Mother of All Treks (3-Day Precursor of Lake Bunyonyi Activities)

photo: Marcus Westberg

Get floored by local hospitality as you paddle, hike and camp around Lake Bunyonyi. In three days you will touch on all major islands and both coasts of the lake. The two nights will be spent with amazing families in the villages, in fully-equipped tents pitched on their compounds. [Mama Bena’s Bonus + Tom’s Homestay island overnight and a craftmaker visit]


  • spend a full day dugout canoeing on a phenomenal lake
  • camp at two unforgettable village homestays
  • island-hop through flora and fauna, history and legends
  • feast at a mountaintop picnic with volcano views
  • admire exceptional cultural dancers high in the hills
  • experience a field craft shop open just for you
  • try traditional craft making
  • enjoy a hearty final meal at Edirisa


duration: 3 days; difficulty: hard
area: west coast + east coast + major islands
distance: 39 km/24 mi (43% by dugout canoe)
departures: daily at 9am

Price: USD 390 per person (USD 600 when one person only)
Includes guiding, dugout canoeing, meals and snacks, water, juice, all activities, tips and contributions, tented accommodation.

You are reading one of the six hiking itineraries covering Rwanda and Uganda. Click for an overview of treks or check out the tour examples.

DAY 1 (Edirisa — Bunyonyi Islands — Mama Bena’s Home)

photo: Ash Dumford

If you have taken up our offer of a free night before and after the trek, you will wake up at Edirisa and be treated to a substantial breakfast at 9am. If you have opted for a less basic accommodation elsewhere, we will collect you by boat and bring you to Edirisa in time for breakfast (if you wish to take it with us of course).

The paddling will begin at 10 in the morning, following a detailed briefing of about 30 minutes.

Your first stop will be Bushara, an island campsite. After our guide shows you its beautifully wooded shore, a glass of passion fruit juice will refresh you.

You will move to Bwama Island next, a former leper colony, and canoe past Punishment Island, an islet where pregnant unmarried girls used to be left to die, to the slightly bigger Sharp’s Island.

photo: Marcus Westberg

Dr Sharp was a British missionary doctor, the founder of the leper colony. His beautiful island home is now a lodge – the site of our light fruit-based lunch.

A couple of hours in the dugouts will bring you to our Day 1 destination. Opposite Kyevu market lives Mama Bena’s friendly family who will receive us at 5pm. They happily allow us to pitch our tents close to their fantastic grass-thatched home, and will serve you excellent local food.

photo: Marcus Westberg

The guide will finally invite you to climb to the top of the peninsula, to see one of the humblest primary schools of the Bunyonyi area that enjoys a priceless view.

Daily Estimates
distance: 10 km/6 mi (90% by dugout canoe)
minimum altitude: 1,960 m/6,430 ft • maximum altitude: 2,
020 m/6,720 ft

DAY 2 (Mama Bena’s Home — Karembe Hill — Tom’s Homestay)

photo: Alenka Čebular

After breakfast at 7:30am you will be paddled to Kyevu. Here you will bid a temporary farewell to our canoe captains (and most of your luggage) and embark on a day of trekking.

The first hour will be spent walking alongside a pretty and extensive swamp. You will meet the Batwa (‘Pygmies’) who will show you some traditional dances and try to teach you how to use the bow and arrow.

photo: Marcus Westberg

Some metres before the Rwandan border you will find a steep slope that rises into Karembe Hill (2,478 m/8,130ft). One needs approximately an hour to deal with the most challenging part. Afterwards the climb is much more gentle and enjoyable – in 30 minutes you will reach the top and have a lavish picnic there, enjoying the view of Muhavura, a volcano shared by Rwanda and Uganda.

The gradual descent back to Bunyonyi, will take three to four hours. You will be entertained by a top-quality performance of Bakiga dances and encounter a makeshift craft shop that local women open just for us.

photo: Marcus Westberg

Our dugouts will be waiting at the Bufundi peninsula and the ride to Habukomi Island and Tom’s Homestay will be just some minutes long. A late evening swim will cool down your body, a night meal with a local family will pacify your stomachs. And then … a campfire with a chat about traditional beliefs (ghosts included)!

Daily Estimates
distance: 22 km/14 mi (10% by dugout canoe)
minimum altitude: 1,960 m/6,430 ft • maximum altitude: 2,480 m/8,130 ft

DAY 3 (Tom’s Homestay — Annah’s Home — Edirisa)

photo: Karla Kofol

After breakfast Tom will take you for a walk to the top of Habukomi and hear about the island’s history. A canoe route close to Upside Down Island will be a good excuse to hear its unbelievable story.

The rest of the morning will be spent at Kyabahinga peninsula, where Mrs Annah will demonstrate how local crafts are made. By lunch time you will be back at Edirisa for a tasty buffet lunch that will complete the experience.

Daily Estimates
distance: 7 km/4 mi (80% by dugout canoe)
minimum altitude: 1,960 m/6,430 ft • maximum altitude: 2,100 m/6,900 ft

Please schedule a call or leave us a message to learn more about this itinerary, express your needs and share your wishes.

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featured photo: Tomaz Malovrh