Among Uganda‘s diverse safari destinations, Lake Mburo National Park holds a unique distinction as the closest and most easily accessible from the capital city of Kampala. Located in the southwestern region of the country, approximately 230 kilometers away from Kampala, this national park offers a convenient and captivating stopover for travelers embarking on the popular southwestern safari circuit. It serves as a delightful buffer during the long 10-hour journey to the mesmerizing mountain gorillas in the extreme southwestern corner of Uganda.
Lake Mburo National Park, despite its relatively small size and lesser-known status, is a treasure trove of impressive game viewing experiences. The park boasts a remarkable array of wildlife encounters, especially considering its size and relative obscurity. In fact, it is the only place in Uganda where visitors can observe the graceful impalas, adding an element of exclusivity to the safari experience. Additionally, Lake Mburo is one of the three locations in Uganda where the rare Bachelle’s Zebra can be found, making it a unique destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
Lake Mburo National Park is encompassed by a cluster of interconnected lakes connected by swamps. Among these lakes, Lake Mburo reigns as the largest, lending its name to the park. A boat cruise on Lake Mburo offers an enchanting opportunity to venture into the heart of the park’s natural splendor. As you glide along the tranquil waters, you’ll have the chance to witness both the prominent and lesser-known inhabitants of the park as they gather near the shores for a refreshing drink. The boat cruise promises captivating encounters with the park’s impressive wildlife, creating unforgettable moments amidst the serene surroundings.
Uganda Wildlife Authority operates regular two-hour boat cruises on the western side of Lake Mburo. Departing several times a day, these boat voyages embark on a tranquil exploration of the picturesque western banks of the lake. Starting from the Rwonyo jetty, the boat journey allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of Lake Mburo’s water wonderland. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for remarkable sightings of Nile crocodiles, African buffalos, and the relaxed hippo pods. As you venture away from the shores, you may also catch glimpses of various antelope species, such as the Bohor reedbuck, duiker, klipspringer, oribi, and topi. The boat cruise is a paradise for birders, offering opportunities to tick off famous waterbird sightings, including the African fish eagle, jacana, kingfisher, cormorant, pelican, and various heron species. Don’t miss the chance to spot rare avian treasures like the Narina trogon, Ross’s turaco, African green-pigeon, the distinctive bare-faced go-away-bird, and the elusive shoebill stork that dwells in the swampy areas. The boat cruise extends into the accessible papyrus areas, where you’ll encounter the resident papyrus gonolek and the vibrant blue-headed coucal.
For those interested in the boat cruise, the prices are set at $20 per person for foreigners and 30 UGX for nationals for the two-hour journey on Lake Mburo. Additionally, if you prefer a more private and tranquil experience, your tour manager can arrange a private boat cruise, allowing you to avoid the crowd and fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of Lake Mburo.
Lake Mburo National Park offers a range of exciting activities that go beyond the boat cruise, allowing you to delve deeper into the wonders of the park. After the boat cruise, consider embarking on a guided walking safari, where you can experience the thrill of observing the park’s animals on foot. Several captivating walking trails await, including the lakeshore, salt lick trail, Rubanga Forest, and the trail leading to the hill-top viewpoint. On these trails, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter a variety of wildlife, including buffalos, numerous antelope species, bushpigs, hyenas, and warthogs.
For a truly unique and intimate wildlife encounter, indulge in a horseback safari across the vast savannah plains of Lake Mburo National Park. Accompanied by expert horse riding guides, these safaris offer a silent approach to the animals, allowing you to get remarkably close without the disturbance of car engine noise. Mango Lodge, located in the eastern part of the park, offers horseback safaris at an approximate cost of $130 per person for a three-hour ride.
For those seeking more active adventures, Wakobo Rock provides mountain bikes for a small fee. Take a guided ride through the savannah park, venturing to the park’s borders and exploring the surrounding communities to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Undoubtedly, one of the park’s top activities is the wildlife viewing game drives. Comfortably seated in your vehicle, you can explore the extensive network of game drive tracks that crisscross the park. During these drives, you’ll have excellent chances of spotting impalas, zebras, waterbucks, topis, buffalos, and the recently introduced Rothschild’s giraffes that now call Mburo home.
Lake Mburo National Park is also renowned for having the highest concentration of leopards in the country. However, spotting these elusive cats can be challenging. To enhance your chances, the park offers night game drives, providing the perfect opportunity to witness leopards in their element during their most active hours. In addition to leopards, the night game drives offer encounters with other fascinating nocturnal animals, such as bushbabies and pottos, adding an extra layer of excitement to your safari experience in Lake Mburo National Park.