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Lake Bunyonyi

Lake Bunyonyi seemed hell-and-gone from nowhere, tucked in a volcanic crevice 8 hours' drive from Kampala. And nature's tension mounted as we made our final approach: the wind picked up and began blowing spirals in the dust as the road wound upward through forest. The sky darkened in impending storm, and then, just as our car emerged from the forest on a forest ridge overlooking the lake, the first icy drops began to fall. But below us - almost vertically below us, it seemed - was the lake, and it was bathed in a silver light by a band of sunlight that snuck through a hole in the clouds. Stunning.

Bunyonyi means "place of the little birds" and lived up to its name. We toured the myriad islets the next day on a motorized launch and visited one I'd like to return to camp on. But the real memories will be of the view from the hillside, those dark nights of stars, and the chilly night air.

You get a sense of the place's origins just by looking at the tiny islands dotting the water's surface: Lake Bunyonyi is a flooded valley. Naturally, as it turns out: volcanic action did it back when Africa's Rift Valley was still seismic. Little forested cupcakes, they're now being bought up and developed; in a year or two from now they'll showcase fancy resorts and the luxury houses of the world's economic elite, satisfied they bought before Bunyonyi was 'discovered.'

For now though, the place is gorgeous. And under the icy rain, somewhat frightening.


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