Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo National Park In Uganda

March 28, 2022
News Journeys Uganda

Lake Mburo National Park is one of Uganda’s smaller savannah parks, the second smallest to be exact. The park covers an area of over 260 km2 of undulating terrain with an altitudinal range from 1,220m to 1,828m above sea level. The annual rainfall figure of about 800mm is relatively low and fluctuates from year to year, but roughly 20% of the park’s surface area nevertheless consists of wetland habitats characterized with patches of papyrus swampy wetlands and open savanna with lots of scattered flat topped acacia, woodland like acacia hockii, acacia gerrardii, acacia sieberiana and acacia polycantha.   The park is named after Lake Mburo, the largest of the five lakes covered by the park boundaries, part of a cluster of 14 lakes that are fed by the Rwizi River and connected by several permanent and seasonal swamps. In the western part of the park, the savannahs are interspersed with rocky elevations and forested gorges, while patches of papyrus swamps and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line the borders of the various lakes.

Inspite of all this beauty and accessibility majority of travellers ignore it and just go past it, the park offers an excellent break from the long drive to the other popular parks in Rwanda and Uganda like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National and Rwenzori Mountain National Park or if you making your way from Volcanoes National Park to Kampala the capital city of Uganda or Entebbe International Airport.

Attractions in Lake Mburo National Park

Wildlife: Lake Mburo may be low on the big five but still has a lot much more in terms of game viewing. Not so long ago the Rothschild’s giraffe under the translocation project by the Uganda Wildlife Authority and other partners was introduced in this park due to the abundance of acacia trees and joined the Burchel’s Zebras, various antelope species including the Impala which Kampala the capital city of Uganda derives its name, the wisest Topi, Bushbuck, Common Duiker, Oribi, Defassa waterbuck, klipspringer, Sitatunga and Bohor reedbuck.  Other animals include the majestic Elands, Buffalo, Warthog, Bush pig and Hippopotamus, the Vervet  and Tantalus monkeys and the Olive Baboon, the nocturnal Hyena is also often heard calling and occasionally seen crossing the road. The predators include the Leopard, the Side Stripped Jackal, White Tailed, Mash, Dwarf and Banded Mongoose, Three Otter species also reside at the lake area. Unfortunately, Lake Mburo national park used to be polar for lions but unfortunately they were hunted down to extinction in the park in the 1960s, but seasonally we get a few visits from Northern Tanzania, the have evidently been sighted and many a times heard roaring.

Lake Mburo: Lake Mburo, from which Lake Mburo National Park derives its name, is an underrated gem.  It could be compared to the rift valley lake Naivasha in Kenya, dominated by the eponymous lake, edged by beautiful rolling hills of lush green forest cover. A good way to enjoy its beauty is by a boat ride on the lake as animals come to quench their afternoon thirst.

Birds: Lake Mburo has some amazing birding spots with an amazing species count of 315 birds recorded. Because of abundance of acacia trees it is a great place to see acacia related birds like, Rufous-breasted Swallow, Black-bellied Bustard, Bare-faced Go-away Bird, the special rarities that visit from Northern Tanzania and found only here include the Red-faced Barbet, Coqui Francolin, Tabora Cisticola, Black-collared and Crested Barbet, Southern-black Flycatcher, Shelley’s Francolin, Souza’s Shrike, Green-caped Eremomela, Southern Ground Hornbill, to mention but these are mostly southern species and are at the very north limit of their range. The papyrus Gonolek, the striking Blue-headed Coucal, and the highly localized White-winged and Papyrus-yellow Warblers, Papyrus Canary and the two – African Finfoot and White-backed Night Heron are specials to the swamps of lake Mburo.


Boat trips: The best way to experience Lake Mburo is through a boat ride on the lake, it is also probably the most popular activity. The cruise offers you wonderful scenery and a sense of relaxation. You may be rewarded with the sights of schools of Hippos teaming with camps of Crocodiles, Buffaloes out of their breeding cycle busk at the fringes of the lake, Waterbuck, the Otters among others. And for those on a birding trip in Uganda, the ride offers excellent sightings of the parks highly sought after African Finfoot, White-backed Night Heron and Giant Kingfisher, Little and Dwarf Bittern are very secretive bird species around the lake unlike the abundant sparkling African-fish Eagle, the solitary Red-headed Weaver and other water bird species.

Game drives: A game drive in the open savanna is perhaps the best way to experience a true Ugandan safari. The most frequently used tracks are the Impala antelopes, Zebra into the Eland track that stretch out from sanga gate, the newly added Acacia track is very productive mostly in the dry seasons as it extends to the watering halls where lots of wildlife congregate. Although the game viewing is particularly unpredictable especially in the wet season, there is a reasonable concentration of Impala which is the most graceful of all African, Zebra, the shaggy Waterbuck, the near threatened Rothschild’s Giraffe was recently introduced in Lake Mburo, the medium sized Topi, the geometrical white splotched shy Bushbuck and the gregarious Cape Buffalo. However, in the dry seasons animals tend to concentrate more around the swampy areas and the lake area.

Guided walks: How about a nature walk with an armed ranger in the park, this is the only Park in Uganda which can be explored on foot and  especially beneficial for those doing a bird watching trip to Uganda. The road near the jetty is a good place to start with a vast wealth of birds and also other regular visitors include the hippos. There is also the salt lick a great place to watch lots of animals and there is an observation blind available for the perfect view. The rubanga forest off the Rwizi track is another perfect place for a nature walk and very rewarding for the birders.

How to get to Lake Mburo National Park?

Yes, Lake Mburo National Park can be accesses by road and by air. By road it can be accessed from Kampala or Entebbe international airport via the main surfaced road between Masaka and Mbarara. And for those travelling from the southwestern part of Uganda from other National parks it can be accessed through road that branches south at Sanga, 37km east of Mbarara. Whereas for those coming from Kampala, it is easier to use the road branching south from the 50km marker for Mbarara, about 20km past Lyantonde through the Nshara gate. The drive can take approximately 4-5hours

There are chartered and or scheduled flights from Entebbe international airport and Kajjansi airstrip to Mbarara then drive back about 30 minutes into the park.

When to visit Lake Mburo National Park?

Like most parts of Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park can be visited all year round. However, the dry season is still the best time to see animals as many come out of their spots to quench their thirst. The dry season is usually December through to February whereas the rainy season lasts July through to November. June to September is considered the peak season with mass tourism flow. Whenever you choose to travel, any time is a good time for a Uganda safari to Lake Mburo national park.

What to bring

  • It would be wise to carry sunscreen to protect yourself from the hot tropical heat especially if you are travelling in the dry season.
  • An insect repellant is a very good idea to ward off insects
  • Lots of water to stay hydrated.
  • Long sleeved, and trousers that are light are good recommendation as well as safari or hiking shoes and a wide rim hat
  • A camera is a great idea to catch some memories
  • Binoculars and if you can especially for the birders a telescope is very recommended.

Where to stay in Lake Mburo National Park?

Mihingo Lodge: This is a strategically beautiful luxury lodge set in the park boundary, Like Rwakobo, it has been built sympathetically into an extensive rocky outcrop. It has 12 tented rooms designed and built with great attention to detail.

Rwakobo Rock Lodge: Situated on rocky outcrop close to the Nshara gate, the lodge offers excellent views into Mburo and the neighboring community. There are eight homely and spacious cottages built from local materials. The swimming pool has spectacular views, shared by the large dining room and bar

Lake Mburo Safari Lodge: The Lodge is located close to the Mihingo lodge and boasts of its excellent accommodations which comprises the main Lodge, cottages and honeymoon house all raised on a wooden platform and covered by a grass-thatched roof, perfectly blending with the natural environment with numerous Mburo game and bird visits.

Kigambira Safari Lodge: The Lodge is the latest luxury eco-tourism lodge found in the Southern part of the Park located between Lake Kigambira and the Rubanga Forest. The lodge has a selection of 12 stylishly decorated en suite Bandas with 2 family Bandas, honeymoon suite and 9 deluxe Bandas all  providing astonishing views of Kigambira one of the expansive freshwater lakes that teems with a great scenery and wildlife.

Hyena Hill Lodge: The Lodge is situated at the edge of Lake Mburo National Park close to Sanga gate. It offers beautiful views of Lake Mburo National Park and has comfortable cottages with a king size bed and private bathroom or cottages with single beds and a shared bathroom.

Arcadia Cottages: The Lodge is located 2 km from Rwonyo the park headquarters at, Arcadia Lodge is almost at the heart of the park and game viewing starts from the parking lot, birding at the deck is very rewarding as well. The Lodge has eight self-contained cottages all surrounding a central lodge building, acting as the reception and restaurant with stunning view of the lake and part of the park from raised deck.

Other include; Sky Blue Hotel, Mpogo Lodge, Igongo Cultural Hotel, Selection of hotels in Mbarara City including Agip Motel, Lake View Hotel, Arch Hotel and others