lookout, which offers gorgeous panoramic views of the park and its five interconnected lakes at an elevation of 4,481 ft. For a more cultural experience, take a hike to Kigarama Hill, where visitors can hear the fascinating stories behind the formation of the park and its original inhabitants. Whether searching for a tranquil scenic experience or an immersive cultural tour, hiking through Lake Mburo is sure to leave you with a greater appreciation of its culture and beauty.
7. Nature walks
Nature walks in Lake Mburo National Park provide visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the park’s wildlife and natural beauty. As the only national park in Uganda considered safely suitable for walking safaris, visitors can observe giraffes from up close and take memorable selfies with the breathtaking scenery as the backdrop. Moreover, these walks are conducted with armed rangers and guarantee maximum satisfaction and safety.
Lake Mburo National Park is a stunning destination, with stunning scenery and an incredible abundance of wildlife to explore. From ancient savannas and papyrus swamps to spotting the mosque swallow, black bellied bustard, and very rare African fin foot, travelers can expect to have a memorable adventure while visiting Lake Mburo. Through various activities such as boat cruises, game drives, sport fishing and cultural tours, visitors are truly connected to their surroundings, experiencing the park’s rich culture and extraordinary wildlife. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning adventurer, be sure to put Lake Mburo National Park on your must-see list.