How to travel to Ssese Islands in Uganda : need do know
Where to sleep, where to eat, its activities and its best beaches. You will also find how to get to the island and other information and practical tips in this guide to organizing your trip.
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Discover the Ssese Islands
Ssese Islands is an archipelago of 84 islands scattered west of Lake Victoria, the largest in Africa. Ssese is a real paradise that is not currently run by tourists because the islands are only developing.
The islands’ economy runs mainly on palm oil production and fishing. Obviously expect to eat fish, lots of fish! I stayed mainly in Bugala island, in Kalangala, the main town of the Ssese Islands.
Tourism in Ssese Islands
This archipelago of Lake Victoria is a gem! Absolute calm, few tourists, beautiful beaches, wonderful nature… Tourism in Ssese is still timid. But for how long? Its potential may soon pay off and it is also a good reason to visit the islands before its widespread craze!
In fact, most of the tourists are Ugandan. They come mostly from Kampala or Entebbe to spend the weekend. The cities are barely developed and there is very little infrastructure but rest assured, there is enough to stay, withdraw money, do activities and relax but do not expect an island like Zanzibar!
But Ssese has its own charm and it is a unique place to see in Uganda.
How to get to Ssese islands?
There are only 2 options to get to the Ssese Islands (there is not any airport):
You have to go to Nakiwogo dock, get your ticket and you can leave any day at 2pm. The journey takes about 3h30m and arrives directly in Kalangala. You can return to Entebbe every day at 8am.
Masaka is located on the road to Mbarara (town near Lake Mburo National Park). You must go on the road to Bukakata, at the exit of Masaka.
At this location are a few cars that take you to Kalangala. The price is 10,000 UGX per passenger. The car drops you off at Bukakata (30 min) where you will take the ferry which is free for everyone. The crossing takes 30 minutes. Once on the island, you will need to go to Kalangala. If the car does not board, you will have to find a motorcycle taxi (boda). The journey also takes 30 minutes for 10,000 UGX.
The best things to do in Ssese Islands
Between the bush and the forests for hiking and observing animals, its calm, its beautiful beaches for relaxation … Ssese is an archipelago where life is good! I have selected a dozen things to do on the islands in the link below.
What budget for Ssese Islands?
Ssese Island allows all types of travelers to get there. Both the wealthy tourist and the backpacker on a budget! For my part and depending on the day, my expenses ranged between $10 and $25 all inclusive.
Relive my trip in Ssese Islands
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Where to stay in Ssese Islands?
There are enough options in Ssese to stay, between small rooms and lodges but “luxurious” tourism is not yet really present. I have stayed at Dream Land Guesthouse and Victoria Guesthouse. The latter is rudimentary but the experience could not be more local and I loved staying here! There is a bar and “street” food on 2 sides.
Average cost: more than $80 per night
Brovad Sands Lodge (Kalangala)
Victoria Forest Lodge (Kalangala)
Eco Resort (Mwena)
Average cost: about $40 per night
Philo Gardens (Kalangala)
Panorama Cottages (Kalangala)
Ssese Beach Hotel (Kalangala)
Ssese Habitat Resort (Kalangala)
3. Cheap options
Average cost: less than $20 per night
Dream Land Guesthouse (Kalangala)
4. On a budget
Average cost: less than $2 per night
Victoria Guesthouse (Mwena)
Ssese Guesthouse (Kalangala)
5. Wild camping
Camping on the Ssese Islands is possible. I couldn’t give you my feedback because I was traveling with a Ugandan lady and… An only 1 place tent! Would have been complicated to camp. But the safety on the islands is alright and there are no dangerous animals living there. At least not all around Kalangala.
Where to enjoy the nightlife in Kalangala?
As surprising as it may seem when you arrive in Kalangala the first time, you have no idea that there is nightlife and that there are sacred evenings going on! I have been invited several times to wild campfires, well watered and well animated! But for dancing, there are 2 clubs.
Kisisira Country Club
A club with a lot of atmosphere! It is completely empty most of the time but it becomes packed on Wednesday and Saturday (really!). The atmosphere is crazy. We dance downstairs and upstairs there are comedy shows. Absolutely to do!
It is a nightclub open every day except Sunday and Monday. The day it is completely filled is Wednesday.
Where to eat?
Restaurants can be found at most lodges on the island. As you can imagine, there are a lot of fish. A full meal in a restaurant costs less than $10 on average. As for local restaurants, we eat for a few euros (A plate of matoke, rice, corn, cassava and a beautiful fish for example!)
A good place to really eat all meals, with a wide menu (even pizza!) , it is at the ” Cruise Safari Limited” that you will find on Maps. It is close to the center of Kalangala.
There is plenty to do but especially in the evening. You can eat around the barbecues in the street for a few euros. Skewers, fries, chicken, omelette or hot porridge in general.
How to get around the islands?
The most common option for moving around is the boda-boda. These are the motorcycle taxis you find everywhere. Even lost in the depths of the island you can find someone who rolls empty. Count 500 UGX per kilometer (on average). The price will be different if you travel loaded or if you go somewhere isolated where the boda can not find other customers. There are no tuktuks in Ssese. The big lodges sometimes have cars to move you around but it is more expensive of course.
Withdrawing money in Kalangala
There is only one bank in the centre of Kalangala. I never had any problems withdrawing money. The ATM seems to be always powered.