Lake Bunyonyi Location ∣ Lake Bunyonyi Uganda Tours, Attractions, Activities
Lake Bunyonyi (Africa’s second deepest lake after Lake Tanganyika at about 900 meters) is undeniably one of the most beautiful, tranquil areas of Uganda.
The tranquil Lake Bunyonyi Uganda is found in southwestern Uganda, about 2-3 hours’ drive from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the home of Mountain Gorillas. Lake Bunyonyi is often visited for relaxation after gorilla trekking in Uganda as part of Uganda gorilla safaris.
According to Lonely Planet, it is like a scene from the famous movie “Lord of the Rings”.
Additionally, Lake Bunyonyi offers a wide variety of accommodation, and you are likely to find yourself here after the incredible Uganda gorilla trekking safari adventure. It’s a serene spot to relax, swim, take a ride in a traditional dugout canoe, or enjoy cool weather in the scenic Kigezi Highlands during your long Uganda safaris.
Lake Bunyonyi Location
Where Is Lake Bunyonyi Located? L.Bunyonyi is located about 439 kilometers by road/7-8 hours drive southwest of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. The lake is situated between the districts of Kisoro and Kabale, close to the border with Rwanda at an altitude of about 1950 meters.
The lake is surrounded by intensively cultivated hills that range from 2,200 to 2,478 meters high. Lake Bunyonyi is only a 2-3 hours drive from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the two great destinations for gorilla trekking in Uganda.
Lake Bunyonyi Depth
How Deep Is Lake Bunyonyi? The deepest point of this Lake is estimated at 900 meters/3000 feet, making it the second-deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania which has a maximum depth of 1,471m. However, some scientific research states that Bunyonyi has a depth of 40 meters (130 feet).
Formation Of Lake Bunyonyi
How Was Lake Bunyonyi Formed? Bunyonyi is a young lake believed to be formed about 10,000 years ago.
The lake was formed when a lava flow from one of the Virunga Mountains blocked the course of the Ndego River at present-day Muko. Water is collected behind the barrier of lava to create a natural dam/Lake Bunyonyi. The point where lava blocked the river channel can be seen on the main road from Kabale to Kisoro district.
Top Attractions To See At Lake Bunyonyi
Apart from the beautiful scenery, Lake Bunyonyi has several other amazing Uganda safari attractions (things to see in Uganda on safari). Here are the top things to see in and around Bunyonyi on your safaris in Uganda:
- Lake Bunyonyi Islands
- Birds Of Lake Bunyonyi
- Batwa People & Their Culture
- Bakiga People & Their Culture
- Scenery Of Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi Islands
How Many Islands Are On Lake Bunyonyi? L.Bunyonyi is home to 29 amazing islands scattered across its surface area. Many of these islands of various sizes and shapes are not inhabited and have many fascinating stories and cultural myths. Below are the 6 main islands of Bunyonyi:
- Akampene Island (Punishment Island)
- Bucuranuka Island (Upside Down Island)
- Bwama Island (Leper’s Island)
- Njuyeera (Sharp’s Islands)
- Kahungye Island
- Bushara Island
Akampene Island (Punishment Island)
Akampene Island/Punishment Island is perhaps the most interesting of Lake Bunyonyi’s 29 islands. It is the place unmarried girls who became pregnant were brought by their fathers or brothers and punished by abandoning them on this island.
Here, they faced one of two possible fates. Any man who did not own sufficient cows to pay for an untainted bride was permitted to fetch the disgraced girl from the island and make her his wife. Failing that, the girl would usually starve to death or die while trying to swim ashore.
For a girl to become pregnant before marriage was shameful to the family. This was a common practice in southwestern Uganda but has long been abandoned!
Bucuranuka Island (Upside Down Island)
Bucuranuka Island/Upside Down 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).
Bwama Island (Leper’s Island)
Bwama Island also hides a dark past. And if you visit Lake Bunyonyi on your Uganda tour you will undoubtedly hear the tale of Dr. Leonard Sharp, a British missionary that came to Uganda in the 1920s to spread Christianity.
After witnessing the huge impact of leprosy in the region, he established a voluntary isolation center- Bwama Leprosy Hospital – on Bwama Island of Lake Bunyonyi, for people afflicted with Leprosy. In the 1920s, leprosy was one of the deadly diseases in Uganda. The disease was often surrounded by terrifying, negative stigmas and tales of leprosy patients being shunned as outcasts. Kabale was one of the areas with a lot of leprosy sufferers. The hospital remained open until the 1950s.
Njuyeera Island (Sharp’s Island)
Njuyeera is adjacent to Leper’s Island and it is where DR Leopard Sharp stayed in with his family in a house called ‘Njuyeera’.
Kahungye Island (Crazy Man’s Island)
Kahungye is the only island in Lake Bunyonyi where you can see wild animals such as Zebras, Impala, Waterbucks, and Kobs. Centuries ago before missionaries came to Uganda, there lived a man on this island. He diligently worshiped the ancestral spirits in a big shrine and appeased them by sacrificing a cow every year.
One year, the man ran out of cattle, and he failed to meet the demands of the spirits. They got angry and made him mad. During his state of insanity, visitors to this island always referred to it as the “Crazy Man’s Place”, hence the name Kahungye.
Bushara Island is a wonderful place to relax in comfort surrounded by nature. The island is also where the headquarters of lake Bunyonyi Development Company is. The company is a Ugandan registered NGO that supports sustainable farming in the Bunyonyi area as well as raising funds for orphans and providing workshops for local women to earn through the making and selling of handicrafts to visitors.
Birds Of Lake Bunyonyi
The word Bunyonyi – means the place of little birds and Lake Bunyonyi is home to over 200 Uganda bird species including:
- Grey-crowned crane
- Malachite kingfisher
- Fan-tailed Widowbird
- Grey-capped Warbler
- Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
- Red-billed Firefinch
Batwa People & Their Culture
The Batwa people have a community on one side of Lake Bunyonyi. They are the oldest peoples of
Uganda with a rich cultural heritage and enthralling music and dance. The Batwa came to the area after their eviction from Echuya Forest Reserve. They are hunter-gathers by tradition and depended on the forest to survive.
Bakiga People & Their Culture
Bakiga are the Bantu group of people that have tilted the Kigezi Highlands for centuries. They are popularly known for their strength and their unmatched hard work when it comes to cultivation. The Bakiga have rich traditions too which are worth exploring during a Uganda safari tour at Lake Bunyonyi.
Scenery Of Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyonyi has dotted 29 islands that scatter around the lake waters, forming one of the great sightseeing admirations that one can ever do during an Uganda tour. The lake is also enclosed by the rolling green hills of Kigezi with terraces rising to a height of 2200m – 2478m. The beautiful sights appear fresh for the great part of the day due to abrupt weather changes and along with the direction of the sun. The morning provides beautiful mist covering the myriad of islands while the afternoon is
covered by warm tropical sun cover.
Best Activities To Do At Lake Bunyonyi
Aside from marveling at the magical scenery on arrival, there are a lot of interesting things to do in Uganda within and around Bunyonyi. Below are the best Lake Bunyonyi activities:
- Canoe ride & Island Hopping
- Sunset Boat Cruise On Lake Bunyonyi
- Batwa Tour
- Swimming In Lake Bunyonyi
- Hiking & Nature Walks
Community Village Walks
- Zip Lining Across Lake Bunyonyi
- Bird Watching Tours
- Mountain Biking Tours
- Relax & Chill Out
Canoe Ride & Island Hopping
You can take a ride in a traditional dugout canoe around Lake Bunyonyi at any time of the day. However, the early morning is the most exciting when there is a lot of mist over the lake and as if cloud clover is mid-way highlands. It is a sight often compared to one of the mystic scenes in the famous movie “lord of the rings”.
On the canoe ride, you explore the scenery and some of the lake’s major islands (island hopping) and learn about the traditions attached to them.
Sunset Boat Cruise On Lake Bunyonyi
A sunset cruise in an open motorized boat will leave you with a lifelong memory. It allows you a chance to enjoy the breathtaking vitae and magical sunsets on L.Bunyonyi as you enjoy your favorite drive and snacks. You will some of the notable of the 29 Islands with selections of onboard drinks.
Batwa Pygmy Tour
You can visit a community of the famous Batwa pygmy/former hunter-gatherer people during the canoe ride. The Batwa will show their ancient culture/traditional way of life, hunting techniques, their age-old traditions of medicine making, and will perform their traditional dances.
Swimming In Lake Bunyonyi
Lake Bunyony is also one of the few places in Uganda that’s perfect for swimming: no bilharzia, no crocs, and no hippos. However, given the immense depth (900m) extreme caution should be taken when swimming to avoid drowning. Inexperienced swimmers may not attempt swimming at all.
Hiking & Nature Walks
Hiking to the top of the highlands surrounding Lake Bunyonyi is also another exciting Uganda safari tours and holidays activity at Lake Bunyonyi. It rewards you access to the stunning viewpoints of the lake and its magical islands. You trek through local communities and terraces which gives you the chance to meet and learn about the very welcoming people.
Community Village Walks
Another amazing activity to do on your Lake Bunyonyi tour in Uganda is taking a community walk through the surrounding villages.
This is a great way to get a sense of traditional culture by undertaking Uganda cultural tours in communities around L.Bunyonyi. You’ll be introduced to the local way of life, by meeting families, and farmers, visiting community projects, and local schools to interact with the school children.
Zip Lining Across Lake Bunyonyi
High ropes are connected between trees on the opposite shores of Lake Bunyonyi and you can swing from one point to the other over the waters. The Uganda adventure safari experience offers you a fresh feeling of cold water breezes and excellent views of local communities, islands, and rolling hills of the Kigezi region.
Bird Watching Tours
Bunyonyi directly translates “little birds”, which refers to the plenty of birds of Uganda at Lake Bunyonyi. The lake is a worthy destination to stop by on a Uganda birding tour to enjoy the scenery and watch some Uganda birds. You go out on a canoe ride and count the number of water birds and other species on the islands.
Mountain Biking Tours Around Lake Bunyonyi
You can do a mountain biking tour around the lake and enjoy the scenery, and villages, and get a feel for authentic Africa in Uganda is yet another Uganda adventure vacation trip. The temperature and weather here are pleasant for a bike ride. You can have a guided ride all day long or for just a few hours.
Relax & Chill Out At Lake Bunyonyi
If you want to relax and chill out for 1 or 2 days after your Uganda gorilla trekking tour, mountain climbing, and game drive in the savannah game parks of Uganda (Uganda national parks), Lake Bunyonyi is the perfect place to do it. It is the perfect place to leave the crowds behind and just relax! The crowning moment is watching the L.Bunyonyi sunset. The setting of the sun provides an opportunity to take beautiful photos of the sun’s rays reflecting on the lake’s glassy waters.
Best Lake Bunyonyi Uganda Accommodation
Lake Bunyonyi has a diverse range of Uganda safari lodges or Uganda safari accommodation options. While some lodgings are located on islands, others are located along the lake’s shores or in the towns before the lake. There are luxury, midrange, and budget lodges, as well as tented camps and campsites.
Here Are The Top Best Lake Bunyonyi Lodges And Camps:
- Bird Nest @ Lake Bunyonyi Resort Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort
- Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort
- Arcadia Lodge Lake Bunyonyi
- Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort
- Byoona Amagara
- Bushara Island Camp
- Crater Bay Cottages
- Gorilla View Backpackers
Bird Nest @ Lake Bunyonyi Resort – Luxury
Birdnest at Lake Bunyonyi Resort is the most upmarket accommodation choice at Lake Bunyonyi but it remains quite affordable. Its open-plan rooms have vibrant decor, with lovely, private balconies looking out to the lake. The outside terrace decking has a swimming pool with huge hammocks and free canoe hire.
The secluded cottages (which sleep four) can only be reached by canoe. The restaurant has a quality
European menu and a good wine list.
Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort – Midrange
Lake Bunyonyi Rock Resort is a comfortable, affordable, eco-friendly resort on the shore of Lake Bunyonyi. It features a total of 22 rooms, 19 of which are self-contained. Each self-contained room has a private balcony, a private bathroom, and unobstructed views of the lake and surrounding neighborhoods. The rooms are available in single, double, twin, or triple arrangements.
Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort – Midrange
It’s nice to find somewhere that does things a bit differently and Lake Bunyonyi Eco Resort on Kyahugye
Island resort the bill, with its small population of zebra, kob, impala, and bushbuck imported from Lake Mburo National Park to L.Bunyonyi. Rooms are in private, wooden thatched cottages with lake views.
Arcadia Lodge Lake Bunyonyi – Midrange
Built upon a hill, Arcadia has intoxicating views over the lake dotted with dozens of islands and a backdrop of the Virunga volcanoes in the distance. All the 25 cottages rooms have great views of the lake and have rooms that are self-contained with electricity and hot water.
Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort – Budget
Lake Bunyonyi Overland Resort is built with material got from surrounding villages. The resort provides single and family cottages as well as safari and mobile camping tents. The rented tents are mobile and come with or without bedding. The safari tents are built on raised platforms with great views of the lake and surrounding islands.
The safari tents are self-contained with chairs, a table, twin beds, and electricity.
Byoona Amagara – Budget
Byoona Amagara is situated on the idyllic Itambira Island and it is the perfect place for backpackers on Uganda safari tours. You have an option of choosing the luxury rooms, budget rooms, or dormitories depending on your budget. There are even separate family cottages in case you are traveling with family. The rooms are built with all-natural materials and are very reasonably priced.
Bushara Island Camp – Budget
Bushara Island Camp is one of the best accommodation choices for travelers on the Lake Bunyony Uganda tours. It is an ultra-relaxed camp with a wonderful selection of cottages and safari tents. All tents are widely spaced through the eucalyptus forest. The ‘tree-house’ cottage set on stilts is wonderfully rustic and features a great balcony. All have memorable outdoor showers.
The thatched-roof restaurant serves excellent food and has a roaring fireplace.
Crater Bay Cottages – Budget
Crater Bay Cottages are built in Bufuka village on the shores of the lake. The 12 private cottages have single, double, and even triple rooms. The hotel prepares delicious crayfish and other delicacies at their restaurant. Other facilities in the hotel include a library, a craft shop, and Wi-Fi and laundry services at a small fee.
How To Get To Lake Bunyonyi?
Lake Bunyonyi is about 439 kilometers southwest of Kampala and 199 kilometers west of Mbarara by road. The best route entails following Kampala – Masaka-Mbarara-Kabale road. It takes 7-8 hours of driving by car to reach Kabale town from Kampala. It takes between 20 to 30 minutes at most to reach the lake from Kabale town.
Those coming from a safari in either Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kibale National Park will need to travel for about 5 hours on road before reaching the lake. Lake Bunyonyi is closer to Kigali in Rwanda than Kampala City (Uganda’s capital). It takes 3 hours of driving by a 4×4 Uganda safari vehicle/car to reach the lake.
If you would like to break the long journey from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park after your gorilla safari in Uganda, you should choose to stay at Lake Bunyonyi.