Cultural visits in Lake Mburo national park
Lake Mburo national park is smallest national park in Uganda situated in western region of Uganda in kiruhura district 30 kilometers by road east of mbarara. Lake Mburo national park is a great habitant of wildlife covering an area of 240 square kilometers, the park was gazetted in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and because of the big population of wildlife in the park it was upgraded to a national park in 1963.
Lake Mburo national park is a home to many animals which live in the savannah vegetation and rolling hills dominated plains of the park, animals in the park include as zebra, hippopotamus, impala, warthog, common eland, African buffalo, jackal, African leopard, antelopes and many more. Lake Mburo national park is a bird haven hosting over 350 bird species which include red papyrus gonolek, black papyrus gonolek, and yellow papyrus gonolek found in the papyrus swamp areas, Abyssinian ground hornbill, African fishing eagle and many more.
A safari in Lake Mburo national park can never be entirely amazing without embarking on cultural visits in the local communities living around the boundaries of the park, cultural visits in these communities are not just for fun but they unveil another dimension of life setting unique and different from the one you are used to as a tourist. The borders of Lake Mburo national park are settlement areas of Banyankole and bahima communities, initially the land in which Lake Mburo stretches through was a tribal land for Banyankole and bahima before it was gazetted and on your visit in these communities you will witness their rich cultural heritage and cultural activities such as
Cultural dances and traditional songs
A visit in the Banyankole and bahima communities you get to enjoy the authentic culture and norms of these communities which is demonstrated through dance and drama with traditional songs. The famous traditional dances Ekitaguriro is the most amazing and interesting aspect of visiting the communities, through traditional drama acts is an opportunity for you to learn more about the traditions and norms of these people.
Since the Banyankore and bahima generally rare livestock they following cultural activities are related to livestock
- okukama (milking the cow using hands)
- okurisa (cattle grazing by themselves )
- okuragaza (brushing the cows)
- omubanda (playing grazing instruments such as the flutes)
- okusetura (setting out with the herds of cattle to the grazing land)
- okweyera n’okwarira ekihongore ky’enyena (preparing a calf’s pen)
- okurika emiheiha (crafting milk pot lids)
- obwitizo n’ebiti by’okwitira (selecting grass and tree species)
- Ekicunga (using handmade ceramic)
- Okwozya n’okwitira Ebyanzi (cleaning and smoking milk pots)
- Okurunga eshabwe (preparing of traditional sauce made from cow ghee traditionally without fire)
- Okwotsya n’okukara enyama (traditionally roasting and grilling meat)
- Okwesherera ah bwato bw’itaka (watering cows on soil made water troughs)
Though tribal Banyankole and bahima are known for rearing cattles, they also practice crop farming majorly banana plantations with a mixture of other crops and visiting these plantations you come into contact and witness activities like
- Okukura omwaata (participating in weeding)
- Okusharura (harvesting bananas and other crops depending on the season)
- Okubyara (planting crops)
- Okusharira (pruning) and many more activities
In order to offer amazing cultural encounters to the tourists and for the benefit of the locals and the community at large UCOTA (Uganda community tourism Association) in partnership with Uganda wildlife authority have embarked on offering training to the 13 identified communities living around lake Mburo national park. This training consisted of community based tourism concept development, community tourism operations planning, community tourism business planning, community tourism marketing, sales and product development, community tourism planning and interactive guiding. This training is to make sure the communities offering amazing experience to the visitors and also earn a living from it, 9 of these groups have successfully finished the training. These groups consists of 294 members and offer their own activities and they include
The Rwenjura campsite
Rwenjura campsite offers traditional activities like processing of organic food, juice and traditional cattle watering adventure. As a tourist you get a chance to participate in these amazing activities.
Igongo cultural institute
Igongo cultural institute offers you a visit to Igongo cultural museum, this museum showcases the culture and heritage of western tribes including Banyankole and bahima through artifacts displayed in the museum. In this community you get to engage in activities like traditional cooking and preparing of millet bread, local mayonnaise “Eshabwe”, milk chumming and traditional dance performances which is an amazing experience.
Ankole community tourism group
In Ankole community tourism group you encounter activities like local processing of milk chumming, ghee making and making of crafts from local materials. Village walks and tree planting exercise are also offered in this community.
Rwammuhuka handcraft makers
Rwammuhuka handcraft makers community generally makes craft pieces using local materials and hands, they sell the crafts to visitors to earn a living.
Rwabarata drama group
Rwabarata drama group is a dance and drama group offering entertaining ancient Banyankole dances called the Ekitaguriro, this kind of dance is amazing and entertaining to watch and participating in it will give you an exercise retreat.
Nshara community tourism group
Nshara community tourism group is a famous community among communities around Lake Mburo national park, this group operates a hand craft shop which sells hand craft pieces to visitors. This group offers natural walks and manages a camping site which is open for campers.
Ssana community lodge
Ssana community lodge is an accommodation facility offering basic accommodation and camping sites to tourists on a safari to Lake Mburo national park.
Rubale fishing community
Rubale fishing community offers two activities to visitors that is fishing adventures and traditional fish processing tour.
Masha community wildlife forum
Masha community wildlife forum is an interesting community offering traditional bee keeping tour into bee keeping gardens and nature walks into the local community.
How to get Lake Mburo national park
Lake Mburo national park is a very accessible, the park is situated 235.9 kilometers by road from Kampala a drive of 4-5 hours and can be reached using different gates and routes. From Kampala the park is reached using Kampala- mbarara route.
Where to stay in Lake Mburo national park
While on a cultural visit in Lake Mburo national park accommodation can be got from Mburo safari lodge, Rwakobo rock lodge, leopard rest camp, Arcadia lodge, Mihingo lodge, Mburo eagles nest, Lake Mburo safari lodge and many more. These accommodation facilities comfortable beddings and mouthwatering meals plans according to your preferences.