Deserted Island in Lake Victoria

Trip Start Aug 31, 2005
Trip End Aug 25, 2006

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Flag of Uganda  ,
Friday, November 25, 2005

The 18 hours we spent in Kampala were uneventful bar the constant sighting of brochures, signs and websites advertising a place called Banda Island. Intrigued, we investigated further and discovered it lies within the Sesse group of islands just south of Entebbe airport. Without much further ado we decided this was to be our next destination... but first there were administrative matters to attend to in Kampala - namely the parting of a large sum of cash to make an appointment with the gorillas and a spot of Christmas shopping!

After a long day we headed to a place called Kasenyi late Friday afternoon - a small fishing village where it was claimed we'd be able to hitch a lift with a fishing vessel to Banda. The alternative was to charter a boat ourselves, or catch a ride with a group of Danish people we'd been put in contact with. Unfortunately both options were vetoed on account of being way too expensive which left Plan C... The Fishing Boat. Upon arrival in Kasenyi we sought out "Grace" of Kasenyi Takeaway, who the voice answering the Banda hotline had told us would arrange transport. No sooner had we mentioned our destination than we were ushered to the shoreline by "porters" who we thought were going to carry our bags. Alas, no - as soon as we reached the water they bundled us up and carried our very selves out to the boat, moored 20 metres off-shore! This alone was a strange experience but things were about to get a whole lot more bizarre... the next 15 minutes was spent arguing with the porters about our weight - they claimed we were way too heavy ("too much fish and chips") and had to pay more as a result. We stood our ground and they eventually lost interest, wading back to shore to procure more business.

In spite of having been told the boat would leave at 6pm, we were the first to board at 6:15pm. The next two hours were spent watching the sun set and a plague of insects descend upon us as the boat slowly filled... and filled... and filled to the point we were almost submerged - a low rider indeed! At 8:30 we finally took off, not a moment before flashes of lightening started to appear on the horizon... enter the next 3 hours, spent shivering in the cold as we moved oh-so-slowly towards our destination (apparently doable in 2 hours but the boatmen go as slowly as possible to conserve petrol!). I was convinced we wouldn't make it by around 11pm when the storm started to move in and the waves had roughened (to the point the bottom of the boat was starting to feel very wet!)... when suddenly lights appeared out of the darkness and a bonfire spontaneously illuminated 6 figures standing on the edge of a tiny island. Yay - we were saved!

To shouts of "Are you Bosnian?" we disembarked the boat after about 5 minutes of deliberation - being parked 10 metres off-shore in pitch blackness it took some time to figure out our next move. Eventually we joined our fellow Banda-ites in the living/dining area under a large tree and chowed down a meal of mashed potato and beans. No sooner had we digested than the storm unleashed itself in full force and we had to take refuge indoors (of course there are always the crazy few that decide to strip off their clothes and go swimming with washed-up fishermen...).

The next few days were spent chilling out in a semi-tropical paradise... hanging around in hammocks, eating the most amazing food we'd tasted in a long time and being entertained by our eccentric colonial host (Dominique). Dom had something to say about almost everything and it was almost always controversial (but highly eloquent). Most conversations were to the accompaniment of "drugs, anyone?" as the weed was flowing freely and the goodwill always forthcoming. We each went through a couple of books in a bubble of sublime relaxation while counting hippos (total = 1) and listening to fascinating dissertations on the conspiracy of Africa in our free time. Apart from the sheer number of spiders that shared our beds, toilets and clothes... and the plague of "little flying things" that descended upon us on day 3, Banda island was perfection to the point of being addictive.

And so we had to leave... :-)
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