Background of Lake Bunyonyi
With a width of about 7km and a length of 25km, Lake Bunyonyi is a magically amazing body of water in southwestern Uganda that is blessed with over 29 Islands. These islands are scattered across its waters though they are branded with various shapes and sizes as well. Lake Bunyonyi is called so because it has variety of bird species. “Bunyonyi” in most languages in Uganda means “many birds”.
Lake Bunyonyi is among the top natural treasures that Uganda has basing on the number of tourists who visit it while on their safaris Uganda. It is conveniently located near the Rwanda boarder through the outlines of the steep hills that separate Kabale from Kisoro. Lake Bunyonyi stands on an elevation of 1,962 meters above sea level. It was designed as a result of lava flow that poured from one of the Virunga mountains which blocked off the Ndego river at present day Muko to create a dam.
It is also believed to be the second deepest lake in Uganda and the second in Africa however it has not yet been proved. Research has it that it has existed for over 8000million years ago. It is also surrounded by beautifully terraced hills that gives the lake the best scenic look. Lake Bunyonyi proudly appears on 5000-shilling note.
Lake Bunyonyi is enclosed by beautiful green terraced hills that rise up to 2,500m. The lake has a beautiful view throught the day. In the early morning, the island surfaces appear cotton candy like with a bit of mist. One day the islands disappeared from sight completely, as they were hidden under a blanket of clouds. However, it only took an hour to see them appear again. In the afternoon, they are immersed in the warm glow of the sun and later in the day, the islands appear a bit dark against a dim sky as evening approaches. the lake enjoys moderate temperatures year-round, cool in both the mornings and evenings.
Lake Bunyonyi has variety of bird species which makes it a good birding spot for the bird lovers undertaking Uganda birding safaris. There are over 250 bird species recorded at the Lake and some of these birds include; – African Harrier Hawk, White tailed blue monarda, Herons, egrets, the levillant cuckoo, the cardinal woodpecker, slender-billed baglafecth, weavers, levillant cuckoo, grey crowned cranes, a bird that was chosen as Uganda’s national symbol. The grey crowned crane appears in the center of the Uganda National flag.
Lake Bunyonyi is also famous for Akampene ‘Punishment’ island that was used by the Bakiga to punish the unmarried girls that got themselves pregnant. The Bakiga used to leave these unmarried pregnant girls on this small island tied alone on a tree to die of hunger or die trying to swim back to the mainland. Swimming skills those days were rare that why they thought that swimming would kill them. These punishments were given to these girls to educate the rest so they don’t do the same. Tourists who take on Uganda cultural safari encounters to Lake Bunyonyi, are always told stories about the history of the different islands found within the lake. This is normally done by the locals that reside these in these places.
Besides the punishments, a man who had no cows to pay bride wealth to the girl’s family was sent to the island or could go to the island and pick up a girl for marriage. However, the practice got abandoned as time went on. Although this practice was abandoned, it is still possible to find women who were picked up from this punishment island today.
Lake Bunyonyi is a magical lake that should be considered as one of the natural wonders of the world since it has joined the ranks of tourists most beloved travel destinations on their Uganda safaris. With beauty like this, shouldn’t it be?