Lake Bunyonyi – Activities, Accommodation, Location

lake-bunyonyi-uganda

Lake Bunyonyi is found in southwestern Uganda in the Kigezi Highlands between Kabale and Kisoro districts. It has its deepest point at 900m making it the second deepest lake in Africa. The lake has 29 islands and is ringed by terraced rolling highlands of Kigezi, and from viewpoints up the highlands one can access breathtaking views of lake and the lush islands. Bunyonyi is one of the most beautiful lakes in Uganda and it is little wonder it is one of the images used on the “Two Thousand” Uganda shilling note.

Lake Bunyonyi is only 2 -3 hours drive from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the home of the Mountain Gorillas, and is the best relaxing point after the incredible Gorilla trek in Bwindi Forest. Travelers enjoy wonderful views of the rolling terraced highlands, a cool weather and such relaxing atmosphere.

In the olden days the islands of Lake Bunyonyi were used for cultural practices by the local people of the Bakiga tribe that occupy the highlands around the lake and there many intriguing stories of these practices and cultural myths that are told about some of the islands.  The most interesting one perhaps is the Akampene Islands or Punishment Island – where girls that got themselves pregnant outside wedlock where brought by their fathers or brothers and punished by abandoning them on this island. The girls would starve to death or drown if they attempted to swim back to mainland. For a girl to get pregnant outside before marriage was shameful to the family. However girls could sometimes be picked by young men who were unable to pay bride price and taken for their wives. This practice was a common practice in southwestern Uganda but has long been abandoned!

Other islands include: Bwama and Njuyeera, Bucuranuka (Upside down), Bushara Island, and Kyahugye among others.

Many of these islands are not inhabited, while a number have been bought off for tourism activities and accommodations have been constructed to host tourists.

Activities to do at Lake Bunyonyi

Canoe ride & Island hoping

You can take a canoe ride around the lake at any time of the day, however the early morning is the most exciting when there is a lot of mist over the lake and as if cloud clover is mid-way highlands. It is a sight often compared to one of the mystic scenes in the famous movie “lord of the rings”. Visit from one island to another, (island hoping) and as you enjoy breathtaking views of the lush highlands.

Batwa tour

The famous Batwa pygmy people have a community on one side of the lake which you can visit during the canoe ride. The Batwa will show their traditional way of life, hunting techniques and will perform their traditional dances.

Swimming

Lake Bunyonyi is said to be completely free from bilharzia and also does not have dangerous animals such as crocodiles and hippos and wonderful lake to swim during your relaxation time. However given the immense depth (900m) extreme caution should be taken when swimming to avoid drowning. Inexperienced may not swim at all and there are many cases of drowning at this lake.

Hiking

Hiking to the top of the highlands surrounding Lake Bunyonyi is very exciting and rewards with access incredible view points of the lake. The trek passes through local communities and terraces which gives you the chance to meet and learn about the people who are very welcoming.

Birdwatching

Bunyonyi directly translates “little birds”, which refers to the plenty of birds at Lake Bunyonyi.  Go out on a canoe ride and count a number of water birds and other species on the islands.

Accommodation at Lake Bunyonyi:

Budget: Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Byoona Amagara, Bushara Island Camp, crater bay cottages

Mid-range: Bunyonyi Safaris Lodge, Bird’s Nest, Arcadia Lodge

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