What a beautiful place to visit.
This weekend (as a sort of birthday treat for us) we went with 9 others to Rubondo Island National Park, in the south-west corner of lake victoria. It took us about 7-8 hours door to door including a local ferry and then the speedboat to take us from Nkome on the mainland to the island itself (a rather cold & wet experience if you were in our boat).
Rubondo is one of Tanzania’s designated National Park’s but is much less visited than many of the others so is a great place to go to relax and also to see lots of birds, hippos, crocodiles, and even the elusive Sitatunga – an aquatic antelope, so as biologists we loved all the diversity there!
I believe we were the only visitors there during our stay and it was great to go as a group to share many convivial moments over food/food preparation and also to reduce costs as many things are charged ‘by the boat’.
After arriving late friday we settled in and enjoyed some meat, salad and cous cous as well as warming up next to the campfire. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bandas we were staying in – 2 double (ish) beds and clean, only let down by the lack of hot water leading to a bracing morning shower!I woke up early the next morning to try to catch the sunrise but unfortunately the weather for all of saturday morning was pretty dull and rainy. However, the bay in which the bandas were located was a nice outlook whatever the weather!
In the end after settling the bills for the stay, we set off on a walking safari (still in the rain but had to get out) under the watchful protection of our guard – and fitting pink umbrella.
Although there isn’t that much ‘spectacular’ wildlife easily viewable it was a really good walk and we saw a variety of bird species including the Black-&-White-Casqued Hornbill, Egyptian Goose and Little Egrets amongst others. We also managed to track down both male and female Sitatunga and came across bushbuck, hippo and monkeys.
Late afternoon, an elite few went out for a boat safari which sails along the side of the island towards ‘Bird Island’ where many species go for the evening to roost. Without thinking we timed this perfectly to arrive at bird island just at dusk to see the masses of birds arriving to find a bush or tree for the evening. Along the route we saw many many birds – Raptors such as African Fish Eagles and African Harrier Hawks, Pied Kingfishers, Herons great (Goliath) and small (Green), African Open Billed Storks. Reptiles such as Nile Monitor lizards and Nile Crocodiles and mammals such as Hippos and Otters.We then were able to cruise around for a while ‘spot holes in island’ where pied kingfishers nest and enjoy the supermoon on our way back to the bandas. Below is a slide show of a few things we saw to give you an idea of the species on the boat ride.
After a late night of good food and a few drinks we just had a relaxing last day prior to leaving by boat at about 1:30PM. 7 hours later and we were back home in Mwanza. All in all an excellent weekend, thanks to Jo(h)n and Annabelle for organising! Hope you can enjoy some pictures and they give you an idea of the island – lots of green, many different lake side habitats and a twitchers paradise! Further selection of photos on facebook here.