An insatiable appetite for Bunyonyi

By on September 20, 2021

When I visited Kabale about two or three years ago, I learned several things about myself. First, I learned that I have an extremely low tolerance for cold weather, it borders on full-on dislike. Second, I learned that no matter how many times I go zip lining, my life will always flash before my eyes, right before I hit the zipline. Third, I learned that no matter how many times I visit Lake Bunyonyi, I never seem to get enough of it. And fourth, I learned that the women of Kabale and I have an unbreakable bond – one that transcends time and distance. We love each other a little too much and every time I visit Kabale, a daughter of the land becomes my friend.

Kabale is a very serene place, it truly is. And most people who’ve been lucky enough to visit it will undoubtedly swear that it is one of the most spectacular places they’ve been to. If anyone ever introduces the idea of traveling to Kabale, there are three things you should tell them ‘Yes!’ ‘Of course!’ and ‘Hell Yeah!’

Earlier this month, the guys from Almost Famous Entertainment organised a trip to Kabale, specifically targeting Lake Bunyonyi. The trip dubbed Music and Travel UG was a continuation of a travel plan they had launched a few years back but had put on hold due to the godforsaken Pandemic. And so a resumption of the plan saw them organise a trip to Lake Bunyonyi. The idea was to get together a couple of fun-loving travel enthusiasts and enjoy a road trip from Kampala all the way to Lake Bunyonyi with as much music and sightseeing as possible on the stop-overs.

Before we set off – the calm before the storm (El Polo, Jagen, Wagga & Okwa)

As a regular traveler, there are certain things I know about being on the road. With the right company, a road trip can be the greatest gift you can give yourself. And so when we hit the road on the morning of 10th September 2021, the gifts started coming in. Everyone on the bus was jovial and our driver, Patrick, was particularly in high spirits. He seemed genuinely pleased that finally, he could take Ugandans around the country following an extended period of no-travel because of the Lockdown. By the time we got to our first stop in Masaka City (at the equator), it was clear that everyone was relieved to get out of the city. The slight drizzle at the equator went unnoticed as everyone embarked on taking photos and making sure the trip’s official photographer captured them striking the wildest poses.

The Liquor House Boys Estone and Lob never miss an opportunity to slay 

Entering Mbarara City is always a big deal. Somehow, you start to get the feeling you’ve officially arrived in Western Uganda once you see that other Bihogo Cow that kicked up quite a storm not so long ago when it went missing. This time, Bihogo was there, in full grace and honour, long-horned and all. As we stopped at Acacia Hotel in Mbarara to have lunch, everyone was so excited about the trip they had become unbothered by how long the trip was taking. Road trips can be quite interesting especially when you ignore the concept of time. Road trips are a stark reminder that the awesomeness of travel is in the journey as much as it is in the destination.  

One would expect that by the time we arrived at Hawk’s Eye Lodge where we were supposed to spend the weekend, everyone would be worn out and hoping to get some rest. I mean, spending nearly 10 hours on the road can leave you a tad too tired. However, no one was interested in resting. As a matter of fact, as soon as we arrived and everyone had checked into their rooms, a bit of a party kicked off right after we had dinner. 

My Favourite chill spot at Hawk’s Eye Lodge

Hawk’s Eye is set up in such a way that if you are sleeping in the upper cottages, you can have a wild time and not even know what is going on at the lower cottages. Such was the nature of the night. Some people chose to have their great time in the lower cottages while others went up for theirs. A few of us opted to sit by the campfire and share embarrassing stories, play games, and basically share some deep dark secrets. Later in the night, at about 3 am, some daredevils decided to go skinny dipping. (Not a single record of that skinny dipping session can be traced.)

A lot has changed at Hawk’s Eye and the place is now just a haven for relaxation.

The kind of chill you need to get on when you are at Bunyonyi

Mornings at Hawk’s Eye are not for the faint-hearted. First of all, it is ridiculously cold and secondly, you will most likely have to go for a hike of sorts – to take in the sights and sounds of the hills surrounding the magnificent Lake Bunyonyi. The last time I was there, I went for a hike and my memories of the muscle aches and hunger were still fresh so I chose to stay back and just drink in the serenity of the Lake environs.

That early morning hike through the hills that surround Lake Bunyonyi can be quite awesome

A few people decided to go for the hike and as expected, they returned a few hours later panting and wondering why they even did it. None of them regretted it though because the experience was extremely mind-blowing. Walking on the hills that surround Lake Bunyonyi is unlike anything describable. It is a roller coaster of gorgeous view after gorgeous view, exposing you to some of the most picturesque sights overlooking Lake Bunyonyi. It’s really a thing of beauty.

Just look at that view behind Wagga

After breakfast, as everyone was relaxing and taking in the full splendour of Lake Bunyonyi, it was decided that after lunch, we would be going for a boat cruise. Some folks would go for the zip-lining activity and others would simply take a tour around Lake Bunyonyi. I opted to go for the boat ride around the Lake seeing as the last time I was at Bunyonyi, I actually did the Zip Lining and the memories of terror were still fresh.

And we enjoyed a chill on this hammock that can take up to 30 people at a time. 

As we went around the Lake, we came across several islands, some buzzing with a bit of activity, others abandoned but none more menacing in appearance like Punishment Island. A story is told of Akampene Island, referred to by many as Punishment Island where a long time ago, unmarried women and girls who got pregnant were dumped as a form of punishment. These girls were then left on the island, effectively excommunicated but with a small opportunity of return to the mainland only if men considered ‘losers’ in the community had any interest in them. Obviously, men who did not have much to their names were more than happy to pick up brides ‘free of charge’ from the Island but would have to settle on another island, somewhere no one would find him. And together the banished couple would start a family of their own, both excommunicated and frowned upon by the society. 

Punishment Island. Oh yes, it is that small. (Photo by Justo)

The location of Hawk’s Eye where we spent our nights is quite fascinating. It is located in a place so strategic that your view of the Lake is rather picturesque. When I was there a few years ago, it was this humble up-and-coming place with great service and a huge desire to grow. The place has grown in leaps and bounds so much that the entire time I was at the establishment I was blown away by how much progress had been made. Obviously, because of the pandemic, the establishment has had a bit of a downtime, attracting very few customers. But lately, the bookings have started coming in and when we visited over the weekend, there were a few other guests who were happy to join us at the campfire and on the dancefloor. 

This was right before the boat-ride

The trip back to Kampala is not as much fun as the trip out of Kampala. Obviously, there is the realisation that one is heading back to the city of dust, noise, traffic jam, and endless weddings. But above all, there is the realization that for the 2 or 3 days one is in Kabale, their mind, body, and soul are at their most peaceful. 

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol - The Talkative Rocker