The first time I sailed on Lake Victoria, I was seven years old with my 9-year-old brother in a canoe at Ggaba landing site, which is a few meters away from home. We had an overwhelming experience and since then our curiosity to sail farther grew each and every day, to the point that we have swum several times to the islands adjacent to Ggaba landing site.

Recently I set sail to Kalangala, a district with writers, photographers, travelers, patriotic Ugandans who want to document and see Uganda through their own eyes under the umbrella #KoikoiUg – one of the projects of Kafunda Kreatives. I am part of this movement because I know a single bracelet does not jingle.

white-sand uganda
The shores of Lake Victoria in Kalangala, Uganda | Ssese Islands. #KoikoiUg #KoikoiIslands

Introducing Kalangala

When most people decide to visit Kalangala, it’s no secret they think it is one big island in the middle of Lake Victoria. Yet, Kalangala consists of eighty-four islands also known as Ssese islands. Inside Uganda boundary, the largest island is Buggala with a surface area of 275 Square Kilometers. Which is also the second largest in Lake Victoria after Ukerewe Island in Tanzania with a surface of 530 Square kilometers.

Ssese is among the counties of Buganda kingdom and constituents all the islands in Uganda in Lake Victoria. Ssese is the spiritual center of “Misagwa” – spirits also loosely pronounced as “Misabwa” and a home to all Buganda guardians “Lubaale” hence the indigenous name “Nalubaale” for the lake.

Getting to Kalangala

Like many islands getting to kalangala can be done from all routes and directions, using a water transport means of choice.

Together with the team, the journey started from Kampala, Uganda at Shell Kira Road – Filled up the car tanks with Shell Fuel save – awesome fuel for distant destinations, no? We used the Masaka route, and embarked on a ferry from Bukakata to Buggala Island with took thirty minutes. There are other ways for examples, Nakiwogo – Entebbe ship, Kasenyi – Entebbe boats among others.

Kalangala Ferry
The team embarking on the Journey to find the stories and explore the beauty of the Ssese Islands, Kalangala – Uganda. #KoikoiUg #KoikoiIslands

Getting acquainted with kalangala.

According to the recent population census, it shows 54,293 people are living in Kalangala District. The most spoken language is Luganda, though back in the days there was an indigenous language called Olussese spoken by the Ssese people, it was a tribe of its own, but now it’s extinct. If you neither know Luganda nor English fear not, just wear a smile and prepare to be dazed by the Ugandan hospitality, trust me on this!


Most people ensure shelter first before anything else. In Buggala Kalangala District there are quite a number of lodges, guest houses, hotels, cottages, and resorts. The choice is definitely made in preference to anyone’s taste. For the weekend Paronoma cottages were a home away from home.

Besides Paronoma cottages, there is; Ssese Beach hotel, Ssese habitant, pearl garden resort beach, Mirembe resort, Brovad sand lodge, Pelican beach, Victoria forest, kingfisher camping site, among others.

Activities and places to visit

 Uganda forest-walk
The forest whole arrangement. Tip: Just keep an awesome and funny conversation going, you will enjoy the walk. 

What is going to a place and you don’t experience, explore and try out something new? While in Ssese islands here are some of the activities we engaged in; the natural forest walk, biking, quad biking, swimming, boat cruise and interacting with the residents. The places; Wanema Shrine, Nanziri Falls, Nnalongo Nanziri cave, fishing village, Bidco plantation, the orthodox church and definitely the white sand beaches.

Nanziri Falls Ssese Islands
The Nanziri Falls, Ssese Islands, Uganda.

One thing anyone ought to try is the Ssese Islands staple food which is “Kabelo” – cassava pieces prepared together with any kind of fish.

The DON’Ts.

Don’t bring sheep or it’s products to the Ssese islands, otherwise, upon docking, you will be struck by lightning.

When you decide to become a resident, don’t grow millet or engage in any millet farming otherwise that particular island will be fronting famine and drought. Even if it’s small scale just don’t.

Don’t be late for the ferry.

Don’t forget to loosen up! Never Forget…

From left, Joanitah, Patricia and Twonjex living in the moment as they loosen up. Never not!
Joel Jemba

A social media strategist, a traveler, a swimmer, always hungry for healthy foods and full-time creative, who embraces limitation.

1 Comment

  1. Lovely account. Thanks for sharing, Joel. Brings nostalgic memories of my Ugandan experience. Sailing to the Source of the Nile, and bungee jumping – both in Jinja, Uganda.

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