Ssese Islands Tour Uganda Safari – Uganda Holiday Vacations
Ssese Islands tour in Uganda has always been well known for fishing by the local people there until recently when people and different travelers started appreciating its geographical location and the serene beauty that it offers to them. The Islands are located in the middle of Africa’s largest freshwater lake, the Victoria Lake. The Islands got the name Ssese due to the numerous Tsetse flies that were found in the area. When one person made a comment about the many Tsetse flies on the Island, the local people and community started calling it Ssese. The Island has not been a safari destination for many people interested in touring due to the large infestation of tsetse flies that were in the area and to the fact that it was famously known for being among the poorest districts – Kalangala District in Uganda and it had a high HIV rate compared to other districts in the country.
The archipelago is divided into two parts that are the southwestern part which is known as the Bugala group and the Northeastern part which is known as the Koome group. These two groups are separated by the Koome channel. The Bugala group consists of the following islands the Bugaba island, Bufumira island, Serinya island, Buyova island, Bubeke island, Funnye Island and many more others. The most known islands that are located on the Koome group were Luwaji Island, Koome Island, and Damba Island.
But due to the changes in many things, the Ssese islands which are 84 in the number found in Kalangala district are now one of the best safari destinations in Uganda due to the beautiful and eyecatching nature that is found in the area. Kalangala district has two banks and these include Finance trust bank and Stanbic bank and you will not find any high rise buildings in the area. The island has roughly 65,000 people and these live on the different islands that are 25,000 people live on Bugala Island while the rest live on the other islands.
Economic activities carried out on Ssese Island – Ssese Islands Tour Uganda Safari
The main economic activity that is carried out in Ssese is fishing that is majorly done at Lake Victoria and the most common fish that is caught in Ssese is the Nile perch and the Tilapia. Of recent, there has been overfishing activity on different Islands around Lake Victoria due to the various illegal methods that are being used and these have greatly reduced the number of fish in the lake depriving most people of the livelihood of fishing and yet it is the main source of income.
Other economic activities carried out on the Ssese Islands include farming, boat riding in the form of tourism and charcoal production due to the vast number of trees that are found on the island.
Things to do in Ssese Island
There are several activities that one can do if you decide to undertake a tour to Ssese Island and some of these activities include the following:
A visit to the Island club
This is more of a campsite where various people gather around to take part in the evening activities after a very long day. Relaxing nature in the gardens is good for resting and you also get a chance to sight the setting sun in its glamour but note that the bar closes roughly by midnight as the bartenders have to rest before they open up the next day.
A visit to the Kihumuro cave – Ssese Islands Tour Uganda Safari
Kihumuro cave is found at Kalaya village and is situated on the Bugala Island. It is a thirty to forty meters long cave and when you take a visit to the cave, you will notice that there are a small exit and a wide entrance. The cave is still used by many people who go there to seek blessings from the god Jajja Muwanga. The cave has a good cultural and interesting spiritual history that is best explained by the safari guides that you find at the cave who will take you through the various historical stories as you have the adventure tour of the cave.
Some locals say that this island got its name from a man who was named Ssebugala who migrated to the island many centuries ago. He rested at the cave after a long journey he moved and that is how the cave got its name from Kihumuro which when translated to English means to rest. It is believed that the Ssebugala spirit and the spirits of some of his children visit the cave. That is why you will find many people smoking pipes in and outside the cave looking for blessings from the gods.
Kihumuro cave is known as a local traditional church to many people in the community When you get inside the cave, you will find that the floor is fully covered with grass and you are supposed to put off your shoes before entering inside since it is considered to be a holy place. There are different contents that you will sight in the cave and these include spears, bark clothes, calabashes, coffee seeds in a basket and many more other local items.
There is a man who is believed to wield all the powers of the gods and he always communicates to the people the messages that the gods want them to receive.
Spot fishing on the Lake Victoria – Ssese Islands Tour Uganda Safari
An adventure tour to the Ssese Islands will give you a great chance to enjoy spot-fishing. You will be able to harvest some of the common fish species like the Tilapia and Nile perch with the help of a tour guide. After fishing, you will go smoking it on a fire that is in most cases provided by the resort where you are staying. This is a great memorable experience that you do not want to miss when you visit the Ssese Islands.
Explore the billionaire’s view
The billionaire’s view is located south of Kalangala town and it is on top of a hill. The road leading to the billionaire’s view is a bit dusty and is mostly accessed by bodaboda that are found in the area. When standing on top of the hill, you will get a clear view to see the whole island with a new perspective as you get to see the lake view, beaches, the valleys, and different housings on the island perfectly. Very many people do not know as to why it is called Billionaire’s view but if you want to see the best of the island then this is the best place for you to be.
Explore the tropical forest – Ssese Islands Tour Uganda Safari
The island has a tropical forest that is home to some wild animals that are found in the area and some of these animals include the sitatunga antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles lounging in the Lake Victoria and various bird species. The forest is also filled with various flora and fauna that can only be found on the Island and you can get to enjoy birding, game drives through the forest and nature walks. But remember to walk with sunscreen and put on long-sleeved clothes to avoid insect bites.
There are a number of accommodation places that you can go to for resting once you visit the Ssese Islands. Most of these accommodations are located on Bugala island which is not that far away from Ssese. Accommodation at the Ssese islands can be got according to your budget and some of the best lodges here include the following:
The Philo leisure gardens
The Philo leisure gardens are located at the boundary of the Lutoboka forest which is located in Kalangala and it is known to be one of the best places for all birders. You get to enjoy the wonderful peace and calmness of the gardens and the monkeys that can be seen swinging from one tree to the next and some of the exquisite bird species found in the forest. The location of the Philo gardens gives you an opportunity to rest as you listen to the sounds of nature especially if you have had a long day.
Kalangala pearl beach resort – Ssese Islands Tour Uganda Safari
Kalangala pearl beach resort is located on the shores of Lake Victoria. It has a white sandy beach which makes it a perfect place to spend your safari. It has self-contained rooms although there are some rooms where the facilities are shared and a hefty breakfast is served before you can enjoy the rest of the day lounging on the beach or touring the Island. The meals served are both local and international and there are also a variety of drinks that are served at the resort. The guests also get to enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and other fun activities carried out on the Island.
There are different ferries that travel to Ssese and these come from the different points of the country. Some of the scheduled time for the ferries have been listed below so that you get to know where to board from and at what time.
The different prices of the MV Kalangala which travels to and from Kalangala especially for a one-way journey are as follows. Those traveling in the economy class pay 10,000 and first-class pay 14,000 Ugandan shillings only.
- A ferry leaves Masaka from Bukakata and this one is always free of charge although it is a tiring and long journey which is why most tourists do not use it.
- A ferry leaves Nakiwogo in Entebbe at 2:00 pm every day and reaches Ssese Island at 5:30 pm.
- The MV Kalangala which is the main ferry on that route leaves Ssese Island every morning at 8:00 am and therefore people leaving the Island should keep time.
Ssese Islands are a place that you do not want to miss especially if you have booked for a safari to Uganda. It is one of the country’s hidden treasures that have not yet been tampered with and you get to enjoy nature at its best as you unwind after a long day. And since they are far away from the city, you get to enjoy the peace and quiet at one of the most beautiful islands in the whole world.