A vacation to Uganda quickly awakes the usual activity suspects centered on Gorilla or Chimpanzee tracking, Wildlife safaris in the Savanna Parks, and visit of the cultural sites across Uganda or mingling with one of the friendliest people on the face of the Earth, among other popular nature related or urban activities.
One of the vacation desires is on relaxing and giving one’s self time to rejuvenate and reconnect the soul, mind and spirit, or rather to reconnect with one’s self. In this regard, after you have had your thrilling encounters and active engagements during your stay in Uganda, the me-moment or self-re-connection and relaxation moment is one to deeply consider. Uganda has several places which can provide you with perfect Natural therapy during your me-moments. That will leave you wholly relaxed, energized and much better to hit the road again for your usual life activities, but this time in a more productive way. Ssese Islands is one of those places you should consider for your relaxation.
About Ssese Islands
Ssese Islands refer to the Islands which make up the present day Kalangala District, found in the Central part of Uganda, in Eastern Africa. Kalangala is made up of 84 Islands, with the biggest Island Bugala Island covering 296 Km2 and hosting most of the human population. The population of the Island is relatively small as a significant fraction of the Island is covered by Palm Oil plantations and forests. Isolated from the mainland, this Ugandan Islands found within the great Lake Victoria, which is the World’s second largest fresh water lake, is uniquely beautiful and diverse. Within the Bugala Island is the most visited Island and it is a beautiful place enough to take care of most of the visitors interests but also used as a base to explore the other Islands.
The original inhabitants of these Islands, the Basese are almost culturally extinct, and the Island glows with a wide array of different cultures from across Uganda. The original Islanders, the Basese had a unique language related to the popular Luganda language which dominates among the current local inhabitants of Ssese.
Things to do in Ssese Island
Ssese is a place of diversity not only in terms of the inhabitants but in terms of the activities you can undertake too. Though a perfect place to just relax with no activity, several activities can also be undertaken here and below is a highlight of some of the things you may do while in Ssese Islands:
- Just relax and Refresh: One of the best things to do in this place that should top your intention is to just relax, and have a time of reflection away from the city traffic and noise. A “me-moment” is what we call it. To rejuvenate your inner self. So simply relaxing and having refreshing moments is a big recommendation to constitute significant fraction of your Ssese Island time.
- Nature & Forest Walk: Walking in the island is a refresher therapy that you many undertake. You can have a guided Nature walk in the natural forests in the Islands as well as walking the lakeside.
- Sunset Canoe: An evening Canoe or boat ride as the sun sets and the beautiful rays of the setting sun splashes over you is big experience you don’t want to miss as the sun sets over this massive lake.
- Guided Island drive: With your Island driver guide, you will be briefed of the touristic places, and noting your preferences, your driver will take you to the motorable places to view and see the popular places in the Islands. These include a tour of the Solar power plant that powers the Island; the palm oil plantations; the Palm Oil processing factory, which processes the Islands palm nuts into several products; driving to the spots with pristine views among others, depending on your preferences.
- Fishing: Whether fishing as a sport or for your barbecue, you will be in a perfect place to explore your fishing luck, which may give you the popular Nile Perch, Tilapia or other fish species. Sport fishing can be organized, with a fishing guide. Don’t miss to taste the popular Nile Perch.
- Boat Cruise plus Island hoping: An Island without a water vessel is an incomplete place. You can do canoeing or a boat ride in Lake Victoria as well as to go and tour and connect to the other Islands, to explore the different things they offer. You can hope from Island to Island and feel the Island life.
- Bird watching: The Islands are inhabited by several bird species and the Bird lovers will make quite a recording from their Island stay as well as during other activities like Nature walks.
- Swimming: The Ssese Islands are surrounded by Lake Victoria, and so many revelers deep into this fresh water lake for a swim in the lake. For those who are cautious of swimming in a fresh water lake but would love to swim, there are accommodation facilities with swimming pools, which will form a perfect part of your relaxation sessions in these Islands.
- Zoo visit: In Bugala Island there is a small zoo with a couple of wildlife including both Animals and birds, which you can visit to diversify and supplement your stay.
- Evening Bonfire: With the evening set, the stars in the skies, the waters spread adjacent, you can enjoy a perfect bonfire, in the company of others, better still with a BBQ of whatever you love. Your accommodation facility will do this on request or within their schedule.
- Quade–Biking: To the lovers of Quade-biking, you are well covered as this can be arranged since some accommodation facilities have Quade bikes.
- Camping: There is enough camping grounds in many accommodation facilities, so get your gear set and you are good to go or it will be rented and you can camp next to this massive waterbody.
- Golfing: Yes you read it right. You have a place to do some small scale golfing while in the Island.
How to Travel to and from Ssese Islands
Depending on your location, you may opt for different option access areas to connect to the Island:
1.Entebbe ↔ Lutoboka
If you are in Entebbe, Kampala, or you are connecting from the Northern, Eastern parts of Uganda, your departure point is preferably via Entebbe through Nakiwogo (Port Alice) – Bugala Island (One of the Ssese Islands). The MV Kalangala ferry, operated by Nation Oil Distributors Ltd, departs the Nakiwogo landing point at 14:00 (EAT) but the boarding time is 13:00 (EAT) and you are required to reach the Nakiwogo landing point by 11:00 (EAT). On arrival, you will be required to register your name and contact details and those of your Next of Kin, as well as your Nationality. You should therefore have your Passport with you. A security check is also conducted at all the boarding ports. The ferry trip will take about 3.5 Hours, arriving in Ssese at Lutoboka pier in the evening.
The same Ferry departs Ssese from Lutoboka Pier early in the morning at 8:00 (EAT) for Entebbe but the boarding time is 7:00 (EAT) and required arrival time is 5:30 (EAT). It’s important to arrive and aboard the ferry on time since the sitting capacity is quite limited, with the ferry sometimes getting over crowded, and therefore with sitting arrangement on first come-first served basis, arriving in time will help you secure a good sitting position and avoid standing on the deck, if the ferry is over-crowded. It’s also important to note that sometimes the Ferry Schedule changes, and therefore necessary to confirm.
MV Kalangala ferry is a paid-for ferry costing Ugx 10,000, which is about 3 USD, for the Second Class, while the first class costs UGX 14,000, which is roughly 4 USD. However there is no much significant difference in either the service or comfort between the 2 different classes. You can be able to buy a few snacks on board the ferry.
If you are bringing along your vehicle onboard the ferry, it has to be paid for and booked a day or days in advance since the carrying capacity of the ferry is limited so the vehicles to be carried have to be scheduled in advance. The price for the vehicle varies depending on the vehicle and you can pay for the vehicle either at the Nation Oil Distributors Offices in Ndeeba, one of the Kampala suburbs or even pay by Mobile Money, after booking. At Nakiwogo, you can also opt to leave your vehicle behind. In this case you have to register it with security personnel and some charges will apply too.
MV Kalangala makes single return trips per day but sometimes arrangements are made for extra trips like during the peak Christmas season of 2018.
2. Bukakata Off Masaka Road
For those who don’t like travelling on water for so long yet they would still like to have a bite of Ssese Islands, more so those who are approaching the Ssese from the Western direction of the country, there is an alternative that that takes a little shorter time but still by water. This alternative is through the Bukakata landing site which is off Masaka road. From Bukakata, a free ferry is available that travels to Bugala Island at Luku and back to Bukakata, in a journey that takes less than one hour for a one way trip. If you are coming from Kampala, you will however have to first drive from Kampala to Masaka then drive for about 36 Km to Bukakata landing site. Unlike the Nakiwogo ferry, the Bukakata ferry lands much further away from the area with most of the facilities like Hotels and therefore you have to drive from the ferry landing site at Bugala to the town of Kalangala. The Bukakata ferry too carries cars and therefore you can take along your car to ease your movements while in the Island.
Limitless Customised Tour to Ssese Island
Limitless Tours and Travels organizes private and group tours to Ssese Islands. You can have your Island tour customized to your preferences, interests and even your budget. It does not have to be expensive. At the Island, several options for accommodation can be obtained, so whatever your budget, you will get yourself something to help you relax. You can book a guided and customized Ssese Island tour package from Limitless Tours and Travels. If you want to know more about Uganda safari tour packages that can take you to Ssese, check this link, or contact Limitless Tours and Travels by email: [email protected].