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The Valentine’s Day tradition in Uganda continues to cause a ‘’love frenzy’’ every February. Lovers and friends alike contemplate gifting their loved ones, tokens of their love.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Uganda, there used to be many events lined up across the city to celebrate the day. Nevertheless, nothing is strong enough to dim the love excitement this valentine. Ugandans continue to celebrate this day with endless options ranging from; sending flowers to their loved ones, stepping out of their comfort zones to dress up in everything valentines, nice cozy dinners, and making love declarations in well-orchestrated proposals.

Around this time last year, 2020, the love bug had caught upon us, and what better way to have celebrated valentine’s day than to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to someplace more romantic and cozy. We take you back in time to our “Valentine’s Road Trip to Lake Bunyonyi” organized by Rhythm City Mbale from the 14th to 16th of February 2020. 

In a busy world, it feels like we have less time for ourselves every day. It suddenly becomes urgent to take a break, and this is exactly what we sought out with the Valentine’s trip to get away from Kampala and into the romantic confines of Lake Bunyonyi.

Setting Off

Our road trip to Lake Bunyonyi lasted 8-10 hours, setting off from Kampala, at 10:00 pm and arriving in Kabale, a town in the western region of Uganda, at 7:30 am to a very chilly and foggy morning. Our host took about 20 minutes to pick us up from Kabale town and drive us to our new haven, Hawks Eye Lodge, which was our home for the next two days. There was a heavy rain downpour that topped up the magical misty and foggy scene. This felt wonderful and refreshing to our bodies as they encountered the stunning natural landscape after hours on the road.

Breakfast with a View

We were tired but the excitement took a toll and overwhelmed us. In the midst of the continuing downpour, we were ushered to our cottages to rest for 2-4 hours and then wake up for a late breakfast at midday, before embarking on our planned activities.

By 11:00 am, we were awakened to a beautiful view of a misty, snowy foggy morning. Hawks Eye Lodge is set in a serene and a pure alcove, with the most amazing people and hospitality. The lodge is architecturally designed to stand and tower high at 6000ft above Lake Bunyonyi, presenting a majestic view of the raised terraces surrounding Lake Bunyonyi below in the valley. The sight of the calm scintillating lake won't stop beckoning you to the viewing decks all around Hawks Eye Lodge.

Hawks Eye Lodge can accommodate over 50 guests with family, groups, couples, and private cottage units, two swimming pools, sufficient camping space that can hold around 100 people, and an ample playground area for children and adults with gardens for private parties.

The lodging had prepared our breakfast with an all-around restaurant menu to order from and assembled the tables at the upper dining lounge- high enough for us to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lake surrounded by trees and mountains in a circular array. We basked in the view as the crisp morning breeze hit our faces while we hurriedly ate our breakfast in time to set off on our first journey in Kabale; a romantic love themed cruise to match the happy, high spirits everyone felt.

Hawks Eye Lodge can accommodate over 50 guests with family, groups, couples, and private cottage units, two swimming pools, sufficient camping space that can hold around 100 people, and an ample playground area for children and adults with gardens for private parties.

Love Themed Boat Cruise

Intricately decorated to match the Valentine theme, the boat had red balloons, music, and wine served on deck. The cruise left everyone breathless and happy as we explored the lake and listened to tales of the history of the region by the tour guides from Hawks Eye Lodge.

Adventure by Lake Bunyonyi 

After 30 slow-paced minutes on our romantic boat cruise, we encountered the adventure park that stands in the middle of Lake Bunyonyi, run by Supreme Adventure Park. The land of about 4-6 acres is purely designed for adrenaline junkies with activities such as climbing high rope courses, riding bicycles on tree lines, and gliding on the very first zip line across the deepest lake in Uganda. We spent about two hours here delving into this newfound adventure with the high ropes challenge course.

“I can’t leave Bunyonyi without trying this out!” Exclaimed Stella, one of the visitors on the trip. The mood was jubilant and the adrenaline rush was tempting, so we had everyone daring to try it out for the first time. Our team adhered to all the safety precautions at the site, wearing protective gear that was provided by the authorities who run the adventure park and taking the safety class to understand the guidelines for zip lining on the lake.

This is the very first zip line that was set on a lake in Uganda, with a cable stretching hundreds of feet above the shimmering Lake Bunyonyi waters. Zip lining across the lake is somewhat scary, yet a worthwhile exciting experience. The adventure took the most part of our day, although everything -including time- moved in slow motion.

Valentine’s Dinner

A surprise candlelit Valentine’s dinner awaited us, organized by our host Rhythm City Mbale (256) with a live band that would serenade us into the night and see us dancing so hard to the rhythm of the night that we hoped the night would never end.

The dinner had the manager of Hawk’s Eye Lodge, Parity, welcoming us to Lake Bunyonyi and providing a great networking session as we got to interact and find out where everyone was from on the road trip. We performed karaoke while the staff of Hawks Eye Lodge offered us dinner. Couples got to sing together and pour their hearts out to through romantic songs and poetry.

Bonfire: Parte Afuta Parte

No one wanted to go to bed after all this fun; I guess we were so scared of sleeping because this whole magical weekend would transform into a dream that might never have been. So we decided to stretch it out by dancing and telling stories in front of the bonfire all night long.

Sightseeing and Morning Hike

We were up early by 9:00 am on the morning of the 16th of February 2020, our third day at Hawks Eye Lodge. We planned to have a tour of the lodge and also hike to the highest vantage point to have a clear view of the 29 islands, and hopefully a glimpse of Mt. Muhavura. This hike took us three hours, scaling high altitudes and tough landscape.

Mt. Muhavura

Parity told us that if you woke up early enough, you could have a glimpse of Mount Muhavura which disappears after the light sets in the morning by 9:00 am, at that time, the chilly weather starts lifting, getting warmer by 11:00 am.

Mt. Muhavura is visible from the high altitude of Hawks Eye Lodge but is famously known to be a shifting mountain because it gives the tourist the deceitful illusion of being very close but if you decide to hike it, it keeps changing and shifting direction so you can never really know where it is. On our morning hike, we followed its beckon from every direction which made it hard to come to a final conclusion of where it actually stood.

Farewell Bunyonyi

Even after two days here, we could not get ourselves to leave, the farewells, leaving the warm hospitable staff and host, were a sad affair after such a beautiful weekendAs we packed our bags and had a quick departure breakfast, we could not help but feel the sting of leaving so soon, but life beckons. 

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battut

*All Photographs taken by Ras Innow Zzivamuntuuyo & Santos Kalema.

Daisy Nagudi

Daisy Nagudi is a journalist, radio and television presenter, mentorship coach, writer, and creative entrepreneur.