Geoparks Africa
World Heritage Sites

Rubondo: The World’s Largest Conserved Tropical Forest Island floating on Lake Victoria

The world’s biggest conserved Island is found in Tanzania. And, it is floating on Africa’s largest water body, Lake Victoria.

Rubondo Island National Park is a hidden gem.

While 90 percent of tourists visiting Tanzania would rather game drive in Serengeti, descend into Ngorongoro Crater or Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, there is a modest number of travellers who love the tranquillity of an unspoiled Island. These usually land on Rubondo.

An average of 3500 tourists visit Rubondo Island National Park every year.

“Rubondo is the world’s largest conserved Island in the tropical forests,” explains Dr Imani Kikoti the Assistant Conservation Commissioner at the Tanzania National Parks.

Dr Kikoti who commands the Rubondo National Park, reveals that the Island is home to a variety of wildlife including giant elephants, towering giraffes and chimpanzees, in addition to larger than life crocodiles.

The rare Sitatunga antelope also roams on the Island.

Many years ago Rhinos also used to live on the Island but have since disappeared due to reportedly poaching, especially during the time before it became a National Park.

With more than 200 aviary species, Rundo is a certified birds’ watchers paradise.

The birds on the island include the largest known population of fish eagles in Africa

Rubondo is more than just a single Island; in fact in addition to the main archipelago there are eleven other 11 smaller islets all covering 457 square kilometres.

The main island is 26 kilometres long with more than 80 percent of its land blanketed by pristine, untouched forest, outlined with soft bright sandy beaches.

Being a strictly conserved Island the only inhabitants on Rubondo are park rangers, researchers, and the staff and guests of its camps.

Rubondo is also an important fish breeding precinct on Lake Victoria because the water surrounding the island is rich with fish including tilapia and the Nile perch.

Visitors who yearn for a truly remote, unique and wild destination will always book a safari to Rubondo which many describe to be perfect for travellers with a real sense of adventure.

It also caters for the introverts who are looking for their own secluded type of paradise.

There is also a bit of multinational wildlife History related to Rubondo.

Over a four-year period between 1966 and 1969, the legendary German Zoologist Professor Bernhard Grzimek of the Frankfurt Zoological Society reportedly released 17 chimpanzees in four cohorts onto Rubondo Island.

It is being reported that the first cohort of chimpanzees landed in Dar es Salaam on June 17, 1966 aboard the Eibe Oldendorff which was a German African Line’s steamship.

As it happens, the Chimps were initially taken from West Africa and kept in captivity in some European Zoos or maybe also used in circuses, before somebody decided it was high time they were taken back to Africa.

The primates that were released at Rubondo had no pre-release training.

However after one year the chimps were able to find and eat wild foods and construct nests for sleeping, and have since then reverted to an unhabituated state characteristic of wild chimpanzees.

The giant African Rock python complements the reptile population on the island as well as islets.

Be careful though, occasionally a Hippo may climb onto the pier leading to the island from where the boats usually dock.

But as the Island continues to get promotion from people who visit it, chances are the tourists’ traffic to Rubondo will surge in future.

And maybe that is why the Park Management is setting aside six investment areas for development into hotels, lodges and campsites.

However at the moment a three-star, three storey hotel is being constructed at Chato on the shores of Lake Victoria which will also handle tourists visiting the island

The Burigi-Chato Park Hotel which will feature a floating Bar in addition to 20 executive suites, 10 ordinary suites and presidential suites is set to open shop before the year 2025.