Lake Mburo National Park
Watch The African Fishing Eagles Hunt
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo covers an area of 370 km² between 1,220 meter – 1,828 meter above sea level. Wetland habitats comprise 20% of the park’s surface. This relatively small National Park offers some novel means of game viewing; in a vehicle; on a mountain bike, by boat, on foot, and on horseback! This compact jewel of a park is ideally placed for an overnight break between Kampala and the protected areas of western Uganda.
Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50 km-long wetland system linked by a swamp. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders. Once covered by open savanna, Lake Mburo National Park now contains much woodland as there are no elephants to tame the vegetation. In the western part of the park, the savanna is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line many lakes. A mosaic of habitats includes rock outcrops, savanna, acacia woodland, bush, forest, swamp and lakes that support a wealth of wildlife including species that are rare or absent from other parks in Uganda. Birding is also rich with papyrus and acacia species being particularly well represented.
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. A nice thing to know as a visitor; 20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects such as building clinics and schools.
At only 370 km2, Lake Mburo National Park is small compared to many East African parks but it is home to a surprising diversity of wildlife with 69 mammal species and 332 bird species. A number of the park’s herbivores are rarely, if at all, found elsewhere in Uganda. Lake Mburo is the only park that contains impalas and the only one in western Uganda with Burchell’s zebra and eland. Topi are only found elsewhere in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The species list was expanded in 2015 when a number of Rothschild’s giraffe were relocated to Lake Mburo from Murchison Falls National Park. Leopards and hyenas are also present and, after years of absence, lions are once more sighted. Hippos and crocodiles live in the park’s five lakes, while the fringing swamps hide secretive wetland creatures such as the sitatunga antelope. The birdlist contains more ‘swamp specials’ such as the papyrus gonelek, papyrus yellow warbler, white-winged warbler and shoebill. Acacia woodland bird species are well represented around the rest camp at Rwonyo and in the lightly wooded grassland valleys east of Lake Mburo.
More Info On The Activities
Lake Mburo Boat Trip
The eastern shores of Lake Mburo can be explored by boat, departing from a jetty at the lakeside campsite near Rwonyo Rest Camp. Watch out for crocodiles and hippopotamus during the two-hour voyage. You can also sight a variety of birds including pelicans, herons and the African Fish Eagle and perhaps the rare finfoot and shoebill. Fishermen with their own equipment may fish in the lake from the campsite by arrangement.
A network of game tracks explores the eastern hinterland of Lake Mburo, providing the chance to see a variety of savanna animals and birds.
Night drives with a ranger guide provide the chance to see nocturnal animals such as bushbabys, pottos and perhaps even a leopard.
Salt Lick Walk
Guided walks explore the park around Rwonyo, culminating in a visit to a natural salt lake where wildlife can be viewed from a timber observation platform.
This small tract of forest on the western side of Lake Mburo is home to a variety of forest bird species. Rubanga can be explored with a ranger guide.
The grassy ridges in the eastern part of Lake Mburo can be explored on horseback. This activity is operated by Mihingo Lodge.
Rwakobo Rock and Leopard Tail Rest Camp both operate mountain biking trips into the national park at Nshara Gate.
South of Rwonyo, the Lakeside Track climbs onto Kigarama Hill which provides a panoramic view of Lake Mburo. This lake and seven more can also be seen from the equally dramatic Kazuma Lookout which lies at the top of a rather steep track accessed from the Ruroko Track near the Kazuma/Research Track junction.
Prime areas for birding in Lake Mburo include the acacia woodland along the Acacia and Research tracks; the wooded shores of Lake Mburo as seen from the Rwonyo launch (ideal territory for the African finfoot) and the lake’s northern fringe of papyrus wetland.