Rubondo Island National Park

Situated on an island in the southwest corner of the world’s second-largest lake, Lake Rubondo Island National Park is one of the only two national parks situated on an Island on this particular lake in Tanzania. The park is not very big and therefore it covers about 240 square kilometres and over 90% of the island remains vacant and occupied by forests. Rubondo Island National Park is known to harbour great fish breeding grounds and the park became a game reserve in 1965 to provide a sanctuary for animals.

Later on, in 1977, Rubondo was gazetted as a national park. Fishing is one of the major activities in and around Rubondo Island National Park. The island is dominated by open grasslands, papyrus groves, sandy beaches, forests, tamarind, palm trees and sycamore trees. It is also the largest island park on the African continent. 


Rubondo Island National Park harbours some of the rare mammal species including aquatic Sitatunga, dik-diks, mongooses and other common mammal species which may include duikers, bushbucks, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, buffaloes, vervet monkeys, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, to mention but a few.

Rubondo Island National Park is also a birder’s paradise and attracts over 400 different bird species and some of them may include herons, storks, spoonbills, and African Grey parrots, to mention but a few. The park also attracts several migratory bird species from Europe.


Chimpanzee habituation at Rubondo. In the late 1960s, a group of chimpanzees found a home in Rubondo Island National Park and to date, there are still several endangered chimpanzees sheltered in the park. Visitors who want to participate in the chimpanzee habituation process and other conservation projects can enrol and get started with the exercise.

Chimpanzee habituation involves training of chimpanzees to get used to the human presence before they can be open for tracking in their natural habitats. It is during this process that participants get to learn more about these human-like primate species such as their feeding habits, breastfeeding of their young ones, behavior and more. 

Game drives. Rubondo Island National Park harbours several mammal species including hippos, water bucks, buffaloes, elephants, bush pigs, hyrax, Sitatunga, warthogs, and chimpanzees that can be spotted during game drives, especially on boats. Several bird species can be spotted on the island and these may include egrets, herons, storks, and ibises, to mention but a few. It is also arguably said that the park shelters the highest density of fish eagles in the whole world. 

Guided nature walks. Visitors can also get to explore and tour the island park on foot in the company of well-versed and experienced tour guides. It is during this breathtaking activity that they get a chance to connect with Mother Nature and have clear views of the wildlife of Rubondo Island National Park.

While on guided nature walks, several wildlife species can also be spotted including chimpanzees, duikers, Grey parrots, giraffes, elephants, Sitatunga, vervet monkeys, and black and white colobus monkeys. 

Cultural encounters.  While at Rubondo Island National Park, visitors can also choose to visit the neighbouring communities and get a chance to interact with the local people and learn about their history background, culture and traditions. Some of the cultural sites around Rubondo may include Maji, Altare, Ntugamirwe and more.  


Rubondo Island National Park is an all-year tourism destination, especially for birders. However, the dry season of June to October is considered the best time to visit the remote park on the Island. It’s during the dry season of the year in Rubondo that visitors shall be able to spot the stunning wildlife of this island park.

Other animal and bird species also gather around the water bodies during the dry season for drinking water and food. For birders, the best time to visit Rubondo Island National Park is between December and March. This is when the migratory birds from Europe flock to the park.


1 Comment

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    June 11, 2024 at 11:04 pm


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