Lake Bunyonyi - Uganda

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altLake Bunyonyi is the place to go for short break during week ends. Located  in South Western Uganda between Kisoro and Kabale near the Rwandan border, Lake Bunyonyi is at 450 Km from Kampala - a journey of of 7 hours from Kampala and a drive of 100 km (2 hours) from Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. Located at 1,962 metres above the sea level, the 25 km long and 7 km wide lake covering an area of 61 square kilometres is believed to be the deepest lake in Africa with varying length of between 44 m to 900 metres. The lake surface is a fresh with 25 degrees celicious and safe for swimming.

Lake Bunyoni beauty is incredible. It has 29 islands that include Punishment Island and Bushara Island which are all concentrated in the central of of the lake. It is known for the surrounding terraced hills that are 2,200 to 2,478 metres high and intensely cultivated and it has become a darling weekend break destination for many foreign and domestic tourists as affordable and quality accommodations increased.

There about 200 bird at the lake Bunyonyi also means "the place of many little birds". The bird species include the White tailed Blue Monard, grey crowned cranes, the African Harrier Hawk, Herons and egrets, the Levillant cuckoo, the Cardinal Woodpecker and the Rufous-breasted wryneck and more Weavers nesting on the Island, include the large golden, slender-billed Baglafetch, as well as the yellow-backed and spectacled weavers.

Lake Bunyonyi Main islands

1. Bushara Island

This island is also a place for Lake Bunyonyi Development Company, an organization with strong links to Church of Uganda. Tourism is the main source of funds for various developments around Bunyonyi areas. This island has many luxury tents, chalets, and also campsites for tourists to stay on. You can also hire canoes and sailboats to sail around the lake and its other islands. The island is forested with mainly eucalyptus trees that grow fast.

2. Akampene Punishment Island

The Bakiga used to leave unmarried pregnant girls on this small island with a tree to die of hunger or die while trying to swim to the mainland as swimming skills were rare. This was to educate the rest, to show them not to do the same.

A man without cows to pay the bride wealth could go to the island and get a girl. In the first half of the 20th century, the practice got abandoned but is still possible to find women who were picked up from Punishment Island today.

3. Bwama and Njuyeera (Sharp's Island)

Around 1921, an English missionary, Dr. Leonard Sharp visited this place and established a leprosy treatment centre on the then uninhabited Bwama island in 1931. A church, patient quarters and a medical facility were built, while Sharp settled on Njuyeera Island meaning 'white cottage', after the similarity of the doctor's small white house to Sharp's father's house in Shanklin, now The White House Hotel. The rationale of the leprosy colony was that of 'voluntary segregation', where the provision of a happy community to live in would attract leprosy sufferers, so removing them from the communities where they might infect others. The hospital buildings are used by a boarding secondary school which attracts students from the entire region and there is a primary school but no village on the island.

4. Bucuranuka Island

This island, according to legendary stories killed many people. About twenty were once brewing local sorghum beer there. An old woman was passing by and she said: "Can you give me some local beer?" They wrongly though that she was a beggar they knew. They refused her: "Get lost, beggar! Get lost! The old woman asked: "So you will not even give me a sip? Can I at least get somebody to take me to the mainland?" They answered: "Yes, because we are fed up with you!" They chose a young guy to take her over. When they reached the shore and the guy was just beginning to return, the island turned upside down and they all perished but only a chicken flew away and survived.


Activities at Bunyonyi include canoeing, boat riding, local tour, swimming, hiking the highlands around the lake, pygmy village tour and birding. Visitors at Lake Bunyonyi generally enjoy and experience a breathtaking nature of Bunyonyi and a bilharzia free swimming.

If you would like to explore the lake by boat you can do so by hiring a motorboat or paddling around in a dugout canoe. Your accommodation will be able to arrange a boat for you, but you are able to get it by yourself at local market area right on the road from Crater Bay Cottages.

 The islands are close to the shore and visiting a few of them by boat would be an excellent idea:). If you’re staying on the shore, try to get out to at least one of the islands for a look around.


Lake Bunyonyi is in the neighborhoods of Kabale town in South Western Uganda. On the road, it is 6 hours from Kampala (410 km) to Kabale town and 8 km marrum road from Kabale town to Lake Bunyonyi on your way to Bwindi Forest in Kabale or Mgahinga Gorilla home Kisoro district. Lake Bunyonyi is tangled between the hills of Kabale. Accessing lake Bunyonyi is even much easier if you coming from Rwanda as it would take you only 2 hours drive from Kigali on a very good road indeed.


Lake Bunyonyi Accommodation

Options of accommodations are prenty both around the edge of Lake Bunyoni and on the many islands in the lake. Life is much calm and quieter on the islands. If you are a party person looking for some party time, a quiet island might not be a good choice.



Single Room: US$110
Double Room: US$120

This is the place to come if you want to be pampered. It’s probably where the luxury safari groups stay. The rooms are really nice and well laid out, they have a very stylish-looking pool, and the staff are nice. While the places nearby have gone for a rustic feel, this place is upmarket and pretty swish but they do it without feeling sterile. Their patio has a great view and they’ve got a pretty badass fire pit which looks like a pretty amazing place to hang out. Room prices include breakfast.

Bushara Island Camp

Bushara Island Camp

Single Safari Tent: US$25
Double Safari Tent: US$30
Cottages: US$25-50 (depending on size and number of people)

This place is located a 50 minute (30 minute if you help paddle), Ush 3,000 canoe ride from the market (located down a road near Crater Bay Cottages). Actually, if you let them know you’re coming, the boat ride there is free. The island is beautiful with a couple of of swimming spots, a nice camping area, and several safari tents and cottages. I didn’t make a booking and got stuck in a dorm room which I think is actually reserved for staff or for large groups. Not the nicest but I guess it teaches me to book ahead! The dorm bed costs $15 and isn’t even on their price list. The showers don’t have doors so, if this is a luxury you like, I suggest booking a tent or cottage. The restaurant is a nice place to hang out with a fireplace and good food. The only place with power is an office down a path from the restaurant so if you need to keep things charged, this might not be the best place to stay. They run a bunch of interesting looking tours to keep you busy.

Bunyoni Overland Resort

Bunyoni Overland Resort

Pitch Your Own Tent: US$8
Single Tent: US$20
Double Tent: US$25
Single Cottage: US$30
Double Cottage: US$40

This is where many of the major overland companies stop (Exodus, Kumuka, Dragoman etc) so you could find yourself sharing this accommodation with some rowdy youngsters on their big African adventure… depending on the tour company. This could also make for a lively atmosphere if that’s what you’re after. The accommodation is far enough away from the bar area that hopefully rowdy groups won’t be an issue. The setting is really beautiful with each of the tents having their own balcony facing the lake with a small table and two chairs to chill out in. They’ve also got a camping area and cottages. The toilets and showers are clean and the hot water was magically working even when the power was out. You can hire canoes here for $5 per day.

Crater Bay Cottages

Crater Bay Cottages

Pitch Your Own Tent: US$8
Mobile Tent with Bedding: US$10
Double Cottage: US$43 (includes breakfast)

A nice, welcoming reception guy showed me around but he only showed me the cottages and said that the other rooms weren’t as nice. The cottages are pretty cute. The round rooms with grass roofs are a lot more spacious than they would seem when you look at them from the outside. The bar area is small but has comfy looking chairs. There are lots of other places around the property to hang out including a grassy area and a swimming dock. You can rent a canoe here for $6 a day.

Kalebas Camp

Kalebas Camp

Pitch Your Own Tent: Ush 10,000
Single Safari Tent: Ush 30,000
Twin Safari Tent: Ush 40,000
Single Room: Ush 40,000
Double Room: Ush 50,000

The rooms are nicer at Crater Bay Cottages and the tents at Kalebas Camp are dome-style which makes them a lot less spacious than those found at Bunyoni Overland Restort. But the guests I met there vouched for the food and friendliness of the place. Their sitting areas are among the nicest with a fireplace up top, a restaurant with a view, and a nice area down by the water. There’s also a lot of grass to lay on or to pitch your tent. It has a nice, laid back vibe that I really liked.



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