8 Best Reasons To Visit Lake Bunyonyi In Uganda
Have you ever been so excited prior to talking about a place in that you do not know what to start with? This article has 8 best reasons to visit Lake Bunyonyi. When to pause and take a fresh breathe or even when to stop talking. To be honest with you, that is exactly how I am feeling about Lake Bunyonyi.
What Lake Bunyonyi Is Famous For?
Lake Bunyonyi is known for her astonishing outward appearance that comprises of 29 different islands, several green hilly terraces and a series of different bird species and their dwellings, this beautiful phenomena is tucked away in the South Western part of Uganda occupying a rough estimation of 25km in length and 7km in width. Lake Bunyonyi is the 2nd deepest lake in Africa after Tanzania’s Lake Tanganyika in Africa with up to a maximum depth of 900m approximately 2953 feet. With 29 islands including punishment island, Bwama island among others.
Location of Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi is stationed between 2 districts (Kabale and Kisoro) in the Kigezi highlands. This area is home to the Bakiga people who named the lake “Bunyonyi” to mean “A Collection Of Many Small Birds”. I can talk about Lake Bunyonyi all day long, to be more direct, here are the 8 top reasons for you to visit this lake;
Lake Bunyonyi- 2nd Deepest Lake In Africa
The fact that it is the 2nd deepest lake in all of Africa and the deepest in Uganda is reason enough for you to pay a visit. This lake is one of a kind because it has little to no wave action, this is because strong winds which would have formed high waves, are instead shielded off by the elongated hills which engulf the lake.
Unlike other lakes in Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi has no crocodiles and no hippos. Is among the bilharzia-free lakes in Africa, this makes it safe for human activities like swimming and diving. A title that is well deserving because a lot of beauty in one place is hard to come across. No wonder the lake features on Uganda’s local currency (on the 2,000 Shillings Note) it is a real gem.
If you are an excellent swimmer, the lake is perfect for you. The crocodile and hippo free water is safe enough for humans to swim and dive in and it does not pose any risk of catching bilharzia. However, please be cautious because the lake is over 900meters deep and you do not want to drown.
2. Bird Watching | Birding In Lake Bunyonyi
It should be to no surprise that this lake is among Uganda’s best destinations for bird watching safaris. Just like its name, Lake Bunyonyi harbors over 200 recorded bird species especially on Bushara island. Ranging from migratory, forest, water and land birds, they all fell in love with the conducive environment.
Even if you do not fancy birds, their beautiful colours, unique sounds and random happy dances will get you on board. Nyombi swamp is a perfect spot for birding. Some of the bird species include; the Swamp fly catcher, Cinnamon-chested bee-eater, Black heron, Pied kingfisher, Grey-crowned cranes, Weavers and so many others. Remember to carry your camera and take nice pictures of all those amazing birds, you will love it.
3. Scenic Beauty In Lake Bunyonyi
There is absolutely no way you will resist falling in love with whatever your eyes land on while at the lake. Starting from the beautiful lake itself whose calm nature and 29 babies (the islands) are a perfect representation of the power of mother nature. The endless rolling hills and lush green vegetation cover all over the area depict peace and harmony.
The area is prone to thick fog and mist especially early in the morning which gives it an enchanted magical appearance. You do not want to miss out on experiencing the softness of the wild in person, it is far too precious to just read about and leave it there.
There are 29 islands in total on this lake but the public is well conversant with 0nly 5 of them and these islands attract tourists from all over the world. They are discussed as follows;
a) Kyahugye Island;
This is specifically the safe haven for the wildlife species at the lake. Some of these include; zebras, waterbucks, otters and several others. When you are enjoying your boat ride, stop by this island to see these and many other animals (Game viewing activities).
b) Bushara Island;
It is the dwelling place for the largest number of bird species at the Lake, bird viewing safaris are mostly exercised here.
c) Punishment/ Akampene Island;
This is the smallest and most famous of the entire bunch. This is because locals say that in the past, young girls who got pregnant before officially being married were dropped off and abandoned at this island as a punishment hence its name. This punishment was brutal since no food was provided to the poor girls which led to several of them starving to death.
All of this is in the past and is not practiced any more. Akampene island gives you historical insights of the Bakiga people.
e) Bacuranuka Island;
This too has a historical story which identifies with it, upon hearing about the story, everyone puts the island on his/her must-see places hence the need to visit the lake. The local people say that the island was cursed by an old woman which made it to become inverted (upside down). This happened after she had found some men seated at the island taking a local alcoholic drink (locally known as Obushera).
When she asked to have some, they turned her down and instead one of them offered to transport her back to the main land. Upon getting on the main land, she cursed the island and it flipped up side down taking with it the rest of the men who drowned alongside their Obushera. That is an interesting story indeed.
d) Bwama Island;
This island is the smallest of the bunch and it used to have a fully functioning hospital between 1920 and 1930 from which Leprosy treatment was administered. This had been constructed by some missionaries from Scotland. The abandoned hospital structure is now used as a school. The place is still worth visiting.
Formation Of The Lake Bunyonyi
The unique process in which this lake came about makes so many people curious enough to want to go see evidence of the lava damming. They say that hundreds of years ago, flowing hot magma crossed a river path and ended up blocking it hence cutting part of it off from the rest of the river, this cut off portion apparently flowed back hence the formation of lake Bunyonyi. Tourists from near and far are fascinated by this theory, that is why they make it a point to visit, you are also welcome.
4. Wildlife In Lake Bunyonyi
Kyahugye island is home to the rare Debrasa monkeys alongside a variety of other animal species such as antelopes, zebras, impalas, Kobs and others. These cannot be seen or found on any other islands but can be spotted either walking around, drinking from the lake or swimming in it. You will be mesmerized by all of them.
5. Boat Cruises and Canoe Rides In Lake Bunyonyi
Water transport is the major mode of transportation used so, just like the locals, you can enjoy a long and smooth canoe ride as you check out different parts of the lake. These canoes are operated by trained locals and well experienced cruising experts. The fun thing is that with permission from the canoe operators, you can also be apart of the rowing crew.
There is also an option of using automated boats, these usually have motors and adjustable speed controllers. With a professional operator still, boat cruises are much faster than canoe rides. Regardless of what you choose to cruise in, you have the opportunity see some of the fish species swimming in the lake for example; Mud fish, cray fish and others.
You can also visit as many islands as you want from the 29 found on the lake. These come in different sizes and have unique activities that take place each one of them. Some of the islands are; Akampene , Bacuranuka, Bwama and several others.
6. Zip lining and Ninja Warrior In Lake Bunyonyi
Zip lining and Ninja Warrior are some of the breathtaking activities in Lake Bunyonyi.
7. Community Walks
Tourists are given a chance to move about on foot in the area around the lake. The local community at Lake Bunyonyi is comprised of the Batwa people and the Bakiga (natives) who are famous for being extremely hard working and strong. They are good at cultivating and showing off their unique cultural practices like dances and songs.
|The Bakiga are actually the initial sole owners of this region. On the other hand the Batwa moved in with the Bakiga after being sent away from their forest dwellings (They used to reside in Echuya, Bwindi and Mgahinga forests) where they were accustomed to living in the wild. Now that this lifestyle is no more, they resorted to hosting tourists and staging plays and songs which tell of their past life and culture. This will make you to fall in love with the simplicity and creativity of these people.|
8. Cultural Encounters
From the boat cruises and community walks, you and other tourists will become more knowledgeable and well conversed with the ways of living for both the Bakiga and Batwa people. There are several historical sites, traditional stories and cultural practices on some of the islands. You will be able to understand why the locals live the way they do. The small money received by the locals from tourist encounters help to sustain the locals by purchasing food among other basic needs.
When Should You Visit The Lake?
You can feel free to come through whenever you feel like because the lake is accessible all year long. However, the fact that Uganda experiences the wet and dry seasons, the rain fall received in the wet season hinders movement and might not make your canoe riding experience as fun as it should be.
This is why I encourage you to book for your tour of the lake during the dry season, specifically between December to February and June to August. You will enjoy the beautiful places while soaking in the rich African sunshine.
How Will You Access Lake Bunyonyi?
The park can be accessed either by road or air transportation means.
You can use a public means vehicle like a bus and taxi or use private means from Kampala (Uganda’s capital city) to the lake. The entire journey would take you about 9 hours. Make sure to use a vehicle with 4×4 wheel drive to avoid slipping and sliding in case of rain fall.
You can also book a flight from Entebbe International Airport and you fly to Mbarara in 45 minutes, then after you board a car to the lake which would take you about 3 hours.
Where Will You Sleep?
There are several hotels, inns and lodges from within and in areas that are near the lake. These provide three forms of accommodation which are; luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation.
a) Luxury Accommodation
This is for guests who want to stay in absolute luxury and comfort. They have no limitations when it comes to spending. Places include;
- Arcadia Lodge; High up on a ridge overlooking Lake Bunyonyi, with eleven self-contained cottages are arranged around a central lodge building, where guests can enjoy the tasty dishes in our restaurant or relax and take in the truly breathtaking view.
- Mantis Epic Hotel & Suites; This luxurious place is just 22 miles away from the lake. It offers a relaxing and peaceful environment and 1st class services.
- Bunyonyi Safaris Resort; This is ranked as the best of the luxurious places, it is within close range at just 5.7 miles and it has some of the best views of the lake with a friendly staff. There are so many other places with luxurious services, you can check them out on line.
b) Mid-Range Accommodation
This is for clients who are willing to spend but not extravagantly. Places include;
- The Garden Place Hotel; It is 28 miles from the lake and is hygienic with spacious rooms and friendly members of staff.
- Urugano Virunga Palace; It is a clean well-maintained place with good food stationed 32 miles from the lake.
- Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort; It is a 3-star hotel at Kyahugye island with very good views of the lake and great food.
c) Budget Accommodation
This is for clients with a strict budget which they cannot exceed regardless. Examples are;
- Mt. Muhabura Climbers Rest Camp; This is 22.4 miles from Lake Bunyonyi, it offers good services.
- Heras Country Resort; At just 4.3 miles from the lake, this resort is affordable and convenient.
There are so many luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation places which are just one click away. Using your computer or phone, you can make sleeping arrangements or adjustments in case of any changes. This is all doable online.
Lake Bunyonyi is has been a great joy for me to tell you about. Regardless of how many times you choose to visit, you will always keep coming back because the lake and its surroundings are a work of art. A true masterpiece made up of islands, rich green vegetation, bird species, hills, wild animals, rich cultural values and so many things to observe and learn from.
You will not be disappointed, please make it a point to visit this awesome lake together with your loved ones.