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Lake Mburo National Park

This compact jewel of a park is ideally placed for an overnight break between Kampala and the protected areas of western Uganda. 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. Visitors need not limit themselves to a game drive; the park can also be explored using mountain bikes, by boat, on foot, and on horseback.

WILDLIFE

At only 370km2, 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.

Grant's zebra, in Lake Mburo National Park
Grant's zebra
 

LOCAL PEOPLE

The area around the park is sparsely settled, traditionally being cattle country that is ill suited to intensive cultivation. The Banyankole, the dominant tribe, is divided between Bairu cultivators and Bahima herders.

CLIMATE

Lake Mburo National Park lies in a rain shadow between Lake Victoria and the Rwenzori Mountains and receives an average of 800mm of rain a year. Being near the Equator, the rainfall pattern is bimodal with the long rains occurring from February to June and the short rains from September to December. Rainfall is rather erratic and unpredictable but tends to be heaviest in April and November. The average recorded temperature is 27.50C with daily variations ranging from 21.50C to 340C. July and August are the hottest months. Attractions & Activities Game Viewing 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 fish eagle and perhaps the rare finfoot and shoebill. Fishermen with their own equipment may fish in the lake from the campsite by arrangement. Game drives A network of game tracks explores the eastern hinterland of Lake Mburo, providing the chance to see a variety of savannah animals and birds. Night drives 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. Forest Walk 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.

VIEWPOINTS

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.

BIRDING

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.

African Finfoot in Lake Mburo National Park
African Finfoot