THE SPLENDID SSESE ISLANDS – UGANDA SAFARIS
The magnificent Ssese islands arose about 12,000 years ago after the replenishing of Lake Victoria at the closure of the last ice age. It is positioned in the northwest of Lake Victoria, is one those destinations that should never be missed while on Uganda safari. It provides a perfect escape from the daily routine and is an off the beaten track exploration hideout in Uganda. Ssese islands is by no means an upcoming destination, its greatness date back in 1990s where backpackers had turned it into their leisure dwelling with the help on easy ferry connection from Port bell. This was reversed in 1997 after the suspension of this ferry service prompting the rise of Lake Bunyonyi another famous Uganda safari destination. However, a remarkable renaissance of the popularity of Ssese islands can be evidenced and attributed to the introduction of modern European built passenger/vehicle ferry connecting Entebbe and Bugala Island in three easy hours.
This famous safari destination – Ssese archipelago comprises of 84 detached islands, some big and heavily occupied, others small and forsaken but all verdantly forested something attributed to 2000mm of annual rain fall. Two out of 84 islands are popular tourism hot spots and worth landing on while on safaris in Uganda. Bugala Island is the most established alongside the popular budget Banda Island. Others currently visited with ease include; Bubeke, Bukasa and Bufumbira.
Bugala Island stretches to over 200Sq.km and 43km from east to west, making it the biggest island situated with in the Ugandan waters of Lake Victoria with established tourism development. It has accommodation that suites all tastes and budgets. The main administrative centre for the islands is Kalangala – located on the eastern end of Bugala whereas the island’s main cluster of beach resorts can be traced in the nearby Lutoboka bay.
While on Uganda Safari tour to these islands boredom would never find its way in your minds due to presence of a range of beach activities including; Sandcastle building, Swimming, Frisbee, canoeing, volleyball, unstructured walking possibilities or taking a cycling excursion to Mutumbula swimming beach which is free of Bilharzia. This cycling direction also opens gates for Uganda safari undertakers to encounter Hippos, sitatunga antelope with larger horns than their mainland counterparts, vervet monkey-largest mammal on the island often seen in environs of Lutoboka and Kalangala. Though rare, bush buck and black and white colobus monkey are also present. Considering 12000 years of island existence, one endemic creek rat and three endemic butterfly species have evolved. Water and forest birds are also present on these islands including; barbets, robin chats, hornbills, flycatchers, turacos, and weavers which can be spotted from Kalangala roads. Other common birds are; the brown-throated wattle eye, Palmnut vultures, paradise fly catcher, African fish eagles and the pygmy kingfisher. The breeding camps of little egret and great cormorants are found on Lutoboka and other bays.
by Simon peter