Travel to Ssese Islands – Lake Victoria Islands
The jewel in Lake Victoria’s crown is the Ssese Archipelago, whose 84 islands – some large and dotted with local fishing villages, others small and uninhabited –are all well-watered and lushly forested. Mainlanders traditionally revere Ssese as the Islands of the Gods, and one specific island called Bubembe is regarded to be home to Mukasa, the spirit presiding over Lake Victoria.
Due to the lack of habitation on the islands (other than a few fishermen and farmers), the forests and swamps are ideal habitats for birds. The wildlife on the islands includes hippo and crocodile, waterbuck and Sitatunga antelope. Monkeys can also be seen if you are lucky. The islands are hilly with a mix of cultivated land (banana, coffee, sweet potato) and natural forest.
The Ssese Islands make for an ideal retreat after a long safari, and offer superb opportunities for birdwatching and fishing for Nile Perch. The main activity is to unwind and relax on the beach, where swimming is possible (though there is a risk of bilharzia in the lake). Tourist facilities are only available on Bugala (which is the largest of the islands), Bukasa and Banda Islands.
The islands are great for exploring on foot. Bikes can be hired from accommodation establishments on Bugala island whilst sport fishing and boat excursions can be arranged locally.
For a great place to relax and unwind at the end of a Ugandan safari head for the beautiful Ssese Islands, a bird-watcher’s and botanist’s paradise. With a growing range of accommodation and facilities, and laid-back island atmosphere they are becoming increasingly popular so don’t wait too long to get there!
The islands can be reached by ferry from Entebbe (once a day departing Entebbe at 1400 or departing Ssese Islands at 0800; US$10 1st class, US$7 2nd class pp) or by a 45 minute ferry trip from Bukakata, 37 km from Masaka in southern Uganda (generally three times a day but variable; US$3 pp).
- Explore the islands on foot, visit fishing villages and soak up the atmosphere
- Grab your binoculars and find a quiet spot for bird-spotting
- Hire a boat and island-hop to remote uninhabited islands – don’t forget a local guide!