Lake Bunyonyi (a place of little birds) is one of Uganda’s natural wonders and most idyllic natural settings in Africa. It is the second deepest lake in Africa 900m after Lake Tanganyika found in Tanzania. The lake has 29 Islands, lying at about 1,962m above sea level with moderate temperatures year round. Lake Bunyonyi is situated in south-western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale the Switzerland of Uganda bordering Rwanda. It is also known to be free from bilharzia which is spread by water snails and there are no dangerous water wild animals like crocodiles and hippos making its waters safe for swimming.
The lake is surrounded by beautiful scenic lush, green-terraced hills interlocking each other. Seeing the sun set and rising on lake Bunyonyi is one of those lovely and eye catching experiences. In the early morning, the islands weaves through cotton candy-like streams of mist and, in the afternoon, they’re bathed in the warm glow of the sun. Later, they’re shadowed against a dim sky as evening approaches. At some point the islands vanish from sight completely, hidden under a blanket of clouds and after some time they emerge.
Not forgetting the different small bird’s species flying in groups across the lake every early morning as they leave to search for food and in the evening as they return to their nests.
Activities done while at Lake Bunyonyi:
Enjoy a breath taking ride on Lake Bunyonyi using an engine boat/ canoe. The most common mode of transportation on these waters is the dugout canoe, which offers a completely different experience of the lake. You can rent your own to explore the islands or select a guided tour. Explore the Islands with various shapes and sizes scattered across the water that make it most magical. Each of the islands is associated with a legend, famous Punishment (Akampene) Island, the smallest and with rich history among the 29 islets, holds a dark reputation: it’s where pregnant, unmarried girls were exiled to starve to death or drown if they attempted to swim away. Other main islands include: Bushara, Bacuranuka, Kahugye, Njuyeera, Bwama.
Community and Island Tours.
The lake is surrounded by quite a number of communities, explore these settlements along the shores to experience everyday life among playful children, farmers, and women wrapped in multi- coloured kangas. The islands tour is a must, there are 29 Islands as mentioned above and each of them has special unique interesting history and scenic landscapes. You can visit some of these Islands using a boats/canoe.
As earlier mentioned, Lake Bunyonyi is known as one of the few lakes in Uganda free of bilharzia and there are no hippos or crocodiles making its waters safe for swimming. However the swimmers are cautioned about the depth of the waters. Non- experienced swimmers shouldn’t think twice before diving on these cool waters.
The Batwa tribe of pygmies is the most visited tribe around Lake Bunyonyi because of its rich culture and history. They are the original inhabitants of those forested hilly areas of Uganda, were dispossessed of their ancestral lands by the government their community suffers from rampant social problems. They depend on tourists fees to survive, they invite tourists to their community, where they perform traditional songs and dances plus the story telling.
Hiking and Nature Walks:
Kabale and Kisoro are the hilliest areas in Uganda hence offering the best hiking spots. While visiting Lake Bunyonyi hiking trails on the islands or through the terraces of the Kigezi highlands will reward you with spectacular views of the landscapes and even some wildlife. Forest and tree plantations can be found on some of the islands, as well as monkeys and zebras. Otters can also be spotted in the waters. Hiking to the top of the world gives you breathtaking view worth a while.
Bunyonyi is literary translated as “the place of little birds”, Lake Bunyonyi derives its name from the abundant birdlife that call it home. Over 300 species call this home these include: herons, weaver birds and grey-crowned cranes. It is a typical birder’s paradise where you will be assured of spotting your favorite bird/s. They can been seen on the lake, shores and in the nearby forests
Lake Bunyonyi has quiet a big number of accommodation facilities ranging from luxury, midrange to budget. The recommended accommodation facility is Lake Bunyonyi Rock resort. It is Located on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi, Bunyonyi Rock Resort is your comfortable, affordable, eco- friendly and best place to stay. The resort offers you exceptional food and sleeping services at affordable rates with a total of 12 rooms 9 of which are luxury (self -contained) while three are basic (not self-contained). Five of our luxury rooms are in the family cottage three rooms upstairs and two rooms down stairs. Each of these rooms has a private balcony, private showers, clear views of the lake and neighboring communities. The restaurant serve travelers with all kinds of local and international foods to serve all travelers interests. The bar is fully stocked with all local, international all served as complementary except the premium drinks. The arrangement of the rooms can be single, double, twin and triple depending on the number of visitors received and the choice of their sleeping arrangements.
How to access Lake Bunyonyi
Using road transport it is approximately 410 km to kabale town, 6-7hours hour’s drive from Kampala/Entebbe only 8km on murrum road from Kabale town to Lake Bunyonyi. Through Kigali/ Rwanda, it is about 3-4 hour’s drive.