Valley of No Living (2-Day Trek) /Uganda/

Bunyonyi motorboat ride to start the trek • photo courtesy of Dejan Praper

Walk where no tourists walk! No other route on the Gorilla Highlands Trails is as unspoilt as this one: from Lake Bunyonyi into an extraordinary valley, to Lake Mutanda and then to the very edge of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Camp at a model mountain health centre, in fully-equipped tents. Pay a visit to a Batwa “Pygmy” community.

Highlights

• see three lakes and countless views
• visit most untouched upcountry areas
• hike through the Valley of No Living
• befriend the indigenous Batwa “Pygmies”
• dig into gratifying lunch at Mutanda Lake Resort
• open your soul to the rainforest magic of Bwindi

Facts

duration: 2 days; difficulty: moderate/hard
starting point: Lake Bunyonyi or Rushaga
area: Lake Bunyonyi – the Valley of No Living – Lake Mutanda – Rushaga
distance: 53 km/33 mi (30% by motorboat)
departures: daily at 9am

Price: USD 220 per person (2 people minimum)
Includes everything during the trek (guiding, boats, activities, tented accommodation, meals, snacks and water) and 1 night at Edirisa on Lake Bunyonyi. It does not include transport back from Rushaga or accommodation and activities there.

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 🥾 (Lake Bunyonyi — Valley of No Living — Kateretere)

Hardworking ladies and the valley; photo by Dejan Praper
Hardworking ladies and the valley • photo: Dejan Praper

If you have taken up our offer of a free night before the trek, you will wake up at Edirisa on Lake Bunyonyi and be treated to a substantial breakfast at 8am. 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).

You will take an engine boat to the northern tip of the lake called Muko. After about an hour on the peaceful waters, you will enjoy some hot coffee or tea at the lakeside campsite before you embark on the journey.

There will be some uphill sections but the terrain is mostly pleasantly flat. However, you do need to cross the Valley of No Living if you are to leave Kabale district and enter Kisoro…

Camping at Kateretere Health Centre; photo by Dejan Praper
Camping at Kateretere Health Centre • photo: Dejan Praper

The locals gave it such a name because it is steep and remote — but it is also strikingly beautiful! At the bottom of the valley flows a cool stream and that is where we will take our picnic lunch.

An hour of a steep climb will await you after the meal, but it will be worth it. The area’s topography is fascinating, and if you stop to catch a breath you always claim you are just admiring the views…

As you exit the valley you will be greeted by primary school kids and know that you have less than an hour left to the health centre in Kateretere. The tents will be erected on a nice patch of grass at 5pm and afterwards you will dine in the trading centre.

Loaded canoe on Lake Mutanda; photo by Wim Kok
Loaded canoe on Lake Mutanda • photo: Wim Kok

Daily Estimates
distance: 31 km/19 mi (50% by motorboat)
minimum altitude: 1,950 m/6,400 ft • maximum altitude: 2,250 m/7,400 ft

DAY 2 🥾 (Kateretere — Lake Mutanda — Bwindi Impenetrable National Park)

The plan for the day includes reaching Mutanda Lake Resort by lunch time, so your guide will make sure you finish your breakfast and packing by 8am.

You will pay a visit to the Biraara Batwa “Pygmy” community and admire their superb dancing, then trek down next to Lake Mulehe and up again towards Lake Mutanda.

Your lunch will be superb, and after a short break you will continue your hiking towards Rubuguri, a rural town. By 5pm you should be on the ridge overlooking Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and before the day ends you will reach Rushaga on the edge of the park.

Dive into hiking stories and advice from Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo!

Daily Estimates
distance: 22 km/14 mi
minimum altitude: 1,789 m/5,870 ft • maximum altitude: 2,250 m/7,400 ft

Ready for some national park action in the days that follow?

Activities in Rushaga

• gorilla tracking (includes park entry fees): foreign visitors USD 700; foreign residents USD 600; East Africans UGX 250,000

• gorilla habituation experience (includes park entry fees): foreign visitors USD 1,500; foreign residents USD 1,000; East Africans UGX 750,000
• Batwa Forest Experience (includes park entry fees): foreigners USD 40; East Africans UGX 40,000
• community walk — more in the video:

• hiking: crossing the national park and nature walks — for the details and prices see below …

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