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“Great island to relax for a few days!”
Review of Byoona Amagara

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Byoona Amagara
Ranked #2 of 29 Specialty Lodging in Kabale
Certificate of Excellence
Kampala
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Great island to relax for a few days!”
Reviewed January 21, 2012

Definitely one of my favourite places to stay and relax in Uganda! Already in the boat on the way to the small island, you just start enjoying. The lake is beautiful, as is the island. The geodomes are like half-open huts facing the lake with a private terrace - like sleeping in open air. The island is very green with many colourful birds. You can rent a dug-out canoe and go on the lake (not easy to steer but fun) or you can take a swim since the lake is bilharzia-free. The food is simple and delicious, and best of all, accommodation and food is all very affordable. Be aware of residents of the island who voluntarily start showing you around but at the end ask for a high amount of money.

Room Tip: The geodomes (half-open, facing the lake) are a great experience
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Ekeni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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194 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (58)
Date | Rating
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English first
Waterloo, Canada
Level Contributor
97 reviews
83 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2012

Stayed here two nights in their basic biodome. All of their deluxe biodomes were booked up or we would have gone for that since it was only $2 more pp and means you have an attached bathroom. In the end, we were very happy with out biodome as it was right at the edge of the shore and had gorgeous views of the lake (some of the deluxe biodomes didn't have as nice a location). The room itself was special with a quarter of dome literally opening into the deck. We felt it was very well made and well thought-out design with comfortable beds and big mosquito net. It was a little chilly the time we were there but the blankets were more than warm enough. Food at the restaurant was the best that we've had during our time in Uganda and Rwanda. It was pretty reasonable in price, had a huge variety of both western and Ugandan dishes (which was a nice break from most hotels in Uganda), and although took a while, we were almost always incredibly happy with the meals. There's gorgeous views throughout the resort and we loved taking out the canoe to explore around the lake. Our only criticisms are that the shared bathrooms are a little off-putting. It's admirable that they have compost toilets but it also means the outhouses smell pretty bad and there are lots of bugs below the toilets that fly up when disturbed. The resort as well also has lots of added charges which were always so small and reasonable that it wasn't a frustration, but it was the first time we've been charged to have hot water for the shower and to charge up phones. All in all, a really unique experience and a really cool eco-lodge.

  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank CEMMM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed December 17, 2011

Spent two nights in a basic geodome here. Though it means there is no bathroom ensuite, it does mean that I was right on the lakeside. The domes are double occupancy, and they won't do any discounts for lone travellers even if they are not full, but at £8 it was brilliant value.

Sleep under a bamboo roof and wake up to the sight of Lake Bunyoni and all manner of birdlife on your private balcony! It did get pretty cold at night as there was not a cloud in the sky (meaning you could see all the stars too) but an extra blanket is provided.

I wasn't seeking the whole 'sustainable thing' but it was good to see the resourcefulness on the island.

Junior, the main man on the island is unbelievably friendly as are the rest of the staff. He even took me to a neighbouring island to watch Man U v Chelsea (He is one of the biggest man u fans iI've ever come across, but don't hold that against him) on his motorboat (as there are no TVs on the island)

It is the ideal place to relax for a few days with walks on the island, swimming (one of the few bikharzia-free waters safe for swimming), canoe tours to other islands in the lake, canoe hire, an on-island library and also DVDs to project (electricity-dependent, remember this is an eco-island!)

The main bar/restaurant/general chillout area has big portions of heavy food, which was right up my street. They also have board games etc, - its just a really cool place to meet other travellers - but you'll have to rely on the lanterns after dark. and you'll need these to guide you to your hut.

Only gripe is that my light didn't work in my hut for two nights, but willing to overlook this completely as everything else compensated.

amazing place. would recommend for all types of travellers. There are similar places on neighbouring islands but this is definitely the most low key and relaxing place I stayed in either Uganda/Rwanda.

One tip: you'll need a canoe/motorboat to get to the island and the 'drivers' will try to charge you 5x what the 'official' Byoona Amagara shuttle service costs. So if you don't want to get conned, you may want to wait for a boat doing the shuttle run from the island to the mainland.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank sameer k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dundee, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed December 3, 2011

This is an incredibly worth while place to stay. Not only is it a uniquely peaceful, tranquil, natural habitat of which you have the opportunity to enjoy, but this hospitable lodge funds a local rural development initiative! Concentrating on renewable energy and local healthcare maintenance amongst others.

Please have a look at the website to see just how special this place is:
http://lakebunyonyi.net/index2.php?page=1

The island has a great atmosphere and the concept of keeping natural is shown in the operation of the lodge and it's beautifully done (snazzy toilets and shower with a view!!). There is a large menu, including delicious desserts... I remember trying the chocolate fudge balls - they're the type of desserts you won't find in any other places around Uganda if you're travelling on a budget, yet they are fresh and a good portion size.
If you don't order in advance the food can take a while to arrive: I ordered a cheese sandwich as a snack and I honestly swear they were rowing the cheese from another island!

Half of us camped in our tents and half stayed in the basic dorms... cosy and very reasonably priced. They'll lend you a basin if you bring your own washing powder for your clothes and there's a line provided for drying.

Lovely walks around the island, traditional canoes are great fun and there is a little place where you can go and watch a selection of films, projected up onto the screen - which is what we did in the evening.

Personally, I wouldn't stay longer than for four or five nights before moving on but that's all you need to completely rejuvenate and chill out.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank Freetoexplore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Auckland
Level Contributor
14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed October 9, 2011

Byoona Amagara is a completely unique and special place. The setting is tranquil, but there is loads to do around the island. The dug out canoes make for a fun boating experience once you learn how to steer, swimming in the lake is wonderfully refreshing and a visit to the local school is a delightful and eye opening experience. The staff at Byoona Amagara are genuinely friendly and great entertainment. The GeoDomes are rustic and comfortable; they have superb open views to the lake below. The food is absolutely fantastic. The prices are so reasonable that you feel guilty! Go for it you'll love it.

Room Tip: Go Deluxe GeoDome
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Newzgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
29 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed September 17, 2011

Enjoyed 4 nights at Byoona Amagara - especially in the spacious and fairly secluded family cottage with yard (we also liked the outdoor shower with its lovely view of the lake). Food is good - but best to order early for a specific time later on - and main dining area is well located. Friendly staff and good value, except for the poor exchange rate offered for US Dollar (make sure you bring enough Ugandan shilling to cover your stay). Remember to bring a sweater - it got chilly some evenings when we were there.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank nfromlondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed August 27, 2011

I have stayed at Byoona Amagara twice over the last two years and can't recommend it enough. I was leading a group of students and school teachers on a trip to our partner school in Kabale and used this resort as our place to relax at the end of a busy week of work.

Although I was camping on this visit (as I had to 'babysit' the students) a few of the staff members stayed in the cottage and few in a new wooden lodge building. In all cases, the different accommodation types are not only comfortable and well kept, but are perfectly in keeping with the resort's character as a quasi-eco resort.

A final mention has to go to Clinton, Gad and Peace who ensure that any of your needs are met with the minimum of fuss. They were exceptional at ensuring that fussy students all got exactly what they wanted come meal time. The kitchen staff work hard every day preparing fresh crayfish dishes that taste wonderful. The presence of a night-watchman on the island ensures that despite the remoteness of the resort, you feel safe at all times.

Room Tip: If you aren't on a budget, treat yourself to the cottage with it's view of the lake.
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Ayohcee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Byoona Amagara

Property: Byoona Amagara
Address: Itambira Island | Lake Bunyonyi, Kabale, Uganda
Location: Uganda > Western Region > Kabale
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 29 Specialty Lodging in Kabale
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Byoona Amagara Island Retreat is a one-of-a-kind traveler's paradise located on an island peninsula at the heart of the lake. We cater to independent travelers and backpackers looking to get well off the beaten track. We have a gorgeous location overlooking a protected island cove, perfect for swimming, canoeing, hiking or just about anything else you can think of. We also have creative and comfortable lodgings, famously fresh and delicious food, sweeping views of the lake's islands and hills, and a variety of fun and interesting tours and activities... Not to mention some of the most affordable prices in all of East Africa! We also have Internet service available, as well as an amazing library and cinema with hundreds of great books and films. What Byoona Amagara does NOT have is noise, dust, overland trucks, mosquitoes (very few anyway!), or prices that insult your intelligence (or empty your wallet). Come stay in one of our beautiful geodomes and experience Lake Bunyonyi at its very best! Byoona Amagara is a staff-owned, not-for-profit establishment dedicating 100% of proceeds to support education and sustainable community development at Lake Bunyonyi. ... more   less 

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