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“Island Paradise!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Byoona Amagara

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Byoona Amagara
Certificate of Excellence
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
369 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Island Paradise!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 July 2014 via mobile

Byoona Amagara is an island oasis. After spending some time in Kampala, surrounded by a cloud of boda bodas, dust, and children shouting "Mzungu!" (who are adorable, of course, but sometimes that gets tiring), it was wonderful to arrive at Lake Bunyonyi and have a few days of peace and quiet.

The canteen is perched atop a nice hill with a beautiful view of the lake and some surrounding islands. I spent a lot of time relaxing, reading, and of course eating there. The food was quite tasty, and very reasonably priced (4000-13000 UGX for a meal).

There are lots of things to do, as well. You can hire a canoe and go for a paddle, hire a boat driver to take you on a tour of the lake (Punishment Island was interesting), go for a walk around the island, visit a Pygmy village, watch a movie in the cinema, go to one of the local craft markets, or have a swim. And it's a great starting point for gorilla trekking (Byoona Amagara runs their own at very reasonable rates).

And on top of all of this, what made my time at Byoona Amagara special was that the staff were very friendly and attentive. They worked very hard to make sure that everyone was enjoying themselves, even fulfilling a few special requests. I loved it there so much that I extended my stay there for an extra day!

I'd recommend booking one of the geodomes, as they're very cozy and have fabulous views. But for anyone on a tight budget, the dorms are a great deal.

Some reviewers had mentioned problems with theft, but every room I saw had cabinets that you can lock with a padlock, so I had no problems while I was there. Perhaps these are new, or perhaps the other reviewers just left their valuable lying about, but I don't see why anyone should have any problems now.

Anyway, I can't wait to go back again!

Stayed July 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Mike G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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191 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (58)
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English first
Amsterdam
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 July 2014 via mobile

Stayed here for two nights in the dorm with a friend. Dorm isn't really cheap, but not very expensive either, anyway the only thing you do in here is sleep.

The staf is very nice, not to submissive as we found in other places. The island is amazing to walk around and to chill out on any coach you will find in all there secret small paths leading there. The lake is beautiful to canoe and really cheap to arrange.
Have to add one more thing, the food was just so good! Take the advocado filles with crayfish or the salteed tilapia is extremely tastefull and its cheap!!

This place completely relient on solarpower, so for charging phone, hot water and watching movies will be charged (warm water charge only in dorm), but really isnt much (like ush 500,- for phone).

Definitely a pearl on the lake!

Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank RemcoEgmond
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kampala, Uganda
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 July 2014

Unfortunately our trip in Uganda was cut a little short due to flight delays, and we only had a very short time at Lake Bunyonyi. Because of Byoona Amagara, the trip to Kabale was worth every bit of the hassle to get there. The place has a really nice vibe, suitable for backpackers, NGO workers looking for a break, families, and everyone in between. We stayed in the deluxe Geodome (with private showers and composting toilets). It is incredibly refreshing to be exposed to the open, clean air on Lake Bunyonyi, especially if you've been in Kampala or driving on Ugandan roads. It does get chilly at night, but Amagara provides plenty of blankets (also a nice change from much of Uganda).

The menu offered a huge variety of relatively inexpensive meals, hot and strong coffee in the mornings, and device charging at a small fee at the reception. Beautiful spot to watch the sunset and just relax in their lounge.

For those pressed for time, the motorboat takes you to the island for 20,000/ for the whole boat and only takes about 15-20 minutes. Walking around the island is easy, and you'll probably encounter a few local guides willing to show you around and take a look at their crafts. Also a nice swimming area and they offer tons of tours and have many connections with other companies in the region.

I can't wait to go back and sped more time in the very beautiful and very serene atmosphere that Amagara created on this tiny island...

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Alex W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 July 2014 via mobile

We were amazed to stay in such a beautifully constructed, architecturally cool "geodome" on a private island for such a reasonable price. Byoona Amagara also has incredibly inexpensive dorm beds, but the geodomes -- all with private decks overlooking Lake Bunyonyi, some with private toilets/outdoor showers -- are truly where you want to be. The wood and thatched roof domes are fully open (there's no door to shut, and no lock and key!) but we felt secure locking our backpack in the provided cabinet at night, and leaving it and our valuables with the accommodating manager, Friday, at reception while we were away. We passed a night watchman every evening before bed, which added to our security.

Our stay at Amagara was part of a gorilla trek arranged through Amagara, as well as additional days spent at Queen Elizabeth National Park, with several game drives, a channel boat trip, and a trek to see chimps. Jason, Amagara's founder, set everything up for us through a series of emails (despite traveling outside of Uganda, he's incredibly responsive and detailed in his replies). Our driver and guide for the trip was Deo -- and we couldn't have asked for a better companion. He was patient, cheerful, and always smiling, constantly asked if we were happy, and went above and beyond each day: Deo sliced up much-needed pineapple snacks for our group after our gorilla trek, got the inside word from rangers to drive us straight to a lion sighting(!), then arranged extra time for us in Queen Elizabeth after yet another lion sighting in the late afternoon, took us for a great spot for local snacks during our safari, made unplanned stops at ATMs, MTN, and supermarkets as needed, even gave us an unscheduled early morning lift to the Jaguar bus station in Kabale at the end of our journey.

Amagara and their entire team and staff truly made this trip memorable for us -- thank you!

Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Kellylphillips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 June 2014

Dreamy views across the islands of the Lake, great staff, excellent food, accomodation is earthy but romantic, profits go to the community. Wish I could have stayed longer as do most others I spoke to there. What else is there that needs to be said !

Stayed June 2014, travelled solo
Helpful?
1 Thank JSP-Lon-UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
East Lansing, Michigan
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 June 2014

Byoona Amagara is a wonderfully nice and relaxing place to take a breather on beautiful Lake Bunyonyi. The accommodations are simple but nice, the staff is very friendly, the grounds are clean and refreshing, the food is good and the overall environment is inviting and peaceful. I would absolutely stay here again and again!

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Eric D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brussels, Belgium
Level Contributor
25 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 May 2014

Byoona Amagara is one of the most unique places I have ever stayed at. Breathtaking views, affordable cottages that fully blend in with the natural environment, and delicious food. Profits go to sustainable community development of the region.

To get to the island, you hire a local fisherman who will paddle you there in a canoe. If you are in more of a hurry, there is also a motorized boat that can take you there.

We stayed at the family cottage, which was spacious and cozy. The shower is outside with a spectacular view on the lake. It is equipped with a dry toilet, to have a minimum impact on the environment. The geodomes also looked amazing, one side of them is open so you feel like you're sleeping outdoors.

The menu is very elaborate, with a lot of great fish dishes and many options for vegetarians.

I will definitely return to this peaceful place!

Room Tip: The family cottage is great if you are in a group of 3 or more people. For couples, the geodomes are...
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  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Sara V
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
Region: Uganda > Western Region > Kabale
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre 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 Speciality 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 
Also Known As:
Byoona Amagara Uganda/Kabale

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