Rubondo Island National Park was gazetted in 1977. It is an important breeding ground for both migratory birds and fish species (especially Tilapia and Nile perch) as for a long time it stood to be the only area in the waters of Lake Victoria which was well protected and preserved.
About 80% of the park is covered by a dense forest thus providing a variety of habitats to wildlife ranging from savannah, open woodland, papyrus swamps to dense forest. These habitats form a home for various wild creatures such as sitatunga, bushbucks, velvet monkeys, genet cats, spotted necked otters, hippopotamus and crocodiles which share the ecological niches with introduced species such as chimpanzees, elephants, giraffes, black and white colubus monkeys, suni and African grey parrots. The park is famous by holding a variety of migratory birds from different parts of the world and some birds native to the area are in Emin Pasha Gulf with the African fish eagles distinctly appreciated.
The park is located on the south-western corner of Lake Victoria in Geita region about 150 km (95 miles) west of Mwanza city. The Lake (Victoria) is the second largest lake in the world. The Lake is also the source of the longest river in the world, River Nile.
The park has 456.8 km2 of which 236.8 km2 is dry land and 220 km2 is water comprising of 11 small islets of varying sizes.
- A variety of water birds , Eurasian migrants and introduced African grey parrots
- High density of African fish eagles distinctly seen
- Animal species including Sitatunga, Elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Bushbucks, Pythons, Crocodiles, Chimpanzees (not fully habituated), Bush pigs and Suni
- The Lake Victoria forming a spectacular sight for visitors with the deepest point in the lake (Irumo) forming part of the park
- Magnificent view of one of the last remaining representatives of evergreen dense primary lowland Congolese forest with a unique habitat mosaic in the midst of high biodiversity value
- Beautiful and attracting beaches such as Fly catcher, Mchangani and Michicoco
- Important gulfs of Irumo and Kamea
- Clear sighting of both sun rise and sun set
- Cultural sites such as “Ntungamirwe”, “Maji Matakatifu”, “Altare” and “Solo” which explain the life of natives who once stayed in the park
- “Birds Islands”, breeding sit for water birds
- Crocodile island
Rubondo Island National Park can be reached both by charter/air and road
The Park can be accessed by road in approximately 4 hours drive on a tarmac road from Mwanza to Geita and a morum road from Geita to Nkome. Visitors travelling through this route can be picked up by the park boat at Nkome, and will take a maximum of one an half hours cruising to Rubondo main island (Kageye, the park HQ). Another route is from Mwanza/Bukoba to Muganza/Kasenda village where it takes a maximum of five hours from Mwanza to Muganza/Kasenda and only two hours from Bukoba to Muganza/Kasenda (this route also connects Tanzania with the neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Uganda and Kenya). Visitors travelling through this route can be picked by the park boat at Kasenda village, and will take about 20 – 25 minutes to Rubondo National Park.
Visitors who prefer to travel by air should check in advance with the tour operators in Bukoba, Mwanza, Arusha and Dar es Salaam for flight schedules to the island. Currently, Auric Air is only flight which has a route via Rubondo from either Mwanza or Bukoba. The landing fees stands at Tshs. 15,000/- per one plane at Rubondo Airstrip. The park has a well maintained waiting lounge with toilet facilities where visitors can wait for the appropriate service upon arrival (being picked up by a vehicle to the point of accommodation) or waiting for the plane/charter during departure.
The Park is open and operates the whole year through with the peak/high season from July to February (The best time for game viewing) and low season that commences on March through June. The park normally opens at 0630am and closes at 1800hours the time in which all visitors are supposed to be in hotels, bandas, lodges, campsites or any places sought for their accommodation.
Accommodation in park:
Lodges: One lodge operating in the park, maximum capacity 20 pax per night, the lodge is under the management of Asilia lodges and camps, a privately owned company with its headquarter based in Arusha, specialized in tourism operations worldwide.
Bandas: Located about two kilometers from the Park headquarters with 1 unit of well maintained uniport with triple beds inside/self contained and 5 double bed rooms all self contained with hot shower service. Maximum capacity 13 pax per night.
Rest house: Owned by TANAPA and located about two kilometers from Park headquarters with 2 singles, 1 triple beds room and 1 double bed sized room all being self contained with TV and hot shower. Maximum/full capacity is 7 pax per night.
Youth hostel: Located at park headquarters. Capacity 36 persons (16 boys, 16 girls and two rooms with double beds to accommodated 4 teachers.)
Resting shelters: Four resting shelter located at bandas facing a magnificent view of the lake where visitors rest while enjoying the lake breeze during a day.
Dining and Kitchen: A well maintained and fully equipped facility comprising of dining and kitchen owned by the park, all visitors are advised to bring in some foodstuffs while the park provides kitchen and dining facilities. Note that, the place is self catering.
Campfire: The dining/kitchen facility faces a fireplace where fire is normally lit for visitors to stay nearby during evening times while enjoying their barbecue and drinks.
Shop: One shop owned by TANAPA Rubondo staff located at Park headquarters which sells some household items and beverages for both staff and visitor uses.
Public Campsites: Mlaga campsite which can accommodate up to 30 persons one per night. (Not operating currently)
Picnic Sites: Four picnic sites two of which being located at Maji matakatifu, one at Pongo view point and one at Mamba trail, they all face a spectacular view of the lake at different sights which together bring the aesthetic value of the park thus adding to visitors satisfaction.
Game Drives, Bird Watching, Walking Safaris, (Rangers required. Can be arranged in advance through Park Office (See park fees), visitors are advised to carry some dry stuff while going for long walks.