Lakes, Lakes, Lakes

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi /Uganda/

Lake Bunyonyi, located close to the town of Kabale, was formed 10,000 years ago when a river was dammed by lava. This “place of many little birds” is one of the safest lakes in Africa and has a great number of islands: 29. Some of their histories:

  • Akampene (Punishment Island): Until the 1940s, unmarried pregnant women were left here to starve to death or drown trying to swim to the shore; they were often saved by poor men or slaves who could not afford the regular bride price.
  • Bwama: In 1914 it was an anti-colonial rebel base of a famous leader, Katuregye. In 1921, Dr. Leonard Sharp, a missionary, founded a leprosy hospital here. After anti- leprosy drugs were introduced in the 1980s, it became a boarding secondary school.
  • Njuyeera (Sharp’s Island): Dr. Sharp’s family lived on this island when he was not on duty in Kabale Hospital and converted it into a gorgeous botanical garden with a tennis court, boat house, guest cottage and windmill.

Activities at Lake Bunyonyi

• Canoe Trekking

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Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes (Rwanda & Uganda)

This Lake Burera Top 5 video includes all twin lakes and other water bodies in the region

Rwanda’s Lake Burera is separated from its twin Lake Ruhondo only by a narrow band of land crated by lava that erupted from the Virungas. There is a primary school on the biggest of Burera’s six islands, happily welcoming visitors. The lie close to Musanze Town.

Lake Kayumbu (front) and Lake Chahafi; video still by Miha Logar

Lake Kayumbu on the Ugandan side of the border also has a twin, Lake Chahafi. These lakes have swamps with many bird species recorded and sport fishing opportunities. During WWI the Germans fought the Anglo-Belgian coalition at Lake Chahafi; trenches can still be seen. Lake Kayumbu has one island, Lake Chahafi none.

Lake Mutanda; photo by Blasio Byekwaso

Lake Mutanda and Lake Murehe north of Kisoro Town are the last set of siblings. The former boasts six bigger islands and four of them have interesting stories:

  • Mutanda Island is the biggest and the only island with a settlement; about 80 people live on it. They are the descendants of three brothers, the founders of the Mutanda community.
  • Kyangushu Island used to be a burial site to avoid bringing bad luck to the mainland -– bones remain visible from the lake surface. The practice of stopped in the 1930s.
  • Buhingiro, the only forested Island, belonged to a county chief who used it as a base for hunting hippos. While they are now gone, in the middle of the 20th century hippos were still very much present in Lake Mutanda. When locals developed a taste for them, their fate was sealed…
  • Gahiza Island was the punishment island of Lake Mutanda.

Other Lakes

Other Lakes

Lake Kivu (Rwanda & Congo)

methane extraction on Lake Kivu; photo by Marcus Westberg

In the very corner of the Gorilla Highlands region extensive sandy beaches and tropical vegetation hint at a sea — only lack of salt in the water may attest to Kivu being a lake. Up to 480m/1,575 ft deep, Lake Kivu is unusual for its methane concentrations that are used for power generation. A major beneficiary of this energy is Bralirwa, the only Rwandan brewery.

Lake Nabugabo (Uganda)

Lake Nabugabo; photo by Miha Logar

Located east of Masaka, Lake Nabugabo is a lovely sleepover on the long way to/from Kampala that delights with its laid-back atmosphere. Merely 4km (2.5mi) of sand separates Nabugabo from Lake Victoria that it was once part of, enough to make it bilharzia-free.