Introduction to Lake Mutanda

Lake Mutanda is based in southwestern Uganda. It’s a 30-minute drive from the centre of Kisoro.

With an altitude of 1,800 metres, it’s a great place to hike and has some of the best views of The Virunga Mountains.

It’s a small, freshwater lake, drained by the Rutshuru River, flowing northward to Lake Edward.

Lake Mutanda

Volcanoes around Lake Mutanda

There are three, extinct volcanoes, within viewing range of the lake: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabinyo, and Mount Gahinga.

If you’re a keen hiker, it’s worth packing a pair of sturdy walking boots, as you’ll want to witness the views that these walks offer.

Mount Muhabura, ‘The Guide’

This steep hike, with a gradual incline on rocky surfaces, typically takes all day.

While it’s a challenging activity, it provides breath-taking views of Lake Edward, Bwindi, and the peak of the Rwenzori Mountains.

Remember to pack a camera/your phone, as you’ll want to look back on the astonishing panoramic outlook for years to come.

Lake Mutanda

Mount Gahinga

Mount Gahinga is better for the less experienced hiker, but by no means boring! On this walk, you’ll discover bamboo forests and volcanic caves on a gentle incline.

The base of this volcano is shallow, therefore, it’s the perfect place for plants to grow.

Lake Mutanda

Mount Sabinyo ‘Old Man’s Teeth’

Mount Sabinyo is known locally as ‘Old Man’s Teeth’, due to the summit resembling worn teeth.

This walk provides plenty of options, from easy to difficult hikes.

It includes three peaks, the first being the Sabinyo Gorge, which is home to thick vegetation. This is one of the best places for bird spotting, but key an eye out for golden monkeys!

The second peak involves walking between Rwanda and Uganda.

The third peak is hard! You’ll be scrambling with your hands, as well as ladders. However, if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be in Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo all at the same time.

Lake Mutanda

What else can I do at the lake?

Hiking isn’t the only reason you should experience Lake Mutanda, there’s plenty to do for people uninterested in walking.

The Garama Cave is certainly worth a visit. It’s a tourism trail, created as a collaboration between the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and The United Organisation for Batwa Development in Uganda.

It’s designed to support Echuya Batwa, who are commonly known as pygmies.

They were chased out of the forest decades ago by the Bantu peoples. They would hide in the caves, which you can now look around. 

If you’re wanting to get off the land, and onto the magnificent water, canoeing is a great way to discover the lake. This is one of the more relaxing options, as the water is known for being calm. You may even be able to spot some birds and otters!

For those of you who are adrenaline junkies, and spent hours scrambling on the volcano hikes, you may be interested in partaking in some mountain biking. It’ll certainly be an experience you’ll never forget.

Lake Mutanda

Ecology

At Lake Mutanda, you can discover a small range of bird species, from kingfishers to Uganda’s national bird, the grey-crowned crane. Due to the high elevation, and cold climate, you’re more likely to come across pin-tailed whydahs, and sunbirds. But keep an eye out for weaver bird nests!

If you’re venturing out on foot, you may spot snakes, chameleons, and a variation of frogs.

Hippos have been seen at Lake Mutanda, but not since 1994. Instead, on the water, you’ll only come across African clawless otters and fish.

In nearby Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, you can see gorillas and golden monkeys.

Lake Mutanda

The islands

15 islands are surrounding Lake Mutanda, but only one is inhabited by a local community. The clan is called ‘Abagesera’, and they’ve built a church on the top of the island, where they welcome local worshippers to attend from the mainland.

A canoe or boat cruise will take you over to the island. From here, you’ll be able to view the lake from a different perspective, as well as meeting the locals.

To engage with the culture, you can attend community walks, and visit the local church.

Lake Mutanda

Accommodation at Lake Mutanda

There’s a range of accommodation to stay at near Lake Mutanda.

As a perfect base for gorilla trekking, try the Mutanda Lake Resort, as it offers a luxury experience in both accommodation and views. You can choose between less expensive cottages, however, you certainly won’t be roughing it at this destination.

If you’re wanting to immerse yourself in the area, why not try something different, and stay at Mutanda Eco Community Centre, which is community-owned. Camping facilities, food, and accommodation are provided. You can even get involved in their volunteering to support the local community during your stay.  

Lake Mutanda