LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
Lake Mburo National park is situated in the Ankole Sub-region in Mbarara district. The park lies about 238km Southwest of Kampala capital and covers a total area of about 370Km.It derives its name from the most distinct feature Lake Mburo.An Ankole myth has it that once there lived two brothers, Kigarama and Mburo. The brothers lived in a large river valley called Rwizi. One-night Kigarama had a horrible dream about the valley. He told his brother Mburo about the dream and told him that they should move to the hills. Mburo refused and Kigarama left for the hills alone.One day, the valley flooded from heavy rains and Mburo was drowned; hence the name Mburo for the lake and Kigarama for the hills.
Before the area was gazzeted, it was used as a hunting ground for the Ankole people. The Banyankole Bahima would graze their livestock from the area as well. It was gazzeted in 1933 as a controlled hunting ground and later upgraded to a game reserve in 1963. However, the Bahima continued to graze their cattle from the area and in 1983 the area was transformed into a National park by the government of Milton Obote. The trans formation of the area is believed to have been a move to weaken the Banyankole who were at the time in support of anti-Obote rebels.
Attractions In Lake Mburo National Park
The Banyankole are a tribe under the Ankole Kingdom, one of the six Kingdoms in Ugand belonging to the Bantu Ethnic Group.A myth has it that the creator of heaven and earth, locally known as ‘Ruhanga’ (creator) had his brother Nkya. Nkya always complained tha everything seemed so normal and was bored. Therefore, Ruhanga created heaven and earth. Ruhanga asked Nkya were he preferred to live and Nkya chose earth. He complained to Ruhanga that he was bored on earth as well, therefore Ruhanga created flowers, goats, shrubs, sheep and other things which would accompany Nkya’s stay on earth. Later, Ruhanga gave Nkya three sons. Inorder to name them, Nkya put up a test which would determine the names each would be called. He put a basket of Sweet potatoes, strips of ox hide and ox head along the path to his home. The eldest son ate the potatoes alone and the young ones carried the ox hide and head back home. In the second test, he gave them pots of Milk and ordered them to carry the pots throughout the night without spilling pouring the milk. The youngest son poured his milk as he dozed off. When he woke up, he asked his brothers to re-fill his pot, which they did. Eventually, they also dozed off and poured their milk. When they woke up, they asked the youngest to share with them some of the milk he had. He refused to do so and when their father woke up, he was impressed by the alertness of his youngest son. The elder brothers told their father that the youngest of them had poured his milk and asked them to re fill his pot which they did, but he refused to share the milk he had with them when they poured theirs. Nkya was more impressed by his youngest son, of how he managed to convince his elder brothers to give him Milk.
He therefore named him Kakama and gave him authority to rule his elder brothers and everything on Earth. The second son was named Kahima for he brought back the ox hide in order to tie cow’s legs during milking. He was given the responsibility of taking care of cows. The eldest son was named Kairu and was given the hardest responsibility of cultivating land to provide food for his brothers.
From the Myth, it is believed that the Ankole people are descendants of Kahima. This is evident from the large herds of cattle in their possession. The area of the Ankole region is popularly known as the ‘Land of Milk’. This is because of the large herd of cattle in the area. Among the Banyankole, cattle is an essential aspect because it is regarded as wealth. The more cattle one has, the wealthier he is regarded. Cattle is also used as bride price upon marriage, making it an important item among the Banyankole. They are stratified into two groups which include Bahima and Bairu. The Bahima have the role of keeping the cattle and are believed to be the true descendants of Kahima; while the Bairu are wholly agriculturalists, descendants of Kairu. However, a Mwiru or Iru (singular of Bairu) who acquires many cattle is referred to as ‘Mwambari’; while a Muhima or Hima (singular of Bahima) who owns few cattle is referred to as Murasi. The two stratified groups however depend on each other. Bahima exchange cattle products for agricultural products with the Bairu, and the Bairu exchange agricultural products for cattle products with the Bahima. Some of the cattle products include Milk, beef, hide, dung which is used as manure to facilitate the growth of cultivated crops. Agricultural products include sweet potatoes, Bananas, Irish potatoes, millet local beer and many more. Banyankole’s staple food is millet. It is believed that 90% of the Banyankole population constitutes of Bairu people. However, Kingship is only acquired by the Bahima. Traditionally, marriage was arranged by the parents without the knowledge or consent of the boy or girl. However, some of the customs of marriage among Ankole people declared that a girl would not get married unless all her elder sisters were married. If the boy’s family paid bride price for a girl whose elder sisters were un-married, upon the day of taking their daughter in law, they were given the elder un-married sisters instead of the young one. Therefore, it would be upon the boy’s family to pay more bride price price in order to be granted the permission to marry the intended girl. The bride price was set by the girl’s father and was upon the boy’s father to pay.
It is believed that a large heard of cattle belonging to the boy’s father would be put out in the field and the girl’s father would choose his strongest son to throw a spear over the cattle. All the cattle the spear would have flown over would be the bride price for the girl. It is believed that if the girl was a virgin, her aunt would be present to witness her first sexual intercourse and advise her accordingly on what to do during that time. She would also study the boy’s potentiality of whether he could give her pleasure or not. When the process was finished, she was supposed to give a report to the girl’s family about the proceedings of their first sexual intercourse. If the girl happened to divorce the boy, the cattle paid as bride price would be returned to the boy’s father or family. The practice locally known as ‘okuteeraoruhoko’, is a phrase used to describe the practice a boy would do to girls whom had deliberately refused to love or marry him; forcing them to do so without their consent and much preparations. The practice would involve acts like getting hold of a cock and throw it in the compound of the girls homestead and then ran away. The girl had to be rushed to the boy’s home immediately and bride price paid later, and at times less than what the girl’s family would have asked for. Another kind of the practice was smearing millet flour grinded by the girl on her face as it was still on the winnowing tray used to collect the flour from the grinding stone. However, the practice required a great skill of athletics. If the boy did the Oruhoko practice while the girl’s family was at home, they would chase after him before he could disappear. If he was caught, the punishment for his practice would be inflicting too much or double bride price upon marrying their daughter; and if the girl happened to divorce, the extra bride price was not returned to the boy’s family.
This is the most distinctive feature in the park. The lake derives its name from a myth that asserts that once there lived two brothers, Kigarama and Mburo. The brothers lived in a large river valley called Rwizi. One night Kigarama had a horrible dream about the valley. He told his brother Mburo about the dream and told him that they should move to the hills. Mburo refused and Kigarama left for the hills alone. One day, the valley flooded from heavy rains and Mburo was drowned; hence the name Mburo for the lake and Kigarama for the hills. Lake Mburo is the largest of the five lakes in the park.
Wildlife in Lake Mburo National Park
Some of the mammals include crocodiles, hippos, buffaloes, Impala, leopards, Waterbuck, hyna, reedbuckand many more.
Birds in Lake Mburo National Park
The Park supports the presence of a minimum of 350 bird species, making it one of the prime bird viewing destinations in Uganda.
Activities In Lake Mburo National Park
Being home to about 350 bird species, Lake Mburo national park is one of the prime bird viewing destinations in Uganda.Some of the birdsviwed in these areas include Red-headed lovebird, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Black bellied bustard and many more
The activity involves a one on one encounter with the Banyankole people. The Banyankole people have a rich heritage of tradition. The encounter involves activities such as setting out to the grazing land with the large herd of cattle, hand milking locally known as ‘okukama’, playing grazing instruments such as flutes which are locally known as ‘omubanda’ and many other activities associate with cattle keeping of the Bahima. Besides cattle, the cultural encounter will involve agricultural activities with the Bairu. Some of the activities include crop cultivation, weeding and harvesting; depending on the season of the encounter. The encounter will also involve preparation of some of the local dishes of the Banyankole such as Matooke (cooked bananas), millet and other foods using local firewood.
Horseback riding is done by Mihingo lodge. Wildlife and other features can be viewed while riding a horse. A good scenery at hilltops and there’s an option of bush breakfast or evening tea. The activity lasts between 30min to a full day.
About 6 species of fish are found in Lake Mburo. They include Tilapia which is the dominant species; lung fish, mud fish and others. Fishing permit costs US$15 (1 day) US$25(4 days).
Nature walks can be done in the swampy valleys of Warukiri and Miriti. At Miriti, there is a salt lick; A nature walk at Rubanga Forest.About 72Km west of Mbarara town in Sheema County, is the Kitagata Hotspring. Kitagata is a Runyankole word that means ‘it boils’. The sulphur rich springs are believed to be having healing powers by the locals. Many people deep themselves in the water half-nude and others completely nude. There are two springs, one known as Ekyomugabe (named after the kingly title, Omugabe) and Mulago named after Uganda’s biggest and oldest national hospital, Mulago in Kampala. A minimum of 200 people bathe in the springs on a daily basis. One is not supposed to use soap to bathe, smoke or make noise while deepen in the springs. The hot springs are believed to have been formed due to the tectonic forces beneath the earth’s surface. The water has a temperature of about 80°C.
The game drive is suitable in the east of the park where most of the wildlife is found. Also, good scenery of the woodland, wetlands and valleys is viewed.
Accommodation in Lake Mburo National Park
The lodge is located east of the park and has 12 luxury en-suite canvas tented rooms and a bush camp. The lodge has facilities such as wireless internet, modern swimming pool, dinning area, relaxing area and a fully stocked bar.
Mburo Safari Lodge
The Lodge is situated west of the park and has 10 en-suite cottages, 2 being for family.. It also has a camping ground were one can carry their own tent or be provided to by the lodge. There are facilities such as restaurant, swimming pool, wireless internet and a fully stocked bar
Eagles Nest Lodge
It is situated near the Sanga gate and has 12 safari tents each having 2 beds, a private veranda overlooking the park and an outside bathroom.
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How to get to Lake Mburo National Park
Kampala – Masaka – Mbarara
The distance from Kampala to Masaka is 131Km and Lasts for approximately 2Hrs.
From Masaka to Mbarara (also known as the land of Milk because of high number of cattle in the area); the distance is approximately 138Km and lasts for about 1Hr 50min.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK UGANDA
The rebels were led by the current President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Museven belonged to the Banyankole tribe thus being the cause of the transformation of the area into a National Park by Obote in 1983. However, at the end of 1985, when Obote was forced into exile by Museveni’s army, the Banyankole re-occupied the area of the park. They expelled park staff, destroyed infrastructure and resumed with hunting activities. The area was re-gazzetted by the NRM government in 1986.
Situated few degrees south of the Equator along coordinates (00 36S, 30 57E), Lake Mburo National parks experiences a tropical kind of climate. It is flanked by the Rwenzori Mountains to the West and Lake Victoria to the East. This puts the park in the rain shadow for both features, receiving annual rainfall of about 800mm. The park has two rain seasons; from March to May and September to December. Due to its proximity to the Equator, the temperatures are constant, ranging between 14 to 26°C.
Lake Mburo National Park is the closest National Park to Kampala 240km about 3 – 4 hours’ drive and boasts of counts of biodiversity and amazing scenic landscapes. The park is situated in the traditional range lands of the Bahima pastoralist.
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MAP OF LAKE MBURO NATIONAL PARK
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