Islands to visit in Uganda
An island is a relatively small area of land that is completely surrounded by water.The longest surviving islands usually last no more than 5 to 10 million years. In Uganda alone, there are over 84 Islands with Lake Victoria having about twenty islands spread all-over it. Islands are usually inhabited by different flora and fauna which are the main tourist attractions. They include, wild animals, forests, waterfalls, beaches and many others.Estimates suggest that 20 percent of all species of birds, reptiles and plants are found on islands. In addition to this, what makes islands special is that many of the animals and plants found there are endemic, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth. Because of the cool breeze from the lake, the islands are also a good place to rejuvenate people’s spirits and Here are some of the most interesting islands to visit while in Uganda;
Ngamba island is located in Lake Victoria, and its area is only 100 acres of which 98 acres are occupied by a rain forest. Ngamba was established to become home to homeless chimpanzees rescued by Uganda wildlife Authority. Unlike the other islands which are home to different living things, Ngamba is home to only chimpanzees. So, the visitors to the island pay an entrance fee to view one or both of the chimpanzee feedings which happen twice daily. The Island facilities offer day trips and overnight trips which provide exceptional opportunity to closely observe and interact with these fascinating great apes in their unique setting. There are about three sets of home facilities for the chimps with two gazetted for the younger, stubborn and abnormal chimpanzees the other home is for the integrated set. The home for the integrated set is diverse and more of a forest with the apes living on a much bigger space compared to the other two homes. Ngamba has some of the best and most fascinating tales about chimpanzees.
Musambwa islands are three rocky islands about five kilo meters offshore from Kasensero Landing site in Rakai District off the shores of Sango Bay region in Lake Victoria. There is basically tented accommodation at Musambwa Eco Tourism Site.The Island derived its name from the overwhelming number of snakes in the area which are believed to be spirits rather than normal snakes. Atop the snakes, the island is an important Bird Area (IBA) with an estimated bird population of 150,000, They are also known to have the largest breeding colony for the Grey-headed Gulls in Africa. Other birds on this island include White-winged Black Tern ,Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Plover, Black Crake, Cattle Egret, Yellow-billed Duck, Grey Heron, Lesser Flamingo, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Moorhen, African Fish Eagle, Pink-backed Pelican ,Open-Billed Stork, Water Thick-knee, Common Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Green-backed Heron, Hamerkop, African Marsh Harrier, Black-headed Heron, Pied Kingfisher, Squacco Heron and many others.
Buggala island is the largest Island in the Victorian waters and the best developed for tourism and regularly receives visitors. It’s also heavily forested but with time, the local trees have slowly become replaced with palm trees. Therefore palm tree viewing is one of the sights that will capture your attention. Also, there are animals and birds on the island the most common being the vervet monkey. Bushbuck and black and white colobus. Like at Musambwa, Buggala’s trees also have a cultural affiliation with the natives because they believe spirits live in the trees and be sure to capture some interesting stories from the local people.
Kalangala is the administrative centre for the islands and the biggest considering its a district of its own.Kalangala is on the northern beach of Bugala Island but Compared to other Islands, it’s the most developed with settlement estimated at about 5,200 people by 2011. Also something to interest you is that once on the island, chances are you will think your back to mainland because of the way of life, that is; there are permanent housing facilities including houses, shops and stalls, auto mobiles and many other economic activities going on. Its treasures include; One of the biggest solar plants in Uganda, palm plantations, white sand beaches, forests, world class accommodation and a great hospitality from the locals
Bukasa Island is the second largest on Lake Victoria with an elevation of 1,134 meters and it is very attractive. From Bugala Island it is a 3-hour boat ride to Bukasa Island. It’s treasures include birds, monkeys, forests with forest games and activities plus a plunge pool and waterfall. The island has some cozy housing facilities that will cost you about $20 or more for a night.
Things to know about islands
Islands offer some of the best mind relaxation services which has been one of the reasons people tour them and consider them for holiday destinations. Some of the activities include camping, sunbathing, forest walks, zip-lining. Though these islands are accessible, they may become inaccessible because only water transport means can get you there or out of there so before you set off to that Island of your choice, here are a few things you need to put into consideration
- You have to know which means you’re going to use, Whether it will be boat, ship or ferry. Different distances require different means of transport.
- Book your transport means. Chances are that without booking, you maybe left behind by those who planned for the journey.
- Pack some snacks. Most of the journeys to the take long, they may last from 30minutes to 3hours so to keep the hunger at bay, pack a few snacks to nibble at since all you will see will be basically water.
- Plan for your arrival, some islands like kalangala have housing facilities while islands like Ngamba don’t. So before planning for your trip, no whether you have where to sleep or lest you get stranded in the middle of nowhere.
- Have a camera, it may not necessary be a DSLR. But rather a gadget to preserve your memories. Remember there is a lot to see at the island!!!
- Make sure to pack all the basic necessities. Unlike Kalangala which has shops and other services to offer, the other islands maybe very indigenous.
- Don’t forget to invite a friend. An island is no place for the lonely or else you will get lost since the island is already alone. However with friends with you, there is more to enjoy and merry-make.
- You’ve got to be brave. Mosquitoes and other insects will bite you, you might get noxious from bouncing on water, a snake may appear out of no where, a chimpanzee may still your lunch but just so you know, the more wild, the more fun!