Published: September 23rd 2007September 3rd 2007
Situated in the Southwestern corner of Uganda close to the Rwandan and Congolese border, lake Bunyoni is rumoured to be 'the' place to chill when passing through Uganda on the way to or from Rwanda so we thought we'd pop in. We'd had lots of recommendations for different places on the lake but Byoona Amagara kept popping up again and again so we decided to plump for that one.
Arrival at the lake is along a Kenyan quality road up and down a steep sided valley, which presents you with a fantastic view of the Northern end of the lake (I think) before arriving at Rutinda market village.
Byoona Amagara is on an island - so they kindly provide guests with a free boat ride to said island. However they neglect to mention "self-powered" until you're in it and you get given your paddle. The trip is beautiful, and takes about 30-45 mins depending on how much you are paddling or if you're involved in a race to the island. The lake itself is absolutely beautiful - steep-sided and irregularly shaped, nestled between lots of terraced hills, and dotted with more terraced islands (including one where unmarried pregnant women
were dumped to die. They either awaited their fate on the island or attempted the swim to shore, which many didn't make. Good god if we took that approach in the UK...no wait, that 'is' the UK...but without the swimming bit).
Byoona Amagara hostel is run by Jason, a New Yorker and his wife who live there with their two lively children. All of the profits (100%) go back into community projects in the area, like sponsoring local children whom they also teach in a classroom that thay have built on the island. Their computer room and book exchange are in fact IT classroom and library for the local kids first, for use of the backpackers second. The food there is good, cheap and filling and provided us with the tastiest, most satisfying meal we had had for a good few weeks. There is a bit of a wait but its really worth it. We pitched our tent for a few nights on the terraces and had a great (relaxing) stay at this fab place.
The birdlife on the island is quite impressive with vivid Sun birds, Bee-Eaters and lots more we don't know the name of zooming
about, and it's quiet. Apart from the birds.
We managed to catch up on a load of reading while were there and just generally enjoyed chilling out. Walked around the island a bit... but that was about as strenuous as it got. We also met a Canadian couple Brian and Anne who we got on really well with, they were heading towards Rwanda aswell so we decided to combine forces for the journey to Kigali.
There are more photos below