Fairend Safaris

Ssese Islands

A place of white sand beaches, clear blue water and palm trees

Ssese Island in Uganda is made up of 84 islands along Lake Victoria’s northwestern shore. It is one of the fascinating places to visit as there are clear blue waters. There are peaceful white sand beaches on Bukasa and Bulago islands.  Bugala is the most visited since it is the largest and most developed.  This is where Kalangala town is located which attracts most travelers who want some peace of quiet.

Ngamba Island is home to a chimpanzee sanctuary which was set up by the Jane Goodall Foundation. It a great place to visit by animal lovers especially those interested in primates. Bulago is great for nature walks, birding and wildlife viewing and has trails with different terrain.

How to get to Ssese Island in Uganda

Travelers can access Ssese Island in Uganda from Entebbe, you head to Nakiwogo landing site which is near Entebbe town. One may use a taxi or boda boda to get you there upon arrival, you board a ferry (MV Ferry Kalangala). It leaves at 2 pm daily and arrives at Lutoboka bay in SSese Island, Kalangala at 5:30 Pm.  Return journeys start at 8 a.m. arriving at Nakiwogo site at 11 am.

The second ferry begins its route from Bukakata in Masaka to Bugoma. This is not as punctual and pronounced as the MV Kalangala because fewer people use it. One can also use luxury boats like MV Vanessa which sets off from Water Front Club Entebbe at 4 pm and it takes one hour to get you to the island.

The things to do at Ssese Island in Uganda

Visit the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary

The sanctuary was made for orphaned chimpanzees and this was established by the Jane Goodall Foundation. Primate lovers can visit and participate in feeding the chimpanzees and learn about their behavior and way of life. Chimpanzees are closest cousins of humans compared to other primates as they share 98.7% DNA. You can as well take a boat tour and see some bird species.

Wildlife Viewing

The Ssese islands are home to many primates like chimpanzees, vervet, and colobus monkeys among others. It is a great place to visit for primate lovers who are not able to visit national parks. Crocodiles can be seen in remote islands and hippos can be seen in Buggala’s southwestern shore. Sitatunga are also found in Ssese as they prefer marshy shorelines.

Bird watching

The Ssese islands are home to many birds which thrive on the lush forests and swamps. Buggala is the best place to go for bird watching. Expect to see birds like turacos, weaver birds, African fish eagle, and hornbills among others.

Lutoboka is another great place for birding, it is on the eastern side of Lugala Island. It is an area for breeding birds since there is a forest that is covered by grassland. Expect to see birds like Phalacrocorax carbo, Ploceus castanops, and ploceus weynsi among others.


This is one of the popular activities done by tourists who visit Ssese Islands. Bugala beach is the popular swimming spot, it is located in Mutumbala.  Crocodiles from other sections of the lake occasionally makr their way to Ssese Island however if you visit the bigger islands that should not be a problem. There is presence of Bilharzia but it is very rare these days and it can be treated. If you are not a risk taker but a fun of swimming, you can swim at a hotel swimming pool.

Quad Biking

Quad bikes are used to explore the Ssese island, and riding them is one of the fun things to do. One can use bikes to visit forests, fishing villages, and beaches. Prior experience is not required for travelers to engage in this fun activity. They are used in Bugala Island which is the biggest island and are available in some hotels.

Sport Fishing

This is one of the top things to do while in Uganda, fishing trips are arranged with the aim of catching the largest fish. Nile Perch is the largest fish in Lake Victoria but the real deal is catching a Tilapia.  To engage in the activity you must first acquire a permit and also carry your own fishing gear. However, travelers who are unable to get fishing equipment can hire from the fishing spots.

Nature Walks and community visits

Most of the Ssese Islands have a good forest cover where you can walk around and see beautiful features. There are tree species, birds, flowers, and other plants that can be seen during these walks. Travelers may as well visit some communities and experience the kind of life lived by the locals or visit schools.

Agricultural Tours

These tours are arranged to one of the palm tree, sunflower, and pineapple gardens owned by BIDCO in Bugala. These plantations employ locals but they also contribute to the loss of forests and island resources. Visitors to the island can take a tour of one of these large gardens to learn how everything is done from planting, processing to the final product.

Visit the John Speke House

In 1863, John Speke put up shelter in Lutoboka forest on the Ssese islands. John Speke was a British explorer who discovered the source of the Nile river. When he searched for the source of the Nile, Speke came as far as the Ssese Islands. He constructed a bay in Lutoboka forest and the shelter has remained there to up to date.


Where to stay .

There are hotels and lodges located on the Ssese islands and travelers can choose the accommodation facility according to their preference. There are no luxury facilities at Ssese however the current available hotels are beautiful and have great views. The hotels include Brovad sands Lodge, Victoria Forest Resort, Ssese Habitat Resort, Mirembe Resort Beach Hotel and several campsites.

When to Visit 

The best time to visit Ssese Islands is during the dry season from June to September and from December to January, during these months the weather is warm so travelers can be able to enjoy all the beach activities.