The drive to Lake Mburo National Park (LMNP) was along roads we had been before. We headed south from Kichwamba before joining the main road to Masaka.
As I have commented previously, we still couldn’t get over how many people walk on the roads here. All life is centred around the main roads. The markets, the shops, the houses. It’s even where people sit chilling. Great from our perspective as we could see a lot of things just from our seats.
Just over half way into the trip, we stopped at Mbarara for food, it was nice to see the towns and cities here, but they were super chaotic. The traffic was always quite bad and the parking was difficult. Just after Mbarara, we turned off onto a murram road towards Lake Mburo and our nights’ accommodation. After our fancy rondavel with inclusive meals and pool, I decided we needed a bit of grounding again, so checked us into a tent on top of a hill in the middle of the National Park. The views from the top, and even from inside our tent, were amazing.
We woke early again to get into the park at dawn. It was really cold that morning high on the hill in the mist. We packed the car with lots of water again and headed out to the entrance gate. When we arrived at the gate there was a single security guard there who said that nobody was in the gate to issue our tickets. The opening times were on the door and it should have been open. The security guard phoned someone and told us that she was on her way and was running late. We waited for almost 30 minutes before the National Park official arrived on foot, with a huge backpack… we suddenly didn’t feel so bad for waiting in our heated car. We also had company, there were some black-faced monkeys which were pretty cute in the trees around us, and we also took the opportunity to chat to the security guard.
Lake Mburo is famous for it’s vast number of zebra, and more recently, a tower of giraffes that were reintroduced to the park after they were lost in the 80s. We really wanted to see the giraffes, but the security guy told us it would be almost impossible to see them. The family is only 15 animals-large, and there are a lot of trees in the Park. He told us not to get our hopes up, but did suggest a trail in the park which is the most likely spot for them.
After getting our ticket and snapping a photo of the map at the office, we headed of immediately to the trail the security guy suggested. I was looking out the left windows, Pete out the right.
After about 10 minutes, Pete slams on and just points…
Right in front of us, just off the trail to the right is a lone giraffe! We could not believe our luck! We drove a little forward to find a better vantage point then turned the engine off and got the binocs out.
We sat and watched it for a good 10 minutes before it slinked off into the dense foliage. We tried to find it again from different positions both on and off the road, but it had gone.
Still, what an experience, we were totally buzzing!
Feeling totally on form for the day, we continued our safari. We saw hippos, warthogs, a huge buzzard in a tree, Thompson gazelles, kudu antelope and other antelope we weren’t sure of, and, also excitingly, Zebra! The day was progressing nicely. We sat and watched ‘a dazzle’ of zebra for a while, they were very funny and when we tried to drive off, just walked in the road ahead of us.
To be honest, we thought it couldn’t get much better. We had seen all the animals we wanted to. Even the giraffes, which we were told we extremely difficult to find. But just up ahead, after the zebra moved from the road, we saw something truly magical…
The whole tower of giraffe right there in the road and in the open in front of us!
We took our time edging forward, not wanting to scare them off, but after a while, they got used to our presence and we managed to get extremely close as we followed the family to a watering hole. Once we were as close as we dared. We turned the engine off and just watched.
We were in this spot for at least an hour, watching the giraffe walk gracefully around the water and try and drink, not so gracefully! Buffalo turned up, more zebra, warthogs, ducks, we even spotted a hippo in the water. It was truly amazing spending time with these wild animals. What a day!
After an incredible day, we headed back out of the park, not before a quick stop to see the lake that this national park gets it’s name from. On the way out, we drove through a police car check point. They asked to see our tickets and which way we were going. We were initially concerned, but it turned out the guy’s boss just wanted a lift to the main village about 10 minutes up the road! He said he was police chief of the police in this region and his motorbike had broken down. We were inclined to believe him given the amount of police around who all seemed to know him.
After dropping him off, we continued on our road trip and our next stop, which was a night on the Sesse islands, the islands in Lake Victoria. What a day in LMNP, we were so lucky with the giraffes that it almost made up for not seeing the lions the previous day!