sesse islands excursion

The sand white beaches


Ssese Islands Excursion: Ssese Island is an archipelago of eighty-four islands in the Northwestern part of Lake Victoria in Uganda locally known as Lake Nalubale. The island was named ssese due to the presence of tsetse flies in the past and these islands are adorned with stunning white sand beaches and a series of hotels where one can relax and enjoy a good book or just bask in the sun’s heat. Some of the 84 islands are under Entebbe while others are governed by kalangala and these Islands lies into two categories or groups i.e. Ssese group in the southwest and the Koome group in the northeast and the two are separated by the Koome channel. The largest island in the Ssese group is Bugala and it comprises of the following islands; the Bugaba Island, Bufumira Island, Serinya Island, Buyova Island, Bubeke Island, Funye Island and on another hand Koome Island consists of Luwaji, Damba and Koome (the largest in the group). The Baganda traditionally revere Ssese as the Islands of the gods and in pre-colonial times it was customary for the kings of Buganda to visit the islands and pay tribute to the several balubaale whose main shrines are situated there. The most common large terrestrial mammal is the vervet monkey, bushbuck and black and white colobus while the water and forest birds are prolific and here expect to see different bird species like barbets, hornbills, robin-chats, turacos, and weavers. African fish eagles and palm nut vultures are often seen near the lake, while immense breeding colonies of little egret and great cormorant occur on Lutoboka and other bays. The main activity that exist in the area is fishing which is carried out on Lake Victoria and the major fish caught in the area is Nile perch and Tilapia. The island has got you different activities and attractions to enjoy with different tourist sites .

Ssese Island Excursion

What to do and see at Ssese Island

What to do and see at Ssese Islands

  • Beach games

After relaxing your mind and your body without the bustle and hustle of the city, you can engage in beach games like volleyball, beach soccer and football among others.

  • Boat Rides

Boat rides in Ssese are carried out all throughout the day and you will find many locally made boats ready to take you around Lake Victoria while visiting the different landing sites. The boat rides can also take to you different Islands that are adventurous but remember to put on a life jacket before boarding one. There’s also a ship for the luxury class that operates only Sundays taking you around Bugala Island.

  • Sport Fishing

This is an interesting activity that you can enjoy on the Islands though will need to first obtain a fishing permit from the authorities before engaging in this activity. There are a lot of fish species that you will find but the most famous one is the Nile Perch. Note that you will need to come with fishing gear and in case you do not have, you can still hire from the locals at an affordable price.

  • Bicycle Riding

Yes, indeed you could hire a bike from your respective resort and ride through the island’s white sand beaches, rainforest and even visit the workers in the fishing village. The gorgeous scenery of the island will keep you captivated and pedaling for more.

  • Swimming

Swimming in the waters of Lake Victoria is a very exciting on Ssese Islands. Bulaga is the most noted swimming area of all Islands. Due to the outbreak of Bilharzia, many people enjoy their swimming activities in swimming pools and also due to the presence of crocodiles. Sun bathing at any of the Ssese Islands is interesting as you just sit and observe the fresh waters of the second largest Lake in the world.

  • Quad biking

Quad biking is the best way to explore the Ssese Islands. While on the bike you can visit fishing villages, forests, beaches as well as brightening your day. There is a simple training organized for the starters though the activity doesn’t require much experience. The activity is open for all years and it takes only one hour.

  • Hiking and Nature walks

Though biking is thrilling, you may want to take it slow and have a nice stroll around with a guide taking you through the forest. You may roam as you watch the different birds and marvel at their colorful feathers and unique calls or the different primates you could spot and may even run into the sitatunga antelope. 

  • Ssese Island Animals & Wildlife

Ssese is a home to quite a wide range of wildlife and these can be seen in different areas around the Island. Some of the animals that you should look out for are; the vervet monkeys which can be seen jumping from one tree to another, Situnga antelopes, chimpanzees in Ngamba Island and hippos which are best seen near Mulabana in a swamp on Bugala Island.

  • Sightseeing (Palm trees)

The Island has numerous palm tree plantations that are found in the different parts of the Island and a walk through these trees will be worth your time. You will be welcomed by the owners of these plantations and they will take you around while explaining how they are grown, the harvesting process of the palm fruits and how the palm is made locally.

  • Primates viewing (monkeys)

Primates viewing in Ssese Island especially monkeys can be done in the rain forests that covers a larger part of the island. The vervet monkeys are the most popular ones and they can be seen jumping form one tree to another. The chimpanzees are found in Ngamba Island where they are catered for and a short trip there will give you chance to feed and cater for over 49 chimpanzees on the Island.

  • Walks & Hikes (Trails)

There are two types of walks that you can engage in while in Ssese and that is the nature walk through the forests and the village walks. The Island has welcoming people and it will not be a surprise to them when you take a walk through the different villages on the Island where you get to meet and engage with the locals. The nature walks through the forests is another experience all together as you get to see the different types of trees, species of butterflies, insects and birds and not forgetting the primates.

  • Golfing

You could also go golfing with your buddies, maybe you are a natural at it or have never even played before but that does not matter because the course is for all who are interested. So, bring out your clubs and play some golf!

  • Bird watching

Ssese Island is a birders paradise for both water birds and those that live on land which thrive in the forests and swamps on the Island. While at the island you can spot various bird species like the paradise flycatcher, great blue Turaco, shoebill stock, African fish eagle, Palm nut vulture, marabou stock, horn bills, barbets, robin chats, crested crane, weaver birds, African green broadbill, Shelley’s Crimsonwing, Doherty’s, pygmy kingfisher among others. 

  • Kalaya Caves

Kalaya caves are believed to be the place where the first people in Kalangala lived and they are of great importance to the Baganda especially the Nkima (monkey) clan of the many totems in the central part of Uganda. The Kalaya caves of Semuggala or Jjaja Kiwumulo are a home to a lot of traditional regalia like spears, bark cloth, calabashes and some locals believe they can be healed once they visit the caves. There are two openings to the cave, a small one used as an exit and the big one used as an entrance into the caves. The caves also have a fire that is always burning all throughout the day and night.

  • Island Hopping

Perhaps you are the adventurous type that just can’t help your curiosity; well, there is something for you too. A boat can be arranged to take you around island to island, the habited and inhabited until you have explored to your heart’s content. You can also hire a speed boat and watch the sunset over the lake. In general, the islands are a place to be. Enjoy the amenities of the different lodges, sit around a camp fire at night. They are a good place to relax and unwind for a weekend after a long week.

  • Eat locally prepared fish

Uganda is generally known as the food basket in East Africa with lots of traditional foods grown locally in the different parts of the country. The resorts in Ssese have quite a large menu when it comes to preparing the local foods but the one you should not miss out on is the Fish! And since you are staying along the beach, look out for the fish that is prepared in all kinds of manner from deep frying to smoking.

Common Ssese Islands

Ssese is the right place for anyone who wants to slow down, kick back and relax without the interruption of urban life. Below are some of the most visited Islands on Ssese.

  • Bugala Island

This Island is in Kalangala District and the largest among the 84 islands that make up Ssese Island. Bugala Island is the 10th largest island found on the lake worldwide and the second largest on Lake Victoria after Tanzania’s Ukerewe Island and the third largest in Africa, after Ukerewe and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Idjwi. Bugala Island has got several hills that give the best views of the lake, the approaching boats/ships and the different human activities at the island. The island has also got the largest palm oil plantation in Uganda and some of the activities that one would engage in while at bugala island include bird watching, primate viewing, boat cruising, quad biking, swimming, beach games, cave exploration, jet-ski among others. While on this Island, you can also come across different snake species, butterflies (only 3 types) and a few hippos located in the southern part of the island.

How to get there

Set off from Nakiwogo landing site with in Entebbe with a MV Kalangala, Nathalie or Nodl.

  • Bulago Island

The Island lies along the equator and has only one resort known as the Pineapple Bay. This island is mostly surrounded by sandy beaches and cliffs and its more so perfect for nature walks giving you an amazing view of the lake and the distant islands. Bulaga Island is commonly known as the birders paradise due to the presence of numerous bird species. From one of the hills on the island, one will be rewarded with amazing views of Lake Victoria and some distant islands. The island is a birder’s paradise with both resident and migratory birds convening to feast on the abundant fish and inland insects.

How to get there

The island can be accessed by a speed boat from munyonyo taking you only 45minutes.

  • Ngamba Island

Ngamba Island is one of the many Islands that make up the archipelago of Ssese and an interesting spot for tourists who are into primates. The sanctuary was established to care for both orphaned and rescued chimpanzees all over East Africa rescued by Uganda Wildlife Authority from poachers as a result of being victims of illegal poaching for pet trade and bush meat. The island is a home to over 49 chimpanzees and also harbors other wildlife species such as otters, monitor lizards, spiders, fruit bats, monkeys and different bird species.

  • Banda Island

Banda Island is surrounded by rain forests and the large Lake Victoria which makes it a perfect place for tourists to go for a quiet getaway from the busy Center. It is a budget friendly place to visit and there are many ways that you can get there. There is a campsite that you can enjoy, the yummy meals that are served throughout your stay, the numerous activities that you can engage in like, swimming, relaxing at the beach, beach volleyball and hiking through the heavy rainforest. The island is good for camping so, you can go with your camping equipment or you can hire them from people at the island. And for those that are not comfortable with camps, they can go and use the standard cottages at the island. If you do fancy venturing onto the lake, canoes can be hired or you can go fishing for tilapia and Nile perch.

How to get there

You can connect from Bugala to Banda Island on a hired boat or get a boat ride from Kasenyi landing site in Entebbe straight to Banda.

  • Koome Island

Koome Island is found in the North-eastern part of Lake Victoria and it is also the largest in the North-eastern Islands which are separated by the Koome Channel. The Island is approximately 63 kilometres away from Kalangala which is found in Bugala and the largest town on Koome Island is known as Bugombe. Some of the activities that you can carry out while here include fishing, beach volleyball, shopping and nature walks among others. The main activities that are carried out by the locals here are fishing, animal rearing and agriculture.

How to get to Ssese Island

From Entebbe

  • The MV Kalangala

This is one of the largest ships used to travel to Ssese Islands from Nakiwogo in Entebbe and it transports both vehicles and people. The ride from Nakiwogo to Lutoboka Bay which is found in Bugala Island will take about 3 hours and 30 minutes. The MV Kalangala has daily trips to Ssese Islands and it sets off at 2:00pm with boarding beginning as early as 1:00pm.

  • Mv Nathalie and MV Vanessa

The MV Nathalie and MV Vanessa are luxurious boats that dock at the Nakiwogo landing site. It takes roughly1 hour and 15 minutes while using these MVs to get to Bugala at the Lutoboka bay. The boats are pre-booked for those who would want to use them and they have trips to and from Ssese from Monday to Sunday.


MV NODL Victoria is a luxury catamaran cruise vessel owned Nation Oil Distributors Limited – the same company that officially operates and manages MV Kalangala which plies between Entebbe and Kalangala on Lake Victoria. MV NODL is an exclusive vessel with classes of tourist/ passengers that range from silver, gold, and platinum and has a seating capacity of 120 passengers.

By ferry via Bukataka

A free vehicle ferry service connects the mainland port of Bukakata 40km east of Masaka to Luko 30km west of Kalangala several times daily. Two different ferries cross back and forth regularly between 08:00 and 18:00, taking 30 minutes in either direction.


It does not matter whether you want the most luxurious hotels or the low budget friendly lodges because you will find everything in Ssese Island. The islands offer accommodation that gives you all the privacy and quiet that you need, those that are always throwing beach parties and others that are halfway between partying and quiet and the choice lays in your hands.

·         Victoria Forest Resort

Victoria Forest Resort is found on Bugala Island and provides views over Lake Victoria. Guests can relax beside the outdoor pool, in the extensive tropical gardens, or at the White Sand Beach. All of the rooms and cottages feature modern décor, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. The lodge has millennium cottages, royal cottages for dulex and standard rooms Couples particularly like the location and is perfect for honeymoons and vacations. The hotel has also got different activities swimming, mountain biking, canoeing, boat cruise, sport fishing, nature walks and community visits.

·         Brovad Sands Lodge

Brovad sands lodge is found on the Bugala Island which is one of the many Islands that make up Ssese. The lodge is the perfect getaway from the busy city Centre surrounded by lush green vegetation and the white sand beach. The lodge has diplomatic suites, family villas and cottages and you get to choose what will work for you best. The lodge is quite affordable and they also offer services like internet, catering and bonfires along the beach.

·         Ssese Island Beach Hotel

Ssese Island beach hotel offers tourists what they want at an extremely affordable price. It is a good destination for those that are looking for a place to relax, have meetings, enjoy their honeymoon and also have as much fun as they want.  Located along the Lutoboka road, the hotel offers activities like golf, exploration of the animals on the Island, nature walks, beach volley ball and it has the most beautiful view of the white sand beaches and the Lake Victoria which can be viewed from the comfort of your room.

·         Mirembe Resort Beach

Mirembe Resort Beach is located within Kalangala town just about 800 metres away from the landing sites and it offers accommodation, all meals from breakfast, lunch and supper, internet and various activities to tourists visiting the island. The rooms are comfortable and the food ranges from international to local foods and there is aloe bar where you can unwind after the day’s activities. Some of the activities offered here include banana sailing, nature walks, quad biking, sport fishing and boat rides.

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