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Lake Mutanda: Places to Visit | Mgahinga National Park
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Lake Mutanda

The lake is located in Kisoro District in the southwestern Uganda 20 kilometres north of Kisoro town where the district headquarters are located. This location is 454 kilometres by road, southwest of Kampala. It is found in the foothills of the Virunga Mountain Range, at an altitude of 1,800 metres. The three volcanoes within the range which are located in Uganda, namely: Mount Muhabura, Mount Sabinyo and Mount Gahinga, can be viewed from Lake Mutanda. There are several islands in the lake. The lake is drained by the Rutshuru River, which flows northward to Lake Edward. The environment on the islands within the lake and the surrounding countryside includes lakeside forests and wetland habitats that provide a haven for the endangered mountain gorilla.

Lake Mutanda is with no doubt a hidden jewel in the mountainous landscapes of Kisoro, Southwestern Uganda. Lake Mutanda is known for its clear crystal water and in the surrounding, there are ancient volcanoes towering making it one of the most spectacular lakes. It is a favorite spot for you to relax from after gorilla trekking in Mgahinga National Park or Bwindi National Park.

Location and elevation

Lake Mutanda is a tiny freshwater lake and lies in Southwestern Uganda, Kisoro District. It is at an altitude of 1800m, also an amazing area to embark on a hike with a guarantee of jaw-dropping views from the Virunga Volcanoes –Mt. Sabinyo, Muhabura and Gahinga. This freshwater lake features about 15 stunning islands including the Python Island, Mutanda Island, and its suitable location comes with breathtaking views. It is drained by the Rutshuru River that flows northwards to Lake Edward.

Lake Mutanda is accessible within half an hour from Kisoro town. The lake supports a number of species including birds like the grey-crowned cranes, sunbirds, kingfishers, pin-tailed whydahs, snakes, frogs, chameleons, African clawless otters and several fish species. In the nearby location, there is Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi National Park offering refuge to diversity of primate species and avifaunal species such as cormorant birds, pin-tailed whydahs, sunbirds, pied and malachite kingfishers.

Around Lake Mutanda

Surrounding Lake Mutanda are 3 spectacular extinct volcanoes each offering exceptional views at a distance and include Mount Gahinga, Mt. Muhabura and Sabyinyo Volcano.

In addition to the mountain gorilla and golden monkey in the nearby Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, the lakeside environment accommodates a variety of animal and plant species which unique to this area. Bird species include kingfisher birds, kites, ibis and Uganda’s national bird, the crested crane. Weaver bird nests are a common site among the reeds along the lake shore. In addition to the abundant and varied avian species, the lake shore also supports several species of snake, chameleon, monitor lizard and frog species. There is a varied and abundant supply of insect life as well. The unique mammals to Lake Mutanda include the African clawless otter. Hippopotamus was endemic to the area, but were last sighted at Lake Mutanda in 1994.

There is also Mutanda Island located at an altitude of 1.790 meters which is the biggest of all the islands found on Lake Mutanda. The Lake is one of the volcanic lakes in the area, designated as fresh water lakes due to springs and streams in the area.

Things to do on Lake Mutanda


Canoeing is one of the memorable water excursions awaiting you on a safari on Lake Mutanda. It is a more chilling experience and entirely, the water is calm. The lake boasts of its unbeatable beauty not only on its but from its scenic islands and surrounding volcanoes.

Tour the Islands

Lake Mutanda features 15 beautiful islands, most popular for their commanding beauty. They provide vantage point for spectacular views of the lake and surrounding. The most significant island not to miss exploring is the Mutanda Island, also inhabited by the Abagesera clan. The clan has a church built on top of the island and local worshipers from the mainland gather here for prayers. Access to Mutanda Island is possible on a canoe ride using a traditional dug-out canoe/boat.


While on Lake Mutanda tour, you can embark on a guided hike around the lake with an experienced guide. While on a hike/walk, expect to enjoy the stunning views of the lake and volcanoes in the surrounding.

Mountain biking

Lake Mutanda is strategically situated offering ample ground for biking experiences. The mountain landscape in the surrounding lake is breathtaking and guarantees the most spectacular views.

Visit Garama cave

A visit to Lake Mutanda comes with plenty of opportunities all available to make your holiday more memorable. There will be a local guide to take you through a rewarding walk as you explore Garama cave which once acted as refuge for the Batwa pygmies.

Volcano hiking in the nearby Mgahinga NP

Mt. Muhabura

Mt. Muhabura derives its name from Kinyarwanda word which means ‘the guide’ and is at an altitude of 4127m. This is the 3rd highest Virunga Volcano and offers steep hikes and you require a whole day to get through this volcano. While at the summits, you can enjoy views of the surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Lake Edward and Rwenzori Mountain ranges.

Gahinga Volcano

Gahinga Volcano is smaller in size, rising at an altitude of 3473m and derives its name from local word Gahinga which means a pile of stones. This particular volcano provides gentle hikes and you can secure your hiking permits at USD 75.

Mt. Sabinyo

Sabinyo Volcano –old man’s teeth rises at an elevation of 3669m and notably the oldest volcano. At Sabinyo, there are multiple hiking routes worth conquering each offering distinct hiking levels. The key areas of interest include the Sabyinyo Gorge trail and border trail.

Where to stay

Some of the suitable accommodation facilities to retire for the night at Lake Mutanda include Lake Mutanda Resort and Chameleon Hill Lodge. Other nearby lodges to the Lake Mutanda includes Mondi Lodge Kisoro, Lake Mulehe Gorilla Lodge, and Gahiza Island Retreat, etc.