Uganda’s secret tropical islands of Ssese
In the north western corner of Africa’s largest fresh water body, Lake Victoria lays an archipelago of 84 islands with Bugala being the largest of them all. The lush green archipelago is known as Ssese islands and has for long been inaccessible especially for tourists due to the luck of transport. However in 2006 a ferry was reintroduced in Entebbe Nakiwogo to the islands. Now the world can experience the numerous soft white sand beaches, with clean blue water and the breeze of the lush tropical forests
Ssese Islands may be the most improbable of tropical island idylls but it’s a tropical paradise found in Uganda. With spacious sands beaches where you can experience minimal disturbance as you unwind after a long Uganda safari a gorilla trek, or a chimpanzee trek or a mountain trek fatigue. It is off the common tourist trails, with the lake gentle breeze swaying the palm trees and numerous tropical; plants, flowers and trees to its beat.
A ferry departs from nakiwogo everyday at 2pm for the islands and leaves the islands for Nakiwogo at 8pm. The island used to be frequented a lot by backpackers but the failure of the ferry cut them off. For some time the only the intrepid souls could dare, as one had to hitch a ride from the local fishermen’s small boats which are not reliable and kill very many every year upon being hit by strong winds until government intervention.
Nakiwogo Just a few minutes from the airport. The remote business centre and market is where you catch the ferry along with a number of other people who may not necessarily be tourists. As the ferry touches bugala islands and the surrounding fishing village of Lutoboka after a three hours ferry ride, you will be welcomed by the dense green forest that roll down the hills to the sand beaches, threatening to push the sliver of golden sand into the lake.
There are a number of places to stay while in the Ssese islands like Ssese islands beach hotel, mirembe resort, brovad sand beach among others. Relax at the terrace of your hotel stay smoke in the fresh Victoria breeze. The Lake Victoria, shoreline of more than 3,000km, is Africa’s biggest fresh water lake. Entebbe lies far away over the horizon, blue water laps gently onto powder-soft sand and sun loungers are laid out.
The pied kingfishers that hover a few meters above the lake before plunging into the water and coming out with a tiny wriggling silver prize. Long-legged egrets pick their way along the shoreline like haughty supermodels, while men in rough-planked canoes paddled out to fish for tilapia, the islanders’ staple diet. Watch the sun fall into the sea, as you enjoy fried tilapia along with Uganda’s finest brands of beer, or any other drink of your choice. Most accommodation facilities have provision for an evening bond fire.
Awake to the heavenly songs of prolific bird life and if you awake early enough you may have a chance at the beautiful sunrise. Lounge at the beach with your favorite book unlike many sea n sand beaches Ssese islands has a number f tricks up their sleeves or you could take a walk in the unspoilt forests of the islands you could explore Bugala’s main settlement which is only a mille up hill, or a forest walk in the lush unspoilt forests of the island.
Weave your way between the mud huts, smile and wave at children and women screaming mzungu (Whiteman) and smelling the fields where silver is drying. Continue and climb up hill into the tropical forest. If you’re lucky you may encounter the black-faced vervet monkeys. And for the bird watchers the variety is unmentionable hornbills, among others. At the top of bugala you will be rewarded with mesmerizing views the lake and its many islands.