Rubondo Island National Park is more than a water wonderland. Deserted sandy beaches nestle against a cloak of virgin forest, where dappled bushbuck move fleet yet silent through a maze of tamarinds, wild palms, and sycamore figs strung with a cage of trailing taproots.
The shaggy-coated aquatic sitatunga, elsewhere the most elusive of antelopes, is remarkably easily observed, not only in the papyrus swamps it normally inhabits, but also in the forest interior.
Birds are everywhere.
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.
Ninety percent of the park is humid forest; the remainder ranges from open grassland to lakeside papyrus beds.
A number of indigenous mammal species – hippo, vervet monkey, genet and mongoose – share their protected habitat with introduced species such as chimpanzee, black-and-white colobus, elephant and giraffe, all of which benefit from Rubondo’s inaccessibility.
Size: 457 sq km (176 sq miles).
Location: Northwest Tanzania, 150 km (95 miles) west of Mwanza.
Scheduled flights from Arusha, Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Mwanza in peak season, charter flights only in low season.
By road from Mwanza and then boat transfer. Contact the Park for transport details.
Dry season, June-August. Wildflowers and butterflies
Wet season November-March. December- February best for migratory birds.
Accommodation in the park includes one Luxury tented camp – owned by a private company called Safari legancy.
Self contained and self catering visitor bandas, a campsite and hostel which are owned by the park.
The park is ideal for:
Fishing boat is available for hire.
There is a medical staff and a health centre in the park.
There are snakes, some are poisonous some are not.