Like other smaller crater lakes in Kisoro, Lake Chahafi remains largely unknown to the tourist world. It is one of the several crater lakes down in South Western Uganda in Kisoro District whose scenic view is simply breathtaking. It is the kind of experience you should hope to encounter when you wake up one morning in Uganda. When you visit the lake as a visitor, you will actually find solid reasons why a small Lake Chahafi perhaps deserves to be ranked along with the larger Bunyonyi and Mutanda on the list of lakes one has to put into consideration when planning an excursion to Kigezi region.
Kigezi was nicknamed as “The Switzerland of Uganda” due to its rugged mountainous terrain and Mediterranean climate. Lake Chahafi area is one of the most scenic in the entire kigezi area. The Lake has a twin to its eastern side known as Lake Kayumbu. Between these two lakes is a towering thread of a hill whereby standing on it, you will have a breathtaking scenery in several kilometers on all sides below. As you wake up, you turn your eyes from Muhavura towards the opposite direction, and the placid waters of a picturesque lake sprawling off between the high hills invites you to check out what is in progress at that morning hour. At the lake’s shore you get to behold a crowd of crested cranes, forest vegetation, hillside gardens, oddly-shaped ridges, gorges and many more.
There is also some interesting colonial history to be encountered at Lake Chahafi. It was all about the struggle for control of the region during the time of the First World War. For the shores of Lake Chahafi is where in 1914, the joint forces of the British and Belgians set up a base to ward off the approaches of the Germans in the struggle for control of Kigezi. And before 1914, the Lake Chahafi area is also where the Bafumbira tribal leader Katuregye based in his attempts to repulse the approaching British imperialists. This Katurebe and his subjects were inspired by the native Nyabingi religious movement which claimed that the spirits of the land would help the natives defeat the colonialists, and there are interesting tales about the dramatic campaign that subdued Katuregye.
Lake Chahafi is ranked by Kigezi tour operators as one of the places with the largest population as well as diversity of birds in south western Uganda. This is quite a statement, given that this region sits with the Kazinga region. Among the bird species that can be easily seen at Lake Chahafi and rare anywhere else are the Lesser Jacana, the African Jacana, the Brack Crake, the Blue-headed Coucal, the Common Moorhen, swamp flycatchers, swamp warblers, among others. Yours truly had a chance to behold two rare species: the Common Moorhen and the Malekite Kingfisher.
More so, Lake Chahafi has a resort on its shores which is ideal for one wishing to go tracking Gorilla or mountain-hiking. Lake Chahafi is about just 20km from Mountain Muhavura, Mgahinga and Sabinyo and less than 20km from the Mgahinga gorilla sanctuary. Other attractions around the Lake Chahafi include visiting the farms to see the farming styles in this area of fertile volcanic soils, sailing on the lake, fishing, among others.
Species of Lake Chahafi
Diverse avifaunal species survive in the Chahafi Lake area making it a special place to enjoy a birding excursion. The birds to search for here include blue headed coucals, African jacanas, common moorhen, lesser jacanas, malachite kingfishers, black crakes, crested cranes, swamp flycatchers, to mention but a few.
Due to the lakes strategic location, it is possible to combine your visits with other tourist sites. These include Echuya Forest Reserve where you won’t only enjoy sight of birds, primates but also explore more about the Batwa pygmies and their traditions.
Amazing species to look out for at Echuya Forest include bird species such as Doherty’s bush shrikes, collared apalis, Kivu ground thrush, strange weavers, mountain masked apalis, archer’s robin chat, Red faced woodland warblers, grauer’s warblers, regal sunbird, slaty flycatchers, Rwenzori batis, and more.
Echuya protects 127 species of trees, 43 species of moths, 53 butterflies, hagenia, moist montane forest, herbaceous plants and more. The different animals that survive in Echuya include African golden cat, giant African pouched rat, side stripped jackals, blue monkey, meadow rate, serval rate, servaline genet, slender mongoose, and others.