SSESE ISLANDS- the Zanzibar version of Uganda and what to do here

SSESE ISLANDS- the Zanzibar version of Uganda and what to do here.

The Ssese Islands are a chain of 84 islands that are on the Northwestern part of the world’s second-biggest freshwater lake shared by the three East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania-Lake Victoria. The islands are on the Ugandan side and are off the mainland and are coterminous with Kalangala district.

The islands are 52km from the mainland (Entebbe) about an hour boat ride from Munyonyo and they can also be accessed by a ferry from the Masaka side. Ssese islands are divided into two groups: Bugala Group and the Koome group and these are separated by the Koome channel. Ssese islands are some of the most pleasant places with sandy beaches, birds, welcoming inhabitants, and is Uganda’s best kept tropical islands.

Being away from the mainland and surrounded by water, Ugandans usually tie the Ssese islands as a version of Zanzibar in Uganda. In recent years, the islands have gained popularity mostly to the local tourists as a relaxing and chill-out place from the city chaos.

About 43% of the island is inhabited by Bantu-speaking tribes and fishing is the major activity on the islands. Nile Perch is the major fish species caught here and much is exported. Livestock keeping is also practiced on the island and the island also has a variety of wildlife (flora and fauna) that can be experienced on a walk.

The islands are less visited by international tourists but they are the best place to relax after gorilla or chimpanzee tracking or after a long safari. To do at the islands include:

Relax and chill

Experience the tropical sun and sandy beaches in one of Uganda’s best setting for relaxing and chilling in Uganda. Sit by the lake as you sip a smoothie or juice from the fresh and organic fruits locally grown, feel the breeze and watch the sun go down (take some of the signature sunset pictures). Swimming is usually not recommended because of fear of Bilharzia and most swimming can be done in the swimming pools at the lodges/hotels.

Sport fishing

Fishing is the common activity on these islands. You can visit the islands on a fishing tour and try some of the most common local fishing methods or bring your equipment and engage in sport fishing. The Nile perch is Africa’s largest freshwater fish that lures most of the tourists interested in fishing tours.  

Nature walks

Despite being an island, you still can get plenty of opportunities for nature walks and hikes. The islands are less populated and much of the areas are still lush, covered with palm trees and forests. Walks through the forest offer an environment off the beaten tourist path, sightings of primates like the Vervet and black and white Colobus monkeys.

Walks also can go to the communities, fishing villages and this is one of the best ways to interact with the local Islanders, cultural exchange, and learn about their lifestyle.

Canoeing and motorized boat cruises.

Boating is a way of life here and means of transport and people here use sailboats, motorized boats, and canoes. Visitors to the island can take on boat and canoe rides on Lake Victoria in the afternoon when the temperatures rise and in the evening to watch the sun go down or take some of the signature sunset photos.   Bonfires 

Enjoy a BBQ under the star and moonlit African sky as it displays from a distance above the lake. Sit near the beach around a blazing fire and enjoy stories from fellows that are visiting the island.

Mountain and Quad Biking

Explore the island on a mountain bike or ATV Quad bike. Visit the fishing villages, forest, and the shores of the lake by riding there. Riders can carry packed lunch and ride to famous view spots and have lunch with a view.

So, if you are ending your tour around Uganda, you can have an add-on to the famous Ssese Islands. Or you can sail to Ngamba Chimpanzee Island for a half-day or full-day visit.   

Rwanda Gorilla trekking