Lake Nyabihoko

Legend has it that centuries ago a wealthy Bahima cattle farmer called Mutuumo who had hundreds of cows and many servants had a calf born to his herd, of multiple colours and he was then warned by the gods never to eat the cow as it was sacred, even if it died through natural causes. Mutuumo also had a secret son to one of his female servants, of which more later! Mutuumo took the advice seriously, however when he was later travelling extensively in Rwanda to trade his products, the cow did die and his servants, who were hungry, ignored the pleas of Mutummo's wife not to eat the cow and feasted on the animal. Mutuumos' secret son, who lived amongst the servant also unwittingly ate the meat, breaking the family oath Mutuumo had made to the gods.

As a punishment, the gods made it rain for twenty-eight days causing floods that turned the family farm and surrounding area into the modern day Lake Nyabihoko that covers 2.31 sq miles. Whilst Mutuumo survived, his wife daughter and servants did not nor did any of his wealth nor herd. His illegitimate son, however, was spared. On discovering what had happened, Mutuumo, a broken and impoverished man, approached his old and rich friend Mwamba and took a the job of keeping Mwamba's calves to support himself. In time Mutuumo told his friend the entire story and the two men formed a pact to drown themselves in the newly formed lake to spare their lives' further misery however, before they died, they wanted to ensure their legacy and provide for their children, so told those children to prepare for a feast at the lakeside. There they told them that when they died the children, including Mutuumo's son who had survived the flood, were to inherit Mwamba's land and chattels equally. Once the message had been delivered the children were sent back to collect further supplies for their feast and the two father's took the opportunity once the children had disappeared from view to jump together into the lake where they drowned.

Today the lake is home to Mutuumo Island Resort in recognition of the legend and on the island there is indeed evidence of an old traditional Ankole homestead; although little other supporting evidence of the Lake's supposed creation. Lake Nyabihoko itself is situated on the Ntungamo-Rukungiri Road and whilst not readily accessible is nevertheless worth a visit if staying in nearby Ruhanga. In addition to the island resort it is home to Pelican Beach which has rooms and apartments for tourists to rent from which you can take a drink on a terrace and watch the local fishermen on the lake go about their business.

You can also hire a boat or dug out canoe for as little as £1 or pay a bit extra for a guide who will take you on an excursion of the lake. From there you can see a variety of wildlife and birds including the Grey Crowned Crane, Fish Eagle and, of course, pelicans from which the beach gets its name. The locals will tell you tales of hippos and crocodiles in and around the lake as well. Don't always believe them though!



Lake Nyabihoko

Lake Nyabihoko

Lake Nyabihoko

Lake Nyabihoko


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