With exciting African wildlife safari in arm’s reach of the capital, the 370sqkm Lake Mburo National Park is an increasingly common stop on the safari circuit. It’s the only place in southern Uganda to see zebras and the only park in the country with impalas, slender mongoose, and giant bush rats. You can also look hyenas, leopards, topis, elands, and recently reintroduced Rothschild’s giraffes. Lions are rarely sighted it’s thought there’s only one left here. Few big predators meaning there are horse-riding and mountain-biking opportunities. Some of the 325 bird species include martial eagles and red-faced barbets in the acacia-wooded savannah, and papyrus yellow warblers and African finfoots in the wetlands.
Adjacent to the park are the ranches of the Bahima people, who herd the famed long-horned Ankole cattle, a common sight here, unfortunately, both inside and outside the park.
The 1½-hour boat trips run by UWA are popular on Lake Mburo to get up close and personal with hippos, crocodiles, and waterbirds. Trips depart at 8am, 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm and 5:30pm. Fishing permits are also available, but you’ll need to bring your own equipment.
Wildlife Safari Drives
Animals are most abundant in the south during the dry season (as this is where the permanent water is) and in the northeast in the wet season. Guided night drives are available.
Wildlife Safari Walks
Lake Mburo has some good nature walks, particularly the guided early-morning hyena walk at 6:30 am. The other popular pedestrian destination is an observation blind overlooking a salt lick.
Both walks take two hours. Birdwatchers should ask about the Rubanga forest, which has a closed canopy in some places and you may find birds not yet recorded on the park’s official list.
A novel way to explore the park is a horse-riding safari. Without the engine noise of a 4WD, it’s a peaceful way to get around to see wildlife and the park’s lakes. Rides are booked through Mihingo Lodge with possible discounts for lodge guests. They can also arrange overnight and multiday trips.
There are three campsites, but most opt for the attractive Lakeside Camp 2, 1.25km from park headquarters. It also has the scenic Lakeside Restaurant. If you have your own vehicle, consider Kingfisher Campsite 3, which is more rustic. Be mindful of encounters with wildlife, particularly hippos.
Rwonyo Rest Camp
UWA’s accommodation at the park headquarters has camping, simple bandas, and safari tents on wooden platforms, all with shared bathroom facilities. Overall, it’s a very nice set-up with a classic park feel. It sells beers and drinks, but the closest food is 1.25km away at the Lakeside Restaurant or at upmarket Arcadia Cottages; UWA can arrange a delivery for you for a fee.
Eagles Nest Lake Mburo
Up the top of an impossibly steep hill outside the park, this Dutch-owned lodge has memorable views out to Mburo’s distant plains and lakes. Tented safari-style accommodation is simple but fantastic value. Guests can get full or half board.
One of Uganda’s best park lodges lies just outside Mburo’s eastern border, with rustic tent cottages spread along the ridge. All have amazing views, including a watering hole busy with zebras, impalas, and warthogs. Its luxurious pool also has views out to a salt lick. Another highlight is seeing its family of habituated bushbabies at night. It also runs horse-riding safaris.
It may officially be outside the park, but you’ll feel well and truly immersed within this eco lodging with soaring Mburo views from its namesake rock. Bandas have nestled away in the bush, while the thatched-roof restaurant has more views and excellent meals. Check on us for activities on offer including bike safaris, cultural walks, and game drive and walk combos.