Think you’ve seen it all?
Landing on Rubondo Island is like arriving in Jurassic Park- a feeling that you are going back in time, to a place forgotten by world outside. What’s more, everything on Rubondo seems to be bigger than anywhere else: The trees have grown undisturbed for centuries, the elephants have such a good diet that they dwarf their Serengeti cousins, the Nile Perch that call the waters around the island home have been known to reach over 100kg; and the crocodiles that bask on the rocks seem almost prehistoric.
A short flight from Kigali, Rubondo Island has lain unexplored for decades, and is the epitome of peace and tranquillity. The island has no human inhabitants and the only accommodation on the island is Asilia’s new luxury Rubondo Island Camp, making it the ideal escape whether you want to recharge or get out and explore.
The island has an intriguing history which dates back to 1966 when Dr Bernhard Grzimek (one of the key drivers behind the establishment of the Serengeti National Park) brought 17 chimps from European zoos to Rubondo Island in an effort to establish a safe haven for them, away from the threats of poaching and industrialisation. Within a year they were able to eat wild foods and construct nests and today their descendants are very much at home on Rubondo.
While on the island, you get to walk through chimp territory with Asilia’s expert guides, and although sightings are not guaranteed, the knowledge the guides impart make this a very enjoyable (and educational) activity. While out in the forest you will see beautiful butterflies, orchids and maybe even come across a curious bushbuck.
For those who prefer to be on water, the fishing here is world class, the Nile Perch famous for the monstrous size they reach! Another way to explore the lake is on the camp’s traditional dhow. Dhow sailing at sunset with a sundowner drink in hand is a peaceful way to end the day.For the more active the camp also has canoes and can take guests out on a guided paddle through the wetlands.
The bird life here is prolific with over 300 species recorded to date and what’s probably the highest density of fish eagles in East Africa; and cruising silently past in canoes affords excellent opportunities for photography.
If all of this activity sounds like hard work, then rest assured you can unwind at the camp. The camp is set along a stretch of white sandy beach and the sound of the lake lapping against the shore will lull you to sleep at night (if you aren’t disturbed by a hippo honking close by!) . The main mess area is open on 3 sides to give a 280-degree view of the lake, and the natural rocks on which the building stands have been incorporated to give you a feel of Nature all around you.
The meals are a real treat at Rubondo. After you have been woken in your suite with your choice of tea or coffee (a luxurious way to be woken up!) breakfast can be as big as you would like it to be with fresh fruits and yoghurt or the full works with eggs and bacon. It is likely that a curious bushbuck will be standing not far away watching you eat! Lunch might be a picnic while you are out exploring or a selection of fresh salads if you are sitting down in camp. Dinner is always a three-course feast.
The Camp is easily accessible from Kigali with daily flights on Coastal Air departing at 6am and landing at 7.45am on Rubondo Island (www.coastal.co.tz)
Rubondo Island Camp has special rates for Africa residents, from US$ 280 per person per night on a full board basis, including game drives, hiking and canoeing. Boating activities have a surcharge of US$ 200 per boat per day and there is a national park fee of US$ 30 per person per day.
Find out more at: www.asiliaafrica.com or enquire with: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Mercedes Bailey