Lake Bunyonyi which is sometimes called the place of little birds is located in the south western part of Uganda between two districts of kisoro and kabale. It’s the deepest lake in Uganda and second deepest in Africa after Tanganyika. Lake Bunyonyi has a depth that ranges from a minimum of 400 meters to a maximum of 900 meters with a length of 25km and width of 7km with a surface area of 17.76 square miles. The journey from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi takes 6 to 7 hours’ drive with a distance of 466 kilometers. The beauty that is found on this lake is really amazing and made it to be put on a five thousand shilling note.
Lake Bunyonyi comprises of 29 islands but the most outstanding island is the punishment island because of its history. During the 1940’s getting pregnant before marriage was prohibited and because of that girls who got pregnant were canoed to the island and abandoned there thus the name punishment island. The girls were left to starve and die or as they tried to swim they would drown and die thus making the island not to miss on the bucket list while on a Uganda safari.
Lake Bunyonyi was formed about 18,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption blocking a valley in the Ruchiga Mountains next to the present day village of Muko on the north-west tip of the lake. The process of formation was described as a result of lava flow which emerged from one of the Virunga Mountains and it occupied the Ndego River. At the start of the 20th century fish was introduced within the lake but massively died in the 1960s but as a result of volcanic gas emission there’s Cray fish, mud fish and mirror carp as well as predators.
Bird watching is the major activity on Lake Bunyonyi and it has over 200 recorded bird species. While on a boat ride to the neighboring Nyombi swamp one can spot a number of bird species in the sky. These include; levillant cuckoo, egrets, white tailed monad, slender-billed baglafetch, weavers, grey crowned cranes, African harrier hawk, African kingfisher, cardinal woodpecker and herons among others.
Lake Bunyonyi as well as its community around is so rewarding in the way that while walking around the lakes waters as you listen to the birds singing and the fresh breeze of the lake. The nature walks can be done on along the shores of the lake and moving around the 29 islands that are found in the central park. The islands have historical attachments that attract a lot of visitors and the most interesting one is the Akampene Island known as the punishment island, Bwama Island, Njuyeera and Bucuranka Island.
The canoeing involves sailing on the lake as you experience the calmness, tranquility and quietness of the lake. The canoeing can be done at night as you listen to the loud chorus of crickets, frogs, nocturnal birds singing as well as the waving of the lake waters which makes the ride a memorable one.
Lake Bunyonyi waters are bilharzia free, dangers of crocodiles, hippos and other threatening animals thus giving an amazing swimming experience on the deep lake. However the lake is deep and thus requires experienced swimmers and experts while on a Uganda safari.
Biking is best done if it’s a family unit, group picnics and a relaxation as you enjoy the islands on Lake Bunyonyi.
COMMUNITY TOURS AND BATWA TRAIL
While on a safari, there are several twa villages within the area but Batwa are the most recommended. The trip takes you to the Echuya forest, former home of the local twa, you will as well take a boat trip to the local pygmies who live on the islands next to the lake and see their ways of life, activities and their exciting cultural dance performances.