The plane soars over Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest lake, its shore stretching across Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Beneath you, crocodiles swarm over a pebbled island, hundreds of birds squabble and squawk, jostling for food and space on Bird Island. On the horizon, Rubondo comes into view, a vast uninhabited green jewel, home to an incredible ecosystem and astounding diverse wildlife.
Hippos play in the bay, submerging themselves in the cool lake, taking refuge from the sun. A fish eagle glides effortlessly over the sandy beach, swooping down over the water to catch its prey. You stare down into the dense leafy forest canopy, hoping to catch a glimpse of the island’s giraffe, stately elephants and elusive chimpanzees. Ahead, the swamp glistens like an emerald. Your plane circles, approaching the grassy runway for a smooth landing. Youâ€™ve arrived.
Welcome to Rubondo Island, Tanzania’s undiscovered treasure. Home to nature, beauty and wonder.
Rubondo Island lies north of Mwanza, close to the Tanzanian border. Charter flights leave Mwanza, Arusha, Nairobi and the Serengeti or alternatively, private boats run from Nkome and Muganza.
The island offers a host of attractions. Between November to March, the forest blooms with beautiful wildflowers. December to November see it play host to migratory birds. The climate is most pleasant from June to August. November sees the start of the short rainy season, s/files/includes/top.jsping in December in time for a Christmas break. From March to April, the long rains begin, renewing life on the island.
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Whatever time of year you visit Rubondo, itâ€™s best to pack some insect repellent to keep away the mosquitos and other insects that make their home on the island.
Nestled by the shore of Lake Victoria, complete with the lapping of waves against the sand, Rubondo Island Camp is a short drive from the islandâ€™s landing strip, the only camp on the island. Unwind and sink into the tranquillity that Rubondo provides.
The camp has ten luxury tented rooms with ensuite bathrooms, hot running water, electricity and a laundry service, despite the remote location. Each room has a private verandah where you can read or relax in peace and watch the bushbuck roam, delicate and graceful through the campgrounds. The camp also has a swimming pool, perfect for a swim during the midday heat.
The restaurant provides good simple food, including fresh fish. Supplies are shipped from Mwanza as food cannot be grown on the island due to its national park status. Eat breakfast in the restaurant and youâ€™re treated to the sight of vervet monkeys scrambling up trees in search of fruit for their own breakfast. Special dietary needs can be easily accommodated, although advance notice is appreciated. A selection of books are available for guests to borrow as well as copies of the studies on the islandâ€™s chimpanzees.
The bar is well stocked with a selection of wine, spirits, soft drinks and sodas. Sit out on the wooden deck by the shore and enjoy a sundowner, watch the sunset over the lake, turning the sky into burnished golds and orange, reflected in the waters of Lake Victoria. White egret sit and chatter on the rocks, Egyptian geese paddle serenely and tiny jewelled kingfishers, all glowing blue and orange, flit from rock to rock. Occasionally, hippos swim in the bay, coming up to the shore for a leafy midnight snack, leaving pad prints across the golden sandy beach.