A Weekend Retreat

Last weekend, Ryan and I headed down to the southwest corner of Uganda to spend a few days at one of Uganda’s most famed destinations – Lake Bunyonyi.

Everyone had said told me a must-see in Uganda, but when Friday night rolled around, the last thing I wanted to do was get on an eight-hour overnight bus like we had planned. Work had been hectic the last few weeks, I was worn out, and just plain tired of living in a third-world country. We had booked with the same bus company that resulted in my not-so-fun transportation experience while going to Rwanda in December, so I was extra sure that this bus ride would not be fun. with a great burst of maturity, I threw an internal hissy-fit – I am tired of traveling on smelly taxis, dangerous motorcycles, and rickety busses, tired of smelly public bathrooms holes in the ground… If I have to travel eight hours, I want to do it in my own car with a stop at Panera for lunch and Starbucks for 4 pm pick-me-up coffee like I could in America.

So, come Saturday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had survived the bus trip and actually made it to Lake Bunyonyi, which was true to the words spoken to me – it really is a beautiful place. The deepest lake in Uganda, second deepest lake in Africa, and third deepest lake in the world, its pristine water averages over 500 metres deep. The lake was created after a volcanic reaction stopped up the river, flooding mountain valleys until the water reached almost to the tops of the mountains, forming a haphazard assortment of what look like small islands but are really more accurately mountain peaks rising out of the lake.

Ryan and I stayed out in the middle of the lake at a small island retreat known for its commitment to ecotourism, local food, and all that green stuff. Our geodome looked out over the lake, and it is by far the most peaceful place I have been to in Uganda. I had the recurring (and slightly freaky) feeling that if the whole world collapsed into nuclear war, I could remain on this island in the middle of a deep lake in the middle of nowhere without ever knowing about it.

We slept a lot (there’s not much to do after 7 pm on an island with no electricity), read a lot (well, I finished the last 600 pages of Jane Eyre. Ryan looked at a picture book of National Parks), played a lot of games (including an epic game of checkers that lasted more than an hour – I didn’t think it was possible for checkers to take that long), went hiking, canoeing, exploring – just like how a Hanson family vacation should be.

It was especially fun to travel and hike around that area because, surprise surprise, it reminded us a lot of Papua New Guinea. I’ve been saying that ever since I got to Uganda, but finally I was with someone who was saying it, too. Kabale looked like Kundiawa, the road to Bunyonyi looked like Banz, the return trip to Kampala looked like the Kassam Pass. It was definitely colder, like the highlands of Papua New Guinea, which was a welcome change from the humid smog of Kampala.

The best part? The three-day trip cost a total of $75 for each of us. So next time you’re in Uganda, or WW3 breaks out and you need a place to retreat,  I highly recommend Lake Bunyonyi.

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1 Comment

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One response to “A Weekend Retreat

  1. Dad

    I’m trying to convince myself that WW3 is almost upon us, just so I can justify heading to Lake Bunyoni. Sounds heavenly. Reserve a canoe for me!

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