You know how insanely tiring the route to gorilla highlands in southwestern Uganda can be. Then you must want to break the journey equally between Entebbe International Airport and Bwindi with a boat cruise safari at Lake Mburo and a quintessential night in Uganda’s tiniest national park.
Lake Mburo National Park, located about 240 kilometers from Uganda’s capital, is the smallest of Uganda’s 10 National Parks, one of the only three with Bachelle’s Zebra, and the only one with that hosts impala slender mongoose and giant bush rats. This underrated gem is dominated by five lakes (Lake Mburo is the largest), wetlands, an undulating landscape, open savannah, and acacia woodland exploring before or after your southwestern Uganda safari adventure.
Take a 2-hour boat cruise on Lake Mburo and come close to touching the big and small wild animals that flock the shores. Buffalo, hippo, and a great many species of waterbirds, including the prehistoric shoebill, feed at arm’s length from the engine boat’s vantage point. Then maybe take a guided walking safari and get your adrenaline muscles pumped up.
It’s the best place in Uganda to view savannah wildlife animals on foot. An armed ranger guide guides you through long-established trails and off the beaten path to get to impala, zebra, and eland dispersed herds. They may not scare you as much as the big ones in other parks because Lake Mburo National Park doesn’t have the big players like the lion and elephant. That makes Mabura a great choice to watch the smaller mammals at a rewarding calm pace.
Although the boat cruise safari is one of the activities at Lake Mburo National Park that gets special attention, tourists can enjoy more of the park’s thrills with a walking adventure or slide onto horseback and get closer to the animals than you would expect.
If you’re returning from the exhilarating adventure in the impenetrable forest, gorilla trekking, spend a night or two at Lake Mburo National Park; it’s small and perfect for a private safari getaway for a modern nature explorer.
A boat cruise on Lake Mburo regularly lanches from the Rwonnyo jetty at 08:00 and takes a two-hour ride around the eastern banks of Lake Mburo. In addition to the charming scenery and simple pleasures of floating in a boat surrounded by wild things, the launch trip reliably provides good sightings of hippo, crocodile, buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck, and otter sightings.
Among the more conspicuous waterbirds birdwatchers may encounter riding the Mburo boat cruise are the African fish eagle, shoebill stork, pied kingfisher, and various egrets, herons, Ross’s turaco, Narina trogon, and the elusive African finfoot.
A two-hour boat cruise on Lake Mburo in a small boat of 4-8 people capacity costs about $20 per person for foreigners and 30,000 Uganda Shillings per person for nationals. And a bigger boat costs about $30 per person. Prices are subject o capacity.
In addition to a boat cruise on Lake Mburo, you can explore the expanse of the park on a game drive, horseback safari, biking safari, and most exciting of them, the guided walking safari. Lake Mburo National Park’s uniqueness allows you to enjoy wildlife viewing without missing the big savannah game players.
Guided walks are a major highlight of visiting Lake Mburo and a great addition to your boat cruise. A walking safari in Lake Mburo National Park allows you to surprisingly get very close to wild animals, like the impala and zebra herds, on foot.
An armed expert ranger leads you off the beaten path through amazing savannah landscapes till you find yourself among a herd of calm ungulates.
If you’re a sucker for breathtaking landscape views, take the walking trail to the viewing platform that overlooks a salt lick about 2km from Rwonyo camp — it’s an excellent place to view the vastness of the park and a wide variety of animals.
The Rubanga Forest trail, in the southeastern part of the park, is an exciting walk for nature lovers and, particularly, birders. Other rewarding walking trails in the park include the salt lick trail, lake shorelines, and the trail to the hilltop viewpoint.
Game viewing at Lake Mburo may not match the other big safari parks, but the park’s slow pace and small size make for a moderately rewarding private safari game drive. The park is small enough for a game drive to find some of the common animals among the 68 mammal species present in the park, including zebra, impala, topi, eland, bushbuck, buffalo, warthog, leopard, hyena, and jackal.
Although the quality of game viewing along the park’s popular tracks is irregular, particularly during the wet season, tourists can view substantial concentrations of impala, zebra, waterbuck, topi, and buffalo within a 4-km radius.
A short game drive on Lake Mburo National Park’s savannah plains is a worthy addition to a boat cruise on Lake Mburo. And even most captivating are the late evening, night game drives that bring you closer to the night hunters like the elusive leopard, hyena and the nocturnal animals like the bushbabies. Guided night game drives in the park set off at 18:30 and can last for four hours.
If driving in the comfort of a 4×4 safari truck does not impress you, hop on horseback after your boat cruise and explore the savannah wild on the back of an animal. Other ungulates are more friendly to a human on a horse and tend to stick around in amazement. So you may get closer to them than expected — a unique way to experience Uganda’s wild wonders.
Horseback rides usually last four hours, hailing out of the Mihingo Lodge stable with an expert instructor. Even kids can join in the fun with ponies and then later join the sundowner to watch the golden sunset with a wine glass at the hilltop viewpoints.
If you’re an ardent birder, Lake Mburo National Park’s acacia woodland and wetlands are excellent birding spots to find the more than 300 bird species recorded around the park. After your boat cruise, you can explore the park’s avian diversity in the comfort of your vehicle, biking, or on foot. And to make bird spotting simpler for beginners, the park has viewing platforms constructed within the Rubanda forest and by salt-licks.
Lucky birders will come across the prehistoric Shoebill in the Waruki and Miriti swampy valleys, and also, the trail to the Rwonyo jetty provides some great sightings. Common bird species include the Rufous-bellied heron, bateleur, black-bellied bustard, and the Lake Mburo endemic red-faced barbet.
After your boat cruise on Lake Mburo, burn off some calories on the savannah game tracks and into the park’s surrounding communities on a mountain bike. Rwakobo Rock lodge, on the northern edge of the park close to Sanga gate entry, maintains a good fleet of mountain bikes and offers excellent guided rides through the park’s savanna plains and surrounding communities.
Biking through the local communities will introduce you to the local lifestyle and culture and allow you to get off the beaten path into the Mburo wilderness.
Because most travelers would rather avoid the high chances of drenching in the rain during the wet seasons, the best time for a boat cruise safari on Lake Mburo is during the dryer months of June to August and December to January.
However, the wet seasons on March to May and September to November still offer excellent wildlife viewing because the animals will be gathered in large numbers. You can still take the boat cruise any time of the year and still enjoy this small savannah park.
For the luxury traveler that wants to immerse in exquisite wilderness amenities, Mihingo Lodge is a perfect choice for a price of about $175 per person a night. Rwakobo Rock, Acadia Cottages, Mburo Eagle’s Nest, and Lake Mburo Safari Lodge provide accommodation at a mid-range budget of about $90 to $160 per person per night, including meals.
For budget travelers, Hyena Hill Lodge in the west of the park, Rwonyo Rest Camp, and Lake Mburo Campsite provide comfortable accommodation from $5 per person a night.
Nkuringo Safaris usually adds a visit to Lake Mburo National Park on most of the southwestern Uganda safari circuit to create a buffer between the long journey between the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Entebbe. A day or two of relaxed visits allows our guests to explore Lake Mburo on a boat cruise, take a walk on the wild savannah plains and get up high on the viewing platforms to enjoy the breathtaking landscape views.
Additionally, it’s a great alternative for explores that don’t want to go deeper into the western circuit but want to experience some of the savannah game thrills and are not really interested in the lions or elephants not found in the small park.
Whichever way you want to tailor your Uganda safari trip, our local safari experts will help you create a memorable holiday itinerary and explore your wild imagination of Africa. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at the numbers in the footer or chat with a Local using that huge green button on the bottom right corner.