Lake Bunyonyi – Uganda’s Paradise

Lonely Planet calls it (a scene that takes you to the Lord of the Rings)

Swim, Canoe, Island hop, Birds, Butterfly, Batwa Villages

This is where Ugandans come to unwind.

It is amazing what an volcanic explosion can create, Lake Bunyonyi was birthed by a volcanic explosion. The depth of the lake is rumored to vary between 44 to 900 meters which if true would make the lake the second deepest in Africa. Lake Bunyonyi lies in south western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale close to the border with Rwanda. Located at 1,962m (6,437 ft) above sea level, it is about 25 km (15.5 mi) long and 7 km (1.35 mi) wide.

“Bunyonyi” is word in the local language is “the place of many little birds” and there are many that you will find here, the beauty that this volcanic explosions created many years ago is breathtaking. Surrounded by mountains in what is called “the little Switzerland.” Terraced hills where people till the soil and grow food. The climate is perfect, the temperature of the lake a pleasant 25 degrees.

It is one of the few lakes in the region that is rumored to be free of bilharzia and safe for swimming, however, this claim is not verifiable and patrons of the lake have tested positive as recently as 2012. The lake appears on the 5,000 Ugandan shilling note under the title “Lake Bunyonyi and terraces”.

Lake Bunyonyi is simply awed by its mystical beauty as you see it snaking along the Ugandan landscape, dotted by 29 islands of various shapes and sizes, surrounded by ring terraced farms. It is a popular location for water sports and is known for the surrounding terraced hillsides. Canoe trips for the day experiencing the African Sunset as you return to your lodging. It is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists and there is a wide variety of tourist accommodation. It’s one of the best places to chill out, rest and relax in Uganda for a day or two. Lake Bunyonyi is a feast for the eyes and its crayfish a delight for the planate.

Lake Bunyonyi is a place to visit while in Uganda, a perfect spot to add on to your Bwindi Impenetrable Forest or Mount Mgahinga Gorilla Park, others like to add it to their trip to Queen Elizabeth Park.

The scenic beauty alone is worth the trip and a stay here. You will not be disappointed. Sorry, not many fish are found here, but lots of other things to discover and you are surrounded by one of the most scenic spots in Uganda – Lake Bunyonyi.

In the beginning of the 20th century, fish were introduced to the lake and in the 1930s fishing became profitable. Unfortunately in the 1960s the fish died massively as a result of a violent shallow mixing, likely caused by wind. Subsistence fishing prevailed in the lake, people mostly caught clarias species – the lake’s depth and stratification makes it difficult for the breeding of the common Ugandan species Nile Perch and Tilapia. Nevertheless, 300,000 Nile Tilapias and Clarias fish were released in the lake at the end of 2002. Also present in the lake are Mud fish, Cray fish and Mirrowcarp – and plenty of their predators, otters.

Notable Islands at Lake Bunyonyi

Akampene – Punishment Island: Being unmarried, pregnant girl in the Bagika culture was a no no. The tribe would banish them to this island where they were left to die of hunger. Most could not swim, so there was escape from Akampene unless someone came up with enough cows for the bride’s price, however the woman would have to live with the shame for the rest of her life. Fortunately the practice no longer exists.
You might find an older woman around the lake that was on the Island and a bride’s price was paid for them.

Bushara Island: A great island waiting to be discovered by you. You will also find great accommodations on the Island. Here you can rent a canoe or sailboat and enjoy the lake as you move across it.
There is also a Eucalyptus forest here, the seedlings came from Australia after the forest around the lake and on the lake had been harvested for agricultural purposes. The good thing is that Eucalyptus trees grow fast, the negative thing is that they deplete the soil. There are many birds you will find as you take a walk on the island.

Bwama Island: Dr. Leonard Sharp established a leopard colony back in the 1920’s along with a church. It was a place for those with leprosy to come to and not infect their local communities.
Today it is a school and serves children in the surrounding communities.
It is one of the islands to explore if you have time while visiting Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda

Njuyeera Island:This island was the home of Dr. Leonard Sharp and his home was a white building which astounded the local people. It is a small island and provided the perfect location for Dr. White’s Home.

Bucuranuka or Upside Down Island: The latter name was given because of a legend where villagers were brewing sorghum beer when a visitor came asking for some. They thought the woman wa a local beggar and chased her away. She however was a witch, she had a man paddle her back to the mainland and as they reached there Bucuranuka Island turned upside down destroying everyone except a chicken that had gotten away.

Feel free to let us know that you would like to add on Lake Bunyonyi as part of your Ugandan Safari.

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