Adventure’s Guide to Lake Bunyonyi : The enchanted resort town of Lake Bunyonyi is located in Kabale, southwest Uganda. At least 20 little islands dot the lake, which is bordered by steep terraced hills, unusual agricultural vistas, and the Virunga Mountains in the distance. Due to the abundance of entertainment, dining, and housing options near the lake, it is a popular destination for day trips from Kabale and is becoming more well-known every day. The neighboring islands and small fishing community of Rutinda (also known as Kyabahinga) are home to a large number of low-cost hotels, campgrounds, and resorts.
The name Bunyonyi, which means “small birds” in the local language, alludes to the numerous weaver colonies that line the shore. Larger birds are also present, including herons, egrets, African Harrier hawks, and grey-crowned cranes. Other frequent sightings include the African Kingfisher, Levillant Cuckoo, White-Tailed Monad, Slender-billed Baglafecht, and Cardinal Woodpecker.
The lake is huge and has an irregular shape, and it is surrounded by various islands that the residents have skillfully cultivated to resemble hills in Nepal. Activities like kayaking, cycling, and hiking may be found in this lively neighborhood.
Its high elevation assures a mild climate (often turning very chilly at night) and a relatively low malaria incidence, both of which are advantages. Health authorities have consistently confirmed that there are no crocodiles, hippos, or bilharzia in the lake, making it quite safe for swimming expeditions. The simple availability of canoes, kayaks, and mountain bikes for hire and enough potential excursions to keep one busy for days will thrill active tourists.
THINGS TO DO AROUND LAKE BUNYONYI
Adventure tourists love Lake Bunyonyi because of the area’s limitless chances for recreation. It is simple to plan a canoe trip on the lake because there are numerous villagers, guesthouses, and campgrounds near the lake, all of which provide canoes for rent.
Canoeing is a well-liked activity, and most of the camps provide dugout rentals. The charges are fair, but you should have some experience before undertaking a lengthy voyage around the islands. Many tourists engage in what locals refer to as the “mzungu,” or going around in circles (corkscrew).
There are countless options for natural walks nearby. Around Lake Bunyonyi, guided walking excursions are popular. Travelers typically book these excursions through camps or the dependable Focus East Africa Tour operator.
Boat across the lake, then hike the 40-kilometer (29-mile) journey to Kisoro if you’re up for a challenge. However, it is simple enough to navigate on your own if you just want to stroll leisurely along the lake’s edge. A fantastic method to travel around the lakeshore is to rent a mountain bike from Bunyoni Overland Camp for 30k shillings per day ($10), Adventure’s Guide to Lake Bunyonyi
Kyenvu’s open market days on Wednesday and Saturday gather residents from all around the area. It is a three-hour journey by dugout boats from all the camps encircling the lake. However, the majority of bases can get a motorboat for rent or arrange for a rower to assist. Be cautious when using a camera because most people are quite shy here.
Additionally, there are a number of Batwa communities in this area. A visit to a Batwa community can be arranged if you meet a pleasant guide at the market.
Punishment Island, which is situated halfway between Bushara and Njuyera Islands and is closer to the camps, got its name since it used to be the location where unmarried pregnant women were abandoned to die. Tragically, because they frequently lacked the endurance to survive, the majority of them perished while trying to swim for shore. Since there is only one little tree in the middle, it is simple to identify.
GETTING TO LAKE BUNYONYI
The hub of tourism on Lake Bunyonyi, Rutinda, is connected to Kabale by a year-round dirt road. If you’re driving yourself, leave Kabale and travel 500 meters on the Kisoro road. Turn left at a junction marked by multiple signposts to the various lakefront resorts immediately after passing a Kobil gas station. After about 5 kilometers, the road comes to a five-way intersection on the hill above Bunyonyi. Turn left for Acacia Cottages; if you continue straight, you’ll arrive in Rutinda after another two kilometers.
After about 20 kilometers, the road that takes a right at this intersection emerges at Muko on the main Kabale—Kisoro road and gives breathtaking views of the lake. The Bushara Island parking compound in Rutinda provides a secure place for drivers to leave their cars while visiting the island. Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp offers secure mainland parking for a modest fee.
The Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp offers a twice-daily shuttle to Rutinda for individuals without access to private transportation. The van departs Kabale in front of the Highland Inn at 09.30 and 16.30 each day. Per person, it costs 5,000 shillings. It will take a few people, depending on demand, but it won’t be enough for one person to travel alone, Adventure’s Guide to Lake Bunyonyi.
On market days (Monday and Friday), regular minibus taxis and pick-up trucks that cost 5k shillings travel between Kabale and Rutinda, although the service is sporadic on other days. A boda boda should cost around 50k, and a particular hire to Rutinda should cost approximately half that.
The road mentioned above can also be used to go to the lake on foot, with a slim probability of getting picked up. Butambuka Road travels west out of the town center, following local footpaths for a calmer, more beautiful journey. There are many locals that can direct you in the correct direction.
In either case, the journey is rewarding in and of itself, passing by historic farms and wooded swaths alive with wildlife. The best estimate is two hours, with a strenuous hike as you near the crest above the lake. You should avoid using a push bicycle to travel to Bunyonyi. You’ll likely spend just as much time pushing the bike up steep slopes as you will cycling, unless you are particularly fit, Adventure’s Guide to Lake Bunyonyi
You can rent a dugout or a motorboat from Rutinda Jetty if you wish to cruise the lake or stay a night or two on one of the islands. The cost of the ten- to fifteen-minute motorboat ride to Byoona Amagara or Bushara Island is negotiable, but you should expect to spend around 20 thousand shillings each way, or 10 thousand per person, for a 30- to 45-minute voyage in a dugout canoe. Byoona Amagara is farther away, while Bushara Island is more expensive.
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
Byoona Amagara, Itambira Island
The innovative Geodomes at Byooma Amagara, each with a private balcony and views of the surrounding islands and hillsides, have earned the hotel a long-standing reputation as the best location to stay at Lake Bunyonyi. It is one of the least costly establishments in the area and has friendly personnel and excellent food.
On a hillside with stunning all-encompassing views of Lake Bunyonyi, the Arcadia Cottages are located. The lodge has 12 octagonal rooms with ensuite baths and grass-thatched roofs, as well as lovely gardens. The nightly rate for the accommodation is $80.
Africa Explorer Eco Village, Kyabahinga
On a ridge overlooking Lake Bunyonyi, the islands, and the Virunga Mountains that border Rwanda and the Congo, the Africa Explorer Ecovillage floats. They have African huts, which are wooden huts with private baths and solar power. Backpacker camping areas and domes are available. The restaurant offers organic cuisine in both international and regional specialties; however, the cost of the meals can be a bit much for a backpacker.
Lost Paradise Beach (Kirangara)
With a beach and a stunning view of Lake Bunyonyi, Lost Paradise Beach offers lodging in charmingly basic huts. Excellent drinks and food are available in Asia, Europe, and Africa. All locals are welcome to go canoeing on Lake Bunyonyi for no charge. A beach, a wonderful swimming dock, camping areas, a tropical fruit garden, a dining and entertainment hall, and a Waterhouse for a lonesome twosome breakfast are all present.
Bugombe Island Gateway
The Bugombe Island Gateway offers canoe rides to the 10 islands in the lake as well as a bird-watching sanctuary on the island itself. For $100 per person, they offer full-board lodging with straightforward but affordable meals.
Bunyonyi View Resort
A lot of visitors to Lake Bunyonyi like Bunyonyi View Resort due to its selection of accommodations. It’s a family-friendly location where rooms range from $15 to $100 per person and meals cost between $4 and $7. It has beautiful views of Lake Bunyonyi due to its highland location.
The Lake Bunyonyi Overland Camp is the most well-liked location to set up a tent. This is the best choice overall, while adjacent Kalebas and Crater Bay are more tranquil. Additionally, campers can sail on the lake to Byoona Amagara and Bushara Island.