I have dedicated this month to educating you guys about my country (Uganda) ….day 1 I start with the incredible Lake Bunyonyi. here we go, everything nag nothing you need to know about this about “home away from home place”.
Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort-Kabale
Lake Bunyonyi is in south-western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale, and it is close to the border with Rwanda. The lake appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under the title “Lake Bunyonyi and terraces”.
Lake Bunyonyi also called Place of many little birds is located in south western Uganda between two districts of Kisoro and Kabale close to the border with Rwanda. It’s Located at 1,962 m (6,437 ft) above sea level, it is about 25 km (15.5 mi) long and 7 km (1.35 mi) wide. The depth of the lake is expected to vary between 44 m (144 Ft.) and 900 m (2,952 ft), which if true would make the lake the second deepest in Africa. It is one of the few lakes in the region that is rumored to be free of bilharzia and safe for swimming.
Geographically Lake Bunyonyi is a body of water seven kilometers or 4.3 miles west from Kabale Town, southwestern Uganda. It is 25 km long and 7 km (4.3 mi) wide, covering an area of 61 square kilometers (23½ sq. miles). The lake’s altitude is 1,950m above sea level and it is surrounded by hills that are 2,200 to 2,478 meters high and intensely cultivated. Its 29 islands are concentrated in the central part and have few settlements but instead they are mostly used for tourist facilities and for secondary as well as a primary school study tours.
The data on the lake’s maximum depth varies, from 44m to 900m (144 to 2,952 ft) in parts. If the latter is true, Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa as witnessed by Uganda safari travellers that safari in Uganda on their Uganda Birding Safaris or visit for their adventure vacation safari holiday tours in Uganda Rwanda Africa. The temperature on the surface rises to 25 degrees Celsius (77ºF). Fish was introduced to the lake in the later years and in the 1930s fishing became profitable. Unfortunately in the 1960s the fish died massively as a result of a violent shallow mixing that is anticipated to be caused by wind. Subsistence fishing prevailed in the lake, people mostly caught clarias species – the lake’s depth and stratification makes it difficult for the breeding of the common Ugandan species Nile Perch and Tilapia. Nevertheless, 300,000 Nile Tilapias and Clarias fish were released in the lake at the end of 2002. Also present in the lake are Mud fish, Cray fish and Mirrowcarp – and plenty of their predators, otters.
Towns on its shores include Kyevu and Muko, while its 29 islands include Punishment Island and Bushara Island. It is a popular location for watersports and is known for the surrounding terraced hillsides. It is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists and there is a wide variety of tourist accommodation.
Many tourists and travelers who undertake a Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or come to Uganda after their Rwanda Gorilla safari experience rest and relax at the beautiful Lake Bunyonyi as they enjoy the best scenery in the whole world, involve themselves into various cultural and community activities as well birding and canoe rides.
The lake’s main Centre is Bufuka Village which is the area’s inhabited by two tribes of the Bakiga and the Batwa.
Top Things to Do and See around Lake Bunyonyi
Nature Walks and Hikes:
You can hike, take nature walks both on the Islands and around the Lake – your backdrop, for the most part will the scenic Lake Bunyonyi.
The walks are not strenuous and can be taken at your pace, guides accompany you that you do not get lost and do not miss one of the highlights of your walk.
Your hike will mostly be scenic in nature, some will lead you through small villages where you will meet Ugandans up close and personal, while others might be on an island that you came to with a dugout canoe. Keep your camera handy and enjoy Lake Bunyonyi.
You can ride around the lake on a mountain bike and enjoy the scenery, the people, villages, hamlets, the people and get a feel for authentic Africa in Uganda.
The temperature and weather are nice here due to the elevation and a bike ride will be most enjoyable and the Equatorial sun will not beat you down.
Bike rides can be all day long or just a few hours, you will have a guide with you or our safari vehicle will be near to assist you if necessary.
Biking around one of Africa’s most scenic lakes
The word Bunyonyi – means place of little birds and Lake Bunyonyi is home to over 200 species of birds – one can do a great bird – boat safari with your own birding guide from the water, on some of the various islands the surrounding shores of the lake.
You can go birding on one of the 29 island on Lake Bunyonyi and combine it with a dugout canoe or motorized boat adventure.
The Place of Little Birds – Lake Bunyonyi is a great birding destination in Uganda.
Cultural Interactive Village Visits:
Interactive cultural visits in villages, hamlets on one of the islands or in the surrounding countryside including the Batwa Pygmy People who were the original people of the forest and today struggle in their quest of survival away from their beloved forest.
We can also arrange for a home-stay in a village for you, along with a visit to a school, local market. Learn how to cook in the traditional manner and tend the garden where things are grown and harvested.
This can be a most enriching time.
Lake Bunyonyi – is bilharzia free and there are no hippos nor crocodiles found here, it is safe to swim here and enjoy.
It is a deep lake – the second deepest in Africa so you ought to be a good swimmer, but it certainly to be enjoyed while staying here. Some lodges such as Birdnest Resort also have a choice swimming-pool or the lake for their guests.
Take a swim in one of Africa’s most beautiful lakes, there are also places along the lake where they have enclosed a section like a swimming pool where one can swim.
Please be mindful that it is a very deep lake and if you swim out into the lake, use some safety precautions such as a nearby canoe, or buddy system.
Relax and Chill Out:
Lake Bunyonyi – is one of the best places in Uganda to relax and chill out after a safari, gorilla tracking, volcano climbing, hiking and other activities that just call for a few of rest and relaxation, chilling out on an island or along the shores of Lake Bunyonyi.
One of the culinary delights found around Lake are its crayfish which is cooked in all kinds of ways and served at all times of the day, freshly caught, prepared in dishes from pizza to pasta.
The Lake attracts Ugandans, visitors, even residents of other countries such as Rwanda, to come and relax and chill out a bit.
Main Islands of Lake Bunyonyi
1. Akampene also called Punishment Island.
The significant aspect of this Island is that the Bakiga locals used to leave unmarried pregnant girls on this small island with a lone tree so that they could die of hunger or while trying to swim to the mainland (swimming skills were rare). The purpose of the act was to educate the rest of the young girls and also show them practical example of what would happen to anyone who could become pregnant before marriage. To young man who had no cows to pay for the bride wealth, the Island was strategic place he could pick up a girl left to die in the Island. However the back ward practice was abandoned in the first half of the 20th century. Although this practice has been abandoned, it is still possible to find women who were picked up from Punishment Island today and these give authentic stories of what could happen in the Island.
2. Bushara Island.
This Island is the home of Lake Bunyonyi Development Company, an organization with strong links to Church of Uganda which is the dominant church of the lake area. They use tourism to generate funds for several development projects around Bunyonyi. The island has many luxury tents, chalets, and also campsites for tourists to stay on. It is also possible to rent out canoes and sailboats with a view to paddling to one of the other islands. The striking feature of the island is its forest, a demonstration of the most appealing attribute of the eucalyptus tree characterized with an exceptionally fast growth rate. The hills around Bunyonyi used to feature many forests but overpopulation led to them being cut down to create land for agriculture needs. Eucalypti have been imported to improve the situation. But eucalyptus plants may also have a negative effect such as soaking everything useful in the soil, leaving it more or less barren.
3. Kyahugye Island.
Kyahugye Island covers an area which is approximately 30ha (74 acres) in size and also the nearest to the mainland which is just a mere 5-minute boat ride away. It is surrounded by a 1-2m (3-6.5 ft.) wide strip of reeds interspersed with papyrus. The Island has many tree species including Eucalyptus species as well as the Pinus species, and Species Alnus plus Cuprssus species and all these tree species form a wide perimeter around the Island. The vegetation on the Island is mainly divided into four types namely bush, open fallows, tree plantations and natural vegetation. The hilltop of the Island is flat and has been developed for tourists. There are chalets and campsites for accommodation, and a well-stocked bar and restaurant. From the top of the Island, there are spectacular views of the surrounding terraced hillsides, the calm waters of Lake Bunyonyi, and the neighboring Islands. On a clear day, Mt. Muhabura can be seen in the distance. Tourist activities like Dugout Canoe Treks, Nature walks, Mountain Climbing, Birding walks, Community visits, etc. can be organized for the tourists to experience. It is the only Island with wild animals which include the Impalas, Zebra, Water bucks, the Kobs and the only Debrasa Monkey. It also housed Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort.
4. Bwama and Njuyeera (Sharp’s Island).
In 1921, an English missionary called Dr Leonard Sharp came for safaris in this part of Uganda and in 1931 established a leprosy treatment Centre on the Island then uninhabited Bwama Island. A church, patient quarters (model villages) and a medical facility were built, while Sharp settled on Njuyeera Island (probably meaning ‘white cottage’, after the similarity of the doctor’s small white house to Sharp’s father’s house in Shanklin, now The White House Hotel). The rationale of the leprosy colony was that of ‘voluntary segregation’, where the provision of a happy community to live in would attract leprosy sufferers, so removing them from the communities where they might infect others
The buildings of the hospital are now used by a boarding secondary school which attracts students from the entire region. There is also a primary school but no village on the island.
5. Bucuranuka or Upside Down Island.
Upside Down Island-bunyonyi
The legend expressed it that this Island killed many people. About twenty were once brewing local sorghum beer there. An old woman was passing by and she said: “Can you give me some local beer?” They wrongly thought that she was a beggar they knew. They refused her: “Get lost, beggar! Get lost!” The old woman asked: “So you will not even give me a sip? Can I at least get somebody to take me to the mainland?” They answered: “Yes, because we are fed up with you!” They chose a young guy to take her over. When they reached the shore and the guy was just beginning to return, the island turned upside down. All died, only a chicken flew away and survived.
As it stands as the place of little birds, Lake Bunyonyi features over 200 species of birds among which include; weaver birds, grey crowned crane and herons. The Nyombi swamp is a home to a range of the bird species in the area. The International Migratory birds can also make it to Lake Bunyonyi in periods of winter.
7. Lake Bunyonyi
Literally translated as the place of little birds, Lake Bunyonyi is 1,962m above sea level stretching to 25km in length and 7km in width while the depth is anticipated to be in between 44m and 900m and if proved correct, the lake would stand as the second deepest on the African continent. Noted to be Bilharzia free, Lake Bunyonyi has been a darling to many who find it easy to swim in its natural waters though very discouraged because of its depth.
Lake Bunyonyi is remarkably known for its range of 29 Islands some of which are not inhabited. The adjoining hills of Kigezi also present a magnificent adjoining landscape.
The lake features rich history including the introduction of fish around 1930s though they massively died during the 1960s due to shallow mixing resulting from wind. The lake now features species like cray fish, Mud fish and Mirrow carp.
8. People & Culture
The Islands of Lake Bunyonyi and the close lake surroundings feature settlement of two tribes – the Bakiga and Batwa. The Batwa people were introduced to the area following their eviction from the forests of Bwindi, Echuya and Mgahinga.
The Batwa people are indigenous inhabitants of Uganda and their heritage is rich and worth exploring. Though they were evicted from their homes – forests, the Batwa still posses the last of their fading culture. Their music dance and drama will definitely mesmerise whoever attempts to incorporate them in his/ her Uganda safari tour package or draw the same into the sorrowful imagination of how their tradition is steadily fading away.
The Bakiga are part of the Bantu group that have tilled the hills of Kigezi for centuries past. They are popularly known for their strength and unmatchable hard work when it comes to cultivation. They have rich traditions too which are worth exploring. Their energetic dance is impressive while their ancient stories on how the pregnant girls would be dumped on the Punishment Island and left to die will open you to understanding their extreme wrath.
9. The Scenery
Lake Bunyonyi is enclosed by magnificent green hills of Kigezi with terraces rising to a height of 2,200 – 2,478m. The range of 29 Islands straddle across the waters of this beautiful lake form one of the great sightseeing admirations that one can ever encounter.
The beautiful sight appears fresh for the great part of the day due to abrupt weather changes and along with the direction of the sun. The morning presents beautiful mist covering the myriad of Islands while the afternoon is marked by the warm tropical sun cover. The dim sky appears as the evening draws close. At times, the clouds can soak the entire Islands out of sight.
The view of Lake Bunyonyi is perfectly explored from the panoramic hill which shelters Arcadia Lodge. A meal or a drink at the terrace overlooking Lake Bunyonyi offers a lifetime memory that is worth exploring while on safari in Uganda.
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Luxury or Upmarket Uganda Safari Accommodation
The luxury or upmarket accommodation is a top notch establishment with up-to date facilities, services and décor. It meets the expectations of all seasoned upmarket travellers and all the preferred facilities and services can be accessed with ease. The Menu is extensive, rooms are spacious, staff is well trained and highly set, the atmosphere is serene very comfortable and the hotel / lodge is endowed with a wide range of facilities.
Mid Range or Standard Accommodation
This is in between luxury and budget accommodation establishments. The Midrange or the Standard accommodation option offers medium facilities and services. The rooms have to be self-contained with good beddings and décor. The Menu contains a range of items a bit higher than a budget lodge. The service staff poses average skills in customer handling and running of the establishment.
Budget or Basic Accommodation
The budget accommodation also referred to as the basic accommodation offers accommodation in basic units. The rooms may be self-contained while others may be non-self-contained. The accommodation pricing is always cheap while the menu is limited and the food quality is not expected to be very high. The service staff might sometimes be inadequate and lacking out on the degree of dexterity and skill.
For more infromation check: Lake Bunyonyi Uganda
Hope this was helpful.