Why you should visit Rubondo Island, a fully protected Island National Park

Rubondo Island Camp, an eco-friendly haven on Tanzania's largest island national park. Unwind in handcrafted cottages, explore untouched forests, game drives, and pristine beaches

If you are one for the off-beaten track then this is for you! Look beyond the Serengeti and set your sights on Rubondo Island - Tanzania's hidden gem and Africa's largest island sanctuary. Trek through an untouched rainforest, encounter unique wildlife and spot chimpanzees reintroduced to this natural habitat. This island sanctuary, nestled in Lake Victoria's southwestern corner, finds itself so far west, that its climate mirrors that of Central Africa more than mainland Tanzania. Here, even the sun follows a different rhythm, rising and setting an hour later. Discover this utterly secluded paradise with limited visitors and an exclusive eco-lodge.

Explore the untouched equatorial forest.

A walk in the forest path beckons, a gateway to a world hushed by the leafy canopy. Greenlight filters through the leaves as you push through the trees. High above, a silent drama unfolds. Giant trees, locked in an ageless battle for sunlight, reach for the sky. Buttresses fan out from their trunks, anchoring them in the shallow, loamy soil. Discover vines that draw out water when cut correctly and strangler vines that coil sinuously around their hosts and climb relentlessly.

Beneath the watchful giants above, a vibrant tapestry of life unfolds. Beetles scuttle, emperor moth caterpillars inch along, and millipedes wriggle through the damp undergrowth, the musky scent of damp earth mingling with the sweet perfume of hidden wildflowers.3-Mar-22-2024-10-36-40-7790-AM

Unique wildlife experiences. 

Spot the world's only amphibious antelope, the sitatunga, a frequent visitor to the camp (guests have even seen them on multiple visits!). Other fascinating residents include bushbuck, playful vervet monkeys, monitor lizards, and hippos.

Explore by Land and Water: Embark on a game drive and track elusive elephants. Keep your eyes peeled for the serrated-hinged terrapin, a unique turtle species found only in East African lakes and rivers, basking in mud banks or puddles along the wheel tracks.  On the water, watch spotted-necked otters glide effortlessly, or witness a massive crocodile silently slip off Croc Island. You might even see smaller crocodiles sunning themselves on the shore. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck with Nile Perch and Tilapia (catch and release only, of course!).10-2

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Spotted-necked otter on Rubondo Island

Meet Rubondo Island's chimpanzees who have such a fascinating story.

In the 1960s, Professor Bernhard Grzimek led a project with the Frankfurt Zoological Society to establish a sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees. He selected Rubondo Island, free from natural predators. Between 1966-1969, 16 chimps from European zoos were released in four groups. Despite their captive upbringing, these chimps adapted remarkably to their new environment. Today, the chimpanzee population on Rubondo Island has grown to over 60, a testament to the project's success. Visitors can now observe these chimps in their natural habitat through guided treks. Since they weren't originally wild, these chimps are undergoing a habituation process, offering a unique opportunity for up-close observation during your visit.


A Birder's Paradise: Rubondo Island is a haven for birdwatchers. The avian residents here have more in common with Central Africa than Eastern Africa, explaining sightings of Grey Parrots, Eastern Grey Plantain Eaters, and even a new species for Ninian – the Vieillot's Black Weaver.  Even birding novices are charmed by the spectacle.  Out on the lake, an Open-Billed Stork might be drying its wings, flanked by an elegant egret, while cormorants perch on nearby rocks.  A boat ride on the lake reveals sights of many birds that are usually hidden within the forest canopy, visitors consistently remark on the island's magic as a birdwatching destination.


                                                                                                                                                                                                             Photo: Yellow Billed Kite on Rubondo Island

Far from the crowds, Rubondo Island Camp overlooks the vast waters of Lake Victoria.

The only lodge in this untouched wilderness consists of just eight hand-crafted cottages, offering an intimate experience in this one-of-a-kind island paradise. Built with traditional skills and local materials, these luxurious cottages are nestled alongside trees to ensure a light footprint on the island's delicate ecosystem. Unwind in a hammock swaying gently in the cool lake breeze, or dip into a refreshing pool beneath the shade of enormous trees, all just steps from the sandy lakeshore.Enquire Now

Exuding laid-back charm, Rubondo Island is a haven for rejuvenation. Pack for the occasional downpour. Don't let the rain dissuade you – it's a natural part of the island's lush rainforest ecosystem. Embrace an adventure that combines land and water on this Island with a vibrant rainforest.

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Enquire now and our team will create a custom itinerary tailored to your preferences.

Explore East Africa's wildest secrets, stunning wildlife, and offbeat adventures.


Tel: +254 708 238 738

Purple Nomad Ltd
PO Box 69671 - 00400
Mwanzi Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya

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