The 3 days safari takes you to Lake Bunyonyi, found in Southwestern Uganda near Rwanda border, between Kabale and Kisoro districts. The word Bunyonyi means small birds, hence the lake derives its name from that term, in simple terms it is regarded as the Place of many little birds.
It is 25km long, 7km wide and is said to be Africa’s second deepest lake. The lake stands out for its moderate temperature, fresh waters which are safe for swimming and bilharzia free, then its ever-changing climate and breathtaking scenery.
Bunyonyi is surrounded by beautifully terraced hills and has 29 islands, one of the islands is called Akampene also known as punishment island and the story behind this name is; many years ago, if a girl got pregnant before she was married, she would be tied up and taken to the island as a sign of punishing her, most of them died there because of hunger or drowned as they tried to swim, but if the man who impregnated her would pay the bride price in form of cows, he would go and get the girl. This act was to intimidate the young girls not to do like the others. This practice was done by the natives of the land but was later abandoned at the start of the 20th century. Other islands include; Njuyeera, Bushara, and Bwama.
This lake is a hideaway for many people especially those seeking to simply relax, mediate, adventure or team building. Many tourists including honeymooners are attracted to it because of its amazing panoramic views, weather and breeze. We have indicated for you below a detailed itinerary for the 3 days and some of the activities to do while there.
Basing on where you will be, our safari guide will meet you, take you through a short briefing about the Bunyonyi experience and then drive you there. The Lake lies in the southwest of Uganda hence the journey is a bit long approximately 8 hours from Kampala. While still on the way, stop in Kayabwe for the Equator experience, take photographs and buy some souvenirs. Enjoy lunch en route and proceed to Kabale through undulating hills, plantations, terraced farmlands feeding your eyes with breathtaking views of the countryside. Arrive at the lodge, relax, dine and overnight.
Have breakfast and your guide will drop you off at the shore of the lake and start off with the thrilling canoe ride along the lake. Expect to see different islands, beautiful scenery, birds, terraced hills, homesteads and other things during the ride.
After the ride, have lunch at the lodge and that afternoon, go for a cultural tour guided by a local guide thereby getting a chance to interact with the Bakiga and Batwa people who live in the area. The cultural tour introduces you to amazing tales, culture, beliefs and traditions of the locals. In the tour, also visit some of the local markets, buy something from there as a way of supporting their work, and also enjoy entertainment from these people through music and dances. Later, have diner and an overnight at your lodge.
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast, and after check out and drive back to Kampala with your guide, enjoy lunch en route, you could also have a stop at Igongo Cultural Centre to see the country’s most exotic culture then continue with the drive reaching Kampala in the evening. You will either be dropped-off at the Airport or in Kampala at your hotel.
Bunyonyi is among Uganda’s cleanest lakes. It is bilharzia free, free from dangerous animals such as the hippos and crocodiles and also pollution free since there are no fishing sites along the shores. So while on holiday, just take a break from the usual swimming pools and swim in these fresh waters. However caution is given to the inexperienced swimmers since this is a very deep lake.
Canoeing is the popular means of transport used on this lake. The residents constantly make canoe rides on this lake as they move from shore to shore and island to island going on with their day to day lives. So to be able to experience what they do, you could get on a locally made canoe and ride along the lake, make a number of stops to enjoy the spectacular views of the islands and hills as you listen to amazing stories about the lake. The best time to go for this activity is in the morning hours when the lake is still covered with fog. But for the travellers interested in night canoeing, it can also be organized for them.
For the adventurous tourist, this is an activity to do. Zip lining is done on Safe and secure ropes which are tied between trees standing on the opposite shores of the lake. Safe and well tested equipment is used in this fun and exciting experience and all you need to do is to get to the rope, swing over the calm waters, the splash them as you drift form one point to another.
Visit the Islands
With 29 islands, this makes the lake beautiful but also every island offers a special story that takes tourists through the cultural beliefs and local history. Some of the islands include; Akampene Island; popularly known as the punishment island, Bwama Island, Bacuranuka Island and Kyahugye Island. So, during the canoe ride; you can use two or more hours to visit some of the islands.
Cultural and Community Visits
Going for a walk in the surrounding communities away from the lodge can be very rewarding since you get to see how people get along with their day to day life. You can visit those digging in their gardens, or visit a local school and interact with the children there. Also, you can try out the locally brewed drink known as “Bushera” made from Sorghum by the Bakiga people.
You could also opt for a visit to the Batwa community. The Batwa are an indigenous tribe found in this region and they stay near the lake, they are the same as those found in Mgahinga and Bwindi National Parks. They still find it hard to make a life in this area since originally they used to stay in a forest and lived as gatherers and hunters. Visit them, learn more about them and also be entertained by them as they demonstrate their cultural heritage through storytelling, music and dance.
Explore lake Bunyonyi well by going for mountain biking. Ride through to see picturesque landscapes, in case you are interested in this activity, make arrangements with your tour operator who will readily avail the bike because most hotels and lodges may not offer motorbike rental services.
Of course the lake is a place for many little birds, this means that birds will be spotted everywhere around the lake. It hosts over 200 species hence a good place for birders. Some of the birds that can be seen include; the weavers, herons, egrets, cranes, re-chested sunbirds, woodpeckers, flycatchers and many more.
Other activities include; nature walks through the terraced hills and in Echuya forest. Also visit a local market where you can buy various things like the African crafts. The local markets also sell other things like vegetables, clothes, shoes and electronics.
One has to first get to Kabale town to able to access the Lake. Tourists from Kampala can drive for about 8 hours to Kabale and use like 25 minutes to get to the Lake. Also from Kabale town one can hire a taxi or use a motorcycle to get to Bunyonyi. But what most tourists do is they book a safari fully packaged and visit other National Parks in the West such as Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth and then finish their safari with Lake Bunyonyi. It is easier that way since all transport costs are catered for and you are driving along with our skilled safari guide/driver.
Also note that, it is easier to access the Lake as you come from Kigali, Rwanda than from Kampala, Uganda. This is because from Kigali, the journey is 3 to 4 hours to get to the lake using a car