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Lake Bunyonyi: 24 Adventurous Hours Around Africa's 2nd Deepest Lake

Enock Nsubuga is a Journalist by profession with a decade plus experience in sales and marketing, currently helping travel business owners.

Enock and Jaqi at Lake Bunyonyi

Enock and Jaqi at Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi is a small lake in southwestern Uganda which is known for its beautiful views and warm waters, as well as the fact that it is Africa's second deepest lake.

The lake has an average depth of around 130 meters, with a maximum depth of 213 meters. The lake covers an area of approximately 6,000 hectares, with a shore length of almost 100 kilometers. It is part of the Albertine Rift Valley system and lies on the border between Kabarole District and Kisoro.

Lake Bunyonyi is an enchanting place. It has a lot of attractions and activities that will keep you busy for 24 hours or even more. But if you have just 24 hours, here's how to spend it:

Start early - boat cruising/canoeing

One of the interesting things to do at Lake Bunyonyi is canoeing or boating. Imagine sailing on the tranquil waters of Africa's second deepest lake!

It's an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Travelers can take a boat trip to any of the 29 islands in Lake Bunyonyi, which provides a unique experience.

Each island has a unique and fascinating tale regarding its development, making it worthwhile to explore. Visit the punishment island, where unmarried Bakiga girls would be transported and left to die in isolation if they were pregnant outside wedlock.

Travelers have the option of paddling themselves or hiring someone to do it for them. Depending on the client's preference, canoeing can be a full day or a few hours. Those who go boating have the opportunity to meet locals who are canoeing to their gardens and residences on the islands.


How long does it take to ride a boat?

Depending on your preference, boat rides can last all day or only a few hours. Travelers with enough time can spend several hours paddling to see all of the wonders that make Lake Bunyonyi unique.

Canoeing advice

Travelers who plan to go canoeing or boating should keep the following tips in mind;

  • Paddle on the boat's opposite sides.
  • Maintain a vertical paddle shaft.
  • Maintain the boat's balance.
  • Dress appropriately for the temperature of the water.
  • At no time should you remove your life jackets.
  • If there are two of you, paddle in time with your partner.
  • Have some swimming skills?
  • On the water, avoid boozing and screaming.
  • If you've never paddled before, don't go canoeing by yourself.

NOTE: During the dry season, boating is highly advised. A boat ride early in the morning or late in the evening allows you to capture the sun setting and rising.

Mid-morning – Swim in the hippo-crocodile-billarzia free Lake Bunyonyi

While visiting Lake Bunyonyi, be sure to go swimming in Lake Bunyonyi. Swimming is a great way to de-stress after a hard morning of island hopping.

Lake Bunyonyi is notable for being free of harmful water animals such as crocodiles and hippos, as well as being free of bilharzia, making it the safest location to swim.

Lake Bunyonyi is easy to swim in, despite being Uganda's deepest and second-largest lake. Swimming has been made possible in a few spots.

Swimming tips;

  • To avoid easily being weary, be effective and comfortable.
  • In the backstroke, keep your head up.
  • Inhale deeply into the water, and then exhale slowly.
  • Lower your body's drag resistance - Feel free to balance yourself.
  • Spread your fingers a little wider than they are now.
  • To keep water around you, keep your body as horizontal as possible.

What's the greatest time to go swimming?

Swimming can be done at any time of year. However, the dry season is the optimum time to take a refreshing dip in Africa's second deepest lake. Swimming during the rainy season is dangerous, particularly for beginners.

Swimming is a fun sport to participate in generally.

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Before you break for lunch – Go zip-lining across one of the world’s deepest lakes

Are you an adventure traveler? Lake Bunyonyi offers you the best zip lining experience across Africa’s second deepest lake.

Swing on top of the calm waters of Lake Bunyonyi, the second deepest lake in Africa located in south western Uganda.

High ropes are connected between trees on the opposite shores of the lake and travelers swing from one point to the other over the waters. The experience offers travelers with a fresh feeling of cold water breezes and excellent views of local communities, islands and rolling hills of Kigezi region.

Travelers are reminded to keep mentally alert and enjoy this memorable adventure.

Lunch break - Lake view coffee house (Cafe in Lake Bunyonyi) aka Kansiime Backpackers

There are numerous possibilities for a lunch break; you can return to your lodge/resort and order a meal, or you can relax at Kansiime Backpackers.

This open-air cafe, also known as Kansiime Backpackers, serves local coffee and cool beer, and it's impossible to miss.

It boasts a great wooden deck with sweeping views across the lake, so there's little competition for atmosphere. A crafts shop is also available for a souvenir or two.

Late afternoon - Paying a visit to the Batwa pygmies

The Batwa pygmies are a small group of people who live in the 'Echuya Forest Reserve' on the boundary of Kabale and Kisoro and are thought to have originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It is a hunter tribe that used to reside in the DRC rain forests until they were forced to migrate to Western Uganda as a result of industrialization. In this area, there are almost 4,000 Batwa people.

The Batwa have a complex history, with their own origin story and a particular affinity with the forest, and they have long been ostracized.

They reside in little grass and stick dwellings and are mostly solitary. The Kellerman Foundation created the Batwa experience, and becoming a part of it greatly aids this endangered group of people.

Early evening - for the greatest view of Lake Bunyonyi, hike up to Arcadia Cottages.

Hiking around the nearby pathways for an afternoon from Arcadia Cottages will give you some fairly fantastic views of the Lake.

Lake Bunyonyi boasts some of Uganda's most spectacular landscapes. It's even said to have inspired Wakanda in Black Panther. So you can't go to Lake Bunyonyi for two days and not take in the sights.

Arcadia Cottages, a high-end resort at the top of a hill on the mainland, with the greatest views of the lake and islands.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good view, though. If you aren't staying there, they also offer a restaurant and an espresso bar where you may have a juice or cappuccino.

You can take a boda (motorbike taxi) to Arcadia, although walking is a better alternative for more Lake Bunyonyi activities.

Late evening – visit the local Market

The African Market is an experience you should have. Around Lake Bunyonyi, markets sell almost anything you can imagine, including African crafts, vegetables, shoes, clothing, and technology.

People move quickly throughout the market as they haggle for lower rates, while others hang around catching up with one another as others arrive with more stuff to offer.

A local market is a gathering spot where people gather to socialize and catch up with one another.

How to get to Lake Bunyonyi (Distance and driving time to Lake Bunyonyi)

· 20 minutes (15 kilometers) from Kabale Town and 2 hours (65 kilometers) from (Ruhija) Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a 2-hour (52-kilometer) journey from (Rushaga).
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is 3 hours (80 kilometers) away from (Nkuringo).
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is 4 hours (120 kilometers) away from (Buhoma).
  • Mgahinga National Park is a 2h 30m (88km) drive away.
  • Kisoro is a 2-hour (72-kilometer) journey away.
  • It takes 2 hours (75 kilometers) to drive from Cyanika to Rwanda's border.
  • It's a 40-minute (35-kilometer) trip from Katuna to Rwanda's border.
  • Lake Mburo National Park is a 4-hour (170-kilometer) trip away.
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park is a 3-hour (160-kilometer) journey away.
  • Drive time from Kigali International Airport is 2h 30m (115km).
  • Drive time from Kampala, Uganda's capital is 7 hours and 7 minutes (418 kilometers).
  • Kibale National Park is a 5-hour (296-kilometer) trip away.
  • Entebbe international airport is 7 hours 14 minutes (407 kilometers) away.
  • Drive time from Kihihi airstrip is 4h 16m (133km).
  • Drive time from Mbarara is 2 hours 54 minutes (155 kilometers).

Please keep in mind that all driving times are estimates to help you plan your trip, but they may vary depending on weather, traffic, and other unforeseen situations. To maintain punctuality, allow extra time when traveling to scheduled activities.

Where to sleep and eat around Lake Bunyonyi?

You will be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay and eat around Lake Bunyonyi; this area has something for everyone, from luxurious to mid-range to affordable.

Final thoughts on Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda!

Conclusion: For the adventurous, Lake Bunyonyi is a great destination. Whether you want to enjoy hiking along the lake or on one of many designated trails, or if you want to go fishing or swimming in its clear waters, Lake Bunyonyi has something for everyone.

© 2021 Enock Nsubuga

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