Ssese Islands

Travel Guide Africa Uganda Ssese Islands

edit

Introduction

The Ssese Islands are an archipelago of 84 islands in the northwestern part of Lake Victoria in Uganda. The islands are coterminous with the Kalangala District in southern Central Uganda, which does not have any territory on mainland Uganda.

Top

edit

Geography

The islands occupy the northwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. The largest island in the archipelago is called Bugala Island. Its largest town, called Kalangala serves as the headquarters of the district that carries the same name (Kalangala District). Kalangala is located approximately 51 kilometres, across water, southwest of Entebbe, in Wakiso District, on the Ugandan mainland. The coordinates of the district are: 0° 26' 0.00"S, 32° 15' 0.00"E.

The islands lie in two main groups. The southwest can be referred to as the Bugala Group, after Bugala Island, the largest in the archipelago. The northeastern group can be referred to as the Koome Group, after Koome Island, the largest in that group. The two groups are separated by the Koome Channel.

Other islands in the Bugala Group include: Bubeke, Bufumira, Bugaba, Bukasa, Buyova, Funve and Serinya. The main islands in the Koome Group include: Damba, Koome and Luwaji.

Top

edit

Getting There

There are two large ferries serving Buggala Island. One, a modern passenger/car ferry, runs daily between the Nakiwogo dock just south of Entebbe and Kalangala Bay. The ferry departs from Kalangala for Nakiwogo at 8:00am daily, and returns leaving Nakiwogo at 2:00pm daily. The journey takes about 3.5 hours, and there is a snack bar on the ferry. The ferry costs Shs 10,000 per person second class, or Shs 14,000 per person first class. There is little difference between the two classes, except that the first class area may be less crowded. There is usually plenty of room for passengers, but space for cars is limited. Nakiwogo can be reached easily by taxi, and sometimes by minibus, from downtown Entebbe.

The second ferry departs from Bukakata (near Masaka) and Luku/Bugoma on the Western end of the island. It leaves Bukakata at 8:00am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 4:00pm, returning from Luku/Bugoma at 9:00am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm, and 5:00pm. There are few accommodation options on this part of the island (see below). This is a wide, flat pontoon ferry, and is somewhat more chaotic than the Kalangala ferry. To get to Bukakata, 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. By public transport, ask the conductor to get out at Nyondo stage about 2 kilometres from Masaka town. There are several pick up trucks making the 40-kilometre journey between Nyondo and Bukakata daily in each direction. From Bukakata to Kalangala, it is 32 kilometres by road, and there are regular pick up trucks in both directions.

Transport to Bulago Island by speedboat can be arranged with the owners. An airstrip is being built on the island.

Other islands may be served by lake taxis. These are large wooden boats, perhaps 10 metres in length and 2-3 metres wide, that transport goods and local passengers around the islands. The bottom of the boats may be filled with ice, soda, bananas, etc. on which passengers will have to find a seat. These leave from the Kasenyi fishing terminal, about halfway between Kampala and Entebbe. There is no dock, passengers are carried through chest-deep water on the shoulders of porters, so expect to get a bit wet. These boats also rock in the waves much more than the larger ferries, so passengers may experience some sea sickness. The boats do not provide life vests. It is best to inquire with your place of destination to find out the timings for the boats, as they may vary a bit. The boats also do not always keep to their schedules, so arrive early and expect to wait around. There are small restaurants to have a soda and a snack while you wait. Kasenyi is about 5 kilometers from the Entebbe-Kampala highway via a dirt road, and this road is served by minivans. It is not recommended to leave a car at Kasenyi (and it is recommended to watch your valuables) as it is a somewhat dodgy place. Most long trips cost around Shs 10,000.

Top

edit

Getting Around

Trips between the islands are by lake taxi. Private boats can also be arranged, but these tend to be expensive (something on the order of Shs 50,000 per boat per hour) because of the fuel costs.

Top

edit

Eat

The hotels along Kalangala Bay have acceptable Ugandan fare, and plenty to drink. It is quite possible to eat/drink at one hotel and stay at another. On the other island, visitors will generally need to bring some or all of their own food.

Top

edit

Drink

Most of the beach front hotels in Kalangala Bay have bars.

Top

Ssese Islands Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Ssese Islands

This is version 1. Last edited at 9:57 on Jul 20, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License