Lake Bunyonyi commonly known as a place of many little birds is one of the peaceful, loveliest and magical lakes in Uganda. L. Bunyonyi has attracted a lot of visitors all over the world especially the bird watchers and clear waters that are crocodile and hippo free that enable travelers to swim. Lake Bunyonyi’s boat rides are adventurous and give you the perfect view of the site.
The Lake is one of the smallest lakes in Uganda and it is found the south western part of Uganda between Kibale district and Kisoro district near the border of Rwanda and Uganda. Lake Bunyonyi stretches about 25km in length and 7km in width while the depth is anticipated to be around 44m. Lake Bunyonyi is among the most beloved destinations to visit in the pearl of Africa. This is due to the Lake’s natural setup such as the green terraced height that reaches a height of about 2,478m. The most spectacular scenery of this Lake is the presence of the 29 islands of various area sizes that are scattered all over the waters of Bunyonyi. In the morning, the atmosphere is filled with cotton-like streams of mist and in the afternoon get to have a warm glow of the sun.
Tourist attractions and activities on Lake Bunyonyi
The people and Culture: The shores and islands of Lake Bunyonyi are mainly occupied by two tribes that is the Bakiga and the Batwa, who were introduced to the area after being evicted from the tropical forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The Batwa people have changed the area and they still practice their culture in the area. Tourists can get a chance to view and listen to the pleasant cultural dances and music performed by the Batwa people. On the other hand, the Bakiga are the original settlers of Lake Bunyonyi and the people have been cultivating on the hilly terrace of the islands. They also have a rich tradition that comes with a lot of admirable things such as the cultural dance that requires a lot of energy to dance if you attempt to do so. They also have ancient stories of how they used to dump unmarried pregnant girls on the punishment island.
Akampene Island: The Lake boasts 29 islands and the ones that mainly standout include Punishment island locally known as Akampene. This island is sought to be a center of attraction because of the ancient practices that come along with its name. It is believed during the early days of the Bakiga people, the island was used as an area for dumping unmarried pregnant girls from the community as this was against the cultural laws of the Bakiga people. This was done to educate the younger girls against such acts in the community. However, men that did not have cows as a bride price to pay to the girl’s parents were usually seen heading to the island to pick girls they wanted from Akempene Island.
Kyahugye Island: Kyahungye Island is the closest island to the shores of the Lake and covers an area equaling to 74 acres. Consists of reed intersperse with papyrus and also Eucalyptus, Pinus species and all these tree species form a tree cover on the island. The top of the island is flat and has been developed for tourists to engage in activities like birding, Nature walks among others.
Activities at the Lake
Swimming: The waters of Lake Bunyonyi have no dangers of hippos and crocodiles plus dangers of bilharzia cannot be found in this lake making it available for swimming by tourists that want to relax and making it fun to swim in the fresh waters of the wildness.
Boat cruise and canoeing: This is one of the activities you don’t want to miss when you visit the Lake. Boat Cruise gives you an experience of calmness and quietness and the tranquility of Lake Bunyonyi. It is much thrilling during canoeing at night while listening to the cricket sounds plus the frogs that make it an exciting and memorable experience.
Bird watching: As the name states “the place of many little birds”, Lake Bunyonyi is filled with a variety of bird species, over 200 bird species can be viewed at Lake Bunyonyi. Nyombi swamp is home to a great number of them and all you need is a boat ride to the place to have a spectacular view of the birds. The birds include the local birds such as Grey Crowned Crane, Herons, the levillant cuckoo, Harrier hawk white tailed blue Monard, and the cardinal woodpecker among others and those that come from Europe when it is winter days in Europe.
Nature walks and cycling: Tourists can walk freely on the shores of the Lake while having a panoramic view of the islands while listening to the pleasant sounds of the birds and the fresh breeze of Lake Bunyonyi and the community around. On the other cycling is also much possible on the trails of the islands of Lake Bunyonyi.
Cultural tours: Many cultural insights can be found on the Lake such as the Bakora cave, the Batwa people along with their traditional customs and the Abaheesi who are the traditional smiths. Most of the cultural performances happen to be more memorable and exciting to the tourists. Learning about the cultural past of these communities is an opportunity you can get when you visit Lake Bunyonyi.
How to get to Bunyonyi
To get to the Lake you will need to first make your way to Kabale from Kampala, a journey that can take up to eight hours long. From Kabale town Lake Bunyonyi is about 25 minutes drive. Some tourists prefer using the Kigali, Rwanda route that takes about 1.5 to 2 hours long to reach Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda.
Lake Bunyonyi has a great number of accommodation facilities that range from luxury, midrange and basic or budget accommodation. The tourists have the opportunity to choose from this variety at Lake Bunyonyi. Many of these include the following;
- Bushara Island Camp: Bushara Island is about 8 km from Kabale town and is located on Lake Bunyonyi. The camp features a range of accommodation facilities such as the safari tents cottages and group sites to meet the needs of those with families, groups and lone travelers. All these tents are fully self-contained and offer privacy and offer a pretty good view of Lake Bunyonyi.
- Heritage Lodge Habuharo: Located on Habuhari Island, Heritage Lodge is surrounded by the tranquil waters of Lake Bunyonyi. The lodge offers fully furnished rooms with hot showers, flush toilets, and comfortable beds. The lodge also features an on-site restaurant that serves continental and local dishes plus a fully stocked bar and a fire place for the guests at the lodge.
- Arcadia Cottages: Arcadia Cottages Bunyonyi is located on the hilly part that provides a panoramic view of Lake Bunyonyi that is below Arcadia Cottages. The accommodation facility offers remarkable lake views, motor launch for lake cruises, beautiful gardens for relaxation. Arcadia Cottages offer about eleven cottages fully serviced and provides views of the islands in the Lake.
- Bunyonyi Safari Resort: Bunyonyi Safari Resort is a midrange accommodation located on the shores of the Lake in the Kagalama village. The resort features a restaurant, a gym Boat and Canoes plus conference Facilities internet access in all the rooms and there are also Vehicle/ Car rentals.
- Other accommodations that you will find on Bunyonyi include Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort, Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Byoona Amagara Island Retreat, and Birdnest Lake Bunyonyi Resort which is also a luxury accommodation facility.
In general, Lake Bunyonyi is one of the most exciting destinations in the pearl of Africa that shouldn’t miss a spot in places to visit during the holidays. The serenity of the place is totally unforgettable and full of fun and relaxation plus adventurous. A Safari to the Lake can be done at any time of the year based on your preference or holiday.