Rubondo Island National Park is one of two Tanzanian National Parks sited on an island in Lake Victoria- the largest lake in Africa, second largest lake in the world and the source of the Nile River,  the other being the Saanane Island National Park. Rubondo Island National Park is located in the south-western angle of Lake Victoria in Tanzania. The distance from Rubondo Island is about 150 km west of Mwanza Region. The main island Rubondo is about 237 km2 in size which protects another 11 islets that constitute Rubondo Island.  Most islets have got areas which are not much larger than 2 km2. These 10 islands which form the Rubondo Island National Park cover the area of about 456.8 km2 of land and water area.

The protected status of the Rubondo Island National Park is recognized as the important place for breeding ground for both migratory bird and fish species particularly Tilapia and Nile perch as for an extended time it stood to be the only zone in the waters of Lake Victoria which was well secured and preserved.

Nearly 80% of the park is covered by a thick forest as well as savannah, open woodland, papyrus swamp and beautiful sandy beaches. The beauty of Lake Victoria is ever-present while visiting the park. The dense vegetation provides varieties of habitats for indigenous wildlife such as Sitatunga, hippos, velvet monkeys, bush bucks, genet cats, crocodiles, bush pigs. Revealed species shares the ecological niches with the introduced species such as chimpanzees, elephants, black and white colobus monkeys, giraffes, suni and African grey parrots. 300 speckled species of birds are found on the island, such as African Grey parrots, heron, stork, spoonbill, malachite kingfisher, paradise flycatcher and many other avi-fauna.

The landform of the park is principally covered with thick forest which gives visitors a good moment at the island destination for walking safaris, canoeing, fishing, bird watching or just watching the distinct lake fauna from the sheltered comfort of your hammock.

Native fauna include semi-aquatic sitatunga and dappled bushbucks are also found in the swamps, as well as vervet monkey, genet cat, hippo and the largest prehistoric carnivore and crocodile. Some animals that are found on the island were introduced for conservation purposes. Other non-native animals found in the park include giraffes, elephants, black and white colobus, suni antelope and many others. Exploring the original wilderness of Rubondo Island Park is unlike any other experience during your GVTS exploration safari in northern Tanzania. Life on the island is much more comfortable, a perfect way to unwind after the unbelievable heart-pounding pleasure of game drives and mountain climbing in some of Tanzania’s other national parks. Observations of the slighter wildlife are the focus, making these occasions much more spectacular. The pleasant  staying at Rubondo Island, though, causes you to slow down and enjoy smaller ecosystems, such as wild insects collecting nectar from wildflowers, marked neck otter hunting for food and an African fish eagle mounting high overhead hunting for its next meal will be more of the activities in the park.

The Best time of your safaris at Rubondo Island National Park

Rubondo Island can be reached by Air-Chatters and Public transport and then take boats to the park. By Air Visitors who wish to travel by air should in advance check with GVTS tour experts for flight schedules and then plan the safari.  By public transport and Boat, visitors should use public transport leads from Mwanza to Nkome via Geita town which is approximately 3-4 hours (164km) drive, 100km through a tarmac and 64 rough road. At Nkome Rangers post you will be picked by park boat and will take 1 hour to the park. Another route is Mwanza to Mganza through Bukoba road (270km – 5hrs driving distance), Biharamulo to Mganza through Chato – Bukoba road and from Bukoba to Mganza through Bukoba – Chato road. At Muganza you will be picked by a taxi (5min) to Kasenda where boats are parked and then you will be picked-up by a park boat and will take about 20-25 min to the park. Prior communication and transport arrangements should be done before.

As the Rubondo National Park experiencing bimodal rainfall distribution with peaks in December as well as April to May and during the October–May rainy season. The best time for your safari is from June through September and during a wet season from November to March when wild flowers are flourishing and there are plenty of butterflies. For bird watchers a good time for your safari is from December to February when most migratory birds are nesting.

The uniqueness and Tourists activities in the Park

The park is donated with magnificent attractions that tourists can enjoy, including a diversity of wildlife including elephants, giraffes, bushbucks, hippos, yellow-spotted otters, crocodiles, chimpanzees, sitatunga and offers best fish breeding sites. Other attractions are birds’ diversity with more than 400 species of nesting birds being inherent in the park. The grey parrot, introduced in 2000 when 34 birds were rescued from illegal trade, is a spectacular newcomer. Another deafening specimen is the African fish eagle.


Chimpanzees Rubondo Island National Park are currently being habituated – rare Chimps are now used for tourism Habituation Experience. One can travel by car to Chimps’ areas and join chimps’ adaptation crew and be a part of the habituator.

Other mammals:

Other mammals that are regularly seen are Giraffes, Hippopotamus, Spotted necked Otter, Bushbucks and Velvet Monkeys. Genet Cats, Colobous monkeys, Marsh Mongoose, Suni and Elephants.

Wonderful view of evergreen solid primary low-lying Congolese forest

Above 80% of Rubondo Island National Park is covered by a strong principal lowland Congolese forest. These vegetation provide a variety of wildlife habitats which share similar ecological niches with elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees, black & white colobous monkeys, Suni, African grey parrots etc.

Water birds at Birds’ Island: 

Rubondo Island National Park is one of the sites with the highest compactness and concentration of Birds in Tanzania. Also Rubondo Island National Park provides best homes for birds migrating between southern and northern hemispheres.


Diversity of reptiles such as snakes (pythons), monitor lizards and crocodiles are found in the park but some are rarely seen. Most reptiles preserve their body temperature by absorbing heat from their surroundings and have bodies that transform accordingly to local atmosphere that means they cannot control their own body temperature.

Cultural Sites

There are three main cultural sites Maji matakatifu, Ntungamirwe, and Alutare. Maji matakatifu was historically used as ritual areas by Native Zinza who lived in Rubondo before the area was promoted to a National Park. One example of rituals belief was to make women and men who did not have children to have children.

Sacred Site Ntungamirwe

Nearby Kageye area, just beneath Pongo lookout beside the tourist trail, there is still visible and intact a sacrificial place, one of the most popular sacred sites used by Native Zinza tribes for traditional and spiritual beliefs. The rock can be described from the surrounding rocks due to its white patterns.


Among others, this is an important historical place, used during battles with enemies of the Banyarubondo. Enemies comprised Baganda people from Uganda, who attacked them especially after the yield season to steal cereals. The natives hid in karobhela caves at Alutare during the conflicts. The natives like to compare this entering with an entrance into a cathedral. This is why the whole part was named “Alutare”, which means “altar”.