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Lake Bunyonyi, nicknamed “The Place of Little Birds” for its abundant birdlife, is widely considered to be the most beautiful lake in Uganda. Located in the southwestern part of the country, between Kabale and Kisoro, it’s a stunning sight with emerald, green waters surrounded by lush green hills.

The lake is dotted with 29 small islands, each with its own unique character. Some are home to traditional villages, while others are deserted and shrouded in mystery. Visitors can explore the islands by dugout canoe, a traditional mode of transportation on the lake

Lake Bunyonyi is a great place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are a number of lodges and guesthouses located on the shores of the lake, offering stunning views and comfortable accommodations. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of activities, such as swimming, canoeing, hiking, and bird watching.

What Is Lake Bunyonyi Famous For?

Lake Bunyonyi is famous for several things, including its stunning beauty, rich birdlife, and unique islands.
Scenic Beauty: Nicknamed “The Place of Little Birds” for its abundant birdlife, Lake Bunyonyi is widely considered to be the most beautiful lake in Uganda.

Birdlife: The lake is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 200 species of birds calling it home. This includes everything from water birds and migratory birds to raptors, sunbirds, and woodpeckers. The diverse birdlife makes Lake Bunyonyi a perfect destination for bird enthusiasts.

Islands: Dotted around the lake are 29 small islands, each with its own unique character and history. Some are home to traditional villages, while others are deserted and shrouded in mystery. Visitors can explore the islands by dugout canoe, a traditional mode of transportation on the lake.

Lake Bunyonyi also holds cultural significance for the local communities living around it, mainly the Bakiga people. The lake’s islands were historically used as a defensive strategy during tribal conflicts, and today they offer insights into the traditional way of life, customs, and rituals of the local people.

Lake Bunyonyi is also a venue for travelers seeking relaxation, tranquility, and a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life. And it’s a perfect place for chilling out before or after gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

After your Uganda gorilla safaris, you can take a boat cruise on the lake or go for a swim. The lake is regarded to be safe for swimming due to the absence of hippos, crocodiles, and Bilharzia.

How Was Lake Bunyonyi Formed?

Lake Bunyonyi is lava-dammed lake that was formed through geological processes over a million of years. It was a result of tectonic activity and volcanic process that shaped the Great African Rift Valley.

How Deep Is Lake Bunyonyi?

Although the depth of the water is still debated, Lake Bunyonyi is believed to be the second deepest lake in Africa and the fourth deepest lake in the world, at 900 meters at its maximum depth. To put this depth into perspective, envision the equivalent of stacking 56 giraffes gracefully upon each other underwater.

How Many Islands Are on Lake Bunyonyi?

Lake Bunyonyi is dotted 29 islands, each overflowing with fascinating stories. These islands vary in size and shapes with their own names. Some of the islands are inhabited, while others are used for tourism and cultural activities. Some of the islands include:
Bwama Island: The largest island on the lake, Bwama Island is a great place to learn about the Bakiga culture and see traditional ways of life.

Akampene Island: Also known as Punishment Island, Akampene Island was once a leper colony. Today, the abandoned buildings serve as a reminder of the island’s dark past.

In the past, unmarried girls who got pregnant were brought by their fathers or brothers and punished by abandoning them on this island. Here, they faced two possible fates. Any poor man who did not own sufficient cows to pay an untainted bride was permitted to fetch the disgraced girl from the island and make her hist wife. Failing that, the girl would usually starve to death or die while trying to swim ashore.

Bushara Island: Nicknamed “The Lake Bunyonyi Bird Paradise,” Bushara Island is a must-visit for bird lovers. The island is home to a wide variety of bird species, making it a great place to go bird watching.

Kahugye Island
Kahugye Island is home to the Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort that offers accommodation and various water activities to guests. Kahungye is also the only island in Lake Bunyonyi where you can see wild animals such as Waterbucks, Impalas, the Uganda Kobs and Zebras.

Bucuranuka Island (Upside Down Island)
Known for its enchanting beauty, Bucuranuka Island is a popular stop for boat trips on Lake Bunyonyi. This island is believed to have buried a group of male revelers who refused to share their abundant stock of beer with an old lady who had embarked on a canoe to join them.

Unfortunately for the drinking party, the woman was a sorceress. She returned to her canoe, paddled a safe distance away, and then used her magical powers to overturn the island-drowning everybody in the party and then flipping it back the right way up as if nothing had happened. This is why the Island is called Bucuranuka (meaning Upside down in Rukiga local Language).

Can you swim in lake bunyonyi?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Bunyonyi! In fact, it’s one of the few lakes in the area that is considered safe for swimming. Here’s why:
Bilharzia-free: Unlike some other lakes in Africa, Lake Bunyonyi is free from bilharzia, a parasitic disease. This makes it safe to swim in the lake without worrying about contracting the disease.

No Large Dangerous Animals: There are no crocodiles or hippos in Lake Bunyonyi, so you don’t have to worry about encountering these large predators while swimming.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before swimming in Lake Bunyonyi:
Depth: Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa, with depths reaching up to 900 meters (2,950 feet) in some places. This means it’s important to be a strong swimmer and to avoid swimming alone.

Water Conditions: The water temperature in the lake can be cold, especially at deeper depths. It’s advisable to acclimate yourself to the water temperature before diving in.

Safer Areas: Some lodges and resorts around the lake have designated swimming areas that are sectioned off and may have lifeguards on duty. It’s recommended to swim in these areas for added safety.
Overall, swimming in Lake Bunyonyi can be a refreshing and enjoyable experience, as long as you take the necessary precautions.

How To Get To Lake Bunyonyi?

Getting to Lake Bunyonyi usually involves traveling to the southwest of Uganda. Here are the general steps to get to Lake Bunyonyi:

By Air
Start by flying into Entebbe International Airport, the main international gateway to Uganda. From Entebbe, you can take a domestic flight to Kihihi Airstrip or Kisoro Airstrip, both of which are relatively close to Lake Bunyonyi. Once you land at the airstrip, you can hire a vehicle or use local transportation to reach Lake Bunyonyi, which is about a few hours’ drive away.

By Road
If you prefer a road trip, you can drive from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, to Lake Bunyonyi. The journey takes approximately 7 to 8 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Public transportation: Buses and minibuses (matatus) operate between Kampala and towns near Lake Bunyonyi, such as Kabale. From these towns, you can take local transportation or hire a taxi to the lake.

Tour Operators
You can also consider booking a guided tour to Lake Bunyonyi or transportation package through a Uganda tour operator. Your tour operator can help arrange transportation, accommodations, and activities for your visit to.

Best Time To Visit Lake Bunyonyi

The best time to visit Lake Bunyonyi depends on what you want to get out of your trip. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of visiting during the wet and dry seasons:
Dry Season (June to August & December to February)
Lake Bunyonyi Uganda dry season
Pros: This is the most popular time to visit Lake Bunyonyi, as it offers predictable weather conditions with less rainfall. This makes it ideal for outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, biking, and exploring the islands by dugout canoe. The clear skies also provide excellent opportunities for stargazing.
Cons: The dry season is also the peak season, so expect higher prices for accommodation and tours. The weather can also be quite hot, especially during the months of December to February.

Wet Season (March to May & September to November)
Lake Bunyonyi Uganda wet season
Pros: The wet season offers lush green scenery and fewer crowds. Accommodation rates are typically lower during this time as well. Birdwatching enthusiasts may also find the wet season to be a good time to visit, as the migratory birds are present during this time.
Cons: Rain showers are frequent during the wet season, which can sometimes disrupt outdoor activities. The roads leading to the lake can also become muddy and slippery during this time.

Here’s a quick summary to help you decide:
For good weather and outdoor activities: June to August or December to February
For fewer crowds and lower prices: March to May or September to November
For birdwatching: March to May or September to November (to see migratory birds)
For lush green scenery: Anytime during the year

No matter what time of year you choose to visit, Lake Bunyonyi is sure to be a memorable experience.

Activities To Do Around Lake Bunyonyi

Imagine sailing on the calm waters of Africa’s second deepest lake in a traditional dugout canoe. A canoe ride is a perfect option, giving you extra time on the lake, 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.

Leisurely Boat Cruise
Leisurely motorboat tours are also available if you don’t feel like paddling a canoe. The cruise allows to relax while enjoying panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings. Island

Island Hopping
Island hopping is a great way to discover the cultural and geographical diversity of the area. With a local guide, you get to learn a lot about the 29 islands. From inhabited islands with villages and schools to uninhabited islets covered in lush vegetation, you’ll gain insights into the local way of life and the historical significance of these spots.

If you want to relax and chill out for one or two days, Lake Bunyonyi is also the perfect place to do it. If you have a good book and wish to read it in a cool and serene environment, then one of the quiet island resorts would be perfect. The crowning moment is watching the sunset at Lake Bunyonyi. The sunset here offers an opportunity to take beautiful photos of the sun’s rays reflecting on the lake’s glassy waters.

Bunyonyi means “Place of Many Little Birds”. This beautiful lake area is inhabited by than 200 bird species. If you are a bird lover but also in dire need for a quiet getaway, Bunyonyi is the perfect place to experience this.

Village Cultural Walks
Another highly recommend activity to do at Lake Bunyonyi is the cultural walks in the area. This is nice opportunity to learn about the legends, traditions and customs of the people who make a home on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi. You can meet a traditional healer, a craft group; see beautiful views from one of the high points on the lake. It is great to mingle with the locals and try out tasks like digging the garden with local hoes or visiting one of the local schools to interact with the school children. Scenic

Scenic Hikes
If one is not interested in the community walks, the area around Lake Bunyonyi has well established trails for scenic hikes. It is an excellent place to just take a stroll, shoot a few photos, and enjoy the scenery. The terrain is quite hilly which makes for some incredible views if you make it to the top. Swimming

It is safe to swim in Lake Bunyonyi. No dangerous parasites are present, and the water is hippo and crocodile free. A change from the swimming pools is just what you need on holiday and Lake Bunyonyi is open for this all time of the day.

Zip Lining
The recent addition to the things you can do at Lake Bunyonyi is Ziplining. Strong ropes are connected between trees in the opposite banks of the Lake. You get to swing over the lake’s calm waters and even make half somersaults to touch the waters and feel the breeze on your face. Safety equipment is offered for this activity. The equipment is well tested to ensure the safety of everyone doing zip lining.

Bikes can be rented at several places around the lake and in Kabale town. Traffic is light. So biking here is safe and fun. On the mountain bike, you can explore the villages and the shore of the lake in less time than walking would take. There are several tracks around the lake and uphill on the surrounding hills.

Gorilla Trekking
While Lake Bunyonyi is not a gorilla trekking destination, its closeness to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park makes it an ideal base for this adventure. Bwindi is home to almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla populations, offering an opportunity to track and observe these endangered apes in the wild.

Local Market Visit
The Rutindo local market attracts residents of Lake Bunyonyi area every Monday and Friday. On these days, you will find the market filled with people. It is a perfect place to observe how locals go about with their daily life. You can also mingle with them and buy some fresh Uganda fruits.

Eating Crayfish
Idi Amin, Uganda’s infamous military dictator had his positive sides too. One of it was endorsing the introduction of the Louisiana Crayfish to Lake Bunyonyi. They’ve been so successful that they have become the dominant specie in the lake and surrounding water bodies. All the lodges at the lake serve crayfish. If you’re not interested in the Crayfish, you can also order for the tasty local Tilapia fish.

Where To Stay At Lake Bunyonyi?

The best place to stay at Lake Bunyonyi depends on your budget and travel style. Here are a few options to consider, ranging from luxurious to budget-friendly:
Bird Nest Resort: This resort offers stunning views of the lake and self-contained cottages with all the amenities you could ask for. They also have a swimming pool and a restaurant serving delicious food.
Arcadia Cottages: Located on a hillside overlooking the lake, Arcadia Cottages offers beautiful views and luxurious accommodations. Their cottages are all self-contained and have private balconies where you can relax and enjoy the scenery.

Paradise Eco-Hub: This eco-friendly resort is located on a small island on Lake Bunyonyi. They offer comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving local cuisine, and a variety of activities, such as canoeing, hiking, and bird watching.

Byoona Amagara at Lake Bunyonyi: This lodge is located on a peninsula with stunning views of the lake. They offer comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. Byoona Amagara is also known for its commitment to sustainability and its support of the local community.

Bunyonyi Overland Resort: This resort is a great option for budget-minded travelers. They offer basic but comfortable rooms, a restaurant, and a bar. Bunyonyi Overland Resort also has a variety of activities available, such as canoeing, hiking, and bird watching.

Amasiko Homestay Lake Bunyonyi: This homestay is a great way to experience Ugandan culture and hospitality. The homestay is located in a traditional village on the shores of the lake. Guests can stay in a traditional hut and enjoy meals with the family.

I hope this helps you narrow down your choices!

Ready To Start Planning Your Trip to Lake Bunyonyi? Contact us today to customize a trip to Lake Bunyonyi that is right for you!


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