Lake Mburo National Park is the tiniest game park of all the ten gazetted national parks in Uganda. This hidden savannah gem is found 240 km west of Kampala in Kiruhura District in western region of the country. This short distance also makes it the nearest wildlife park from the capital city positioning it as an ideal destination for people who are time-restricted but love a taste of stunning Ugandan wilderness.
Lake Mburo national park was initially set aside as a supervised hunting area in 1933 before being gazetted as a game reserve in 1963. The reserve was also shared with the Banyankole who traditionally rear long-horned cattle until they were evicted when the reserve became a national park in 1983. The evicted locals lost their precious grazing land without compensation or weren't given a hand to resettle in a new place which made most of them resent the project until this day.
When president Obote’s government collapsed in 1985 and the country was in chaos, locals attacked the park, chased off the park staff, terminated most wildlife and demolished infrastructure. With the rise of the National Resistance Movement régime in 1986, an effort was directed to re-gazette the park. Unfortunately, only a third of Lake Mburo national park’s original area was able to be recovered from pastoralists.
The park though tiny in size has richly diverse wildlife to offer to guests. With more than 68 mammals like the Rothschild giraffe, impala, common eland (the biggest antelope), countless zebras, African buffalo, and hippos plus over 310 bird species. Major predators include leopards, jackals, hyenas, and serval cats amongst others.
The park boasts some of the best birding spots in Uganda. The swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti offer the best watching spots. Over 313 bird species including rare white-winged warbler, the crested francolin, greenwood hoopoe, brown parrot, trilling cisticola, barefaced go way bird, blue napped mouse bird, as well as the black-billed barbet, can be encountered on a lake Mburo birding expedition.
Usually best recommended in the early morning when most bird species are actively trying to catch breakfast, visitors are presented with great views of the action on top of the beautiful melodies of their songs. Any bird enthusiast cannot be disappointed on a bird-watching mission in Lake Mburo national park.
The park offers great African safaris following the different game tracks designated for vehicles. The drive will present you with an opportunity to meet most of the park's wildlife and vegetation from large schools of hippo, zebras, giraffes, and different antelope species including the common eland the largest antelope. Nocturnal game drives can be arranged to create a higher percentage to meet the elusive leopard in action at night.
Lake Mburo national park has five lakes with Lake Mburo being the largest and drawing most of the attention. A boat cruise on its tranquil waters lets visitors view the park’s various flora and fauna from a different perspective. You will be in a position to view several species that are drawn to the shores to quench their thirst, cool of the heat while the predators come in to have an easy pick of prey mainly during the dry season.
Lake Mburo is the sole park in Uganda where you can experience game viewing on horseback. This safari lets you have a closer interaction with the park's various animals like zebra and giraffe. This can also be accompanied by a spectacular and memorable picnic breakfast in the wilderness.
Visitors can also experience cultural encounters not only with the park's residents but visiting out the nearby Igongo cultural center. This is a historical museum for the Banyakitara people that covers ethnic groups like Banyankole, Bakiga, Batooro, and Banyoro. A visit here will let you relish and appreciate their traditional way of life, music, and dancing plus tasting their mouthwatering cuisine.
This African treasure is an all-year-round destination like most Ugandan tourism destinations because of the friendly climate experienced in the pearl of Africa. However, guests are recommended to plan their visits more during the dry season from June to late October. These provide the best opportunities to meet game as they search for food and predators that are close by especially around the lake shores.
The dry season also has low percentages of pesky insects like mosquitos, tsetse flies, so it is an ideal season to pay Lake Mburo national park a visit.