Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest in the world. The tiny island of Rubondo is only a speck in this vast lake, being 26km (16 miles) long and 10km (six miles) wide. Rubondo National Park consists of a main island with 12 much smaller islands and the expanse of water around them. The islands are forested, with large grass clearings on the main island. The shoreline has narrow, sandy beaches reaching out from the forest edge with some isolated stretches of papyrus.
The eastern shore of Lake Victoria is only a few kilometres from the Serengeti. The best way to get to this island is by charter plane, which involves a thirty-minute flight from Mwanza. This island is a real paradise, with the African adventure starting as the light aircraft lands on the grass airstrip – sometimes animals have to be cleared off the runway. The island is striking in its greenness, with the whistles of the African Grey parrot echoing in the forest. Truly you have landed in an African paradise. There are only two vehicles on the island, and one tented camp.
A trip to Bird Island is a must. There are thousands upon thousands of birds here. Among the numbers are cormorants and egrets that return to the island daily from their feeding grounds, the sky at times almost turning black with the vast numbers seeking their routes high above the Nile crocodiles that bask below.
The camp on this island is moderately priced and quite simple. It is sited under trees close to the lake shore. Guided walks and hikes are available in search of elephant, giraffe, hippo, chimpanzee (although if chimpanzees are on your agenda, you would be better travelling to Mahale National Park). Boat trips on the lake are also fun, and there is some excellent fishing, with some of the Nile perch weighing in at more than 100kg.
This small paradise is ideal for these seeking to get out of the safari vehicle and stretch the legs and explore on foot. The island offers an alternative destination to relaxing at the beach and to the discos of Zanzibar.