Lake Bunyonyi (‘place of many little birds, often known as a birding paradise’) is undoubtedly the loveliest lake in Uganda, one of its kinds, a little secret to the gateway to paradise. Its contorted shore encircles 29 islands, surrounded by steep terraced hillsides reminiscent of parts of Nepal. Lake Bunyonyi is a charming lake dotted with little islands in Western Uganda.
The stunning view of the islands, great view of the terraced gardens and vibrant colours make it almost cartoonish, leaves your head blowing, as you’re totally immersed into rural setting of the lovely countryside. It gives you a great taste of the real feel of African taste. It’s a destination bewilderingly absent on every BuzzFeed and Mashable “Places to See Before You Die” list.
Lake Bunyonyi ought to be considered one of the natural wonders of the world and, it’s joined the ranks of my most beloved travel destinations. This place deserves to be on your African travel radar because, with beauty like this, shouldn’t it be?
A magical place, especially with a morning mist rising off the placid waters, it has supplanted the Ssese Islands as the place for travellers to chill out on their way through Uganda, and has a selection of gorgeously remote and bucolic places to stay on distant islands, where you’ve only the birds for company. Best of all – unlike many lakes in East Africa – Bunyonyi is bilharzia, croc and hippo free, and so its crystal-clear waters are all yours to swim in, you can dive as you wish and enjoy the freshness of this lake.
Currently, Lake Bunyonyi is becoming a top site for tourists, who come here to relax after their gorilla trekking safari, as they enjoy a total relaxation on many patched lodges, with great stunning view of this magical lake. A canoe ride to explore the numerous islands, in this lake, is epic, as you’re immersed in cultural taste, to explore this great lake in a simple local way.
The local people around, are very hospital, always welcoming, with waving escorted with a warm smile, that beats your heart to rest, and are always willing to help you figure out your way to explore this magical lake.
Believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi is a body of water in southwestern Uganda near the Rwandan border, and one of the country’s top natural treasures. And, at 1,962m above sea level, the lake enjoys moderate temperatures year round, cool in both the mornings and evenings. Most visitors make it an R&R stop after gorilla trekking in nearby Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Even though, many things have been said about Lake Bunyonyi including; how deep it is, how it was formed, but when you visit Lake Bunyonyi, all these things disperse into thin air, this is one of the beautiful lakes in Africa and the tourists from near and far are impressed by its mystic, charmed beauty as you see it snaky along the landscape of Uganda, filled by the 29 Islands of many shapes and sizes, enclosed by a ring of the terraced farms, their foliage that accent this beautiful lake like the attractive frame and is it’s not a surprise that Lonely planet called it” scene from lord of the Rings”
Bunyonyi as a word means the place of little birds and not only is it a place for the birds but also a curative place , a place of rest, a place to solace, tranquillity as well as a place of reflection. After your days of being on a safari especially moving through the hills and valleys of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in search for the mountain gorillas. This lake is a good place to put it all into view point, to take in the beauty of this lake, to relax and also chill out to take in the most fun filled things to do and engage in swimming, nature walks, boating, canoeing, village visits and the marketplace.
Top things to experience at Uganda Lake Bunyonyi
1. Relax and chill out
Are you a novel lover, looking for a perfect place to relax and read your novel, do not think of anywhere else, this is your place to be. With a very great ample space, spectacular stunning background and the total ambience your seeking out, so as to concentrate on your reading. With its cool weather and tasty culinary delights like crayfish, here is a perfect place for relaxing after a gorilla trek or safari just before you head back home.
2. Get on a boat ride to ‘Punishment Island’ (Akampene)
A canoe ride here with the local is awesome, as it is one way to support the local communities as you enjoy the thrilling boat ride to explore some of the 29 islands that this great lake is made of, enjoying a clear sight of numerous bird species and local fishermen as they do their daily work. The ride is very freshening as you are totally immersed in the lovely hearts of Lake Bunyonyi, a hidden secret to paradise.
3. The Nature walks and the Hikes
You can also hike, take a nature walk through the islands and around the lake. And the most part will be the scenic lake Bunyonyi, with vibrant stunning view of the terraced gardens. These walks are not so active and can be taken at your pace, the guides always escort you that you don’t get lost or also miss out one of the main highlight of the walk. The hike will be so scenic in nature and some will lead you through the small villages where you will meet Ugandans (Bakigas) at up close and personal as others might be on an island that you came to with a dugout canoe. You must always keep your camera at handy to enjoy Lake Bunyonyi
4. Bird watching.
As the name says “Bunyonyi” meaning birds. This place is a birding paradise when it comes to bird sightings, with over 200 bird species that can be sighted around here. You can decide to bird at the surrounding villages or by taking a canoe ride to sight a number of wetland bird species along the land. You can as well go for birding on one of the many 29 Islands on the lake and then combine it with a dugout canoe or motorized boat safari. You guide will lead you, to the most exciting birding area here.
Lake Bunyonyi is known as one of the few lakes in Uganda free of bilharzia (a common parasite found in southern Africa), making its waters safe for swimming. The weather here, is unpredictable to keep warm so as to make you enjoy the swimming. It’s also free of dangerous wildlife like hippos and crocodiles. The only warning for visitors is the depth — inexperienced swimmers should take caution.
6. Community Walks
Explore the settlements along the shores to experience everyday life among playful children, farmers and women wrapped in multi-coloured kangas.
One of the excursions sold to tourists is a visit to a Batwa tribe of pygmies. Please make an informed decision when accepting such a tour as some feel they are exploitative. The Batwa in this region, one of the original inhabitants of the country, were dispossessed of their ancestral lands by the government to build the Echuya Forest Reserve with tragic consequences — today, their community suffers from rampant social problems. To survive, they invite tourists to their community, where they perform song and dance. One fellow we met joined one of these tours and explained how the tourist spectacle and the Batwa’s desperate situation left him utterly disturbed and heartbroken; other accounts I’ve read, however, express the opposite.
7. Visit the traditional healer
Feel free to experience African tradition ways of healing, using local herbs to treat some diseases. A 20-minute boat trip will land you at Sam Mulisa’s hut, a traditional healer. Spend two hours with him and learn about traditional medicine practices and more about how he has turned his home into a traditional clinic.
8. Visit the local market at Rutindo
There are interesting interactions to be had with the locals, and one such example is connecting with the people at a local market that happens every Friday and Monday at the Rutindo landing site. This place is very fertile, and you will be able to get fresh fruits and vegetable to enjoy. You can decide to shop some and go and experience the taste of real local food, do some cooking lesson at your lodge and enjoy the real fresh from the garden. The food crops are too cheap beyond your imagination.
You can shop some back home for those who stay around, as these food crop are fresh from the gardens. Along the market visit, you will be able to interact and mingle with the locals, in a simple setting. We can also organize for a home stay with in villages for you, along with a visit to a school, local market. Also learn how to cook in the traditional way and tend to the garden where the things are grown and harvested.
9. About Mountain Biking
You can as well ride around the lake on a mountain bike as you enjoy the scenery, the people, villages, the hamlets and also get the feel for the authentic Africa in Uganda. The weather and the temperature are so nice due to the elevation and the bike ride will be so enjoyable and the equatorial sun will not beat you down. The bike rides can be all day or can be of few hours and you will have a guide with you or a safari vehicle that will be near to help you in case needed.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE BUNYONYI
Lake Bunyonyi is in the regions of Kabale town with in western Uganda. Along the road, its 6 hours from Kampala which is also 410 km to Kabale town and only 8 km on murrum road from Kabale town to Lake Bunyonyi on your way to Bwindi impenetrable Forest National park with in Kabale or Mgahinga National park in Kisoro district. This beautiful lake is also snarled between the hills of Kabale.
Given its proximity to Rwanda, you may want to consider accessing the lake from Kigali (or vice versa), which is only 1.5-2 hours by car. If you need to purchase your visa at the border, however, add another 30 minutes to one hour to your journey. You can use either Cyanika or Gatuna border to cross over. For those interested in car hire, feel free to get in touch with our reservation team. If you need packages as well, get in touch with us.
The lake is a body of water at 7 km west of Kabale town. It has got a terraced landscape and very vibrant colours that make it cartoonish. Just from Kabale, you take a taxi or a boda boda to Orutinda Market, it’s about 28 km and 20-25 minutes. From the Orutindo, you can then hire a canoe or a motor boat to the destination of your own choice. The best way to get around with a trip on water, use a motor boat, look for the best boat which is so comfortable and has got a good driver.