Rubondo Island Camp: The Experience

Located in Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania

Rubondo is an all but uninhabited island, and guests here are in for a unique wilderness experience. Animals both terrestrial and aquatic abound—as well as a host of intriguing plant species—and the lodge’s guides and park rangers are on hand to help guests discover it on a variety of safaris by boat, 4x4, and foot.

Spending time with the staff in camp and with guides on excursions, guests also learn a lot about the traditions and cultures of Tanzania. It's not uncommon to have a round of traditional songs at dinner, and cooking classes are available on request.

See our sample itinerary describing how you would experience this lodge during a 5-day stay.

Things to Do

The following experiences are included in the cost of your stay.

Forest Drives

Head out with a seasoned naturalist guide on safari in a 4x4 and discover the astonishing diversity of the island’s flora and fauna. Away from the big game of other Tanzanian national parks, Rubondo offers a close-up look at the myriad creatures that make up this ecosystem, from sitatungas hiding in the marshes to frogs and butterflies.  A picnic breakfast or lunch can be incorporated into the forest drive.

Boating Safaris

Set out on the lake to discover the wildlife along its shores. Cruise past bird islands with your binoculars in hand, and keep an eye out for crocodiles, monitor lizards, spotted-necked otters, and hippos soaking amid the reeds. Boat excursions leave both sides of the island and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Swamp Excursion

Rise early for a half-day excursion to the island’s papyrus swamps. Spot wildlife active in the early morning on the drive to the Mlaga Ranger Post, where a boat awaits. Cruise along the swamps on Rubondo’s western shore, looking for the elusive sitatunga, crocodiles, and an array of bird species that are only found on this part of the island. After a picnic lunch amid the beautiful scenery, make your way back to camp by 4x4.

Nature Walks

Join a park ranger for nature walks of a variety of lengths and levels of difficulty. In the morning, take a 4-hour walk on an established trail into parts of the forest frequented by wild chimpanzees and learn to identify signs of their passage. Afternoon walks are shorter and lead to bird hides closer to camp. Experienced hikers can also arrange for day or multi-day hikes. Please note that all walks must be arranged a day in advance.

Fishing

Some of the best fishing in East Africa can be found in the waters around Rubondo Island. Anglers from around the world travel here for the opportunity to reel in a Nile perch, one of Africa’s biggest and most sought after freshwater fish. Rubondo Island Camp is equipped for a variety of fishing techniques including trolling, spinning live and dead bait, and fly-fishing. Rubondo Island Camp practices and supports a strict catch-and-release policy. Additional charges and permits may apply.

Birding

With more than 300 endemic and migratory species, Rubondo Island is a premiere destination for birding enthusiasts. December to February is the best time for spotting migratory birds, but all manner of species can be spotted year-round, given the diverse habitats of the national park—from open grasslands and marshes to breeding islands. 

Canoeing

Guided canoe trips offer a different perspective of the island and access to quiet inlets and coves that can’t be reached on foot. Paddle yourself or be paddled by your guide as you trace the coast, spotting wildlife both aquatic and terrestrial. A paddle safari can be combined with a guided walk or a forest drive and can be rounded off with a picnic lunch on the beach.

Dhow Safaris

Climb aboard the lodge’s traditional dhow and set sail, enjoying a timeless way to experience Lake Victoria, whether you time your voyage to take in the sunset or watch birds in the early morning light.

Optional Activities and Experiences

The following experiences are offered at an additional cost.

Private Boat Hire for Fishing

The lodge has two professionally fitted fishing boats that can be shared by a group of guests or booked privately. They feature the latest electronic and navigational gear and safety equipment. All rods, reels, and lures are provided, and professionally trained guides and skippers cater to professionals and novices alike. Rubondo Island Camp practices and supports a strict catch-and-release policy.

Food and Drink

The main lounge and dining room are perched on a rocky outcrop with views of water on both sides and an expansive wooden deck all around. Enjoy your meals to the sound of water lapping up on the shore and the feel of the cool breeze blowing in off the lake. The rustic sophistication of the lounge is punctuated with imaginative local touches--lamp shades are made of old beer bottles and fish traps.

The Spa

Rubondo’s massage therapists offer a selection of massage and beauty services that can be administered wherever you wish—on the beach, on your veranda, or in the privacy of your suite.

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