Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda

Nkugute Crater Lake Uganda : located in Bunyaruguru County in Rubirizi District whose name apparently means swallow and this has been a source of odd stories. It is a place of mystery, with a history that goes back to tales shared around campfires by the locals in the villages that surround it. The boundaries of Lake Nkugute seen from a hill that borders the lake look similar to the map of Africa. In the past, the lake used to be surrounded by a very thick forest, but it was destroyed during the construction of the Mbarara-Kasese highway and presently, the lake is surrounded by banana plantations, tilled land as well as pine and mahogany trees. Behind the beauty are strange and supernatural stories and according to locals, it’s the deepest lake in Africa with some shadowy reaches that have eluded western scientists but there is no proof to this claim.

How it was formed

Nkugute is a crater lake which was formed as a result of volcanic activity in the Bunyaruguru volcanic field and the eruption in this field is more than 12,000 years and this is evidenced by the existence of hot springs within its vicinity such as Kitagata hot spring. The lake is said to have derived its name from its violent nature and insatiable appetite for humans. “Nkugute” is a Runyaruguru word that means “swallow” and tales in this area are that Lake Nkugute used to swallow two children, a boy and a girl, annually.

Mysterious tales about the lake

The lake’s name literally translates to “swallow” for it’s said that every year, one boy and one girl disappear beneath its waters, and if anyone notices and tries to help, they’re “swallowed” too. It’s also said that anyone walking past the lake alone after dark will be accosted by the Bachwezi people. The Bachwezi are a near-mythical culture, sometimes said to have been extra-terrestrial, who ruled the region for over 10,000 years and were worshiped as demi-gods. Every year, the lake would swallow a male and female child and no one would predict when this was going to happen. People who came to wash from the lake’s shore would at times forget to pay attention to their children who enjoyed swimming from the lake and before they knew it, one of the children would be seen helplessly screaming while being “swallowed” by the lake. Those who attempted to rescue the drowning child would sometimes also be “swallowed”. So the crater lake came to be known as Nkugute in reference to that behaviour.”

Previous residents
Before these changes occurred, the lake was home to the Bachwezi and a lot of mysterious things happened to justify this. For example, after 10pm, anyone who walked past the lake would be stopped by very tall, dark skinned and strange people who would beat him/her up or take and abandon that person in any of the forests in the area. “The locals who encountered these Bachwezi narrated that they would be found grazing long horned cattle. They would accuse the locals whom they punished for stealing their cattle. However, they would only attack those who would be walking alone because it was not possible to see them or be attacked when walking in a group. The lake had a caretaker called Omuzumira Komurusozi, who was responsible for performing rituals to appease the gods of the lake but whenever these rituals delayed, the lake would turn violent.

Reports of people drowning under unclear circumstances would be popular; it is then that people would seek the intervention of the caretaker to perform the rituals. The rituals involved slaughtering a goat and a sheep whose heads were dumped in the lake. However, following the prominence of religion in the area, people abandoned engaging in the rituals. Nkugute is now a major source of water for domestic use in Rubirizi. A dam was constructed at the boundary of the lake, which looks like the horn of Africa, to supply water around the district. A sign post can be seen at the shore of the lake cautioning members of the public against unauthorized access to the lake. Fishing on the lake is not popular which is attributed to lack of fish in the lake.

How it can benefit from tourists
The Lake is a popular destination for tourists though the locals have meagrely benefitted from the industry. Tourists who come around just take pictures of the place and leave. This is blamed on the absence of hotels or nice places of accommodation around the lake. Its also believed that if people could invest in hotels or a beach put up within the lake’s proximity, the locals could benefit from the tourism industry.

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