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#WhispersInTheWild – Easter in Lake Mburo National Park!

oleebranch, lake mburo national park

It all started with a simple question, “Olive, have you ever been to Lake Mburo National Park?” My friend Sue asked. Lake Mburo National Park is the smallest national park situated on the Kampala – Mbarara highway in Western Uganda. I had been to Lake Mburo mid last year but I didn’t explore anything aside from the lunch I had at the luxurious Mihingo Lodge and the endless picturesque view at Rwakobo Rock, in that order.

oleebranch, lake mburo national park
Mihingo Lodge, Lake Mburo National Park
Rwakobo Rock, the restaurant view. (courtesy photo)
Rwakobo Rock, the restaurant view (courtesy photo)

I told her that I had and she wanted to know where to stay, what to do while there and of course, the damage to her wallet. I am the plotter of adventures in my circles of friends; I get asked questions like these quite often. If I don’t have much information about the place (which is the case most times) – I find out for them and I am always happy to plan the entire trip down to the T – one of my favorite pastimes! I told Sue to give me a few moments.

Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo National Park
Hammock life – Sue and I really enjoyed some downtime at Rwakobo Rock
More downtime at Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo National Park
More downtime at Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo National Park

For me, Rwakobo Rock; nestled on a scenic outcrop, was love at first sight. I imagined what it would be like watching the sun set into the plains, having dinner while staring out in the expanse of Savanna dotted with rocks and homesteads, nursing the “food baby” by laying out on the warm rock under the clear skies to watch the stars and the moon and not worry about leaving, listening to the whispers in the wild at night while nestled in a very comfortable bed with soft sheets and waking up to the view again. I wanted Sue to stay there and tell me all about it!

Rwakobo Rock, Lake Mburo National Park
Sue rushing in ahead of ahead of me for dinner at Rwakobo Rock in Lake Mburo National Park

A quick Rwakobo Rock search on the web took me to their website where I got their email address. Fifteen minutes after I had sent my inquiry; I received a reply showing rates, activities and a suggestion. I was keen on their safari tents at $50 full board per person per night. And while I was still chewing the insides of my lower lip at the maths, the gentleman at Rwakobo suggested that if we like, we could stay at a community tented camp for only 15,000 Ugandan shillings and go to Rwakobo Rock for meals, activities and some downtime; thereby saving money for activities… I stopped chewing my lip, sat up straighter, grabbed my phone to text Sue about the possibility of spending only 15,000 shillings a night on accommodation and asked her if she had company to which she replied, “No. Let’s go!” And that’s how I emptied my piggy bank and embraced the adventure!

I was under the impression that Lake Mburo National Park only had luxury lodges and glamorous camps best suited for what people in the elite travel circles call “glamping” – glamorous/luxury camping and nothing for us with struggling incomes and an insatiable wanderlust. It turns out that there are a number of community tented camps all over the national park and a call to the Uganda Wild Authority headquarters in Mburo got us booked into a double banda; Zebra House in Rwonyo Rest Camp, which is the center of most activities and it also had a bat nest, how thrilling!

Leaving our banda, Rwonyo Camp in Lake Mburo National Park
Leaving our banda, Rwonyo Camp in Lake Mburo National Park
Never a dull moment; the impalas crossing by our Zebra House
Never a dull moment; the impalas crossing by our Zebra House

Word is, Global Coaches is the king of the Kampala – Mbarara highway and with the holidays, it made total sense that they were overbooked. So we took the Mash Poa bus instead and left the city at 3 pm on Good Friday; not the best of ideas but certainly the most exciting since we had to use a boda boda (motorbike taxi) to travel about 12 kilometers from the main road to our camp in the night. Talk about a exhilarating night life!

Sue capturing the last of the sunset on our way for dinner at Rwakobo Rock
Sue capturing the last of the sunset on our way for dinner at Rwakobo Rock

We bumped into a herd of animals, we couldn’t tell which ones – but at first, all we saw was what looked like a swarm of huge fireflies which turned out to be beast eyes! My heart started racing, I whispered to Sue asking if she could imagine us getting killed out there by wild animals in the national park… She just shushed me.

The ride seemed to take so long that I almost started to worry about our safety, especially mine since there were three of us sharing the motorcycle and only a backpack between me and a potential predator’s teeth.

We reached our camp a little after 8 pm and someone was there to receive us, show us to our banda and a bathroom with warm water was definitely most welcome. We slept before 10 pm but the bats woke us up early to listen to the sounds of the wild. It was really nice to listen to the frogs, crickets and all kinds of birds…

Our little birdie buddy...
Our little birdie buddy…

After the usual morning rituals, we were ready to officially start our adventures by 8 am and could not wait to go by the information desk to find out what to do first.

Our spirits were almost dampened when we were told we would have to hire a car for a safari drive since UWA in Lake Mburo didn’t have safari vans although Rwakobo Rock, Mihingo Lodge and the other lodges in the park have theirs in numbers. Luckily for us, there was a guide who owned a motorcycle and we hired him to chauffeur us around the entire weekend! While we waited for him to arrive, we went to Arcadia Cottages where we were treated to full flasks of tea and an endless view of Lake Mburo.

Lake Mburo National Park
The view from Arcadia Cottages open restaurant…
Sue, breakfast and other guests...
Sue, breakfast and other guests…

After breakfast that consisted of fresh fruit, French toast and Spanish omelette – not in picture, we went by the lake side…

Guests returning from a boat ride on Lake Mburo
Guests returning from a boat ride on Lake Mburo
Children enjoying the lake...
Children enjoying the lake…
Lake Mburo National Park
The Lakeside Restaurant
Waiting for our ride...
Waiting for our ride…
And when it finally came, Sue couldn't wait to pose for photos with it...
And when it finally came, Sue couldn’t wait to pose for photos with it 🙂

Our guide, Moses finally came through and he was quite knowledgeable about the park, the animals and birds. It wasn’t long before we considered him a friend.

Lak Mburo National Park
Our guide checking our ride…

oleebranch impalas

Lake Mburo National Park
One of my favorite photos in Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is home to hundreds of buffaloes.
What's an African safari ride without an Acacia tree?
What’s an African safari ride without an Acacia tree?
Giraffe and I...
Giraffes and I…
Sue, Moses' hand and I on our safari
Sue, Moses’ hand and I on our safari
Sue and our guide...
Sue and our guide…
zebras lake mburo
Apparently a warthog eats while on its knees because its neck is too short…

We were on our safari ride for a little over two hours on a motor bike, without sunscreen and my sun hat kept flying off because of the wind. I got tired of chasing it around and got rid of it completely. We went back to our banda and freshened up for our boat trip.

By this time, my Nikon had become an ever present accessory!
By this time, my Nikon had become an ever present accessory!

lakeside restaurant lake mburo

The hippos side-eyeing us...
The hippos side-eyeing us…
These things are real scary up close, thank God my camera has good lens! Apparently they the most dangerous animal after the buffalo; or is it the other way around?
These things are really scary up close, thank God my camera has good lens! Apparently they are the most dangerous animal after the buffalo; or is it the other way around?
I captured the yawn!
I captured the yawn!

The guard told us a legend; that initially, hippos weren’t supposed to live in water. But the hippos made a deal; they promised the water god that they would not eat the fish and that their secretion would help the plankton thrive in water thereby providing food for the fish. Every time it yawns, it’s swearing to the water god, “I won’t eat your fish!” 🙂

But he also told us that hippos yawn because they’re simply bored. So, there is that too.

boat ride lake mburo

A lone fisherman in his canoe...
A lone fisherman in his canoe…
Family time; a father points out an impala for his son but the son has his eyes somewhere else...
Family time; a father points out an impala for his son but the son has his binoculars focused on something else…
Birding...
Birding…

another bird

Sue enjoying the water
Sue enjoying the water

Lake Mburo view

After the safari and boat trip, we had worked up quite the appetite and we could hardly wait for our three course dinner at Rwakobo Rock. We were so hungry we didn’t photograph our food, how unacceptable!

Moses, our guide joined us for dinner with tales of the national park; some hilarious – like how rain found him and a visiting white couple out on a nature walk and the lady panicked in case the African rain had side effects on her skin or her life in general…

And some pretty scary ones like how a hippo killed a community member and it had to be put down for good… And how all the predators we didn’t see during the day would come out and prowl the park at night. Listening to such tales at around 9:30 pm and 15 kilometers away from our camp left Sue and I wide eyed.

We almost contemplated talking to the Rwakobo Rock management about staying the night but the thrill of the possibility of almost getting killed that night and the fact that we couldn’t really afford to stay at Rwakobo Rock won.

Needless to say, the ride from Rwakobo Rock to Rwonyo Camp was the longest and the most dangerous boda boda ride we’ve ever taken in our lives and we lived to tell the tale…

Rwakobo Rock; so many rocks and not enough time...
Rwakobo Rock; so many rocks and not enough time…
Rock Corridors at Rwakobo Rock
Rock Corridors at Rwakobo Rock
Bendy on the rock because why not...
Bendy on the rock because why not…
Olive Nakiyemba
I am just a simple girl with just the right dose of princess syndrome, a mad passion for the outdoors, travel, reading, writing and vintage BMW.
http://www.oleebranch.com

14 thoughts on “#WhispersInTheWild – Easter in Lake Mburo National Park!

  1. But Olee can max life. I love the experience. It’s not that hard to actually take a trip outta the city. I have been to Mburo, my experience was slightly different but I do remember the animals, the lake and the views. Lovely place.

  2. This is embarrassing to say but I am the fool who stayed in Mbarara for 5 years and never visited this beautiful place.
    I am the fool who passed by in the bus and wondered what was up there but never to let my curiosity to follow its path.
    Now here I am awing to what I missed… SMH
    Thank you for this…

    1. Patricia, thank you. I guess it’s perfectly understandable. It’s not often that we explore we live. We assume it’s not an adventure until you get on the bus. Hopefully, you visit one day.

  3. Wow. Mind Shattering! Till this write up, I considered National Parks to be very expensive.

    I should consider all your choice of selection. Welcome back.

  4. Wow – well stipulated. It feels like I was on the trip with you all. Descriptive narration fused with humor, makes me want to visit the park and indulge in the same experience. Thank Olee.

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