We got a sunset view every evening.

A Ugandan Lake Side Retreat – Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

October 28, 2014 – October 30, 2014

Full Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda Photo Gallery

Uganda's Lake Bunyonyi.
Our first glimpse of Uganda’s Lake Bunyonyi

After our stay in Rwanda we decided to head north to Uganda for some relaxation time on an island in the middle of a lake.  Southern Uganda, like Rwanda, is largely covered in lush green rolling hills, but with wider valleys in between, many large enough for larger lakes to form.  It was to one of these beautiful lakes that we were headed next, Lake Bunyonyi, and the island retreat of Byoona Amagara.

First we needed to get to Uganda from the shores of Lake Kivu in western Rwanda, and that meant another 3 hour windy racing bus ride back to Kigali, where at least one woman in front of us was leaning out the window half the time.  Once in Kigali we enjoyed our last few hours of big city life.  Taking in some much needed gourmet coffee and wifi to take care of a few chores, as well as a stop by the Qatar Airways office to confirm our upcoming flights which we had some difficulty booking online.  All of this was easily done via the many motorcycle “moto” taxis available throughout Rwanda.  Riding on the backseat of these motorcycles can be a hair-raising or great experience depending on your point of view.  Passengers are provided a blurry helmet which is difficult to see through while the motos weave in and out of honking traffic.   Then we were off to Uganda in a shared car for the two and half hours to Kabale in southern Uganda.  A bit of advice, make sure you agree with the driver of the car on the price. We spoke with the guy flagging down customers to get in the car and agreed on a price with him, as he seemed to be in charge.   The driver however decided once we got to the border that we owed him more.  Though he may have just been banking on the fact that we hadn’t talked to him and thought he could skim a little more.  We told him we would only pay him half because the border was only part of the way and after some disagreement he finally agreed to take us the full distance at the originally agreed upon price.

The Uganda-Rwanda border.
The Uganda-Rwanda border.

Once in Kabale it is a simple half hour ride to the lake shore where the lodge we were staying at, Byoona Amagara, has a free traditional dug out paddle canoe guests can take across the lake to Itambira Island.  The canoe trip takes about 50 minutes and could be miserable if it is raining so there is also a speed boat you can take.  The weather was great when we arrived so we took the canoe.

Action shot.
Action shot.

Itambira is a small privately owned island with small tiki style huts arranged so they all have spectacular views of the lake.  Most of the huts are surprisingly well furnished open air reed huts with lake views.  Nothing between you and the view while relaxing in your room, and yes they do have mosquito nets for the beds.

The outside of our hut, and our sunset facing view.
The outside of our hut, and our sunset facing view.
Our hut was very nicely furnished.
Our hut was very nicely furnished.
We got a sunset view every evening.
We had a sunset view every evening.

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The showers are open air, and like everything else, have great views of the lake.  Hot water showers can be had by ordering heated water to be poured into a large can sitting on the ceiling with a shower head attached. Giving a good 10 minutes of hot water.
The showers are open air, and like everything else, have great views of the lake. Hot water showers can be had by ordering heated water to be poured into a large can sitting on the ceiling with a shower head attached. Giving a good 10 minutes of hot water.

There were only a few tourists at the lodge and it felt like we had most of the island to ourselves, however it was humorous we ran into the same guy from Norway for the third time.  We first met John on our bus ride from Mwanza, Tanzania to the Rwandan border.  We traveled together as far as Kigali and parted ways.  Next we saw John at our hotel in Kibuye, Rwanda.  He left a day before us, went a different route and arrived on the Ugandan island only hours after we did.  Next he would be heading north to Kampala, while we would be heading south again, so this was our final encounter with John.

Guests of Byoona Amagara can relax and take in the views or go hiking or swimming or take the canoe out to exhaust yourself trying not to canoe in circles if you wish.

You can go swimming in the lake, the water was nice and warm.
You can go swimming in the lake, the water was nice and warm.
A very white guy trying to tan.
A very white guy trying to tan.
A sign on the dock.
A helpful sign on the dock.
Krista testing out the water.
Krista testing out the water.
The boat dock on the island.
The boat dock on the island.
You can take canoes out for a spin around the lake.
You can take canoes out for a spin around the lake. The canoes are dugout of a single large Eucalyptus tree.  Cracks are patched with a thing piece of impenetrable sheet metal and some nails.

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The locals enjoy laughing at tourists trying to paddle these flat fronted canoes.  They take some getting used to, the canoes seem to like to spin in circles rather than go forward.
The locals enjoy laughing at tourists trying to paddle these flat fronted canoes. They take some getting used to, the canoes like to spin in circles rather than go forward.
The islands dotting the lake are covered in organic farms.  These crested cranes are the Ugandan State Bird.
The islands dotting the lake are covered in farms. These Crested Cranes are the Ugandan State Bird.
The islanders are not strangers to trends, they have started their own organic coffee cafe, though it lacks a few things you might expect to see like chairs, tables, coffee.  It turned out to just be a shop selling reed woven handicrafts.
The islanders are not strangers to trends, they have started their own organic coffee and crayfish cafe, though it lacks a few things you might expect to see in a cafe like chairs, tables, and any food or drinks at all. It turned out to be a shop selling woven reed handicrafts.
Close up of the construction of some of the buildings in a small nearby village.
Close up of the construction of some of the buildings in a small nearby village.
Great views of the lake and islands are everywhere.  The lake is large enough and the lodges are separated enough that it feels very quiet and private.
Great views of the lake and islands are everywhere. The lake is large enough and the lodges are separated enough that it feels very quiet and private.  Watching a rainstorm approach from the amazing Byoona Amagara restaurant.

Lake Bunyonyi is dotted with small lodges, though it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap at all, everything is spaced out far enough that we hardly saw anyone at all.  It was a great place to relax for a few days and if we didn’t have plane tickets purchased we would have stayed longer.

 

4 thoughts on “A Ugandan Lake Side Retreat – Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda”

  1. That place is so beautiful! So sweet of you to scout out the best of Africa for the rest of us!!

    If there’s one thing I know about Africa, it’s don’t piss off the fish. (I know there aren’t candiru there, but still) I like the encouragement too, “try also not to bleed in the lake”….

    Were they actually selling crayfish at that cafe? Because the picture is a bit off.

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