Canoe Safaris

Canoeing is amongst the best experiences one can have on a peaceful and quiet lake. To ride on the calm waters, taking in the cold breeze and tranquillity, going around the islands and enjoying the beautiful views and the amazing scenery, is an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Canoe safaris can be explored and organized in Rwanda and Uganda;

  • Lake Mutanda
  • Lake Bunyonyi
  • Lake Kivu

Want to know more about canoe safaris?

Lake Mutanda

Lake Mutanda is located in southwest Uganda in a district known as Kisoro. Lake Mutanda is situated at the base of the Virunga Mountain Range. When you are on this amazing lake, you can also see features like the three volcanoes within the Virunga Mountain Range that are located partly in Uganda.

A boat ride on Lake Mutanda in a locally made dug out canoe is a thrilling adventure that most tourists love to experience while visiting this part of Uganda. There is so much to see while on a canoe ride including the vast bird species around the lake and the many islands that give Lake Mutanda that scenic and magical look. Canoe rides are usually done in the morning when the water is still calm and easier to navigate with the canoes. For those who love to swim, the lake is safe for swimming and you can swim as you go on a boat ride.

There are also several islands on the lake. The barely touched islands here are quite a scene to behold. Mutanda island is the biggest of them. Found here is the Abagesera clan who are predominantly farmers. The Punishment Island and the Python Island are also part of this community which have there own stories to tell.

The environment within the lake is wetlands habitats and a lakeside forest which provides a home for the endangered mountain gorilla and the golden monkey. Unique varieties of plants and animal species are harbored by the lakeside environment. Along the lakeshore, there is a common sight of bird species that are very beautiful and chirp harmoniously. Some of the birds are kites, ibis kingfishers and the crested crane which is also a national bird.

Lake Bunyonyi

It is believed that Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa after Lake Tanganyika. It is located in the southwest of Uganda just next to the border of Rwanda. This magical lake has different shaped and sized islands that are scattered across the river. This alone makes the lake one of the best natural treasures in Uganda. There are a lot of fun activities you can enjoy while on Lake Bunyonyi.

The lake is located in south western Uganda within Kabale district and it gets its name from the many birds living in this location. Some of these birds include heron, African harrier hawk and the grey crowned crane. Lake Bunyonyi is the deepest in Uganda and is also stable throughout the year due to its calm nature.

This lake is the only one where you can ride a canoe to visit all the 29 islands including the Punishment Island where the young girls who got pregnant before marriage would be dumped and left to die. Each of the islands has its own history attached to it so your trip may take about 2 to 3 hours of canoeing accompanied by a guide who will make your trip extra special.

There are also many activities that are carried out around Lake Bunyonyi that can be combined with your special canoe excursion:

  • Birding tours
  • Hiking
  • Nature walks
  • Cultural adventures to experience the true Bakiga homes.

However, canoeing is one of the activities that stands out in this area. Dugout canoes are one of the means of transportation on Lake Bunyonyi. This makes it an incredible destination for tourists to engage and enjoy a quiet and scenic boat ride along the lake.

There is also a booming local market just next to the lake. While enjoying your boat trip you can take some time off to visit this local market and do some shopping.

Canoeing in Lake Bunyonyi is interesting because you can also go on a motorized boat cruise to Bwama Island where a British person started a hospital for people with leprosy. This will give you an opportunity to see the kind of community work that can be done around the area.

Some of the best sunset views can be seen in lake Bunyonyi. An early morning or evening drive when the temperatures are just right can make for a very fulfilling experience. You can carry a snack with you to take while on the boat just to keep your energy levels high and stable.

Lake Kivu

Lake Kivu is a freshwater lake that sits on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. It is the 8th largest lake in Africa. Idjwi Island which is the 10th largest island in the world is found on Lake Kivu.

Canoeing out onto Lake Kivu and exploring lush green scenic shores set against the blue waters and skies is an experience like no other. Rowing along the northern coastline from Gisenyi and dipping into inlets while crossing bays to soak up the spectacular scenery, peace and tranquility. Such is the spectacular experience surrounding lake Kivu.

Classic Lake Kivu fishing boats ply the waters, their crews sing rhythmically as a traditional way of life flourishes along the vibrant shore. With its crystal clear, incredibly blue and very clear water, Lake Kivu is safe for canoeing because there are no hippos or crocodiles and care is taken to avoid canoeing during strong winds. However, still waters are the main attraction for canoeing in Lake Kivu.

Another thing about Lake Kivu, the weather is amazing. The food is exemplary, especially the fresh grilled fish from the lake. The locals are very welcoming and are always ready to talk and tell you more about the area. The people around this area are heavily cultured much to their advantage as this is also a major tourist attraction. A visit to the hot springs while canoeing along this lake can also be a great addition to your experience.

Around the lake, you will spot blue monkeys and bats. For a 365 degree view, you can go to the top of Bat Island. There is also a farming island where you will get to learn about very interesting things in regards to farming and agriculture.

What else to do

Apart from canoeing, there are other activities you could enjoy as part of your trip when you are canoeing in Uganda or Rwanda. Some of these include:

Birdwatching- Lake Mutanda region is one of the best locations for birdwatching trips in Uganda considering that the lake attracts a variety of bird species to the shores. Some of the bird species you can encounter include; African spoonbill, pelicans, sacred ibis, Hadada ibis, kites, hawks among so many others.

Gorilla Trekking– For tourists looking to track gorillas from the southern part of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Nkuringo Bwindi Gorilla Lodge is strategically located to enable them track the gorillas and explore Lake Mutanda while on safari.

Hiking- Lake Mutanda is surrounded by hills and therefore hiking is one of the major tourists activities in this region. A two day hike from Nkuringo side through Buhoma is one of the most popular hikes one can take part in.

Mountain biking is another exciting adventure you can take part in while visiting this hilly area around Lake Mutanda.

Relaxing- Canoeing in lake Mutanda is a perfect way to relax during a holiday safari.

Fishing- Fishing at Lake Mutanda is another tour activity you can take part in. This activity is usually provided for tourists staying at the safari lodges around the lake.

If you plan to do an overnight safari, there are several locations where you can stay. Strategically located high end, mid range and even budget facilities are available around these areas.

This will give you a perfect opportunity to mingle with the local community and get to learn there way of life. Enjoy the simplicity of life in which they live in and learn how to communicate with them. The locals here are very friendly. This is one attribute that the Ugandan people are known for.

Things to carry when going for a canoe excursion include water, a snack, a camera, light clothing, a hat, rain gear repellant, sunscreen and binoculars

You can combine a canoe excursion with hiking, Gorilla tracking, Golden monkey tracking, Batwa experience, Community walks, Biking tours and Birding activities.

Want to know more about canoe safaris?