Edirisa Canoe Trekking
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1-night Tom's Homestay

  • community overnight visit hosted by a local family
  • camping on a remote island
  • dugout canoe ride to and fro
  • traditional instruments & dancing
  • campfire stories
  • enhanced local dinner and breakfast

    4pm daily departures; USD 55 per person

Please click to download our 34-page info folder (left; 6.8 MB) or just the 2 pages about Tom’s Homestay (right; 1.1 MB).

Tom's Homestay is a community overnight visit hosted by the family of Tom Karemire on Lake Bunyonyi's Habukomi Island and organised by Edirisa Canoe Trekking. It has to be booked in advance, as it includes much more than sleeping on a remote island - it is a full-blown cultural tour into the traditional life of the Bakiga.

Edirisa Canoe Trekking has been bringing trekkers to Tom's since 2005 and during these years he has developed a brilliant campsite. It is the lake base camp for many of our trips.

In 2013 we finally made Habukomi accessible to those guests who might not opt for hiking but still crave for a unique island experience. On the other hand, you can nicely combine it with a 5-hour Lake Bunyonyi trek, a 1-day Kabale-Bunyonyi trek or a 1-day canoe trek.

The full-board homestay experience entails: professional guidance, a dugout ride to the island and back, a tour of the island by Tom, camping near his house in spacious tents with all the gear provided, a great local dinner enriched by crayfish, a performance of an enanga (traditional string instrument) player and the island dance troupe, stories near the campfire, breakfast with local honey, bananas and chapatis.

In case camping isn't your cup of tea, we can easily organise a night boat ride back to your lodge - but then you will miss the beautiful, relaxed Habukomi morning.


When Tom started working at The Heart of Edirisa at Lake Bunyonyi in 2004, the place suddenly became totally peaceful and secure. Before Tom we tried a couple of other nightwatchmen and had many problems. But with him, a completely new era started - an era that we are still enjoying!

Tom was born in 1945. He didn't have enough money to continue past his primary schooling so he became a guard at Uganda Prisons. He retired at the end of the 1980s, after 16 years of service. Still, he couldn't really take a break. Having many children proved taxing, especially when it came to school fees, so he worked as a watchman at different campsites around Lake Bunyonyi before we found him.

He met his wife Provia at a church at Rubona, on a peninsula close to Tom's island. She was pretty, hardworking and two years younger than him.

He duly paid the bride price and in 1969 she moved in with him. He didn't go for any extra wives; he felt even one was a handful. Tom and Provia had 8 children but one of them unfortunately drowned in the lake, a fate so common in an area where few people know how to swim.

Tom is iconic. He is smart, witty and, as we say in Uganda, very stubborn. He can be a reluctant talker, but once you begin talking with him, he will open up and there is so much to learn. Visit him at his homestay and make a deep connection - our guide will help you engage Tom, just come prepared with all your questions...


Habukomi is a village island on Lake Bunyonyi that is rapidly becoming two islands - the raising level of the lake is making its thin bottleneck centre increasingly marshy.

Human settlement on the island was started by Kagyesera, the grandfather of Tom Karemire's grandfather. From the island, Kagyesera's people of the Bakongwe clan would spread to the mainland. However, Habukomi remains the centre of their kin, the place where traditional worship needs to be done; the main area for worshiping is the tree on the southern top of the island. There are 18 houses on the island these days.

For reasons unknown, Habukomi is the island of pelicans. That doesn't mean that the pelicans are extremely many, all pelicans of Lake Bunyonyi simply seem to reside on the island.

The name "Habukomi" comes from "to hold" or "to tie", as the island used to be a hiding place in the times of clan warfare.

Price: USD 55 per person

The price includes everything during the homestay (guiding, activities, tented accommodation, meals, water), canoe transport to and fro and a tour of the Bakiga cultural museum in Kabale Town.

For Tom's Homestay booking and more information please call +256 75 2558 222 or send an email to home@edirisa.org.

photos: Andrea Stultiens, Ash Dumford, Hannah Wright, Marcus Westberg, Miha Logar and Petr Preclik

Overview | 5-hour Lake Bunyonyi | 1-night Tom's Homestay |
1-day Kabale-Bunyonyi | 1-day canoe trek | 2-day Bunyonyi-Mutanda | 2-day canoe trek | 3-day canoe trek | 3-day Kabale-Kisoro | 5-day Kabale-Buhoma

To learn more about the trekking area, please download the free Gorilla Highlands Pocket Guide and get yourself a copy of the award-winning Gorilla Highlands Interactive eBook.


General Overview
Canoeing & Trekking on Lake Bunyonyi
Treks to Gorilla National Parks
Tailor-Made Treks
Budget Accommodation on Lake Bunyonyi
Tom`s Homestay on Lake Bunyonyi
Batwa Today (Echuya Forest Reserve)
Cultural Museum of the Bakiga (Kabale)
Special Offers for Families
Special Offers for Schools
Trip Advice
Accommodation Upgrades
Press & Testimonials

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