East African Travel: Lake Bunyoni

Thanks to my buddy Oliver from Orphans of Rwanda, I spent the weekend with Joanna and some Rwanda based Americans, lounging on the beautiful Bashara Island Camp on Lake Bunyoni, a lake surrounded by lush hills and patrolled by fisherman paddling canoes fashioned out of hollowed out logs. I was in need of serious exercise (Kampala Marathon is only 4 months away!) so instead of driving, we took an enchanting two-hour hike from Kabale, the southernmost town in Uganda, near the Rwandan/Ugandan/Congolese border.

Bashara Island is one of the most well planned and executed tourism projects I've seen in Uganda, with a near perfect blend of luxury and modesty, set in midst of a clean, swimmable, fresh water lake. There were outside showers with views of the lake, clean and comfortable beds, a strong menu with the best fresh mint tea I have ever tasted.

My particular interest in tourism is to investigate how to maximize the profit that stays within the community and contributes to development. From this perspective, there are two exciting subsectors developing within the Ugandan tourism industry. I have spent the summer working in one subsector, which we can call 'Youth Immersions.' 'Youth Immersions' is a nearly untapped tourism/community development hybrid, meant to bring together pragmatic, connected American students and youth 'social entrepreneurs' throughout Africa. You can read about this in a previous post.

Bashara Island Camp is an excellent example of the other fascinating (and more well know) subsector, which has been growing for many years, called eco-tourism. Most of the profit when you pay the bill at Bashara Island Camp goes to fund an orphan care program, an agro-forestry project, and pay school fees. Bashara does it right: offering an incredibly high level of service at an affordable price, all while providing a market based (non-donor based) source of income to help develop a community that has long been unable to survive on subsistence farming.



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