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Bulago Island: the Lake Victoria alternative to the coastal beaches

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Nov 11, 2008

Opportunity arose recently to take both wife and daughter to Bulago Island on Lake Victoria. As the pictures can confirm, one might be mistaken to think that the location is along the famous Indian Ocean beaches of Mombasa or the fabled island of Zanzibar. Far from it! It is a ‘home grown’ little resort with much style and character and is an easy and popular get away from the city, though available too for visitors from further abroad.

The island can be reached by boat from the mainland within 40 – 60 minutes (from the main jetty in Munyonyo or the Bulago landing base in Garuga), depending on the type of boat used, and life jackets are of course available for all passengers and the load is strictly monitored to avoid any accidents on the route. Alternatively an 8 minute flight from the Kajjansi airfield brings visitors straight into the island’s own airstrip, large enough for all the single-engined aircraft used in Uganda and even for some of the smaller twin-engined light aircraft.

Accommodation is simple, clean and completely adequate, the atmosphere totally relaxed and, although there is strong signal availability from all mobile operators, calls in the public areas are discouraged by management. For addicts to email and TV news, there is a small room available where satellite TV can keep people in touch, as does a hotspot for email – but then why go to Bulago in the first place if not to get away from it all? Hence, management also does not allow the use of radios or ‘blasters’ although MP3 players with earphones can be used so that ‘private music’ can add to the holiday enjoyment without bothering other guests. Hammocks are strung at several ‘strategic’ places around the lodge grounds, but beach loungers and sun chairs are available too. And refreshingly, there is no need to get up early and hang towels over the backrests to ‘mark’ the sunbed as one’s own, as often seen at coastal resorts, there are enough chairs for all guests and ‘day trippers’ are not allowed into the resort to rule out any disturbance or having to share the facilities.
The food was gorgeous, fresh ingredients from the lodge’s own vegetable and herb gardens, freshly caught fish, organic chicken also from the island itself and excellent soups and girth widening desserts and puddings, plus the freshest fruits, picked and cut just in time for the meals. And plenty of food, no designer portions as seen elsewhere these days under the pretext of ‘healthy eating’, which at Bulago leaves guests without that creeping peckishness well before the next meal is due, benefitting only the cashier when having to buy snacks. Breakfast can be arranged until very late for those sleeping in, and early morning tea, or coffee, arrives on the doorstep as ordered.

Advertised as ‘the island in the sun,’ visit the company’s Website,, to read of other experiences visitors enjoyed at this little paradise. Extended walks, bird watching, horse riding, a spot of fishing or simply lounging at the pool or at the beach can fill a day quite well, and the occasional rain did not spoil the experience at all.

Many residents from Kampala have in the past visited and then extended their stay by a day or two, nothing unusual once getting used to the lifestyle of the island. No entertainment at night other than the company of other guests and at times animated after dinner discussions around the campfire, before a rich supper and the after dinner drinks take their toll and demand a closer acquaintance with the pillows.
Bring your favorite books and magazines – if at all there is much time to read instead of just relaxing, sleeping the day away or going for guided walks or strolls along the beach. Bulago Island comes highly recommended by many previous visitors. Bookings are essential via Enjoy!

Bulago Island: the Lake Victoria alternative to the coastal beaches
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