Flights to Mbarara
Mbarara is a busy town in south-western Uganda with good tourist services and close access to several regional wildlife parks. The city will offer all basic services but with little luxury. Most main roads through Mbarara are paved though traffic can be a little congested with vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles and the occasional livestock all competing for space.
The small Mbarara Airport (airport code: MBQ) doesn’t handle much commercial air traffic so your flight to Mbarara will have to arrive at the larger Entebbe International Airport (airport EBB) which is 200km away. There are some public buses though you may be better off getting a taxi or a rental car. South African Airways has a non-stop flight to Mbarara arriving in Entebbe or you can travel through Dar Es Salaam with Precision Air Services. Air Botswana has a 2-stop route through Gaborone and Nairobi.
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The Tourist Attractions of Mbarara:
Igongo Cultural Centre
The Cultural Centre is a spot for visitor information just outside of Mbarara towards Lake Mburo. There is a small recreated cultural village, a restaurant, some shops and a museum on the grounds. The building complex used to be a royal palace from the 17th century, so even the buildings have a historical interest.
Lake Mburo National Park
Lake Mburo National Park is just a few kilometres to the east but the main access road is a little farther north around the park. Though it is not a very large park compared to others in Uganda, you can still see several of the main African game animals. There are sizable herds of zebra, buffalo and impala across the grasslands that make up most of the park’s area. There are campgrounds for overnight stays, and the park is well-maintained overall.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
For a larger park, you can head west and north. The Queen Elizabeth National Park is on the shores of Lake Edward and also includes additional protected areas like the Kigezi Game Reserve and the Kyambura Game Reserve. Much of the park is savannah but there is also a long lake shoreline and some areas with volcanic stone formations. Lake Mburo is a great park to start with because it is so close to Mbarara, but there are many more animals to see at Queen Elizabeth; lions, elephants, hippos (by the lake), chimpanzees, leopards and many more. The lions in this park have a unique habit of climbing trees, so you may be lucky enough to get a photo of one up in the branches.
Within the park there are several tourist lodges and you can arrange guided safari tours by jeep. There are also some boat tours available out on Lake Edward for a change of pace.
When Should You Visit?:
The temperature in Mbarara is extremely constant and will not vary more than a degree from any one month to the next. It will typically be 26C (79F) no matter when you go. Rainfall will be a little more varied, though it is never heavy in Mbarara. The wettest months are March, April and then again in October and November. If you prefer no rain at all, plan to have your visit in June, July or August.