Just back from a stunning weekend at Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. I've now used my East Africa visa privilege on all three countries: Kenya for Maasai, Rwanda for living (and gorillas) and Uganda for lakes. Whilst my home country of the UK is busy putting up barriers between countries, Africa and the EA have the much brighter idea of free movement.
Went with Jo, Maia and their daughters Zuba and Taia. Jo drove us up there. It's only a couple of hours. When I was a VSO people used to talk about Bunyonyi lots, but I never actually made it. I've only been to Uganda once - Kampala, back in 2008. Visited Godown and spent a couple of days in the capital. It was really nice to get away from the city this time. Here's our drive towards the lake:
We stopped off at a gorgeous hotel called BirdNest for lunch. Right on the very edge of the lake.
Whilst the girls ran off to play with the donkeys, the adults got down to some serious menu perusal. Bunyonyi is famed for its crayfish, so eating crayfish is obligatory. I had them with tagliatelle and a fabulous bottle of Castle Milk Stout. We're a bit limited for beer in Rwanda, so this was a nice treat.
We were headed for Byoona Amagara, which is an island, so you have to take a boat to get there. It began to rain heavily as we were finishing our meal, so there was nothing for it but to order desert... and another bottle of stout.
The rain eventually eased up and we decided to brave it.
By the time we reached the jetty it had stopped completely and the sun was attempting to shine through. We threw our stuff on board and had a lovely fifteen-minute trip across the lake.
|Nobody Panic - Those are Doll Feet|
Byoona is fairly incredible. The accommodation is built like traditional open-fronted huts.
This was the view from the hut I was sharing with Maia.
|Mist in the Morning|
Amazing design, but a little bit nippy at night. That area of Uganda is much colder than Kigali. We needed plenty of extra blankets. But the food was fab. They have a bar area with a communal guitar, so I taught the girls how to tune it. Both Zuba and Taia are very musical. We also discovered grated potato pancakes and stuffed ourselves silly. The electricity was a bit hit and miss so everywhere was covered in beautiful lanterns.
They're also big on ecology. All the toilets are eco loos which separate out your wee and poo and compost the dry stuff. The shower was solar powered, in a little log cabin which is open around the top so you can look out at the lake. Unfortunately, there wasn't much sun, so the morning birdsong was interspersed with 'Oooh! Aaah! Oooh! That's cold!'
Sadly, we hadn't been there long when Jo had to leave. She runs a tourism business and one of the people on her tour had fallen off his bike and needed to go to hospital. She had to race back to Kigali to help organise their medical care. Not a very relaxing weekend for her.
Maia and I took the girls exploring on the island, searching for dwarfs and the forgetful old lady who keeps leaving her hair (vines) caught in the trees.
We got down to the water and found some boats.
The next day, we headed down to the lake to swim. I love swimming in lakes, and Bunyonyi is one of the few lakes in the region without hippos, crocodiles or bilharzia. It's also the deepest lake in Uganda and the second deepest in Africa. Apparently, its name means place of many little birds. There were certainly plenty of black and white kingfishers.
After a dip, I joined Maia on shore to crack open the prosecco. We headed home to dry off and warm up. Whilst they watched a film, we had a little nap on the porch until the girls woke us up wanting to go 'rodding' (six-year-old for rowing).
We climbed aboard a little wooden dug-out, like the ones we'd seen on our walk, and off we headed to explore the islands. The girls did most of the rowing whilst I got to grips with steering, using my paddle as a rudder.
|Byoona in the Background|
The girls also treated us to a traditional dance display, which they've been learning in school. We made costumes out of our shawls.
We had an absolutely lovely couple of days and Jo drove back to pick us up from BirdNest. Her client was okay and had taken a plane back to the UK. We're going to plan another weekend away soon so that she gets a chance to relax. We had another yummy lunch before setting off, and possibly more milk stout...
|Being a Mummy is Tiring|
Back to the city and a sensible climate. Looking forward to more adventures.