Rubondo Island National Park, alluring for its tranquillity and sublime lakeshore scenery, is one of Tanzania’s best-kept secrets and there may be days when you’re the only guests on the 240-sq-km island. Birdwatching, particularly for shore birds (there are many migrants in November and December), brings the most visitors, but walking safaris (half-day walks US$11.80 per group), bush camping (adult/child US$59/6) and sport fishing (per day US$59) can also be rewarding.
Rubondo Island Camp offers wildlife drives, but only for its guests. Elephants, giraffes, black and white colobus, and chimpanzees were long ago introduced alongside the island’s native hippo, bushbuck and sitatunga, an amphibious antelope that hides among the marshes and reeds along the shoreline (Rubondo is probably the best place in Tanzania to see it).
Rubondo’s chimps are not yet habituated, but at the time of research experts were still working on the long process of getting them used to human company. This could take up to four or five years but sightings will probably increase as the chimps lose their fear of us. In the meantime fascinating chimp-tracking walks can take you in search of their presence.
Though the beaches look inviting, there are enough crocodiles and hippos for swimming to be prohibited. Heed any cautions the rangers give, as attacks do occur.