Rubondo Island National Park

Image - Rubondo Island National Park

Rubondo Island is located in the south-western corner of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. Rubondo Island is about 150 km (95 miles) west of Mwanza. The main island, Rubondo (2o 18’ S, 31o 50’ E) is 237 km2 in size. The island protects another 11 islets, none much larger than 2 km2. These 10 islands form the Rubondo Island National Park covering a total area of 456.8 sq km (176 sq miles). Lake Victoria is 1,134 metres above sea level. The highest point on Rubondo is the Masa Hills in the far south, at an elevation of 1,486m (350m above the level of the lake). The main island measures 28 km from north to south and is 3–10 km wide. Rubondo Island is on a rift in the lake. Rubondo essentially consists of a partially submerged rift of four volcanically formed hills, linked by three flatter isthmuses. The island has no rivers and the soil is volcanic. The habitat is mixed evergreen and semideciduous forest, which covers about 80% of the island’s surface area with common species including Croton sylvaticus, Drypetes gerrardii, 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 lakeshore is characterised by rocky areas and sandy beaches whilst the western shore supports extensive papyrus swamps, lined with date palms.


There are NO vehicles on Rubondo – the island is untouched by pollution from modern day transportation or commercialisation, and one of the only places that offers a truly ecological break. Rubondo Island boasts a unique diversity of flora and fauna.

Rubondo is a delightful and quiet place for relaxing and the different species of animals which can be observed include Maasai giraffe, black and white colubus monkey and Chimpanzee.

Other residential species includes the adapted sitatunga, which derives its scientific name Tragelphines Spekei from the explorer Speke.

Others are elephant, hippo, bush buck, vervet monkeys, crocodile and mongoose.


Rubondo is a paradise for bird-lovers, with nearly 430 species documented on the island. The diversity of habitats, from open woodland to papyrus swamps and evergreen forest, together with its geographical location in the heart of Africa , attracts numerous resident and migrant species. The island has an abundance of herons, storks, egrets, ibises, cormorants, kingfishers, flycatchers, bee-eaters, hornbills and birds of prey, including the highest density of fish eagles anywhere in the world.

Flocks of African grey parrots – released onto the island after they were confiscated from illegal exporters – screech in comic discord as they flap furiously between the trees.

The azure brilliance of a malachite kingfisher perched low on the reeds competes with the glamorous, flowing tail of a paradise flycatcher as it flits through the lakeshore forest. Herons, storks and spoonbills proliferate in the swampy lake fringes, supplemented by thousands of Eurasian migrants during the northern winter.

Wild jasmine, 40 different orchids and a smorgasbord of sweet, indefinable smells emanate from the forest.

Other Attraction

Walking Safaris

  • Take a nature walk in the forest with one of our experienced guides. Creepers and vines twist up the trees and the air is fragrant with the smell of wild jasmine. The forest is alive with antelope, birds, snakes and insects. Learn to identify species of bird, elephant and chimpanzee tracks. Be amazed at Rubondo’s unspoilt idyllic wilderness.

Boating Safaris

  • Boating trips are an ideal way to see the best of the island and its water based attractions. Hippo, crocodiles, otters, fish and birds all thrive along the coastline and you can even see elephants walking across the beaches. A packed lunch can be arranged for those who want to spend the day on the boat.

Game Drives

  • Explore the island by landrover, trekking through the forest, to the open hill land. The panoramic scenery is breathtaking and provides the chance to catch a glimpse of the park’s elephant, chimps and giraffe.


  • Rubondo is a fishing paradise. Sit on the rocks next to camp’s shoreside deck, and watch the fish jump. Whether you’re a novice or experienced angler this is one of the interesting activities offered at Rubondo. Boat fishing and fly fishing are also available.

The diversity of habitats, from open woodland to papyrus swamps and evergreen forest, together with its geographical location in the heart of Africa, attracts numerous resident and migrant species. The wide variety of invertebrates and diversity of plants species makes Rubondo a fascinating place for naturalists. Wonderful butterflies create a varicolored scenario in the forest together with the splendid seasonal displays of fireball lilies, orchids, and red coral trees. Visitors have the freedom to hunt the forest and lake shores by foot or boat allowing each person to discover his or her own enchantment of Rubondo and to leave with a uniquely personal encountering of the island.

Best time to visit

  • Dry season, June-August. Wildflowers and butterflies
  • Wet season November-March. December- February best for migratory birds.


There are scheduled flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Mwanza in peak season, charter flights only in low season. There are twice weekly flights from Arusha (via Seronera) to Rubondo on Tuesday and Friday, depart at 1425hrs arrives 1700hrs. Flights back to Seronera and Arusha on Wednesday and Saturdays, 0800hrs. The alternative is to travel by road from Mwanza to pier and then boat transfer (not very regular).


For accommodation, the camp operates 10 bandas (luxury tents). Each of the ten units overlooks the lake, a view that may be possessed from the aloofness of a private terrace and just a few yards from the sandy lakeshore. An outcrop of rocks amidst scattered trees provides the perfect setting for the restaurant and bar, offering a splendid view of the lake and bay.

The comfortable large tents have windows on all sides and, instead of the common zips, an entrance door. An ample en suite bath- and dressing room has been constructed for each banda. Great care has been taken to use local natural building materials. A swimming pool is located in the centrally close to the bar, among the palm trees. As if it is not enough, during the day the lake is usually calm.

Notwithstanding, when the wind picks up in the late afternoon the waves roll in, carrying in the singing sounds of the sea. Rubondo's climate is however comfortably warm all the year round and never gets as hot as on the coast. Enjoy its clean air -there is no traffic on the island.

Last Updated on Tuesday 15th December 2009