Lake Bunyonyi, a beautiful lake, whose name means “place of many little birds”, is one of the Uganda’s most remarkable attractions. Located in the southwestern region, between Kisoro and Kabale, Lake Bunyonyi is close to the border with Rwanda and the famous Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
Lake Bunyonyi is not only the deepest lake in Uganda, with an elevation of about 1,962 meters above sea level making it the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. The lake was formed about 18,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption that blocked a valley in the Ruchiga mountains.
The Lake has a stunning landscape, with 29 islands dotting its waters and steep terraced hillsides surrounding it. The islands have different names and histories, such as Punishment Island, where unmarried pregnant girls were left to die or be rescued by poor men; Sharp’s Island, where a missionary established a leprosy treatment center; and Bushara Island, where you can find a variety of trees and birds.
The lake is also home to a rich diversity of fauna and flora, including over 200 bird species, such as kingfishers, weavers, herons, and cranes. You can also spot otters, frogs, crayfish, and fish in the lake. The lake is free of bilharzia, crocodiles, and hippos, making it safe for swimming. The surrounding hills are covered with farms, forests, and villages, where you can experience the culture and hospitality of the local people, mainly the Bakiga and the Batwa.
Things to do at Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi is an ideal destination mainly for travelers looking for a serene and peaceful place to rejuvenate after an adventurous gorilla trekking experience or safari tour. The breathtaking views of the lake and the rolling hills that surround it will offer you the tranquility you need to unwind and recharge.
The lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, which are free from hippos and crocodiles, making it one of the safest lakes in Africa. It’s an ideal spot for swimming, canoeing or simply lounging by the waterfront taking in the beauty of the surroundings. This tranquil lake offers a blissful and relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
There is no shortage of activities to enjoy at Lake Bunyonyi, whether you are looking for relaxation or adventure. Here are some of the things you can do at this amazing lake:
One of the best ways to explore the lake and its islands is by taking a boat ride. You can choose between a motorboat or a dugout canoe, depending on your preference and budget. You can also hire a guide who will tell you more about the history and legends of the islands. A boat ride will also give you a chance to admire the scenery and spot some birds and animals along the way.
If you love hiking and nature, you can take a walk around the lake or on some of the islands. You will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake and the hills, as well as encounters with some wildlife and plants. You can also visit some of the farms and gardens where you can see how the locals grow crops such as coffee, bananas, potatoes, and beans.
To learn more about the culture and history of the people living around Lake Bunyonyi, you can join a cultural tour that will take you to some of the villages and communities. You will be able to interact with the locals, see their traditional houses and crafts, watch their dances and performances, and taste their food. You can also visit the Batwa pygmies, who are the original inhabitants of the area and have a unique way of life.
As the name suggests, Lake Bunyonyi is a paradise for bird lovers. With over 200 bird species recorded in the area, you will have plenty of opportunities to see and hear different kinds of birds. Some of the birds you can expect to see include African harrier-hawk, grey crowned crane, Ross’s turaco, levillant’s cuckoo, cardinal woodpecker, and many more. The best time to go birding is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the birds are most active.
Besides the above-mentioned activities, there are many other things you can do at Lake Bunyonyi, such as swimming, fishing, kayaking, cycling, camping, or just relaxing and enjoying the peace and tranquility of the lake. You can also combine your visit to Lake Bunyonyi with a trip to the nearby attractions, such as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you can see the endangered mountain gorillas, or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, where you can hike the Virunga volcanoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the common questions that visitors may have about Lake Bunyonyi:
When is the best time to visit Lake Bunyonyi?
Lake Bunyonyi can be visited all year round, as the weather is generally mild and pleasant. However, the best time to visit is during the dry seasons, which are from June to August and from December to February. During these periods, the roads are more accessible, the skies are clearer, and the views are more spectacular. The wet seasons, which are from March to May and from September to November, may have more rain and fog, but they also have some advantages, such as greener scenery, more birds, and fewer tourists.
What are the accommodation options at Lake Bunyonyi?
Lake Bunyonyi has a variety of accommodation options to suit different tastes and budgets. You can find hotels, lodges, resorts, guesthouses, campsites, and cottages on the mainland or on some of the islands. Some of the popular places to stay include Birdnest Resort, Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Arcadia Lodge, Byoona Amagara Island Retreat, Crater Bay Cottages, and Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort. You can also find some homestays and community-based accommodations where you can experience the local life.
How do I get to Lake Bunyonyi?
Lake Bunyonyi is about 420 km from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. You can get there by road or by air. By road, you can take a bus or a taxi from Kampala to Kabale town, which takes about 8 hours. From Kabale town, you can take another taxi or a motorbike to Lake Bunyonyi, which takes about 30 minutes.
Alternatively, you can hire a private car or join a tour that will take you directly to Lake Bunyonyi from Kampala or other destinations. By air, you can take a domestic flight from Entebbe International Airport to Kisoro airstrip, which takes about 1 hour. From Kisoro airstrip, you can take a taxi or a motorbike to Lake Bunyonyi, which takes about 1 hour.