Combined Bwindi Safari with Lake Mburo
A combined Bwindi gorilla safari with Lake Mburo national park takes you to the smallest national parks in the country one hosting primates and the other wildlife species. Both Bwindi gorilla park and Lake Mburo national park are found on the western side of the country. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is found in the extreme south western part of the country and Lake Mburo national park is found on the western side in Kiruhura district.
Bwindi impenetrable forest national park covers a total area of 331 sq. km that are occupied by mountain gorillas, other 10 primates, 120 mammals, and 350 bird species. Lake Mburo national park which is the smallest savannah park covers an area of sq. km full of different antelope species and zebras. This combined safari can start in Kigali which is the nearest airport to Bwindi or start from Entebbe if you used Entebbe international airport. The safari can as well start from Kigali, head to Bwindi, then Lake Mburo and Entebbe international airport.
What to do on a combined Bwindi gorilla safari with Lake Mburo national park
Encountering mountain gorillas
Encountering mountain gorillas in Bwindi would be the major activity on this safari and it’s done in Bwindi gorilla park. The gorilla trekking activity can be done in the Buhoma sector, Nkuringo sector, Ruhija sector, and Rushaga sector. A traveler would need to be with a gorilla trekking permit to encounter these mountain gorillas and this is normally got direct from the Uganda Wildlife Authority or a trusted local tour operator.
There are 19 mountain gorilla families that are available for trekking and 2 for habituation in Bwindi gorilla park. Trekking mountain gorillas in Bwindi will start early in the morning, the trekkers must wake up for morning breakfast and then meet the driver guides to take them to the sector offices. Here they will meet park wardens who will teach them about the rules and regulations of the activity, allocate gorilla families and then get armed ranger guides to lead the trek.
The gorilla trekking activity takes 2-7 hours and the time taken to locate the mountain gorilla family depends on the location of the gorilla group and the speed of the trekkers. Trekking gives you an opportunity to meet different park animals such as buffaloes, bush pigs, duikers, giant forest hogs, birds, and much more. The moment the gorilla family is sighted, armed ranger guides give trekkers one hour to be around the gorilla family, watch the members do daily activities, take photos and learn about the gorilla habits.
Bird watching is one of the possible activities that can be done on a combined Bwindi safari with Lake Mburo national park. Bird watching can be done in both Bwindi gorilla park and Lake Mburo national park. Bwindi gorilla park is home to 350 bord species which can be spotted in the different areas of the park and Lake Mburo national park is home to 353 bird species. Birding in these national parks is a guided activity done using different birding trails.
Some of the bird species to see in Lake Mburo national park and Bwindi gorilla park include African wattled lapwing, red-faced barbet, greater painted-snipe, saddle-billed stork, papyrus gonolek, olive-breasted sunbird, blue-headed turaco, African finfoot, crowned hornbill, grey crested crane, African broadbill, handsome francolin, black-bee-eater, regal sunbird, and Rwenzori apalis among others.
Game viewing activities on a combined Bwindi safari with Lake Mburo national park can be done in Lake Mburo. The national park has morning game drives, evening game drives, and night game drives where you get opportunities to see nocturnal animals. Lake Mburo national park is the best place to do night game drives in Uganda where you get opportunities to see animals such as bush pigs, genet cats, mongooses, and leopards among others. Normal game drives in Bwindi gorilla park give you a chance to see animals such as zebras, oribis, duikers, giraffes, hippos, elands, impalas, klipspringers, lions, and reedbucks among others.
Boat cruise in Lake Mburo
On a combined Bwindi safari with Lake Mburo, you can be part of the boat cruise activity. The boat cruise can be done in the morning or evening based on your itinerary. The boat cruise activities in Lake Mburo national park is done on Lake Mburo which is the biggest lake in the park. Boat cruise activities are guided by the park rangers who take you around the lake telling you different information about the park, lake, animals, and birds. The boat cruise starts at the Rwonyo jetty on the western side of the lake and takes you around the lake for 2 hours. During the boat cruise, you will be able to see different park animals such as crocodiles, hippos, zebras, Uganda kobs, birds such as African fish eagle, shoebill stork, kingfisher, cormorants, papyrus gonolek, African jacana, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, and white-winged warbler among others.
Batwa community tour
Batwa community tour is done in Bwindi gorilla park mostly in the Buhoma region. The activity does take travelers to the Batwa communities where they meet the short people in the country. Bwindi gorilla park was home to the Batwa until 1990-1991 when the government evicted them out to protect the mountain gorillas, wild animals, and the forest.
The Batwa decided to settle around the park boundaries and this is where you meet them you visit the park. The visit to the Batwa community is led by local guides who take you around the park boundaries telling you stories of how they used to live and survive in the jungle. They lead you to different homes around their communities where you meet and interact with people, be part of the day to day activities, visit the gift shops, meet traditional healers, and get entertained by the traditional local dancers.
When to visit Bwindi and Lake Mburo national park?
A safari to Bwindi and Lake Mburo national park can be done at any time of the year but there are months that are better than the rest. The dry months from June to September and December to February are the best to visit these parks because they are characterized by little or no rainfall. During the dry months, the roads leading to the park are passable, the vegetation in the parks is short giving clear views of the animals and the trekking trails/game drive trails are dry.
Bwindi gorilla park and Lake Mburo national park can also be visited in the rainy season of March to May and October to November. During such months, a traveler will enjoy huge discounts on accommodation facilities because the prices are lowered to attract a few tourists to the park. The rainy season however comes with different challenges such as too much rainfall and this makes the roads leading to the park impassable, the trekking trails/game drive trails are muddy and slippery and the vegetation is tall with unclear views of the park animals.