Why Go on a Rubondo Island Vacation?

Africa’s Largest Island National Park

Zanzibar might be the most well-known of all the Tanzania islands, but Rubondo Island is a hidden gem offering an exclusive private oasis experience. Located in southwest Lake Victoria, Rubondo Island is relatively untouched by tourism and is ripe for exploration for travellers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure.

In the late 1960s, Rubondo Island became a national park, transforming into a sanctuary for a variety of species (sitatunga antelope, elephant and giraffe), including chimpanzees – which the island is famous for. Today, the 237 square-kilometre (92 square-mile) area is Africa’s largest island national park, comprising 11 small islets that are dotted with dense equatorial forest and sprinkled with open grassland, as well as papyrus swamps and waterways.

What adds to Rubondo Island National Park’s exclusivity is Rubondo Island Camp – the only place to stay in the entire region! Being the only accommodation in this unspoilt paradise, you’ll have the feeling of complete seclusion and privacy in a wildlife-rich landscape.

 

1. Trek Through Tropical Rainforest in Search of Chimpanzees

Chimp seen on a chimpanzee trek in Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania.

When Rubondo Island first became a designated national park, only 17 chimpanzees were introduced over the course of 4 years into the area. Today, the population stands at approximately 60 chimps, making it one of the most successful wild chimpanzee colonies in Africa.

The Rubondo Island Chimpanzee Habituation Experience is a unique offering that allows guests to enjoy a guided trek through the tropical rainforests of Rubondo to find these boisterous creatures. Although sightings aren’t guaranteed, there is a good chance that you’ll get to observe these primates within close proximity for 30 minutes or more.

Highlights:

  • Observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat
  • Trek through Rubondo’s tropical rainforests, led by a professional ranger
  • Chimpanzee trekking is a year-round activity

 

2. Incredible Wildlife Sightings on Game Drives Through the Forest

Hippo spotted on game drive in a safari 4x4 vehicle in Rubondo National Park, Tanzania.

This pristine slice of paradise is a haven for wildlife, making it a fantastic region to enjoy game drives. Keep your eye out for chimpanzees, rhinos, elephants, giraffes, antelope, civets, genets, hippos, crocodiles and even otters. For the avid birder, this group of Lake Victoria islands are home to over 300 species, including pied kingfishers, fish eagles and marabou storks. While anglers can delight in catch-and-release fishing for the famous Nile perch.

Highlights:

  • See big game like giraffe, rhino and elephants
  • Over 300 species of bird
  • Enjoy big game fishing for the Nile perch

 

3. Exceptional Boating & Canoeing Safaris

Boating safari on Lake Victoria in Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania.

Classic game drives in an open-sided 4×4 safari vehicle are a thrilling experience, but there’s more than one way to encounter the wildlife of Rubondo Island. The papyrus swamps and waterways of the national park are great for boating and canoeing safaris. Take to the water of Lake Victoria to enjoy game-watching from a unique perspective.

Highlights:

  • Explore the wildlife-filled channels of Lake Victoria
  • See hippos and crocodiles up close
  • Enjoy game-watching from a different perspective

 

4. Take the Road Less Travelled and Explore a Hidden Gem

A drive in a 4x4 safari vehicle through Rubondo Island National Park, Tanzania.

Although Rubondo Island is not as well-known as other Tanzania islands, like Zanzibar, this is the region’s strong point. The national park is an unspoilt nirvana of lush tropical rainforests, winding waterways and majestic wildlife. And being in a remote part of the East African country means that this gem of a destination is off the beaten track – which is just a fancy way of saying that you’ll enjoy a getaway free from the crowds. Rubondo Island Camp is the only accommodation in the national park. With only a handful of rooms available, you’ll feel like you have the island all to yourself.

Highlights:

  • Only one accommodation in the national park
  • Remote island in an untouched part of Tanzania
  • Exclusive and private safari experience

 

5. Easy Add On

Pristine beach in Rubondo National Park, Tanzania.

These Lake Victoria islands have their own airstrip, making it easily accessible from a number of destinations. This means that it can easily be combined with other great Tanzania destinations, like the Serengeti, Zanzibar and Arusha. Direct flights from Kigali are also available, making it possible to combine chimp trekking with an epic gorilla tracking adventure in Rwanda.

Highlights:

  • Easily combined with other popular travel destinations in Tanzania
  • Combine gorilla trekking in Rwanda with chimp trekking on Rubondo Island
  • Dedicated airstrip makes logistics a dream
What travellers most enjoyed about Rubondo Island

Bird watching

Mokoro rides

Scenery

Sunset cruises and boating

Walking safaris

Wildlife and safari