If there’s one thing I wish I could take with me from weekends spent in Entebbe, it has to be those many hours of sunshine merged with the restful breeze from the lake.
This particular weekend, I got more than just the sun and the breeze; a wonderful bonus of both sand and sea at Park Shoebill.
Tuesday morning, I had escaped home as duty called. The Uganda Tourism Board was hosting a media training for over 50 journalists and key tourism sector communicators about responsible tourism reporting at the Brovad Sands Lodge, in Kalangala, the most popular town in Sesse, an archipelago of 84 islands.
We left Kampala slightly before the hour of eleven, arriving in time for our departure time (14h00) on the famous MV Kalangala; a journey on water that lasted about three hours and twenty-five minutes.
It wasn’t the kind of boat trip I’d comfortably wish to do again, even having been on it a couple of times before (too long for my comfort), but as they say, “the end justifies the means”. Everything was fine once we were in the Sesse Islands.
Not so many things beat the thought of resting on one of the sandy beaches which embrace the waters of the world’s largest freshwater lake, seeing birds in their choral parade, wetting my hands in Lake Victoria, filling my lungs with fresh air and enjoying a finger-to-mouth dinner of fresh fish and chips at one of the local restaurants.
Life on the island just has something special about it that cannot always be felt by the hand, but more by the heart.
After three nights at the lovely Brovad Sands Lodge, at the end of the workshop on Friday, I returned to Kampala through the Kalangala-Bukakata-Masaka-Kampala route, which is a lot shorter on water (about twenty-five minutes) served by a regular ferry, although this involves more driving time. I am a road trip person anyways so the road is never too long for me.
Fast forward to Saturday…
The following day would present yet another opportunity to discover a new retreat called Park Shoebill, a recreation center located on Bussi Island, one of the islands on Lake Victoria; only 8 kilometers away from Nakiwogo landing site in Entebbe, the main gateway town to Uganda. From here you can also see the planes as they land at Entebbe International Airport.
The morning kicked in pretty fast, and although my body would have preferred a few more hours of sleep, my youthful self had a date with the lake, and island; and a weekend’s adventure at Park Shoebill couldn’t be mssed.
Yea, I know. I am quite crazy.
In the same week, I had returned to Nakiwogo Landing Site ( you could call it a perfect weekly circle) and we quickly boarded “The Shoebill”, a boat owned by the Park Shoebill.
We were safely ferried across the lake over a journey that lasted about thirty-five minutes. Life jackets, safety procedures, music on board, open views and an excellent crew; many important boxes were ticked.
We were soon docked at Bussi Island and walked across a wooden jetty right onto a cute private beach. My feet could not wait to feel the white sand.
“Welcome to Park Shoebill. Please enjoy your time here.” These were the welcoming remarks from two very convivial gentlemen who handed each one of us a chilled hand towel to wipe our sweaty foreheads and clean our hands; followed by a frigid glass of fresh “Island-ish” sugar-less passion juice squeezed from fruits picked from the onsite garden.
You never get used to this type of welcome, it still even livens the most avid nomads.
We were soon through the usual briefing formalities, I had already emptied my heavy tank in the gents (restroom) and it was now time for the real adventures of Park Shoebill.
But before the team got laced up and had their helmets fastened, we were led on a necessary site tour of the rooms, restaurant, bar and other amenities.
Accommodation at Park Shoebill comes in the form of wooden cabins and midrange bandas each fitted with power supply from a generator and solar heaters. The rooms feature washrooms with modern en-suite facilities, each with a relaxation porch. They also have plenty of space should you fancy pitching a tent around a campfire, or in the gardens above the beach, waking up to the rushing sounds of Lake Victoria.
Park Shoebill has a well-stocked bar and fine restaurant which serves luscious meals with both continental and local varieties. While they are pretty hands-on, and the mainland is just thirty minutes away, I recommend that you book in advance to help them plan and avoid any disappointments.
The real adventure…
My plan had been to chill while the other members of the group take on the Ropes Course (since I had done this same activity a couple of times already, at both Busika Adventure Park, and Lakeside Adventure Park), but I could not resist cycling around on one of their bikes and the ultimate highlight of raving the quad bikes on the beach at Park Shoebill.
The Ropes Course at Park Shoebill included a canopy walk, a 150-meter-long zipline, that will more than definitely tease you round smashing into a tree and give you tummy nerves. It’s very safe!
Other activities at Park Shoebill include boating, fishing and Zorb balling. You can also enjoy some cool vibes in the tree bar with friends.
The adventure park is also a perfect vantage point from which by boat, you can access Mabamba Swamp EcoTourism Site to look for the much-sought-after sporadic Shoebill; perhaps the very inspiration for the naming of this island retreat.
I got to visit with a couple of guys during the last weekend of June 2019. It’s a fine place for family retreats, team building activities, or those escape dates with your special person.
Feel free to hit me up in the comments below if you are planning to visit or just want to get more details about this spot. I’ll be glad to help.
But for now, I remain yours truly, The Ugandan Tourist!