Lake Bunyonyi, on the way from Kabale National Park to Rwanda, was was the logical stopping point on our journey through East Africa. Its waters were warm and safe for swimming, being free of hippos, crocodiles, and bilharzia – a waterborne illness found in other lakes in the region. After having traveled at a breakneck pace for four weeks it was the perfect place to settle down and relax.
Getting to the lake from Kabale was a major ordeal – we hitched a ride from two NGO workers to the town of Fort Portal, but then got stuck for a day waiting for a bus. A bus supposed to leave at nine at night didn’t show up until after midnight. It was clearly overbooked, as everyone swarmed the bus pushing to get on while the conductor literally beat them back with a stick. For some reason, Sarah and I and a Swedish couple had seats reserved for us when we did get on. It was a bumpy ride, packed with people sitting in the aisles, and neither of us got much sleep by the time it arrived at 7 the next morning.
It was well deserved that we found Crater Bay Cottages, on the lake’s shores. We had not only our own little cottage…
…but because it wasn’t the high season for tourists, we had the entire resort mostly to ourselves.
Claire and Cecilia managed the family owned business while their parents ran a pharmacy in a nearby town. The young staff, ages 17-26, was there just for us, and we had a great time with them during our five days. They cooked all our meals, and we hung out with them each day, chatting late into the night.
The lake had been the talk of the country for the previous week as two Danish college students on vacation had presumed to have drowned. Efforts to find their bodies in the deep water were front page news each day, and they continued while we were there. Sarah refused to swim, so we went canoeing instead. We set out for one of the islands, but never got the hang of it and gave up after an hour of paddling in circles.
After that Sarah became the official photographer, watching me and the staff swim and kayak.
Sarah on dry land conducted chess lessons to the interested students who had watched us play with fascination.
A few other guests came and went, checking in one night and leaving the following morning, and divers did end up finding the bodies of the two Danish boys.
We relaxed without TV, internet, or the hustle of a city, and enjoyed the serenity of the lake.