LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK

The lake itself is the largest of five lakes within the park and all are fringed by thick riparian forest and patches of papyrus swamp. Surrounding the lakes are rolling hills and moving away from the lake shores, the forest gives way to a mosaic of open savannah and acacia woodland that once stretched southwards to the Tanzania border and beyond.

Lake Mburo National Park is a compact stopover that’s conveniently close to the highway that connects Kampala to western parks such as Bwindi – useful if the far more expensive local flights aren’t an option. It’s the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks and lies on ancient Precambrian metamorphic rocks that date back more than 500 million years. Game viewing here is less than fabulous. The hilly landscape is pretty, but heavy vegetation conceals the wildlife from view. There are no elephant or lion because of an unstable past where wildlife was almost entirely wiped out. However, it’s the only place in Uganda where you’re likely to see large herds of impala, zebra and eland.

Although elephant and lion have not been observed within the park recently, there is still a healthy population of game including numerous topi, bushbuck, oribi, duiker, Defassa waterbuck, buffalo, warthog and hippos in the lakes. Lake Mburo is also home to the only population of impala in Uganda and apart from the remote northern parks, is the only place to see Burchell’s zebra and eland in Uganda.

 

Lake Mburo National Park: The Experience

Together with 13 other lakes in the area, Lake Mburo forms part of a 50-kilometre wetland system linked by a swamp that’s fed by the Ruizi River on the western side. Five of the lakes lie within the park’s borders. Almost a fifth of the park’s area consists of wetlands – both seasonally flooded and permanent swamps. The various types of swamps are home to a wide variety of wetland birds and the shy, rare sitatunga antelope. Once covered by open savannah, Lake Mburo National Park now has extensive woodland because there are no elephants to tame the vegetation.

In the western part of the park the savannah is interspersed with rocky ridges and forested gorges while patches of papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland line the lakes. Lake Mburo’s surface and the vegetation on its banks are always changing, and it’s lovely to take a boat out and experience the scenic changes.

Lake Mburo National Park: Birdlife

Over 300 species of birds have been recorded within Lake Mburo and it is probably the best place in Uganda for acacia-associated birds. The permanent and seasonal wetland areas that connect the lakes are home to a number of papyrus endemic birds species including the papyrus gonolek, the blue-headed coucal and the white-winged and papyrus yellow warblers.

The birdlife in Lake Mburo is good year-round. June and July have the least rain, while March and April have the most rain. The heavy rains might result in delays due to impassable roads and slippery hiking trails. These can limit your bird-watching time. Migratory birds are around from November to April.

 

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