My favourite game park in Uganda is Lake Mburo. Otherwise how would I explain my three visits in less than four years?
This is what turns me on about Lake Mburo: The sight of the black and white stripped zebras running ahead of a vehicle. Also, the giraffes that have made Lake Mburo their home since they were translocated from Murchison Falls in 2015.
It is also the fact that you are able to see buffalos, hippos, antelopes name it– all before you even go to bed, and some barely before you reach the gate to pay your entry fees.
That is Lake Mburo for you!
Elsewhere, you might need to travel a whole day, check in before you choose to do an evening drive or if you are tired, an early morning drive. And if you wake up late, you could miss the drive, but your time and money is not be reimbursed.
At Lake Mburo, which lies between rivers Akagera in the south and Katonga in the north, there are no such story.
It occupies less than 40 per cent of its original size as pastoralist communities have set up flourishing cattle ranches due to the need for more land to graze their animals. Even then, it is at Lake Mburo that you witness human and wildlife coexistence at its best as people, domestic and wild animals ‘freely’ interact on the 371 square kilometers park.
But it is during the journey to Lake Mburo that you will be treated to the sight of several rolling hills, grassy valleys, acacia forest and several lakes.
It is ‘Lake Mburo’, which forms part of the wetland systems together with 13 others, that the park derives its name.
Five of the 13 lakes are within the park while the rest are outside. Actually, when you climb Kazuma hill, a high viewing point, you could see most of the park stretching from Nakivale in Isingiro District where refugees from DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi have settled. You will also see lakes Mburo, Kigambira, Kibikwa, Kazuma and Bwara. The famous River Rwizi that is said to be drying up is part of this ecosystem which drains into Lake Victoria.
The park also neighbours Lyantonde, Mbarara, Isingiro, Ibanda and Rakai districts.
It is in this game park that Brig Charles Bakahumura, is building a tented lodge on the shores of the calm Lake Kigambira, one of the five lakes that make the park a wildlife paradise.
When complete in the next couple of weeks, Kigambira Safari Lodge will be one of the most beautiful dwellings in Uganda’s wilderness.
Last weekend, I was among few selected guests who toured the progress of the 10- tent facility.
At the centre of the camp is a magnificent grass thatched structure that will be used for dining and wining.
It overlooks Lake Kigambira.
Other facilities at the camp – which will be accessible within five hours from Entebbe Airport, and at least three and half hours, from Kampala – also include comfortable quarters for staff.
It is expected to be the most ideal place to stay in Lake Mburo, because it located in an area that allows you to see everything Lake Mburo can offer.
Bakahumura got a concession from Uganda Wildlife Authority to develop the tented lodge and Uganda Development Bank extended a loan to fund the project.
About the Park
Lake Mburo National Game Park is the fourth most visited national park, after Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Bwindi national parks respectively.
Of the four parks, Lake Mburo in Kiruhura District also known as the “Whispers of the Wild” is nearest to Kampala capital city, located only 253km. Queen Elizabeth is 389km, Murchison falls (305km) and Bwindi 512km.
Lake Mburo is also the biggest home for zebras in Uganda together with impressive populations of impala, eland, buffalo, oribi, defassa waterbuck, leopard, hippo, hyenas, topi and reedbuck, and now Rothschild giraffes which in June 2015 were translocated from Murchison Falls National park in Nwoya District, northern Uganda.
You can reach Kigambira Safari lodge via three routes into the park. Sanga is one of them, only 23km off Masaka-Mbarara road. The others are Nshara Gate which is 29km to the park and Igongo Cultural Centre.