Explore the idyllic highland lakes of south-western Uganda. Paddle canoes around the ‘place of many little birds’ to discover the islands and history of Lake Bunyonyi. Then relax at Lake Mutanda with its volcano panorama of the Virunga Mountains including Mt. Muhavura, Mt. Gahinga and Mt. Sabiynyo.
Day 1 – The ‘place of many little birds’
You’ll be collected early in the morning from Kampala (or Entebbe) so you can make the seven-hour drive down to Lake Bunyonyi. It’s a long drive but you’ll be stopping off along the way in some great spots so have your cameras ready. You’ll cross over the equator into the southern hemisphere before passing the edge of Lake Mburo NP. Around midday you’ll reach the Igongo Cultural Centre where you can relax and enjoy your lunch in their gardens. This afternoon continue driving into the highlands of southwest Uganda to reach Lake Bunyonyi or ‘place of many little birds’. Your accommodation is on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi where you’ll have a couple of hours to relax, swim, hire canoes to paddle around the lake (*for an additional cost) or head up the hillside to enjoy a drink overlooking the many inlets, terraced hillsides and islands dotted around the lake and watch the sunset.
Day 2 – Island hopping
Today you’ll be off to explore the lake with a knowledgeable guide. At 9am you’ll take a dugout canoe ride to the Kyabahinga Peninsula to visit to Edirisa Nursery School before moving on to taste the local beer, if you choose, called Obushera that has been drunk here for generations. It’s then a hike to the top of the peninsula (30 minutes) for a session with a traditional healer who will share his secrets of tropical highland flora. Lunch will be provided courtesy of Mrs. Anna, a craft maker who will show you the tricks of her trade and provide a tasty local meal of beans, sweet and ‘Irish’ potatoes, ground nuts and dodo – local spinach. Then take to the water to canoe around Akampene or Punishment Island, Bwama Island, a former leper colony, with a secondary school and medical center to learn more about the history of the local area. By 5pm you’ll have built up a healthy appetite so you’ll be off for dinner including the lake specialty – freshly caught crayfish. Then it’s just a peaceful, short canoe ride back to your accommodation on the lakeshore.
Day 3 – Highland lakes
This morning you’ll have time to relax by the lake and swim until you depart for you next lake. You’ll drive along the winding edge of Lake Bunyonyi and pass through Echuya Forest. Then turn off onto a winding murram road with great views across the forest, terraced hillsides and Lake Mulehe. When you reach Lake Mutanda you’ll be able to spend the afternoon at the lakeshore where if it’s clear you’ll be able to see the Virunga Volcano mountain range dominating the skyline. You can relax by the waters edge, watch the vast array of birdlife along the lakes shore or jump into the water for a swim. Lake Mutanda is safe for swimming as it is free from hippos, crocodiles and bilharzia so make sure you bring your swimming gear!
Day 4 – Volcano panorama
You’ll be spending the day at Lake Mutanda with a choice of activities to explore the lake surroundings or your can simply read a good book, bird watch and swim. Activities available around the lake include village walks, a visit to the near by Lake Mulehe, Lake Mutanda island trip, Lake Mutanda boat sundowner and of course if you still have the energy you can track the mountain gorillas in near by Bwindi Impenetrable NP (*for an additional cost). However you spend your time here, you will enjoy the splendid beauty of Lake Mutanda with its volcano panorama. On a clear day you will get great views of Mt. Muhavura, Mt. Gahinga and Mt. Sabyinyo, three extinct volcanoes running along the Rwanda – Uganda border.
Day 5 – Heading home
Today you’ll be making the long drive back to Kampala (or Entebbe) from Uganda’s southwestern highlands. You’ll be passing through Echuya Forest and driving north to Mbarara town for lunch en route before you then continue past Lake Mburo National Park. Here there’s a good chance of spotting zebras by the roadside as we pass, between Mbarara and Masaka so keep your eyes open! It’s then north over the equator and on to Kampala (or Entebbe) where you’ll be arriving either in the early evening.