Lake Mutanda, a Hidden Golden Jewel in Kisoro District


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Uganda is blessed with various eye-catching places and sites, yet some are not even well known to the world, such as Lake Mutanda.

Lake Mutanda is a hidden jewel in the mountainous landscape of southwestern Uganda in Kisoro district. It is drained by Rutshuru River flowing northward to Lake Edward.

Its fresh water is dotted by at least 15 islands, lush trees, and shrubs.

The lake is endowed and surrounded by beautiful highlands with green vegetation, plantations, and terraces of crops along the slopes. There is a view of cloudy peaks of the Virunga Mountain volcanoes. The volcanoes of the Virunga Mountain Range span the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, in which Uganda shares three of its prominent eight volcanoes; Muhavira, Gahinga, and Sabyinyo which make up Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.

The Virunga volcano in Kisoro District, Southwestern Uganda
The Virunga volcano in Kisoro District, Southwestern Uganda

The 15 islands of Lake Mutanda are barely inhabited, with only one being inhabited by a local community, and few tiled to grow crops and tree plantations.

The biggest island, named after the lake, is Mutanda Island. This is inhibited by a local community of the “Abagesera” clan. These grow crops such as peas, bananas, and sugarcane. There is a church built on top of the island and local worshipers from the mainland come to this island to attend service at this church.

Kyangushu Island also known as Punishment Island was once a place where the unmarried girls that became pregnant were banished and abandoned to die of hunger.

Activities one can do at Lake Mutanda.


This is the best experience on Lake Mutanda. One can ride on the calm waters, feel the cold breeze, go around the islands, and enjoy beautiful views of the landscape, and the amazing scenery while observing some wildlife such as birds.

Tourists anoeing on Lake Mutanda in Kisoro District
Tourists canoeing on Lake Mutanda in Kisoro District

Island Tours

For snake enthusiasts, visit Python Island and have a chance to view these enormous snakes.  A good time to catch them is on a hot day. The pythons normally eat fish and other water creatures in Lake Mutanda. Also, visit the Punishment Islands and check out caves with skeletal remains of the punished. Trek on Mutanda island and visit the local community and church.


There is nothing exciting like hiking to and around the lake to access great points for wonderful views of Mutanda, the Virunga volcanoes, and the Mufumbiro Mountains.

Gorilla Trekking

From Lake Mutanda, it is a short distance to Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. For those that are funs of trekking, Mgahinga is synonymous with Gorilla trekking, Golden Monkey trekking, and volcano climbing.

Mountain Biking

With good mountain bikes, biking the mountain landscape around Lake Mutanda is breathtaking.

Lake Mutanda is one of the most beautiful lakes in Africa and if you include it on your must-visit list, you will never regret it.


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