The Bunyaruguru crater lake region consists of dozens of ancient volcanic craters which have filled with water to become sparkling gems dotting the hilly Ugandan countryside. Situated south east of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, close to the major town of Kibale, the region is well worth at least a few days of exploration to experience its unique landscapes and cultural attractions.
The Bunyaruguru crater lake region is one of four major fields in Uganda, a country with one of the densest occurences of volcanic craters on earth. Of various sizes, the lakes offer visitors the opportunity to swim, canoe and fish, all while enjoying wonderful views over lush tea and fruit plantations and the Rwenzori Mountains. Hikers could spend days exploring the magnificent landscape, experiencing both the natural and cultural beauty of colourful Uganda, encountering waterfalls, rugged crater rims and fertile agricultural lands.
The best lakes to visit include Lake Nkuruba - which is surrounded by indigenous forest brimming with primates and birds – and the twin lakes of Nyanzibiri, which can be found on the highway between Mbarara and Kasese. Interestingly, one of these lakes is green and the other blue, creating a beautiful contrast for tourists driving along the elevated road which separates the two. Nearby, Lake Kamwezi has a lovely cave with a stream running through it, which in ancient times was used for sacrifices and spiritual cleansing, and more recently as a refuge for those fleeing the brutality of Idi Amin’s regime. The cave, as well as a fascinating cultural museum that reveals everything about the highly spiritual Bunyaruguru people, can be visited from the Nyanzibiri Eco Campsite.
Further along the road, make sure to stop off at Lake Nkugute, a place shrouded in myth. Meaning ‘swallow’ in the Runyaruguru language, the lake was believed to have swallowed up two children - a boy and a girl – annually. The local people are more than willing to share their age old tales of the supposedly ferocious lake. The Kitagata Hot Springs, believed to have healing properties, are nearby and open to the public.
The Bunyaruguru Region is perfect as a stopover point for motorists travelling between the towns of Kibale and Fort Portal, and is also conveniently close to the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve, the Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake Bunyonyi – the second deepest lake in Africa.