how to get from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

How To Get From Kampala To Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda, 2024

Hello there, adventure-seekers and nature enthusiasts! Buckle up because we're about to embark on an exciting journey from the vibrant city of Kampala to the breathtaking beauty of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. Get ready for a delightful trip filled with scenic vistas, charming villages, and the promise of serene waters nestled amidst lush hills.

Whether you're a backpacker, a family on vacation, or someone looking to escape the hustle and bustle, this journey promises a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. So, grab your sense of experience, and let's dive into the ultimate guide on how to get from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda.


Kampala, the bustling capital city of Uganda, is a vibrant and dynamic metropolis that pulsates with energy and culture. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Victoria, Kampala serves as the political, economic, and cultural heart of Uganda. Its streets are a fascinating blend of old and new, where modern skyscrapers stand beside historic colonial-era buildings.

The city's markets, such as Owino Market and Nakasero Market, offer a sensory overload of colours, sounds, and flavours, while its lively street scenes, filled with boda-boda motorcycle taxis and matatu minibuses, create an exhilarating urban atmosphere. Kampala is also a city of green spaces, with lush parks like the Uganda Museum Gardens providing a welcome retreat from the city's hustle and bustle. It's a city where you can explore Uganda's history, indulge in its diverse cuisine, and experience the warmth of its people, making it an essential stop for any traveller exploring East Africa.

Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi, often referred to as the "Lake of a Thousand Islands," is a natural wonder nestled in the southwestern region of Uganda. This beautiful freshwater lake is renowned for its unparalleled beauty and unique topography. Surrounded by steep terraced hills dotted with lush green islands of varying sizes and bordered by charming villages, Lake Bunyonyi offers a serene and picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

What truly sets Lake Bunyonyi apart is its crystal-clear waters, which are free from bilharzia and safe for swimming, making it a delightful destination for water enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the lake's islands, each with its own distinct character, by taking a traditional dugout canoe or paddleboat. Among the islands, the most notable is Punishment Island, which has a poignant history related to local customs and traditions.

Lake Bunyonyi is not only a paradise for nature lovers and photographers but also a hub for birdwatching, with numerous species of birds residing in the surrounding forests and wetlands. The lake's pleasant climate, breathtaking sunsets, and tranquil ambience make it a perfect spot for relaxation and reflection.

Moreover, the region around Lake Bunyonyi is a gateway to the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, where visitors can embark on a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking adventure. The combination of the lake's natural beauty and the opportunity to encounter endangered mountain gorillas in the nearby rainforest makes Lake Bunyonyi an exceptional destination for eco-tourism and wildlife enthusiasts.

Whether you're seeking a peaceful retreat, an adventure-filled excursion, or a chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Bakiga people who inhabit the area, Lake Bunyonyi beckons with its timeless allure, promising an unforgettable experience in the heart of Uganda's stunning countryside.

Getting from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi is an exciting adventure, and there are several ways to make this journey. Here are some of the most popular options:

  1. By Road:
    • Self-Drive: If you're feeling adventurous and have access to a reliable vehicle, you can drive from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi. The travel time is approximately 6-8 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic. Make sure to have a map or GPS navigation to guide you.
    • Public Bus: There are several bus companies that operate daily routes between Kampala and Kabale, which is the nearest major town to Lake Bunyonyi. From Kabale, you can hire a taxi or take a local minibus to the lake. This is an affordable option, but the ride can be quite long and crowded.
  2. Fly and Drive:
    • You can take a domestic flight from Entebbe International Airport to the Kihihi Airstrip, which is the nearest airport to Lake Bunyonyi. From there, you can hire a taxi or arrange transportation to take you to the lake.
  3. Organized Tours:
    • Many tour operators in Kampala offer guided tours to Lake Bunyonyi. This option provides convenience and often includes stops at interesting attractions along the way. You can choose from a variety of tour packages that suit your preferences and budget.
  4. Private Car Hire:
    • You can hire a private car and driver for a more comfortable and convenient journey. This option allows you to customize your itinerary and explore other attractions in the area at your own pace.
  5. Biking Adventure:
    • For the more adventurous travellers, you can embark on a bike trip from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi. This is a unique and eco-friendly way to experience the journey, but it requires careful planning and physical fitness.

No matter which option you choose, the journey from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi promises stunning landscapes, encounters with friendly locals, and the chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Uganda. So, pick your preferred mode of transportation and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Activities Lake Bunyonyi Offers

Here are some amazing activities that you can do for an unforgettable experience.

Gorilla Trekking

Gorilla trekking near Lake Bunyonyi is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that allows you to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. Located in the southwestern region of Uganda, Lake Bunyonyi is in close proximity to the renowned Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, one of the few places on Earth where you can encounter endangered mountain gorillas.

As you embark on this thrilling adventure, you'll journey through lush, mist-covered forests and rugged terrain, guided by expert trackers who lead you to gorilla families. The moment you come face-to-face with these gentle giants, watching them in their daily routines and interactions, is an awe-inspiring and humbling experience that will forever be etched in your memory.

Gorilla trekking near Lake Bunyonyi not only offers an extraordinary wildlife encounter but also supports conservation efforts to protect these remarkable creatures and their habitat. It's a must-do activity for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers exploring this remarkable corner of Uganda.

Bird Watching

Birdwatching near Lake Bunyonyi is a true delight for ornithologists and nature enthusiasts, as the region boasts a diverse and captivating avian population. Among the remarkable feathered residents and migratory visitors, you'll have the chance to spot the majestic African Fish Eagle, with its iconic white head and tail soaring above the lake's crystal waters.

The Great Blue Turaco, with its striking blue plumage and unique calls, adds a burst of colour and excitement to the dense forests surrounding the lake. The Grey-crowned Crane, Uganda's national bird, graces the wetlands with its elegant presence. Pied Kingfishers hover gracefully over the lake's surface while the melodious songs of the White-tailed Blue Flycatcher and Red-chested Sunbird fill the air.

These are just a few of the incredible species of birds, like weaver birds, that call this region home, making Lake Bunyonyi a must-visit destination for any birdwatching enthusiast. So, grab your binoculars and immerse yourself in the symphony of nature's feathered wonders in this picturesque corner of Uganda.

Chimpanzee Trekking and Safari

Chimpanzee trekking and safari experiences near Lake Bunyonyi offer a captivating adventure for wildlife enthusiasts. Within close proximity to the lake, you can explore the Kyambura Gorge, home to a thriving population of chimpanzees. Guided treks through the lush forest reveal these intelligent and playful primates, along with other diverse flora and fauna. This unique opportunity to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat adds an exciting dimension to your Lake Bunyonyi visit, combining the serenity of the lake with the thrill of a jungle safari.

Route Map: How to Get From Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi

Travelling from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi is an exciting journey through the picturesque Ugandan countryside. Here's a general route map to guide you:

  1. Kampala to Masaka:
    • Start your journey in Kampala, Uganda's capital.
    • Head southwest on the Masaka-Kampala Road.
    • Drive through Masaka town, which is about 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Kampala.
  2. Masaka to Mbarara:
    • Continue on the Masaka-Kampala Road, which becomes the Masaka-Mbarara Road.
    • Drive through towns like Lyantonde and Ntungamo.
    • Mbarara is a major city and a good place for a break. It's approximately 270 kilometres (168 miles) from Kampala.
  3. Mbarara to Kabale:
    • From Mbarara, take the Mbarara-Kabale Road.
    • This scenic route passes through rolling hills and lush greenery.
    • Drive through towns like Bushenyi and Rukungiri.
    • Kabale, known as the "Switzerland of Africa," is about 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Mbarara.
  4. Kabale to Lake Bunyonyi:
    • From Kabale, continue on the Kabale-Kisoro Road.
    • After about 8-10 kilometres (5-6 miles), you'll reach the town of Kabalega.
    • Follow signs to Lake Bunyonyi, which is approximately 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Kabalega.

Other Nearby Places to Explore

Lake Bunyonyi is not only a destination in itself but also serves as a gateway to several nearby attractions and activities that can enhance your visit to the region. One of the most prominent attractions is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, located a few hours' drive from Lake Bunyonyi. Bwindi is renowned for its population of endangered mountain gorillas, and it offers a chance to embark on a life-changing gorilla trekking adventure. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its remarkable biodiversity and lush rainforests.

Additionally, you can explore the charming town of Kabale, which is the nearest major town to Lake Bunyonyi. Kabale offers a glimpse into Ugandan culture with its bustling markets, friendly locals, and scenic views of the surrounding hills. Don't miss the opportunity to visit Kabalega Falls, a series of beautiful waterfalls located nearby.

If you're interested in history and culture, you can visit the Bakiga Museum in Kabale, which provides insights into the traditions and heritage of the Bakiga people, the local ethnic group. You can also explore the vibrant local markets and interact with the communities to get a deeper understanding of the region's culture.

Lake Bunyonyi itself has numerous islands to explore, each with its own unique character and story. Take a boat tour to visit some of these islands, such as Punishment Island and Akampene Island, which have intriguing histories. Additionally, the lake offers opportunities for swimming, canoeing, and fishing, allowing you to enjoy its serene waters.

Lake Bunyonyi is surrounded by a wealth of attractions and activities that cater to a variety of interests, from wildlife enthusiasts to culture seekers. Exploring these nearby places will undoubtedly enrich your experience and leave you with lasting memories of this beautiful corner of Uganda.

The deepest lake in Uganda is Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is not only the deepest lake in Uganda but also the largest lake in Africa by surface area and one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. It has a maximum depth of approximately 83 meters (272 feet). This massive lake plays a significant role in the region's ecology, economy, and culture, serving as a source of water, transportation, and livelihood for many communities in Uganda and neighbouring countries.

Lake Bunyonyi is located relatively close to Lake Victoria in Uganda. The distance between Lake Bunyonyi and Lake Victoria can vary depending on the specific location you're travelling to on Lake Victoria's shoreline. On average, the distance is approximately 30 to 40 kilometres (around 19 to 25 miles) from Lake Bunyonyi to the nearest point on Lake Victoria.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of Uganda's most renowned wildlife sanctuaries, is located in close proximity to Lake Bunyonyi. Positioned to the northeast of the lake, it offers diverse and exciting activities for visitors. The park is a mere 70-80 kilometres (about 43-50 miles) away, making it easily accessible from Lake Bunyonyi. Activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park include thrilling game drives to spot the Big Five, boat safaris on the Kazinga Channel to observe hippos and crocodiles, chimpanzee tracking in the Kyambura Gorge, and birdwatching with over 600 species. This close proximity allows travellers to seamlessly combine a serene lakeside retreat with an unforgettable wildlife adventure.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, a relatively short drive from the serene shores of Lake Bunyonyi, is a captivating destination that promises a harmonious blend of adventure and natural beauty. This unique park, a part of the Virunga Massif range, is renowned for its gorilla trekking experience, allowing visitors to intimately connect with the endangered mountain gorillas.

Beyond gorilla encounters, Mgahinga offers an array of activities, from tracking the playful golden monkeys to hiking through bamboo forests and scaling the majestic volcanoes. Birdwatchers will find joy in the vibrant avian population, while cultural enthusiasts can engage with local communities and gain a deeper understanding of the region's heritage. A visit to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park complements the tranquil ambience of Lake Bunyonyi, creating a remarkable journey that combines natural wonder with thrilling wildlife experiences.

Accommodation Options

Near Lake Bunyonyi, you'll find a range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. Lakeside resorts and lodges offer stunning panoramic views of the lake, providing a serene and tranquil setting for relaxation. Many of these accommodations also provide amenities such as private cottages, restaurants serving delicious Ugandan and international cuisine, and opportunities for water-based activities like canoeing and swimming.

For those seeking a more immersive experience, there are numerous eco-friendly lodges and campsites nestled in the lush hills surrounding the lake, allowing you to reconnect with nature while still enjoying essential comforts. Additionally, Lake Bunyonyi is home to a variety of budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels and comfortable hotels, providing affordable lodging options for backpackers and travellers on a tighter budget. Whether you're looking for luxury lakeside experiences, eco-friendly retreats, or budget-friendly stays, Lake Bunyonyi has a diverse range of accommodations to make your visit comfortable and memorable.


This lively guide on how to get from Kampala to Lake Bunyonyi has taken you on a thrilling journey from the vibrant heart of Kampala to the tranquil beauty of Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda. We've explored the various routes, travel options, and adventures awaiting you along the way. From road trips to scenic flights, there's a path for every traveller's taste. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply in search of serenity, Lake Bunyonyi has something special in store for you. This blog is your trusty travel companion, and we hope it's been a helpful guide to pave the way for your unforgettable Ugandan adventure!


How far is Kidepo Valley from Lake Bunyonyi?

Kidepo Valley National Park is approximately 300 to 400 kilometres (186 to 248 miles) northeast of Lake Bunyonyi, making it quite a distant destination from the lake. The journey typically involves a long road trip through diverse landscapes, and it's advisable to plan for multiple days of travel to fully enjoy both locations.

What is a CO2 emission trip, and does it help?

A CO2 emission trip is a concept that emphasizes reducing carbon dioxide emissions during travel. In relation to Lake Bunyonyi, it highlights eco-friendly transportation choices, such as using low-emission vehicles or public transportation, to minimize the environmental impact when journeying to this beautiful destination.

What are the other lakes close to Lake Bunyonyi?

Near Lake Bunyonyi, you can find several other lakes, including Lake Mutanda and Lake Mulehe, both of which offer stunning natural beauty and opportunities for water-based activities like canoeing and fishing.

Komala Rudra

Komala Rudra is a devoted mother and author who explores children's behavior and nutrition, offering valuable insights and practical guidance for parents and caregivers. Her writings aim to nurture healthy habits and stronger connections between parents and their little ones.

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