Rubondo Island National Park together with Saanane Island National Park are known to be Tanzania’s only two national parks situated on the island, at Lake Victoria.
In the southwestern corner of Lake Victoria, Tanzania, is where Rubondo Island lies and it is approximately 150 kilometers – 93 miles west of Mwanza. The Park’s annual visitors are more of game fishermen plus the bird avid.
Rubondo Island’s soil is volcanic with its habitat being mixture of evergreen and semi-deciduous forest, covering almost 80% of the Island’s surface area as the common species includes; Drypetes gerrardii, Croton sylvaticus, and Lecaniodiscus fraxinifolius, and often with a dense understory of lianas, or woody vines.
The forest is interspersed with patches of open grassland and, all but restricted to the Lukaya area, acacia woodland.
The eastern lake-shore is characterized by rocky areas and sandy beaches whilst the western shore supports extensive papyrus swamps, lined with date palms.
The Park’s brief history
Rubondo Island was made a game reserve in 1965, with the main aim of offering a sanctuary to animals, before it was then gazetted as a national park in 1977. As of current, the Park is unpopulated and consequently 80% of the island remains forested today.
The 400 “fisher folk” of the Zinza tribe, who lived on the island and maintained banana plantations were resettled on neighboring islands and onto the mainland by the government in the late 1960s.
As a rule, the court passed sentences of six weeks imprisonment for unauthorized landings on the island and six months for attempted poaching.
Attractions in Rubondo Island
The Island/Park is most famous for its wild chimpanzees and researchers are currently trying to habituate them such that chimpanzee enthusiasts can have a close encounter of these great apes.
Therefore, the ideal activity here is indulging in the chimpanzee habituation experience where you will join the researchers as they try habituating these human-like creatures (making them familiar to humans) – it is a very fascinating activity.
In addition to chimpanzees, there are many other attractions to spot while at the island, among them which include; elephants, giraffes, bush-bucks, Sitatunga, genets, vervet monkeys, Suni antelope, black and white Colobus, and a myriad of bird species.
Common sightings in the Park are actually hippos, otters, and crocodiles. The Park/Island is also among the best places in Africa to see the semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope, which commonly sighted in the swamps on the west coast of the island.
Best time to visit Rubondo
As it is in other Parks, Rubondo can best be enjoyed in the dry season, which certainly occurs in the months of June to October.
On the other hand, December to February sees a large number of migrant bird species visiting the island, thus being the most ideal time for great birders to visit the island/park.
Otherwise why not visit and enjoy the unique island wilderness experience in Africa’s largest island national park – a birder’s paradise; outstanding variety of species in a pristine subtropical rain-forest and great for fishing with exceptional guides, boating safaris, nature walks and wetland excursions.
You will also have a unique opportunity to be part of a pioneering chimpanzee habituation experience, accompanying the researchers.
Accommodation in Rubondo Island National Park
Rubondo Island Camp
Rubondo Island – in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria – is for those seeking the thrill of adventure in a truly wild area, all but untouched by man. The camp, which is the only lodgings on this verdant island, immerses you in this lush and unspoilt ecosystem.
From its lakefront location to the eco-friendly design of the eight fabulous cottages, the camp offers unrivaled access to this one-of-a-kind destination, where elephant roam wild, colorful birds and butterflies flit through the pristine indigenous rain-forest and the waters teem with hippo, crocodile and the iconic Nile perch.