Ssese Islands

Ssese Islands in Uganda

Ssese’s lush archipelago of 84 islands along Lake Victoria’s northwestern shore boasts some stunning white-sand beaches. The islands are coterminous with the Kalangala District in southern Central Uganda, which does not have any territory on mainland Uganda. Ssese Island occupies the northwestern corner of Lake Victoria, the second-largest freshwater lake in the world. The largest island in the archipelago is called Bugala Island.

The Early 20th century sleeping sickness which hit the islands forced most of the original Bassese inhabitants flee. People slowly began to drift back about a decade and a half later, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that serious settlement took place again. There are very few Bassese anymore and their Lussese language has all but died.


The lack of settlement left the islands largely unspoiled, though things have changed dramatically in the recent past. Massive scars of deforestation are visible on many of the islands, especially Buggala, and overfishing is an issue.

There’s not much to do on Ssese other than grab a good book and relax. There are canoes for hire, but swimming not advised due to the risks of bilharzia, and some outlaying islands have the occasional hippo and crocodile. Most guesthouses on the beach have nightly bonfires, which is a great way to relax with a few drinks after enjoying one of Ssese’s famous sunsets.

Few people venture far beyond Buggala Island (the most accessible of the islands), but Banda Island is an old-school backpacker destination with a picturesque beach that’s enjoying a resurgence (minus the noise pollution that’s a blight on Buggala). Far flung Bukasa, the second largest of the Sseses is rarely visited, but has several spots worth exploring, including Musenyi Beach.

Other islands in the Bugala Group include: Bubeke, Bufumira, Bugaba, Bukasa, Buyova, Funve and Serinya. The main islands in the Koome Group include: Damba, Koome and Luwaji.

Ssese Islands Tourism Potential

The Islands receive an average number tourists from different parts of the world. However, the level of tourism development is still low due to poor marketing. The islands have many potential attractions such as the weather, sun and sandy beaches, fresh waters of Lake Victoria, local community tours, birding as well as Palme tree plantations and factory for making cooking oil.

Currently, the area received visitors from Uganda for weekend getaways and neighboring countries. There are also foreign tourists from countries like Belgium, Canada, USA and Australia who mainly come for wildlife safari in East Africa and end their vacation with a visit to Ssese islands. Accommodation facilities available for all levels of travelers, we have budget camping, mid range lodges and luxury hotels. Some of these include SSese Island Beach Hotel, Mirembe Resort Beach Hotel, Brovad Sands Lodge, Ssese Palme Beach Resort, Ssese Habitat Resort and Islands Club among others.

It should be noted that, Uganda one of the few countries in the world where one can see the Big 5 animals and the mountain gorillas on the same trip. Mountain gorillas is the major attraction into East Africa. For more information, contact African Jungle Adventures Limited, specialists in Uganda Rwanda gorilla trekking tours along side other tourists activities like game viewing, cultural tours, birding and mountain hiking.