LAKE BUNYONYI. 10 FUN ACTIVITIES FOR YOU TO ENJOY

In the South-Western part of Uganda, 7 km west of Kabale Town lies the most beautiful lake in the country. Embroidered with 29 islands, Lake Bunyonyi is about 25 kilometres long, 7 kilometres wide and 35,000 feet deep putting it top of the list as the deepest Lake in East Africa.

It is surrounded by steep Kigezi terraced hills, and lush green vegetation and is conveniently located in a remote area that supplements the beautiful scenery with a quiet ambience to chill out, hide away and enjoy the spoils of the perfect South-Western climate.

It is believed to have been formed 10,000 years ago. It was created when the River Ndego was blocked by lava flowing from one of the volcanic ‘Virunga Mountains’ covering up the valley around this area into a stagnated water body. Over the years, this has developed into a beautiful island clustered Lake with fresh waters and fish.

There is quite a lot to do while in the calm west, the top on the list being relaxing and chilling the entire time you are there. The view is calming and the activities adventurous, rest assured leave this place rested and with a different view on the world.

1. BOAT RIDES

Why visit a Lake and not go on a boat cruise? There are countless boats for hire on the banks of the lake ready to take you inland all day.

The waters are very safe so you can move from corner to corner enjoying the scenic view. With a local guide, you get to learn a lot about the 29 islands (inhabited and uninhabited), and tribes of people that live around the lake.

2. COMMUNITY VISITS/HIKES

Lounging at the amazing resorts is relaxing enough but to experience the Switzerland of Africa, a hike in the surrounding hills is exhilarating and refreshing. Tracks along the terraces, banana plantations and lush green vegetation give a clear view of the 29 islands. It gives quite a great picture-perfect spot from all angles.

For a more enriched experience, a walk around the communities opens your eyes to the traditional way of living, cultural beliefs, history and mythical stories that have been told from generation to generation. The local people are very welcoming.

3. BIRD WATCHING

It is also called ‘Place of Many Little Birds’ for a very good reason. It is a home for over 200 bird species like the grey-crowned cranes, red-chested sunbirds, flycatchers, white-tailed blue Monard, slender-billed baglafetch, weavers, egrets, herons, woodpeckers among others all over the banks of the lakes. If you are a bird lover but also in dire need of a quiet getaway, Bunyonyi is the perfect place to experience this.

4. SWIMMING

The Lake is filled with fresh water and is Bilharzia-free. There is no shore but safe structures have been put in place to allow easy deep dives into the open waters.

A change from the swimming pools is just what you need on holiday and Lake Bunyoyi is open for this all time of the day. Take time to chill on the banks of the lake, sunbathe and deep dive any time of the day.

5. LOCAL MARKET

The African Market experience is something you should. Markets around Lake Bunyonyi have about anything you can think of ranging from African crafts, vegetables, shoes, clothes, and electronics. The people move around swiftly as they haggle for cheaper prices, others stand around and catch up with each other and others ride in with more merchandise to sell.

A local market is a place where people come to connect and catch up with others.

6. CANOE RIDING

This is the most common mode of transport on Lake Bunyonyi. The locals are constantly making trips across the lake from island to island and on different sides of the hills to do their personal business.

To have a better feel of what it feels like to live the way they do, a canoe ride is a perfect option, giving you extra time on the lake, and a chance to stop right in the middle for a little serenity and panoramic view. You can choose to be paddled or even do the paddling yourself as long as you have a guide with you.

This service is available any time of the day including evenings for lovers that want to watch the sunset as they glide with the lake. The lake is not infested with dangerous water animals like hippos and crocodiles making this evening and possibly romantic experience unforgettable.

7. VISITING BATWA PYGMIES

The Batwa pygmies are a very small group of people found on the border of Kabale and Kisoro in the ‘Echuya Forest Reserve’ who is believed to have been originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a tribe of hunters who used to live in the DRC rain forests until they migrated to Western Uganda after being removed from their land as a result of industrialization. There are almost 4,000 Batwa living in this area.

The Batwa have a fascinating history including their own creation story, and a unique relationship with the forest which have been marginalized for quite some time now. They live in small grass and stick houses and generally keep to themselves. The Batwa experience was set up by the Kellerman Foundation and being a part of this highly benefits this endangered group of people.

8. MOUNTAIN BIKING

There are several roads/tracks around the Lake and uphill on the surrounding hills. The entire ride provides a clearer and clearer view of the magical islands and allows you to get up close and personal with many local people. Some of the lodging arrears provide bikes for hire. This can be arranged by your tour guide – to make sure everything is well prepared in advance.

9. ZIPLINING

The recent addition is Ziplining. Sturdy ropes are connected between trees on the opposite banks of the Lake. You get to swing over the calm waters of the lake and even make half-somersaults to touch the waters and feel the breeze on your face.

It is a fun, exhilarating experience to linger over the lake and splash the water as you drift from one end to another. Safety equipment is provided for this activity on-site. The equipment used is well-tested to ensure the safely of everyone on the ziplines.

10. DISCOVER THE ISLANDS

29 islands each one more fascinating from the other. With your preferred mode of transport, you get a chance to visit every island on the lake and explore it. The most commonly visited are;

  • Akampene (Punishment island): Regarded as the smallest island on the lake and yet one that is most memorable. Akampene island holds a morbid history of a tradition that was upheld for quite a long time by the local people. Young girls who got pregnant before marriage were taken to this island and tied to the one tree that sits on the islands to atone for their transgressions. As times changed, this tradition was ignored and regarded as an outdated ancient tradition.
  • Kyahugye Island: Considered one of the most exciting islands, here there are a number of animals you can see. The Island is home of Zebras, Waterbucks, Impalas and a lot more. For a mini version of a game drive, with a view of the glittering sun-kissed waters at a distance and fresh breezes, an hour’s ride will be a perfect addition. These animals were introduced to the area.
  • Bushara Island: For a closer look at the birds around this area, you have to check out Bushara Island. Carry your binoculars and long-lens cameras to be able to get the best of the experience.
  • Bwama Island: This is the largest of the islands and happens to be inhabited by people. Dr Leonard Sharp was a Scottish missionary who came to Uganda in the 1920s and in 1931 started up a sanctuary for people suffering from Leprosy. He set up a Leprosy treatment Centre where people would come to be treated without feeling mistreated or neglected. This is strongly embedded in the island’s history. Currently, these hospital structures are being used as schools for the island inhibitors.
  • Bacuranuka Island:  The mythical story about this island is quite a tale. Long ago, 20 men were making local brew (obushera) when an old woman came upon them and requested for a sip of the drink. The men refused to offer her a sip of the drink in an ungentlemanly manner. The old lady requested them to offer her a ride to the mainland to which they accepted gladly for they wanted her out of the way. One of the men was sent with her to the mainland, out of frustration, the old lady cursed the island which turned upside down and swallowed the men brewing ‘bushera’ on the island.

With 29 small islands, you can be sure that each island has a special tale that ties to the local history and cultural beliefs.

CONCLUSION

Lake Bunyonyi’s location in the Kigezi highlands makes it ideal for relaxing before or after your gorilla-tracking safari. The rich history and incredible surroundings make for very relaxing holidays.

As the activities above mention, you can still engage in the more adventurous things like zip-lining which is exquisite. In case you want to go to Lake Bunyonyi and take part in some of these fun activities, just talk to us and we can arrange for you the perfect Uganda holiday.

Most visitors usually spend time in Bunyonyi after engaging in the thrilling gorilla trekking activity of Bwindi or Mgahinga. Here are some itineraries that include Lake Bunyonyi as well as other attractions.

All our Safari itineraries can be modified to your interests. That means we can add Bunyonyi for you on any itinerary for any amount of time and activities you need.

Which of these activities would you like to take part in? Let us know in the comments, or share on social media and tag us.

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