Lake Bunyonyi – Uganda
Lake Bunyonyi is a fresh water vessel thought to be the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika but the deepest in Uganda situated in the south western part of Uganda. It is located in Kabale district close to Rwanda border along Kabale – Kisoro road. The lake is raised to 1962m above the sea level. Lake bunyonyi is believed to have been in existence for over 8000 years and it was formed as a result of magma that flew from the erupted mount Virunga blocking the water flowing from river Ndego and hence creating a dam which later on became a lake. The name Bunyonyi originated from a native word that means small birds thus lake bunyonyi is called the lake of small birds. The vegetation cover around Lake Bunyonyi is filled with evergreen blush, hills filled with terraces that range between 2200m to 2478m and the beautiful islands that really make Lake Bunyonyi more attractive. Lake Victoria has the most beautiful scenic view for the nature lovers, honeymoon visitors and all other adventurous visitors due to the cool breath throughout the year.
Tourism activities carried out on Lake Bunyonyi
The nature of Lake Bunyonyi offers wide range of activities such as Birding, swimming, canoeing, boat cruise, fishing, biking, cultural encounters, nature walks and hiking among others are really worth a visit. Let’s talk about these activities briefly;
Swimming: Swimming in Uganda’s fresh water lake which is free from any water-borne diseases is such an awesome experience especially in the clean and fresh waters of Lake Bunyonyi offering the best swimming grounds for water lovers. However, since the lake is considered the second deepest lake in Africa, swimmers have to always be careful not to go very deep especially those with less swimming experience. What makes Lake Bunyonyi to be the best swimming ground is the fact that it has no dangerous mammals like crocodiles and Hippos thus visitors can enjoy swimming at ease
Canoeing: Taking a canoe ride on Lake Bunyonyi is another fascinating activity that visitors on a lake bunyonyi tour opt not to miss out on. This canoe takes the visitors along the lake while exploring the 29 islands that are found within Lake Bunyonyi. There are both motorized and none motorized canoes and visitors are free to choose whichever they need to use during the exploration of the islands. One might choose to explore one, two, three, or all of the islands since every island carries its own history. The most visited island is the Akampene Island where the Bakiga used to take their daughters who became pregnant before marriage and abandon them there to starve but in some cases, poor men would rescue and marry them off hence the name Punishment island best suits it. These canoes are the most common means of transport used by the people who intend to cross from one island to another. The starting point for the canoeing or boat ride on lake bunyonyi is in Bufuka trading center taking visitors along the shores of the lake as they watch several farmlands, water birds, islands and the local communities along the shores
Birding on Lake Bunyonyi “lake of little birds”: The nature of Lake Bunyonyi and the surrounding vegetation filled with swamps, forest, islands all act as breeding places for several bird species and also creates a good environment for migratory birds. Lake Bunyonyi is a home to over 200 bird species including the small birds which led to the name Bunyonyi. The most common bird species seen during birding along Lake Bunyonyi include the levillant Cuckoo, Egrets, Black Heron, grey crowned crane, African Harrier Hawk, woodpecker, Sunbirds, golden black weaver birds, woodpeckers, raptors and many more that really make Lake Bunyonyi a place of little birds. Most of the water birds are seen during canoeing
Hiking and nature walks: There are well-designated trails along Lake Bunyonyi which offer the best hiking trails ranging from easy ones to the most tiring ones through the bamboo forest while sighting out several wildlife species such as primates such as monkeys, mammals, birds, and beautiful butterflies that capture the attention of the visitors and make the tour a memorable
Mountain biking: Several visitors who love biking opt for a mountain biking activity on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi which is such a fascinating activity that trails along the lake and deep into the villages climbing small hills while meeting the local communities in their farms, sighting different mammals, birds and many more
Fishing on Lake Bunyonyi: Lake Bunyonyi is also amongst the fresh water lakes in Uganda with several fish species that attract several visitors to participate in fishing. The common fish species caught include; Crayfish which is the most delicious and readily available fish species found on Lake Bunyonyi and other nearby water bodies. This fish special is however not enjoyed by the locals of Lake Bunyonyi yet the foreigner really enjoys it in any way it is prepared such as prepared with salads, soups, and any other way. Another fish species caught on Lake Bunyonyi is the Mudfish Cultural encounters
Cultural encounters: During the cultural encounters, visitors meet the Batwa people who are the ancient and the first people in Uganda to live in the forest. These Batwa along lake bunyonyi were previously residing in Echuya Forest but later on, they were displaced by the government and left landless and up to date, the only way they survive is through working on people’s farms and also acting as potters for the visitors and sometimes as tour guides and entertaining the guests through dances, drama and store telling. So a visit to the Batwa is really honored as they obtain some income to do some projects and educate their children
Getting to Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi has situated 410 km in Kabale district and can easily be accessed by road which takes a 7-8 hours’ drive from Kampala the capital city of Uganda to Kabale town and then adds some minutes to drive from Kabale town to Lake Bunyonyi.
For visitors joining bunyonyi from Kigali, it takes about 3-4 hours’ drive to reach Lake Bunyonyi. It can also be accessed from Queen Elizabeth national park and from Kibale forest national park which takes about 5 hours’ drive implying that there are very many ways of accessing lake bunyonyi since its easily combined with a tour to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park for mountain Gorilla trekking, Kibale for chimpanzee trekking and Queen Elizabeth National Park for lion experience, boat cruise and many more.
Visitors on a visit to Lake Bunyonyi have a variety of accommodation facilities to select from some located in close vicinity to the lake with in the hills others in the islands, such as bunyonyi safari lodge, Arcadia lodge, Byoona Amagara, bird’s nest, Bunyonyi view resort, Upendo Guest Home, Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort, Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Crater Bay cottages, Bushara Island Camp, Africa Explorer Eco village, Bugombe Island Gateway, and many more bandas offering the best services according to the visitors budget plan.
And other visitors may opt to stay in Kabale town and then drive to bunyonyi only on the day of activity and return to Kabale which also has very many accommodations with nice amenities
A visit to Africa and specifically Uganda is incomplete not until you visit Lake Bunyonyi the Switzerland of Africa situated in a landlocked country.