If you are looking for a beautiful relaxed place then Lake Bunyonyi offers just that. Lake Bunyonyi (literally translated as “Place of many little birds”) is a fresh water body located in South-western corner of Uganda on the border with Rwanda. The lake is thought to be Africa’s 2nd deepest lake after Tanganyika and one of the few lakes said to be Bilharzia free.
Lake Bunyonyi is surrounded by beautiful terraced hills. These hills are terraced by the local Bakiga tribe living in this area as they carry out cultivation on subsistence level offering beautiful scenery. Lake Bunyonyi is loved by both local and international tourists and a recommended place to visit if you love water, culture, beautiful countryside scenery and relaxing moments.
The lake hosts 29 Islands some of which are uninhabited and others are inhabited by locals and tourist facilities. The Islands with a rich history include; Akampene (Punishment Island), Sharps Island and Bucuranuka (Upside down). Below is brief history of some of the Islands;
Akampene (Punishment) Island
Long ago unmarried pregnant girls were abandoned on this Island with a lone tree by their fathers/brothers as a way of communicating to others not to get pregnant out of wedlock. This was because the families saw the act of unmarried pregnant girls as extremely shameful. The girls unable to swim across (without swimming skills) were left to starve to death. On some occasions, young men in the neighborhood unable to pay bride price were quick to pick them and take them home as their wives. Thankfully this practice was later abandoned; some of the last surviving women picked from the island are alive in the neighboring village to Lake Bunyonyi.
Bwama and Njuyeera (Sharp’s Island)
Dr. Leonard Sharp, an English missionary came to this south western part of Uganda in 1921. In 1931 he established the leprosy treatment center on an uninhabited Island – Bwama Island. He put up a Church, hospital and patient quarters. The idea of this leprosy center was to make it attractive to the leprosy sufferers so that they move there from the communities therefore reducing infections. Dr. Sharp himself settled on the Njuyeera Island.
Currently the buildings of the hospital are used by a boarding secondary school and primary school but no village settlement is found here.
Bucuranuka (Upside Down)
A famous folktale concerning this Island is that lots of people were killed. A group was brewing local sorghum beer when an old woman passed by and requested to be given some of the brewed beer. The crowd was not happy and mistaking her to be a well-known beggar they rudely chased her. She was very offended and instead requested that they avail someone to help her cross to the mainland. She was given a youthful boy to ride the canoe across. Reaching the mainland, the lady disembarked and the boy was shocked on turning to return to seen the Island over turn killing everyone except a Chicken which managed to fly away and survived.
Bushara Island and Kyahugye Island are mainly developed for tourism facilities. They have accommodation facilities, restaurants and bars. The activities on these islands include; nature walks, bird watching, fishing and canoeing.
Activities to engage in while at Lake Bunyonyi include; hiking up the hill, canoeing, swimming, nature walks, bird watching, visit to school, visit a local home and interact with locals.