Thursday, July 7, 2011

Best of Bunyonyi

Since most of last weekend's trip was spent with food poisoning, I don't have much share.  We did however manage to go on a boat ride Sunday morning to explore some of the 29 islands of Lake Bunyonyi.  According to the Bradt Uganda guidebook, the lake is "thought to have formed 8,000 years ago, as a result of a lava flow from local craters which blocked off the Ndego River to create a natural dam."  It is lies at an altitude of 1,800m and is approximately 45m deep.  Some highlights ...

The boat trip crew.  We were out for about 3 hours and stopped on four islands.

Well, you can't really call this a "highlight" but below is Punishment Island.  The Bakiga people, the native ethnic group of the surrounding area, would leave unmarried pregnant young women here in punishment.  Most of them would starve or drown attempting to swim to the mainland.  A very sad tradition that was stopped in the 1940s.

Left, some of the many eucalyptus trees around Lake Bunyonyi.  Locals use eucalyptus to create the dug out canoes which are used to get from island to island.

Bwama Island is the largest island in Lake Bunyonyi.  From 1929 to 1969 it was home to a leper colony founded by the British doctor Leonard Sharp.  Today there is a boarding school in the former medical facilities as well as an Anglican church.  We visited on a Sunday and saw all the locals arriving for services in very crowded canoes.  It was a special day since the bishop of Kabale was in town.

Boarding school students heading up the hill to services.

The Kalebas Campsite and Hostel.  In spite of it all, I would still recommend this place to anyone traveling in western Uganda.  It is beautiful, relaxing, and has a great lakefront on which to lounge.

View from Bwama Island.  If nothing else, it was gorgeous once the sun came out.  At 1:00 PM on Sunday we drove back to Kalisizo and by midweek we were finally feeling back to normal.  Bunyonyi we hardly knew ye.

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