I remember the first time I visited Ssese islands with my family, about 6 years ago (yes, that far back) we stayed at Panorama when they had just opened with a few other families on holiday. They had a family-friendly package for a public holiday that we gladly booked. I remember us playing on the beach and having dinner by the bonfire.
So much has changed since then as there are new spots on the several islands in Ssese coming up. You have a few options to pick from depending on whether you’re heading there for your honeymoon, a group retreat, business or just getting away.
The Ssese Islands are located northwest of Lake Victoria and are an archipelago of 84 islands of which 43 are inhabited. The islands are home to many animals (including primates) that are not easily seen on the mainland. On my recent trip there, I sat next to the MP of Kalangala who told us about new findings on the islands. He also told us about the natural wealth of the archipelago which is bound to create new tourism opportunities, that he hope will improve local infrastructure which is basic at the moment.
Luganda is the main language spoken by the island locals and they also speak English however, not many do outside of the Kalangala Bay area.
There are two large ferries to Buggala Island, one, a modern passenger/car ferry, leaves daily between the Nakiwogo dock south of Entebbe and Kalangala Bay. The ferry departs from Kalangala for Nakiwogo at 8 am daily, and returns leaving Nakiwogo at 2 pm daily.
It takes about 3.5 hours, and they offer snacks on the ferry. The ferry fee 10,000Ugx per person second class, or 14,000Ugx for first class. There’s little difference between the two, just that the first class area may be less crowded. Space for cars is limited and on the weekdays passengers are less crowded. Nakiwogo is accessible by taxi.
The second ferry leaves from Bukakata (near Masaka) and Luku/Bugoma on the Western end of the island at 8:00 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 4:00 pm, returning from Bugoma at 9:00 am, 12:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 5 pm.
What To Pack
The Ssese beaches are perfect for chilling out friends or family, with a book or a romantic walk. Here are some basic tips to make your stay at Ssese Islands comfortable;
- If like me you’re travelling to Ssesse to relax, pack some casual outfits (bring out those maxi dresses or skirts ladies, shorts for guys) sandals, snickers, sun hats, shades and of course swimming costumes.
- I usually stalk my 2 toilet bags with the necessities for any trip with necessities like toiletries, Vaseline, tooth brush and tooth paste, a sponge and soap. Also important is sunscreen a small torch and mosquito/bug repellent.
- The Ssese islands are isolated islands on Lake Victoria and cool weather is dominant here through-out the year. Bring some sweaters, a rain coat/umbrella, socks and scarfs to keep you warm for the colder nights.
- Don’t forget to capture your time here! A camera, your Laptop, modem, music player & phone charger will come in handy. Some hotels on Ssese Islands offer Wi-Fi.
- Ssese islands are a perfect place to unwind and relax, so sit down under the shade on the shoreline on the white-sand beach with a good book or kindle.
- It’s best to be prepared with your first aid kit when travelling to place as your body may not be easily flexible with it. Best on be on the safe side and bring your emergency medications like pain killers or allergy medicine. Inform the staff at hotels about your allergies and food preferences.
- Carry enough money for the trip. There aren’t too many things to buy. Ssesse Island has various financial services like Western Union, Money Gram, Airtel money and MTN mobile money and with Stanbic Bank the visa option is available. Remember to be at the ferry on time as it’s only available once a day depending on the route you will take.
Top Things to Do At Ssese
- Quad biking; this is fun way to explore the town, depending on what time you prefer to do it. An hour on the bikes costs 60,000Ugx. However when we went, they weren’t in the best condition so prepare for a long wait if you must do this.
- Enjoy Lake Victoria, via boat rides for the sunset and island hop to learn about the history here!
- Take the two hour nature walk and appreciate our green country, various species of plants, flowers and butterflies. You just might spot some animals on your trial.
- Play volleyball and enjoy a cozy bonfire as the sun sets.
- Join the fishermen for their daily runs as they set out to find some Nile perch or tilapia, which you later can enjoy
Where To Stay
Here are some accommodation options:
- Brovad Sands Lodge, Ssese Islands (Located on Bugala Island)
- Banda Island
- Hornbill Camp
- Ssese Islands Beach Hotel
- Islands Club
- Kingfisher Camping Site
- Mirembe Beach Resort
- Panorama Camp
- Ssese Habitat Re-sort
- Philo Leisure Gardens Hotel
Have you been to Ssese islands? Are there any tips you would add to this compilation? Let me know in the comments below.