TOP ATTRACTIONS AND ACTIVITIES ON LAKE BUNYONYI
Top Attractions and Activities on Lake Bunyonyi : Lake Bunyonyi, also known as the “Place of many little birds”, is located in the south-western part of Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale districts. The lake attracts a number of visitors annually; and it makes a great stopover for travellers visiting Bwindi Impenetrable national park or Mgahinga national park for a gorilla trekking safari.
The lake is 25 kilometers long, 7 kilometers wide and 900metres deep which makes it the deepest lake in Uganda and second deepest in Africa after Lake Tanganyika. Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda lies on an altitude of about 1962metres above the sea level.
The name “Bunyonyi” means a place with small birds therefore that’s where the name was derived from because it’s one of the top birding destinations in Uganda. It is one of the breathtaking and stunning destination in the country and it harbors about 29 islands where each island has a story to tell that is worth listening for example Akampene Island also known as punishment Island, Bushara Island, Kyahugye Island, Bucuranuk(upside down Island), Bwama and Njuyeera Island among others.
Canoeing is a thrilling activity which is done in a dugout canoe exploring all the 29 islands and this activity was first started in 2005 by Edirisa a local Social Enterprise in Kabale district. Canoeing can either be done with a guide or you can rent your own dugout canoe, canoeing can therefore be organized as a full day tour or half day depending on your itinerary.
Canoeing is one of the breathtaking activities done on Lake Bunyonyi. Visitors get to paddle around the lake listening to the beautiful sounds of the birds, explore different islands on the lake, meet people, discover stories behind each Island such as Akampene also known as punishment Island.
The punishment is believed to have a mystery where unmarried girls who got pregnant were abandoned to either die of hunger or drown trying to swim back to the mainland as a punishment. These girls could however be saved by slaves or poor men who couldn’t afford bride price , Bushara island which is a home of Lake Bunyonyi development company, Bucuranuka island among others.
While canoeing on the lake you don’t have to worry about anything because the lake is free from dangerous animals like crocodiles and hippos therefore you only enjoy the ride on the lake with great views of the hills, terraces, farmlands, local people on the island and others crossing the lake among others.
Visitors can also do a night canoe ride on the lake where you get an opportunity to listen to the nocturnal birds singing, frogs, and waves of the water among others which gives you an extra ordinary experience on your visit to Lake Bunyonyi.
Bird watching on Lake Bunyonyi is perfect for birding enthusiasts given that the lake is one of the top birding destinations in Uganda. Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda harbors over 200 bird species including occasional, endemic and migratory birds. Birding on the lake can be done during canoeing as you paddle to Nyombi swamp, forests around the lake, shores of the lake among others. bird species to look out for during birding on the lake include grey crowned crane, African king fisher, African harrier hawk, golden backed weaver, bronzy sunbird, hadada ibis, malachite kingfisher, slender billed baglafetch, cardinal woodpecker, white tailed blue monard, levillant cuckoo among others.
Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda is a fresh water lake that is free from bilharzia, other human diseases and dangerous wildlife like crocodiles and hippos therefore it’s one of the safe waters for swimming though visitors should be experienced swimmers due to its depth and inexperienced swimmers should swim in near areas.
This is an interesting activity where visitors walk on foot as they explore the lake with spectacular scenery, landscape views, terraced hills, Kigezi highlands feeling the cool breeze. During the nature walk you will visit the communities around the lake, visit the islands, lake shores, farmlands, tree plantations, Echuya forest and view wildlife like primates, zebras, antelopes among others.
Mountain biking is an exciting activity where visitors explore Lake Bunyonyi and its surrounding on a mountain bike. Mountain biking at Lake Bunyonyi is done with a guide who will be sharing information about various destinations and showing you different trails to follow such as trails through the local communities where you will see young children waving at you, market centers, and farmland among others. Mountain bikes can be hired at an affordable price from Lake Bunyonyi rocket resort and the activity can either be a half day or full day tour depending on the duration of your stay in Uganda.
This is one of the interesting activities on Lake Bunyonyi where you will get an opportunity to interact with the local people who live around Lake Bunyonyi. During your cultural tour, you will visit the Bakiga where you will learn about their lifestyle which involves digging, making Bushera drink from sorghum or millet; learn how to make local beer from bananas, taste their local food among others.
You will also be able to visit the Batwa/pygmies who were resettled from Echuya forest. During your interaction with the Batwa, you will listen to their stories how they were hunters and gatherers when they were still living in the forest and how they are struggling to make a living. On your cultural encounter you will be entertained through songs, dances, storytelling among others which teaches you a lot about other cultures which teaches you a lot about other cultures.
Sunset and Sunrise viewing
Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda offers spectacular morning sunrise and in evening sunset views over the waters where you will be able to take plenty and beautiful pictures as you chill out, relax and enjoy the cool breeze while listening to the sounds of birds singing during your safari.
Accommodation at Lake Bunyonyi
There are a wide range of luxury, midrange and budget accommodations where you can stay on your safari at Lake Bunyonyi including Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort, Bird Nest Bunyonyi Resort, Paradise Eco Hub, Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Amasiko Homestay, Arcadia Lodge, Crater Bay cottages, Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort, Ruhija Rest Camp, Entusi Resort and Retreat Centre, Riverside Resort Hotel, Bunyonyi Safaris Resort, Jajama Panorama Resort, Bushara Island Camp, Heritage Lodge Habuharo among others.
Accommodation facilities at the lake offer quality services and amenities such as comfortable beds with en-suite bathrooms, siting lounge, restaurant which serves both international and local meals, well stocked bar, free Wi-Fi, siting gardens for relaxation, swimming pool, great scenic views of the lake, bird species, some animals among others which makes you to feel at home as you enjoy you safari at Lake Bunyonyi.
Best Time to visit Lake Bunyonyi in Southwestern Uganda
Lake Bunyonyi in south-western Uganda is a thrilling destination which can be visited anytime throughout the year and the best period to visit is during the dry season in the months of June to September and December to February. During this period there is less rainfall therefore activities like canoeing, mountain biking, birding, nature walk, sunset viewing among others will be successful because they are best done during the dry season.
Getting to Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi is located in the southwestern region of Uganda between Kabale and Kisoro districts close to Rwanda border and can be accessed by road transport means. When driving to the lake you can use private company vehicle or self-drive from Kampala via Masaka, Mbarara, Ntungamo and then Kabale which takes about 8 to 9 hours’ drive on a tarmac road and less than an hour from Kabale town to Lake Bunyonyi.
The lake can also be accessed from Rwanda where you can fly to Kigali International Airport and then drive from the airport to Kabale via Katuna border which takes about 2 to 3 hours’ drive.
Visitors can also use public means of transport to Lake Bunyonyi in that there are daily buses which travel from Kampala to Kabale town, therefore you can board a bus early in the morning to Kabale town and then hire a private taxi or motorcycle to Lake Bunyonyi which takes less than an hour.
Lake Bunyonyi is a must visit destination especially if you are on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda. The lake offers visitors great views of the scenery around the lake area and surrounding green terraced hills.