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Visit Lake Bunyonyi (The Place of Many Little Birds) in Kabale-Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi also called Place of many little birds is located in south western Uganda between two districts of Kisoro and Kabale close to the border with Rwanda. It’s Located at 1,962 m (6,437 ft) above sea level, it is about 25 km (15.5 mi) long and 7 km (1.35 mi) wide.

The depth of the lake is expected to vary between 44 m (144 Ft.) and 900 m (2,952 ft), which if true would make the lake the second deepest in Africa. It is one of the few lakes in the region that is rumored to be free of bilharzia and safe for swimming.

Geographically Lake Bunyonyi is a body of water seven kilometers or 4.3 miles west from Kabale Town, southwestern Uganda. It is 25 km long and 7 km (4.3 mi) wide, covering an area of 61 square kilometers (23½ sq. miles).

The lake’s altitude is 1,950m above sea level and it is surrounded by hills that are 2,200 to 2,478 meters high and intensely cultivated. Its 29 islands are concentrated in the central part and have few settlements but instead they are mostly used for tourist facilities and for secondary as well as a primary school study tours.

The data on the lake’s maximum depth varies, from 44m to 900m (144 to 2,952 ft) in parts. If the latter is true, Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa as witnessed by Uganda safari travelers that safari in Uganda on their Uganda Birding Safaris or visit for their adventure vacation safari holiday tours in Uganda Rwanda Africa.

The temperature on the surface rises to 25 degrees Celsius (77ºF). Fish was introduced to the lake in the later years and in the 1930s fishing became profitable. Unfortunately in the 1960s the fish died massively as a result of a violent shallow mixing that is anticipated to be 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.

Towns on its shores include Kyevu and Muko, while its 29 islands include Punishment Island and Bushara Island. It is a popular location for watersports and is known for the surrounding terraced hillsides. It is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists and there is a wide variety of tourist accommodation.

Many tourists and travelers who undertake a Gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or come to Uganda after their Rwanda Gorilla safari experience rest and relax at the beautiful Lake  Bunyonyi as they enjoy the best  scenery in the whole world, involve themselves into various cultural and community activities as well birding and canoe rides.

The lake’s main Centre is Bufuka Village which is the area’s inhabited by two tribes of the Bakiga and the Batwa.

What to do at Lake Bunyonyi

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Travel guide for Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi also called the Place of many little birds is located in southwestern Uganda between two districts of Kisoro and Kabale close to the border with Rwanda. It’s Located at 1,962 m (6,437 ft) above sea level, it is about 25 km (15.5 mi) long and 7 km (1.35 mi) wide.

Geographically Lake Bunyonyi is a body of water seven kilometers or 4.3 miles west of Kabale Town, southwestern Uganda. It is 25 km long and 7 km (4.3 mi) wide, covering an area of 61 square kilometers (23½ sq. miles).

Map Of Uganda Showing The Location Of Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi Uganda

How Was Lake Bunyonyi Formed? Is it a Man Made Lake?

Lake Bunyonyi is a lava dammed lake believed to be formed approximately 10,000 years ago. It therefore not a man-made lake as commonly imagined.

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 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.

Is Lake Bunyonyi A Crater Lake?

Lake Bunyonyi is a Crater crater and in fact, the deepest crater lake in the whole of Africa.

Lake Bunyonyi is surrounded by intensively cultivated hills that range from 2,200 to 2,478 meters high.

How Deep Is Lake Bunyonyi?

The deepest point of Lake Bunyonyi 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 Lake Bunyonyi has a depth of 40 meters (130 feet).

Lake Bunyonyi’s maximum depth varies, from 44m to 900m (144 to 3000 ft) in parts. This makes Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania which has a maximum depth of 1,471m as witnessed by Uganda safari travelers that safari to Uganda on their Uganda birding safaris or visit Uganda and Rwanda on amazing adventure African safaris.

Lake Bunyonyi is the third deepest in the world.

Altitude & Height

Lake Bunyonyi’s altitude is 1,950m above sea level and it is surrounded by hills that are 2,200 to 2,478 meters high and intensely cultivated. Its 29 islands are concentrated in the central part and have few settlements but instead, they are mostly used for tourist facilities and for secondary as well as primary school study tours.

What Is Special About Bunyonyi lake?

Lake Bunyonyi is special and a very popular place in Uganda, because it, has a spectacular view comprised of gorgeous terraced green and lush gently rolling hills, home to about 200 small bird species some endemic and some migrant. Bunyonyi is a beautiful lake itself dotted with 29 islands fronted by the famous Virunga Mountains hence, it is probably the most beautiful place in the world!

Does the lake have fish?

The temperature on the surface of Lake Bunonyi rises to 25 degrees Celsius (77ºF). Fish was introduced to the lake in the later years and in the 1930s fishing became profitable. Unfortunately in the 1960s, the fish died massively as a result of a violent shallow mixing that is anticipated to be caused by wind.

Is There Fishing in Lake Bunyonyi

Subsistence fishing prevailed in the lake, people mostly caught clarias species – the lake’s depth and stratification make it difficult the breeding 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.

Towns on its shores include Kyevu and Muko, while its 29 islands include Punishment Island and Bushara Island. It is a popular location for watersports and is known for the surrounding terraced hillsides. It is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists and there is a wide variety of tourist accommodations.

Many tourists and travelers who undertake Gorilla trekking Uganda safaris or come to Uganda after their Rwanda safaris rest and relax at the beautiful Lake  Bunyonyi as they enjoy the best scenery in the whole world, involve themselves in various cultural and community activities as well birding and canoe rides.

The lake’s main Centre is Bufuka Village which is the area inhabited by two tribes the Bakiga and the Batwa.

Top Attractions

Apart from the beautiful scenery, Lake Bunyonyi also has several other amazing attractions to see. Here are the top things to see in and around Lake 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

How Many Islands Are On Lake Bunyonyi?

Lake Bunyonyi is home to 29 amazing islands scattered across its surface area. Many of these islands of various sizes and shapes are not inhabited. Others have fascinating stories and unique local folklore associated with them. Below are the 6 main islands of Lake Bunyonyi:-

  • Akampene Island (Punishment Island)
  • Bucuranuka Island (Upside Down Island)
  • Bwama Island (Leper’s Island)
  • Njuyeera (Sharp’s Islands)
  • Kahungye Island (Crazy Man’s Island)
  • Bushara Island

Birds Of Lake Bunyonyi

The word Bunyonyi – means the little birds and Lake Bunyonyi is home to over 200 species of birds in Uganda including:

  • Grey-crowned crane
  • Kingfishers
  • Fan-tailed Widowbird
  • Grey-capped Warbler
  • Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater
  • Red-billed Firefinch
  • Herons
  • Flycatchers
  • Weavers

Batwa People & Their Culture

The Batwa people have a community on one side of Lake Bunyonyi. They are the oldest people 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, with its 29 emerald islands is framed by terraced hillsides that reach a height of 2,200-2,478m. It is a scenically refreshing place that you should consider and put on your must-visit places on your Uganda tour. Visitors from near and far are simply awed by its mystical, magical beauty. As you approach it, you see it snaking along the Ugandan landscape.

Animals & Wildlife?

Despite being a lake, it has animals on some of its islands and these include, Impala, Water backs, Zebras, Bush backs, Black Faced Vervet Monkeys, the resident Debrasa Monkeys, etc.

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 at Lake Bunyonyi. The best Lake Bunyonyi activities include Canoe riding, community walks, hiking to the top of the highest hill, swimming, birdwatching, adventure activities like zip lining, scenery viewing, cycling, etc.

Canoe Ride & Island Hopping

This most iconic of all Lake Bunyonyi activities. 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) as you learn about the traditions attached to them.

Sunset Boat Cruise

A sunset cruise in an open motorized boat will leave you with a lifelong memory. It allows you a chance to enjoy the breathtaking vistas and magical sunsets on Lake Bunyonyi as you enjoy your favorite drinks and snacks. You’ll visit some of the notable of the 29 Islands.

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.

Can You Swim In Lake Bunyonyi?

Swimming in Lake Bunyonyi is one of the best tourist activity at for all that have visited. Bunyonyi is the second-deepest lake in Africa, but it’s one of the safest for swimming: no bilharzia, no crocs, and no hippos. It’s a great way to wash the dust off if you’ve just come from gorilla trekking, relax and revitalize your body.

However, given the immense depth (900m) extreme caution should be taken when swimming in Lake Bunyonyi to avoid drowning.

Hiking & Nature Walks

Hiking to the top of the highlands surrounding Lake Bunyonyi is also another of the most exciting Lake Bunyonyi activities.

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.

The absolute best views of the lake and islands are from Arcadia Cottages, a high-end resort at the top of a hill on the mainland. You don’t have to shell out for the luxury rooms to enjoy the view, though. They also have a restaurant and espresso bar, so you can come for a juice or cappuccino if you aren’t staying here.

Community Village Walks

Another amazing activity to do on your Lake Bunyonyi tour in Uganda is taking a community walk through the surrounding villages. The people who live around Lake Bunyonyi are extremely friendly (as is typical in Uganda) and are very open to introducing travelers to their unique ways of life. You can meet families, and farmers, visit community projects, and local schools to interact with the school children.

Zip Lining at Supreme Adventure Park

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 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 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 bird species on the islands. One of the iconic species you can look for is the Grey Crowned Crane (Uganda National Bird). It’s not hard to spot one around Lake Bunyonyi.

Mountain Biking Tours

You can do a mountain biking tour around Lake Bunyonyi and enjoy the scenery, and villages, and get a feel for authentic Africa in Uganda. The temperature and weather here are pleasant for a bike ride.

You can have a guided ride all day long or just a few hours.

Relax & Chill Out at the Lake

Even though there are a variety of fun things you can do at Lake Bunyonyi, one of the best activities is to just relax and chill out for a while. After your Uganda gorilla trekking adventure, mountain climbing, or Uganda wildlife safaris in the savannah game parks of Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is the perfect place to leave the crowds behind and just relax!

You can spend an afternoon relaxing in the shade with a good book. Most lodges have plenty of chill-out areas with nice lake views.

Best Accommodation facilities

Lake Bunyonyi has a diverse range of 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

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 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. It takes 3 hours of driving by car to reach the lake.

Distance in kilometers from Kampala?

Lake Bunyonyi is located about 439 kilometers by road/7-8-hour 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.

Distance between Lake Bunyonyi & Bwindi?

The road distance between Lake Bunyonyi and Bwindi National Park in Uganda is 59 km. Lake Bunyonyi is only about a 2hour drive at 80 kilometers per hour from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the two great Uganda safari destinations for gorilla trekking in Uganda.

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