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Ssese Islands Lake Vitoria, Uganda



These Islands once a well off the beaten track location and frequented by only the hardiest of backpackers The introduction of the new government vehicle ferry from Bukakata to Luku now operates a regular schedule at 09.00, 12.00 and 16.00 hrs Mon to Sat and 09.00 and 16.00 Sundays. MTN Uganda has added Bugala Island to their cellular network.

Beach Hornbill Camp
Beach at Hornbill Camp

Getting there and back:

Option 1:
On the 18th February 2006 the Uganda Government commenced operations of the MV Kalangala a large vessel constructed at Port Bell. The ship has a carrying capacity of 108 passengers, 8 cars / 4x4's and 100 ton cargo. The ferry operates between the Entebbe / Nakiwogo landing site and the Kalangala / Lutoboka landing site.

The vessel departs Kalangala daily at 08.00 arriving at the Entebbe / Nakiwogo landing site at around 11.30. The ship starts it's return journey at 14.00 arriving at the Kalangala / Lutoboka pier at 17.30.

Nakiwogo is just 2 km out of town Entebbe town, not far from the Entebbe International Airport. If travelling by minibus taxi from Kampala request the driver drop you at the ferry landing site.

Transportation costs for a single journey per passenger:
Ushs10.000- per person second class or Ushs14.000- p/p first class

Vehicle transport is determined by the vehicle length. Rates are between Ushs50.000- and Ushs60.000- one way.

Drinks and snacks are sold on board the vessel and obviously from hawkers at each of the landing sites.

MV Kalangala - Ssese Islands Ferry
MV Kalangala at Lutoboka Pier, Kalangala

Option 2:
For the more adventurous it is possible to make the same journey as above by Ssese canoes that leaves from the Kasenyi fish terminal landing site. Kasenyi is located half way between Entebbe and Kampala. A rough track for about 5 kms leads to the landing site from the main paved Kampala road. There are matatus that ply this route. There is no safe parking to leave a vehicle here overnight so it recommended you leave any vehicles at one of the backpacker's campsites. A boat will usually leave around 1700 hrs for Kalangala/Mwena with local people and cargo. Coming from Kalangala the boat departs Mwena 1 km from Kalangala at around 0700 hrs. The one-way fare is Ushs5,000-. The boat usually stops at many Island landing sites (sometimes including Banda Island) in either direction picking up fish and people. Crossing time is between 3 and 5 hours.

You can take boats from Kasenyi to many of the Ssese Islands, but tourist facilities are available only on Bugala, Bukasa and Banda Islands.

Lutoboka Bay -Kalangala
Crossing Lake Victoria by Ssese canoe

Option 3:
For those with or without a vehicle the roll on roll off pontoon ferry that runs between Bukakata and Luku/Bugoma is probably the most reliable route. The pontoon is large enough to take the bus, which runs to Kalangala from Kampala. Foot passengers are free although those with vehicles may have to contribute a few liters of diesel to make the crossing. The ferry runs 4 times a day 08.00, 11.30, 13.30 and 16.00 from Bukakata returning from Luku/Bugoma an hour later except on Sundays when there is only one crossing at 13.00. Vehicle loading is often chaotic and sometimes manic. With too many vehicles competing for the spaces available on the ferry forget about the first come first to be served concept. A policy of each and everyone for him/herself purveys.

There is a regular Ssese canoe service taking local people when the pontoon has no vehicular traffic. Expect to pay Ushs2,000- to cross.

Access to Bukakata is via Masaka. The 40 km route from Masaka can be very muddy and slippery after rain. There are several pick up trucks making this journey daily in each direction. If coming by bus or Matatu to Masaka ask the conductor to get out at Nyondo stage about 2 kms from Masaka town. Those with their own vehicles should bear left at the Total garage approaching Masaka from Kampala and turn left again at the Nyendo Trading Centre and once again left at the Petro Uganda filling station. This road leads to Bukakata and the ferry. From the ferry disembarkation at Luku it is a further 32 kms to Kalangala village.

There is no accommodation in Bukakata however there is a basic campsite in Luku for those totally self-contained. The Scorpion Guest House is set 1 km up the road from the Pier. Simple rooms Ush 4000- per person, and meals available Ushs2,000-. 'Free Camping' could be possible 100m from the pier where a grass clearing adjacent the public latrines provides an open area for those that find themselves stranded coming off the late arrival of the last ferry of the day.

Pick up trucks run between Luku and Kalangala when full. Journey time is about 1 hour with all the stops.

Lutoboka Bay -Kalangala
Bukakata - Luku ferry arriving at Bukakata

Read document on Masaka for accommodation prior to getting to Bukakata.

Andronicos Lodge: Tel. 0772 375529- Basic rooms Ushs5,000- to Ushs8,000-

Most visitors to Bugala Island stay in one of several tourist facilities set in the bay on the lake below Kalangala itself.

Hornbill Camp: Tel. 0775 880200, 0753 803121. Set on the beach in a clump of remnant forest. Popular venue for budget travellers. Bar, meals available.

Camping Ushs6,000- per person
Banda Ushs30,000-
Dormitory banda bed Ushs8,000- per person (bring your own mosquito net)
Dormitory self-contained Ushs11,000- per person
Tents for hire Ushs9,500- per night

Islands Club: Tel. 0772 504027. Accommodation in bungalows and tents. Camping possible on the beach at US$10- per person!! Visitors to Islands Club are requested to pre-book in Kampala at Wema Tours.

Double US$110-, Single US$70- (Full Board) - Non Residents
Double Ushs80,000-, Single Ushs160,000- (Full Board) - Residents.

Kingfisher Camping site: Tel. 0754 157888, 0753 231531, 0782 455358. This is the first venue you encounter when arriving off the ferry. This simple site offers a grassed camping area with small dining room and volleyball court on the beach. Accommodation is currently provided is a few tents with all bedding provided. Meals are prepared on request.

Safari tent with bedding Ushs30,000- 1 or 2 persons
imple tent with bedding Ushs20,000-
Self camping 5000- per person

Mirembe Resort Beach: Tel. +256 0392 772703, 0782 528651, email: reservations@miremberesort.com. This is the newest tourist venue opened at the end of 2004. Mirembe offers clean and comfortable single and double rooms with large bathrooms. The venue is secluded in and arc of forest where camping is also possible.

Bar and restaurant situated under a large thatched open sided structure with views of the lake.

Single Occupancy Ushs80,000-
Double Occupancy Ushs120,000-
Triple Occupancy Ushs150,000-

Block house
Single Occupancy Ushs60,000-
ouble Occupancy Ushs100,000
Triple Occupancy Ushs130,000-

Camping our tent - Per bed Ushs25,000
Camping your own Ushs15,000-

Rates include breakfast.

Panorama Camp: Tel. 0773 015574. arnoldinislands@gmail.com 18 self-contained cottages with solar lighting and hot water. Bar and restaurant.

Executive Cottages: Ushs60,000- bed and beakfast

Ordinary Cottages:
Ushs50,000- bed and breakfast
Simple Cottages: Ushs40,000- bed and breakfast
Single rooms not self contained Ushs10,000- bed only

Lazy camping in our tents:
Singles Ushs10,000- per night; bed only
Double Ushs20,000- per night; bed only

Ssese Palm Beach Resort: Tel/Fax.0414 254435, Mobile. 0772 750331 or 0772 368742,
email: ssese_2001@yahoo.com. Nine cottages, bar and restaurant. Hot showers. Popular with backpackers. Reservations for cottages can be made through East West Travel in Kampala

Cottages from US$30- to US$40- per person per day bed and breakfast.
Full and half board rates available on request.
Camping with own tent - Ushs7,000- per person

Pearl Gardens Beach Kalangala: Tel. 0772 372164, 0774 977163, email: reservations@pearlgardensbeach.com . Located between Hornbill Campsite and the fishing village.

Rates 2012
Cottages - Single Ushs80,000-, Double Ushs130,000- (B&B)
Executive Suite Rooms - Single Ushs100,000-, Double Ushs200,000- (B&B)
Guesthuse room - Single Ushs50,000-, Double Ushs90,000- (B&B)
Family Units 4 people - Ushs160,000- per unit (B&B)
Family Units 6 people - Ushs300,000- per unit (B&B)
Tent - Single Ushs30,000-, Double Ushs60,000- (B&B)

Ssese Islands Beach Hotel: Tel. 0414 220065 or Cell 0772 408244, 0772 845905,
email: sibh@sseseislandsbeachhotel.com. Lake shore rooms. Bar with pool table, darts, table tennis and satellite TV. Solar lighting, clean running water and hot showers. Located a few miniutes walks from the beach.

Single, Double and Triple rooms -
Ushs80,000- to Ushs120,000- B&B.
Dormitory accommodation Ushs25,000- B&B
Camping with own tent - Ushs10,000- pppn, children 2 to 9 years Ushs5,000-. Camping prices do not include breakfast.

High season rates should be requested if proposing to visit during Easter, Christmas and New Year

All rates do not include Ushs1,000- local hotel tax.

Ssese Habitat Resort: Tel. 0312 278318, 077692269, email: ssehab@gmail.com. This upmarket venue opened early 2008 on Bugala island and consists of 3 lake facing properties each with 5 well furnished self contained rooms. Satellite TV is available. One of the 3 properties can be utilised as a family unit. There is a camp ground for campers that wish to use their own equipment or tents and bedding can be provided by the resort on request. A Kampala booking office can be visited at at 40 Bombo Rd in Carol House.

An open air bar & restaurant serves a variety of wines, beers and soft drinks and of all course meals.

Single Occupancy: Full Board Ushs80,000-, Bed & Breakfast Ushs55,000-, Bed Only Ushs45,000-
Double Occupancy: Full Board Ushs150,000-, Bed & Breakfast Ushs100,000-, Bed Only Ushs85,000-
Triple Occupancy: Full Board Ushs200,000-, Bed & Breakfast Ushs150,000-, Bed Only Ushs120,000-
Family Occupancy: Full Board Ushs800,000-, Bed & Breakfast Ushs505,000-, Bed Only Ushs425,000-
Camping our tent - Per bed Ushs25,000*
Camping your own Ushs15,000*
*Rates include breakfast.

All the above venues on Bugala island can be accessed by vehicle.

Lutoboka Bay -Kalangala
Lutoboka Bay -Kalangala

Do not expect Kalangala to be the buzz of activity. The arrival of the 'Mango Tree Barber' once a week is a big event! Basic provisions that include sodas, fruit and sweet bread buns are usually available. Most people take meals at whatever camp they happen to be staying.

There is a post office in Kalangala but you would be advised to keep anything you may wish to post until getting back to the mainland or better still post in the main Kampala Post Office.

There is an MTN publicom call box and MTN container outlet where you can purchase Publicom airtime prepaid cards and for those with mobiles air time and service fees cards.

Fuel availability is erratic in Kalangala so tank up in Masaka for those with their own vehicles.

Between the ferry landing pier and Ssese Palm Beach Resort there is a fishing village where you can buy fresh fish and even have meals prepared. Basic foodstuffs, cigarettes, beers and alcohol are available here cheaper than at the tourist camps.

Lutoboka Bay -Kalangala
Main street Kalangala

Mechanical Emergencies:
There are very few vehicles on the Bugala Island, possibly not more that 20. Do not expect garage facilities although there is a fuel station in Kalangala where fishermen come to purchase petrol for outboards. Diesel fuel may not be available.

Medical Emergencies:
A basic health clinic is located in Kalangala. Malaria is a major problem on the Islands. G&C Tours Entebbe Tel. 0414 321479 has two 8-man ski boats that regularly do trips to Ngamba and Bugala Islands. Contracting their services would best effect the quickest medical evacuation.

Places to visit:
People tend to come to the Ssese Islands to chill out, read books, relax and hang about the camps on the beach. Walks are the only activity. For birding enthusiasts the islands are home to a wide diversity of colorful bird life. Turacos and an endemic Paradise Flycatcher are common. Swimming is possible in the lake but there is a Bilharzia risk.

Beach at Ssese Islands Beach Hotel
Beach at Ssese Islands Beach Hotel

Ssese Islands Map:
Click here for Pop up Window Ssese Islands Map.

Other Islands in the Ssese Islands Group:
Banda Island: Tel or SMS. 0772 222777, email: banda.island@gmail.com, web: bandaisland.biz. Camping is possible and meals provided on a full board basis. The Banda Island amazing value low season offer of 7 nights for the price of 5 full board and accommodation is certainly an incentive to getting you out there.

Rates 2012
Pitch your own tent: US$25.-
Lazy camping: US$30.- per person
Dormitory bed: US$30.-
Beach Cottage: US$40.- (based on 2 person occupancy)

Rates are full board packages per day including complimentary tea/coffee.

Banda Island private boat special hire arrangement (note this is a boat hire and not per person fee)
Entebbe - Banda Island Ushs400,000- one way
Kalangala - Banda island Ushs120,000- one way

Alternatively there is a daily boat at 15.00 that proceeds to the neighboring island of Kitobo approx Ushs10,000- per person. From Kitobo to Banda the boat charter will cost Ushs25,000-.

Monday and Friday a boat leaves at 12:00 to Banda village, transport to Banda Beach is Ushs15,000. Ask for Isaak.

A direct boat to Banda beach leaves every Tuesdays at 12.00am (ask for Tom), charges are Ushs20,000/-

Sunset Banda Island
Sunset Banda Island

Bulago Island
Bulago Island is situated one mile south of the equator, close to both Kampala, and Entebbe International Airport. Bulago Island is reached either by our own motor launches (a 40 minute journey) from Munyonyo Resort or alternatively Entebbe Pier, or by light aircraft from Entebbe or Kajansi to the islands airfield (a 10 minute flight).

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