Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest of Uganda’s savannah national parks. Often overlooked due to its larger counterparts, it still remains a bit of a hidden gem and definitely worth a visit if you want to experience a safari with little to no predators. In Lake Mburo National Park you can, in the company of a ranger, safely explore the park on foot, on a horse or from the comfort of a car. Lake Mburo National Park also has a great camping spot by the lake, so if you happen to have a car with a tent or camping equipment with you, make sure you book a night at the camping place as well!
A few Lake Mburo National Park facts
- Size of park: 370km2.
- Altitude: 1,220m – 1,828m above sea level.
- There are over 13 lakes in the area.
- The national park is home to over 350 bird species.
- Home to the largest population of zebras in Uganda, estimated at about 5,000.
- Wetland habitats comprise 20% of the park’s surface.
- 20% of the park’s entrance fee is used to fund local community projects such as building clinics and schools.
Lake Mburo National Park entrance fee
You pay for your entrance permit at the park gate or online. If you pay at the park, make sure you bring cash, because they tend to have lots of problems with card readers at national parks in general. You can pay in US Dollars or Ugandan Shillings and make sure you keep the receipt in a safe place because they will check it when you exit. The park fees are always charged per person/24 hours:
- $40 USD for adult non-residents (tourists)
- $10 USD for children non-residents (tourists)
- $30 USD for foreign residents
- $5 USD for East African Citizens (this is the rate you will pay for your driver)
- $8 USD for your rental vehicle per (multiple) day visit.
- $10 USD camping permit
How to get to Lake Mburo National Park
We travelled to Lake Mburo NP with a rental and driver from Roadtrip Uganda and can highly recommend you book with them as well.
If you start your drive from Kampala, you will reach Lake Mburo National Park via Masaka in about 5-6 hours. The best way to start the day is by leaving Kampala in the early morning hours, so you arrive at Lake Mburo NP for a late afternoon game drive. I recommend packing some snacks for every road trip because you will not always find a store.
Tip: make a stop at the equator on the way to Lake Mburo. It’s just by the side of the road and you don’t have to spend more than 10 minutes there.
Game drive at Lake Mburo National Park
We did an afternoon game drive, camping and a morning game drive, as well as a horse safari at Lake Mburo. Here are a few tips you’ll find useful on your visit to this park:
- If you aren’t traveling with a driver, then make sure you get an UWA ranger as a guide. In my opinion, it is the single most important thing to book on a safari – you’ll really want to know what each animal is and where you can spot them. The drivers and rangers also know each other, so they generally tip each other on locations of certain animals. We would not have seen giraffes here if it wasn’t for the communication between our driver and the park ranger. The cost for a ranger is $20 for a morning or afternoon and a tip of around $10 is highly appreciated.
- Best time to see animals is late afternoon or very early in the morning. So unless you’ve camped in the park, you’ll want to drive to an accommodation nearby the night before.
- Camping in this park was our favorite! Buy the permit at the park entrance, get some supplies from a local market on the way from Kampala and spend the night by Lake Mburo, listening to sounds of hippos and other wildlife.
- Even though there are hardly any predators at Lake Mburo National Park, you’ll still have to be careful and respect animals in the park, especially lone buffalos, hippos at night and elephants.
There are so many animals in this park, you will not be bored!
Camping in the bush
Unless you are not feeling too comfortable being surrounded by wildlife, there is no reason you shouldn’t experience camping in the bush at Lake Mburo National Park.
Once you’re done with your afternoon game drive, you can start making your way towards the public UWA campsite, where you can prepare dinner by your car or buy something at the restaurant.
If you decide to cook yourself, as we did, then I would suggest you test making a local dish called matooke katogo! Go to a local market on your way from Kampala and buy 2 red onions, 5 tomatoes and 9 matooke (small green bananas). The matooke are like potatoes, so don’t eat them like bananas! Peel the matooke and chop all the ingredients however you want. Boil for about 30 min and it’s ready to eat! This makes enough for 4 people.
After dinner just enjoy a drink by the bonfire, sleep under the stars and listen to the hippos at the lake.
If you want to experience a Ugandan safari on a horse, then booking a horse safari is the way to go! While it definitely isn’t the cheapest experience in Uganda, we paid $60 per person per hour. These are not in all national parks, only where there are no or few predators.
We booked our horse safari with Mihingo Lodge and as far as I know, they are the only ones with this kind of experience in the area. If you happen to be a guest in their lodge, then you’ll most likely get a time and day confirmation straight away. If not, then skip trying to email them. They do not respond whatsoever. We had our driver call them the night before we arrived and managed to get an hour of horse safari. It’s worth the hassle due to the nature of the experience, but they could definitely improve on customer service.