Lake Bunyonyi – ‘the place of many little birds’ as translated from the local language is one of Uganda’s gems and safari tour destinations. The Lake is situated in South-western Uganda and lies between the districts of Kisoro and Kabale, close to the border of Rwanda.
The Lake is approximately 25 km (15.5mi) long and 7 km (1.35mi) wide and is located at 1,962 metres above sea level. The lake is said to be the second deepest in Africa with a depth varying between 44m (144ft) and 900m (2,952ft). Lake Bunyonyihas two main towns on its shores; Kyevu and Muko. The other fascinating feature about it is its 29 islands including Akampene Island (Punishment Island), Bushara Island, Kyahugye Island, Bwamba and Njuyeera (Sharp’s Island) and Buchuranuka (Upside down Island), which are the main islands. Each of the islands has an intriguing tale which is worth hearing and will leave the inquisitive tourist fascinated.
Adventures at Lake Bunyonyi
Visiting the islands Lake Bunyonyi is comprised of 29 small islands including; Akampene (punishment) Island, Bushara Island, Bwama and Njuyeera (sharp’s Island), and Bucuranuka (upside down Island), which are the main islands. Besides being endowed with a variety of wildlife and plant life, each one of the islands has a fascinating story.
The infamous Akampene Island is where the Bakiga tribe used to abandon girls who committed the unforgivable sin of getting pregnant before marriage. The ill-fated girls were expected to either die at Island or drown in the lake while trying to swim back to the mainland.
The Bucuranuka Island (upside down Island) is believed to have turned upside down at one time and had all its dwellers killed. A traditional legend tells of an old woman who once visited the island and was denied a drink of the sorghum beer which was being brewed. She asked to be escorted off the island to get to the mainland and the Island dwellers willingly offered a young man to help them get rid of the old beggar by escorting her back to the mainland. Once the two had departed from the Island, it turned upside down and killed all the inhabitants and it is said that only a chicken survived. A tour through the islands is an opportunity to hear each of the intriguing tales first hand.
Nature Walks are an exciting adventure to embark on during a Uganda Safari tour to Lake Bunyonyi. A walk along the lake shores is a thrilling one and following the hiking trails on the lakes’ various islands is exciting. The islands have a variety of trees and plant life plus a number of wildlife species. Nature Walks through the islands are not only refreshing but are also a chance to encounter Uganda’s celebrated beauty. The nearby Kigezi highlands and terraces are probably hiking destinations.
Birding Lake Bunyonyi is the perfect Uganda tour getaway for the passionate birder. The lake and its surroundings are a habitat to over 200 bird species. The name of the lake is synonymous with the presence of many birds – Lake Bunyonyi is translated ‘place of many little birds’ from the local language. The ideal birding spots include; the lake shores, Nyombi swamp and the various islands where you can spot a variety of bird species including; Egrets, Weaver birds, Herons, Grey-crowned Cranes, African Harrier Hawks, Cardinal Woodpeckers, Levillant’s Cuckoo, and the White-tailed Blue Robins.
A visit to Uganda’sLake Bunyonyi is a guarantee for a classic African Safari experience. Swimming in the lake is another adventure not worth missing. It is ascertained that the waters of Lake Bunyonyi are Bilharzia free, and crocodiles, hippos, among other dangerous water mammals are rare occurrences at the lake. Being one of the deepest lakes in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi is ideal for divers and adrenalin lovers.
Canoeing and boat trips
Boat trips on Lake Bunyonyiare another exciting safari adventure. You can choose to paddle or be paddled along the lake in a dugout canoe. Sailing along the lake in the locally made canoes arouses the sweet feeling of being on typical African Safari. The option of cruising in modern speedboats is also available and ideal for sunrise and sunset cruises. It is beautiful to watch the African sun rising or setting over the horizon.
Around Lake, Bunyonyi is a number of native dwellers including the indigenous pygmy Batwa who lived in the nearby Ichuya forest until their eviction by the government in the interest of creating natural reserves. The other people to see include the Bakiga who are cultivators, and the Abaheesi who are traditional blacksmiths. A visit to the local communities is an opportunity to be entertained with traditional performances; music, dance, drama and folklore from local performing groups.