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The Ssese Island came into existence about 12000 years ago when a tectonic shift caused an elevated basin situated between two main arms of the great rift valley to flood, forming Lake Victoria as we know it today. Little is known about the earliest inhabitants of Ssese, but some oral traditions associated with the creation of Buganda claim that its founder Kintu hailed from the islands of the Gods. In pre-colonial times it was customary for the kings of Buganda to visit the Islands and pay tribute to the several balubaale whose main shrines to Mukasa, spirit of the lake, on Bubembe. Some Buganda historical sources romanticize this relationship, claiming that in pre-colonial times Ssese due to its exalted status was never attacked by Buganda, nor was it formally incorporated into the mainland kingdom. In reality, while Ssese probably did enjoy a degree of autonomy, it was clearly a vassal of Buganda for at least a century prior to the colonial era. Further more while the Baganda revered the Islands’ spirits, Stanley recorded that they looked down on their human inhabitants for their “coal-black colour, timidity, superstition, and generally uncleanly life”
The most popular legend associated with a deity from Ssese islands dates from mid 16th century war, when Buganda, led by Nakibinge, was being overwhelmed in a war against Bunyoro. Nakibinge visited the Islands in search of support, and was offered the assistance of the local king’s youngest son, Kibuuka, who leaped to the mainland in one mighty bound to join the war against Bunyoro. Tall and powerful though, Kibuuka-which means the flier-was also possessed of a somewhat more singular fighting skill. A deity in human form, he was able to fly high above the clouds and shower down spear on the enemy, who had no idea from where the deadly missiles emanated. Led by Kibuuka’s aerial attacks, rout followed rout, and the tide of war reversed swiftly in Nakibinge’s favour as the Baganda army proceeded deeper into Banyoro territory.
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Fishing –Boating – Sailing
The Ssese Islands are surrounded by the 2nd largest lake in the world and the largest lake in Africa – Boating is a normal way of life, from fishing boats, to Sail Boats, Motorized Boats of all kind.
The boating activities are endless and of course the water-sports in a tropical setting – fish the Africa’s largest fresh water fish – the elusive Nile Perch, Tilapia from a boat or the shore-sailing is available with some lodging facilities, take a sun-downer cruise and more.
Beach Fires – BBQ:
Imagine the African Starlit Sky, the pyrotechnic lightning displays in the distance over the lake. You are on an equatorial, tropical Island and one of the fun things of being on the beach is a blazing fire, music and simply having fun with others that you have met since coming here. A BBQ can be arranged with many lodges, there is nothing like a freshly caught Tilapia Fish over an over fire.
Hikes – Nature Walks:
Though you are on an Island – there are plenty of opportunities for Hikes and Nature Walks, from short ones to full-day. Such walks can include visits to Villages, including fishing Villages where you have inter-cultural exchanges, have a drink and chat with an Islander. You can also visit Schools and meet future Islanders and most often can enjoy a song and dance of the school-children.
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Situated in the northwest of Lake Victoria, the Ssese Islands form one of Uganda’s prime destinations for casual rambling and off-the-beaten-track exploration, as well as for game fishing, in particular Nile perch. For much of the 1990s, the islands were entrenched as perhaps the most popular backpacker’chill-out destination in Uganda. Although their attractions have not diminished in recent years, their popularity evidently has, attributable perhaps to the suspension of ferries from Port Bell as well as the burgeoning tourist development at the more accessible Lake Bunyonyi in Kigezi.
The Ssese Archipelago consists of 84 separate Islands, some large and densely inhabited, others small and deserted, but lushly forested thanks to an annual average rainfall in excess of 20,000mm. Only two islands regularly receive tourists. The more established of these is Buggala, the largest, most accessible and most developed Island, which is privately owned and the site of a popular budget resort. Other Islands that can be visited with varying degrees of ease are Bubeke, Bukasa and Bufumira.
Not least amongst Ssese Islands’ attractions are their rustic character and the sense of being well away from established tourist circuit. But as in other out-of –the-way places, it is suggested that you dress conservatively except in resort and campsite ground and to swim with a T-shirt on.