Lake Bunyonyi gets its name as a place of numerous birds. It is found in the south western region of Uganda and it is one of the most beautiful areas in Uganda with a fascinating scenic view of the lake, islands and rolling hills. It has beautiful terraces around the lake. It is one of the smallest lakes in Uganda adjacent to Lake Burera in Rwanda near the Volcanoes National Park. Lake Bunyonyi is an area of numerous islands as depicted on the 5,000 Uganda shillings note with the freshwater of 46 kilometers surface area at an elevation of 1962 meters. Lake Bunyonyi derives its name from the fact that it hosts numerous birds at the depth of 900 meters and is the second largest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika and the fourth deepest lake in the world. 

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is located between Kisoro and Kabale districts close to the Rwandan border. Taking a 488.8 Kilometres, about 8 hours 30 minutes’ drive from Kampala the capital city of Uganda via Kabale- Mbarara road, 7 kilometers west of Kabale town. Lake Bunyonyi has two towns of Kyevu and Muko with 29 islands which making it a tourism potential attracting a large number of tourists. The stunningly beautiful and magical Lake Bunyonyi created by mist covering the waters especially in the morning is the best tourist destination for relaxation, swimming, canoeing after an energy-draining gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national forest Park. Lake Bunyonyi with a width of 7 Kilometers and length of 25 Kilometers with Bufuka village as the main village in the area experiences averages temperatures of 25°C with annual rainfall ranges from 1400 – 1900 mm.

Lake Bunyonyi a land of numerous birds thus a paradise for bird viewing adventure for interested tourists as birds are easily seen flying and some swimming in the water. The lake hosts a number of bird species with approximately 1,079 birds and 200 rare birds species which include White tailed blue Monard, African Harrier Hawk, grey crowned cranes, Herons, egrets, the cardinal woodpecker, levillant cuckoo, slender-billed baglafetch, weavers, levillant cuckoo, grey crowned crested crane. Lake Bunyonyi consists of 29 islands which offer magnificent views.

Islands in Lake Bunyonyi

These islands have great amazing tales making them more interesting to the tourists and the most prominent islands include:

Bushara Island: Bushara Island is one of the amazing islands in Bunyonyi for quite peaceful relaxation, swimming, canoeing on the waters of at the lake. On this island, you get to also enjoy birds and bundles of forest trees. 

Akampene Island (the Punishment Island): Akampene Island is called Punishment Island because of its ancient tale; legendary tales have it that the island was used as a banishment location for ill-fated unmarried girls. Girls who got pregnant before marriage were abandoned to this island of 215 square feet, these girls belonging to the Bakiga tribe would be left to die on this island and as many attempted to swim back to their village they would drown and die. For girls to be saved from the island and the punishment, men without wives paid the bride price to the girl’s family. Fortunately, the practice ended in the mid-12th century with the coming of missionaries.

Kyahugye Island: Kyahugye Island is one of the most exciting islands in Lake Bunyonyi full of many adventures for tourist safari experience situated a few meters away leading to a boat ride. There are nature walks around this island to enjoy the sights of lake waters, thick forests and animals like Zebras, Impala, Waterbucks and many more. Accessing this island requires a reasonable amount of money at Eco resort for a 1-hour experience on the island.

Bwama Island: Bwama Island is also yet another interesting island that hosted Bwama Leprosy Island which was used to treat leprosy patients. In 1921, Doctor Leonard sharp built a hospital on this island were locals received anti-leprosy drugs and currently, the hospital is a health center operated by Slovenian medical students.

Bucuranuka (the upside-down island): The tale behind Bucuranuka island, the upside-down island tells that in ancient times when 20 men where brewing low brew (sorghum beer), they encountered an old lady who asked for a sip of the brew, however, they rudely refused. The agitated old lady cursed the island which turned upside down after reaching the mainland with a young man who helped her. Men brewing alcohol lost their lives due to the turning of the island.

Njuyeera Island: Njuyeera Island also known as Sharp Island is famous for its history of being infested by leprosy disease. The island derives its name from a white cottage house built on this island belonging to a sharp family that had a tennis court, boathouse, guest cottage, a windmill and a garden for lemons and guavas. Doctor sharp championed the fight against the leprosy disease by building a leprosy hospital in Bwama hospital but had his residence on Njuyeera Island.    

Sundown at Lake Bunyonyi
Sundown at Lake Bunyonyi

Activities at Lake Bunyonyi

  • Birding experience: Lake Bunyonyi is a birding paradise with numerous bird species residing on the islands and the lake itself attracts the birds. Bird watching on the islands of Bunyonyi is reached by boat rides with such an amazing experience coupled with a beautiful tree canopy. Birds in Lake Bunyonyi include Great cormorant, Fan-tailed widow bird, Streaky seed eater, speckled mousebird, Pin-tailed whyder, Bronze manikin, Black-headed Weaver and Golden-backed weaver.
  • Market day cultural experience: Market day cultural experience is a great opportunity for a tourist to interact with the locals and get to know more about their culture. The market day takes place in Rutinda, cultural encounters in Bunyonyi involves visiting the homestead of the Batwa pygmy people, the ancient people of the forest.
  • Swimming: Lake Bunyonyi is a bilharzia free and hippopotamus free waters best suitable for swimming. Swimming in Lake Bunyonyi takes place in less deep watersides.
  • Boat experience: Boat canoeing in Lake Bunyonyi is such a wonderful experience on the fresh waters of the deep waters of Bunyonyi while enjoying the view of rolling hills, forest, and animals like Zebras, Impalas, and Waterbuck with numerous birds.
  • Other activities to do in Lake Bunyonyi include mountain hiking, nature walks, community walks and fishing experience adventures

While in Lake Bunyonyi, there are several accommodations one can choose to stay. These include; Bunyonyi Safaris resort Kabale, birds nest Bunyonyi resort, Bunyonyi overland resort, Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort, and Bunyonyi View resort to mention but a few.

“Book your Uganda Safari Tour and add a trip to Lake Bunyonyi to catch a glimpse of the amazing islands on the deepest water lake in Uganda”

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