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Rubondo Island National Park

The park was established in 1977 and it is the only island that is a National Park in Tanzania. It is tucked in a corner of Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest lake.

Fast Facts

Major Attractions
  • A variety of water birds, Eurasian migrants and introduced African grey parrot
  • Stunning views of Lake Victoria
  • Spectacular scenery
Activities
  • Walking safaris
  • Game viewing
  • Fishing safaris
  • Bird watching
  • Trekking - chimpanzee
  • Boat safari
Size
  • 457 sq km(176 sq miles)
Location
  • Rubondo Island National Park is located in northwest Tanzania, 150kms(95) miles west of Mwanza. Rubondo Island National Park forms part of the western circuit of Tanzania.

ABOUT

The park was established in 1977 and it is the only island that is a National Park in Tanzania. It is tucked in a corner of Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest lake, an inland sea sprawling between Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. With about a dozen small islets, Rubondo Island protects precious fish breeding grounds.

Rubondo Island is about 31km long, with a width that  varies from 3 to 10k kilometres. The small area of the island provides a surprising variety of habitats ranging from savannah and open woodland to dense forest and  papyrus swamps. Rubondo Island uniquely provides a breathtaking panorama of a forest refuge with the relaxing sereneness of sandy shore beaches.

The park contains unique flora and fauna. One of its major attractions is the sitatunga(type of antelope), which is indigenous to Rubondo Island and found in no other park in Tanzania. Other indigenous species are bushbuck, vervet monkey, hippo, genet cat, spot necked otter and marsh mongoose.

The island is also rich in birdlife with over 200 species of indigenous and migrant birds sighted around the island. Reptiles such as crocodiles and monitor lizards are also commonly seen.

WILDLIFE 

Rubondo Island boasts a  number of indigenous species including hippo, bushbucks, vervet monkeys, sitatunga, crocodiles and otters who share their protected habitat with introduced species such as chimpanzee, elephant, giraffe, black and white colobus monkeys, suni and grey parrots.

Other animals that inhabit Rubondo are baboon, blue monkey, buffalo, bushpig, , hyrax, squirrel, warthog, large spotted genet cat, spot-necked otter, marsh mongoose as well as canerat. There are also a large number of butterflies including swallowtails and charaxes.

One of the start attractions of the park is the sitatunga, which can easily be seen at Rubondo. Although there are chimpanzees on Rubondo Island they can be hard to find.

The park is also rich in birdlife, with over 200 species of indigenous and migrant birds which can be observed either breeding or passing through. Some of the species are migratory coming from East, Central and West Africa. Rubondo has an abundance of herons, storks, ibises, egrets, cormorants, kingfishers and birds of prey. It is believed that the park has the highest density of fish eagles in the world.

GEOGRAPHY

Rubondo Island National Park is a mosaic of different primary forest that covers over 80% of the island. This is interspersed by papyrus swamp, rocky grassland, open woodland, grassland and sandy lakeshore.

Rubondo Island 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 semi-deciduous forest which covers about 80% of the island’s surface area and often has a dense understory of lianas, or woody vines.

The forest is interspersed with patches of open grassland with acacia woodland only being found in the Lukaya area. The eastern lakeshore is characterized by rocky areas and sandy beaches whilst the western shore supports extensive papyrus swamps, lined with date palms.

CLIMATE

The rainfall in the park is from October to May with two peaks, one in December and the other one in April/May. The dry period is between June and September. The average annual rainfall is about 1200mm.

Generally speaking, the park has a pleasant, moderate temperature throughout the year with a maximum at around 26 degrees celsius and a minimum of 16 degrees celsius.

NOTE

Rubondo Island lies 30 minutes by charter plane to the southwest of Mwanza. It can also be reached from Mwanza by boat, or by vehicle traveling around the Emin Pasha Gulf to Nkome. From this point it takes a further 2 hours to reach the island by boat.

WHEN TO VISIT

The best time to visit Rubondo is during the dry season which occurs June through to August.

A visit to Rubondo in the wet season between November and March is best if you would like to see the parks flourishing wildflowers and fluttering butterflies.

For bird enthusiast, migratory birds generally nest December through to February.

Accommodation at Rubondo Island National Park

Rubondo Island Bandas 3

Rubondo Island Bandas

Idyllically situated, the bandas have great views of Lake Victoria, it's resident hippos and abundant birdlife.

Rubondo-Island-Camp

Rubondo Island Camp

Luxury tented chalets boast an outdoor verandah where one can relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.The property overlooks the lake with views of fishing dhows with their majestic sails plying the waters for their daily catch of Nile Perch and Tilapia.

Optional Activities in Rubondo Island National Park