Ah, Ssese Islands! Unlike many of my peers who have no other aspiration than to draw their salary, raise a family and ensure that they keep out of any kind of trouble, I have always had a curious desire to explore my country – and eastern Africa in general. For this part of the world rewards travellers with fascinating cultural encounters with the numerous tribes that call this region home.
My most recent trip was to the Ssese Islands, an archipelago that introduced me to the fascinating world of islanders, fishing culture, and a people of outstanding friendliness with a reputation of being the custodians of Buganda’s traditions and culture.
Tucked away in the middle of the enormous Lake Victoria, 51 kilometres from the mainland in Entebbe, this archipelago’s name – in allusion to its early reputation of a heavy infestation of tsetse flies – simply means the islands of tsetse flies.
Until recently, Ssese Islands was completely off the travel radar; the archipelago was only famous for fishing and high rates of HIV/Aids prevalence. Also, for a long time, the tag “poorest district in Uganda” belonged to Kalangala district, which is made up of the Ssese Islands.
But things have changed now and these islands – 84 in total – are bound to elevate your Instagram with colourful shots of exotic beaches, the enchantingly laid-back islanders, and the friendly village vibe of Kalangala town, one of the few Ugandan towns with zero kilometres of paved roads.