A May 2005 trip
to Uganda by rufusni
Quote: An amazingly beautiful country and incredible people who are so friendly and welcoming.
Bushara Island is one of the accommodation options around the area, but this provides the opportunity to get away from everything as it's on an small island on the lake and can only be reached by boat. It's the remote nature of this wooded island that makes it so pleasant and a perfect place to retreat away too.
Accommodation is simple but there are options including several camp pitches, small cottages, or the safari tents which have a permanent wooden structure and then a canvas tent erected under it. Each has neat of their own, a tidy long-drop toilet, and a bucket shower, which add to the rustic appeal of this place.
There is a pleasant restaurant at the top of the hill on the island, which uses fish from the lake itself and the meals are good - we tried several of the crayfish dishes and they were really tasty. The restaurant opens out onto a patio area which has a small flower garden and has great views across the lake.
There are several paths around the island along which there are several secluded benches scattered about. The lake provides several opportunities to swim (it is safe to swim in and is Bilharzia free) and you can canoe in dugout canoes. There is lots of wildlife around - Bunyonyi means place of many little birds - and we also saw otters in the lake.
Bushara Island is part of the Lake Bunyonyi Development Company, a sustainable development charity that is locally based. The profits from the camp are used in various projects around the area. One program is developing craft skills and there are a selection of locally made crafts on sale such as baskets and clothing. Details about the Island can be found on its website www.busharaislandcamp.com.I loved this place and would recommend it, but it is not a luxury resort, it's really a beautiful place to retreat and recharge yourself in peace and tranquility.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 28, 2007
Bushara Island Camp
P.O Box 794
In the southeast of the country, a few miles away from the town of Kabale, this beautiful area is a real find. The easiest way to reach the lake is to hire a taxi in Kabale to cover the few miles. The lake is about 25km long and is scattered with 29 islands and it is said to be one of the deepest lakes in Africa. It is surrounded by mountains and the steep slopes add greatly to the dramatic scenery of the lake. The other great thing is that the lake is safe to swim in, as its bilharzi-free, which is a lovely refreshing delight to jump into the water after the heat of the day. The name Bunyonyi means 'the place of many little birds' and there is a wealth of birdlife around the lake that add a little more colour and a backing track of birdsong. Additionally, there are otters in the lake, which we got very close to while canoeing on the lake.
There are villages on many of the islands but Bwama is unique as it was formerly a leper colony that was started by a Scottish doctor named Sharp in the 1920s. To limit the spread of leprosy the island was isolated and the locals left the island, but those suffering from leprosy came from all over East Africa to receive treatment here. As drugs developed in the treatment of leprosy, the colony closed in the early 1990s. The island now has a secondary and primary school in old hospital buildings. Some of the islands can be visited on the lake, but we landed on Bushara Island, which is one of the small hotels/campsites that are based around the lake. There is also a market by the lake that runs twice a week. The main form of transport on the lake is dugout canoes, which you can hire with someone to paddle or you can try paddling yourself. We decided to have a go at paddling ourselves and it is more difficult than it appears and you'll probably end up in a 'muzungo screw' which is white man going in circles, and we went round in circles for quiet a while before we got the hang of it. However, we had a great day paddling on the lake in what can only be described as stunning scenery, with wooded islands and steep hillsides leading up to stunning mountain backdrop. Just don't do what I did, which was to get burnt while on the lake- make sure you cover up! If you don't fancy dugouts then there are some small motorboats that transport tourists out to some of the hotels.
Lake Bunyonyi is a great place to come and have peace and quiet for a few days and to simply relax in beautiful surroundings. Although the area is developing its tourist potential, it is still quiet. If you are looking for somewhere to rest this is it!
Near Rwanda Border
This town in the southwest of Uganda is fairly non-descript and tourists only tend to come here on their way to trekking to see the mountain gorillas. However, the scenery around the town is spectacular with extinct volcanoes making up the mountain range that soars above the town. To reach the town involves a drive over the mountains from Kabale along a road that has steep climbs and descents as well as sheer drops. There are amazing views on the way but it can be a terrifying journey hurtling along this road. There is a regular bus linking Kampala, Kabale and Kisoro, as well as matatus. I was quite disappointed as I had a bad chest infection while I was in Kisoro and was unable to do a lot of things. I did visit the market in the town, which was quite interesting with people coming in from the surrounding countryside as well as crossing the border from Rwanda. The market is dominated with vegetables and imported second-hand clothing, as well as the basics required for life. I also attended a service in the cathedral (which is Church of Uganda -Anglican) on the Sunday morning and it went on for several hours with amazing singing, clapping, and drumming as they worshipped in African style.
I was disappointed not to trek up to the summit of one of the extinct volcanoes above the town which some of the rest of the people I was travelling with did. The town has several hotels that cater for tourists in the town, and some also have restaurants. There is also a small Internet 'café' in the town, but we never used it due to a couple of power cuts. The main street is quite wide with a grass centre, and there are several small shops lining the street, including those selling traditional material and the opportunity to have an outfit made. The bakery in the town has reasonable bread available - I enjoyed the little fluffy and slightly sweet rolls.
My favourite buy in the town was honey - there is a local beekeeper association who has a shop near the Agip fuel station. The honey is incredible and comes in several varieties including a creamed and euchalyptus which we bought and were luscious.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 31, 2007
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on August 2, 2007
Lake Mburo National Park is in the Mbarara district, and is a few kilometres off the main road between Kampala and Mbarara with two different roads leading to the Sanga and Nshara gates. We visited Lake Mburo just for the day, so I can't comment on the accommodation here but there are several options within and outside the park. Lake Mburo is a Savannah reserve centred on several swamp-fringed lakes including Lake Mburo. The lake area is noted for a wide variety of birdlife. The rest of the park is green acacia woodland and has dense populations of zebra, warthog, buffalo, impala, and various other grazers, including the last surviving Ugandan population of eland, the largest of African antelope.We came in from the Sanga gate and then later left through the Nshara gate. Even driving through the park to the ranger station we saw a wide range of animals including a herd of zebra that were close to the road. The rest of the group I was with went with a ranger on a walking safari in the park which they said was good, as he explained the differences in the many type of antelope in the park.
Unfortunately, I was still recovering from a chest infection and couldn't walk for the 2 hours of the safari, so I went down to the park's 'restaurant' at Lake Mburo. Sitting in wooden open building overlooking the lake was quite pleasant, but I had a great opportunity to see hippos in the water and also out grazing on the grass. I also sat and watched a group of monkeys, several birds and an incredible number of bright coloured butterflies. The others relayed much of what they learnt when we drove back out of the park and we saw even more zebra, buffalo, and several different type of antelope as we were leaving.This may not have the most spectacular range of animals, but we came here as it was on the main road from Kampala to the south-east of the country. There are various options for different guided tours in the park, but the walking tour is fairly unusual in most parks. We enjoyed the park but if I'm visiting Uganda again I'd probably try one of the other National parks. The main reason we chose this park was its accessibility for us, but it is the smallest park and if you are looking for a great safari trip then this probably is not the best option.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 8, 2007
Lake Mburo National Park
Mbarara , Uganda
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom