Hills of green and skies of immense fluffy white clouds were the scene as we loaded up into our dugout canoes for our 3 day trek in lake Bunyoni. The rain came and went periodically while the nine of us, along with our new friends from France and Sweden, paddled across the lake from island to island and hiked over hills and through valleys.
Our first day we departed from our hostel in Kabale, Uganda and headed to lake Bunyoni after learning briefly about the history of the lake. By 1 we had arrived at the lake and began paddling, 5 of us to a canoe. Our guide, Clement, was a charismatic and enthusiastic soul who loved joking, telling stories, and singing ‘row row row your boat’. We paddled around for a couple of hours before arriving at our first ‘home-stay’ where Mama Benna welcomed us in and fed us an amazing meal while we told stories around an enormous bonfire.
We woke up bright and early the second day to begin our hike up and over one of the large hills surrounding the lake. Before the hike up we stopped at a small village where the Batwa people (sometimes known as pygmies) were living. They told us their history of how they were driven out of the forest and forced to live on other peoples’ land to work. Later we got a brief weapons demonstration where we got to try using the local bow and arrows that they used for hunting, which was a great deal of fun! It was an intense, long, uphill battle that resulted in a beautiful view of the region and a delightful picnic atop the hill in the grass. The hike down was steep and slippery, luckily with no injuries involved. Halfway down the mountain we were greeted by a small village that welcomed us with song and dance. It was all quite delightful!
That night we stayed with a man named Tom, who helped found the tour program we employed to take us around. He prepared a delicious dinner with fresh caught crayfish from the lake. They were amazing. Tom later showed us around his island and explained the the island had been in his family for many generations. It was all very interesting.
The last day was a good rest day. We slept in a tad bit and traveled to a craft shop were we learned to make bracelets from raffia grass. We also did a bit of craft shopping so all you at homemade have something special in your stockings! We ended our trip at the Edirisa headquarters and had a huge lunch that stuffed us all!
We then needed to say our goodbyes to our canoe guides and we headed for the hostel by 3. Coming from a person who leads canoe trips for a job in the summer, this has by far been the coolest and most unique canoeing experience of my life! (so far)