Samuka Island has over 50 species of migratory and resident birds
A gentle boat ride from the Source of the River Nile leads you to Samuka Island, a nine-acre piece of natural beauty with a bird sanctuary, the perfect way to delight your senses after a long week, Frank Mugabi writes
Tucked away from Jinja town is a small but magnificent island on the turquoise waters of Lake Victoria and filled with everything you need for a perfect gateway.
The journey to Samuka Island is a 10-minute speed boat ride that starts from Rumours Pub at the Source of River Nile.
First opened in 1999 by Daniel Tyler Junior, son of American Missionary Daniel Tyler, the island temporarily closed in 2005 due to circumstances Tyler says were beyond his control.
But for the last three months, the nineacre islet has been a centre of activity as a group of people have been working in earnest to get the place back onto its feet.
The cottages have been redone to enhance their strategic position that offers the guests a panoramic view of both sunrise and sunset. All a guest has to do is draw the curtains, lie down on the crafted bed in the cottage and see nature unfold.
The ‘watch tower’, which is a new addition to the resort, is a storeyed wooden structure with a platform where one can relax while sipping a cold drink, read a novel or take in the sight of the lake beyond.
For those who love camping, a part of the island with tropical vegetation has been reserved for that purpose.
How the idea developed
Tyler Jr. first came to Uganda as a little boy in 1960. He went to Nakasero Primary School. In 1998 he attended a workshop in Jinja and was impressed
by the beauty of the town.
“I thought to myself, ‘This could be the Mombasa of Uganda.’ We don’t even have a river back home, let alone a lake,” Tyler says.
“And most importantly, the weather in Uganda is conducive for tourists. I saw a lot of potential and that’s when I made up my mind to develop a place where people could make a never-to-be-forgotten trip.”
Rumours Pub, which has also been undergoing renovation, started off as a landing site for Samuka Island guests, but now stands out as a stopover for every visitor to the Source of the Nile.
With the renovations complete, Samuka Island offers great opportunities for adventure and relaxation. The ambience is great and the amenities
have been redesigned for guests to have everything they need.
For the romantic kind a moonlit dinner, either in the gardens or by the swimming pool can be served. You can have your meal where you want it and be sure it will be five-star service.
Samuka Island is a bird sanctuary with over 50 species of migratory and resident birds, including the longtailed cormorants and little egrets.
Transport to the island is readily available at Rumours. A pontoon that can carry up to 30 people is always stationed at the pub. There are also speed boats that can comfortably carry 20 passengers.
The transport fare for each passenger ranges between $25 (sh59,000) and $35 (sh83,000), depending on the number of passengers. The more they are, the lower the fare for each one.
Every passenger on the pontoon gets a free drink and a snack. The pontoon could also be hired for a sundowner cruise on the world’s second largest freshwater body.
There are four double and three single cottages. The single cottages full board cost $180 (sh428,000), including bed and breakfast as well as transport to and from the island.
A single cottage with bed and breakfast goes for $100 (sh238,000), but this does not include transport. For the double cottages, a single person’s full package costs $230 (sh547,000), while double full board costs $320 (sh761,000).
At Rumours, meals cost between sh10,000 and sh15,000, while a beer goes for sh3,000. Tyler says the resort is being expanded and they hope to have two more double rooms, two deluxe cottages, three singles, a clubhouse, pool bar and a spur.